Tuesday, August 27, 2013.
It seems like just yesterday that Boise State and Washington were pounding each other in the Las Vegas Bowl, where BSU prevailed, 28-26. At the time, everyone wanted to know how weird it would be for those teams to see each other again in the 2013 season opener. The Broncos weren’t thinking about that—and consequently didn’t talk about it. But they are now, with the opener at new Husky Stadium just four days away. “There’ll be a lot of familiar faces when I look up for that first snap,” said quarterback Joe Southwick, who has watched most of UW’s games from last season all over again. “It’s going to be a big challenge. I know they want to beat us bad because of the bowl game.”
Offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. sees the deck stacked differently this time. “We’re not playing them at a neutral site,” Leno said. “They have something like 20 returning starters, a lot of them on defense. We know they’re going to be all juiced up.” (He meant that in the most legal of senses.) Coach Chris Petersen dismisses the revenge talk and just points to the quality of the opponent, calling Washington “underated.” He thinks the Huskies should be ranked and questions the validity of preseason polls. “I think they feel really good about things, and rightfully so,” said Petersen. The christening of the revamped facility on Lake Washington is as big as anything. A loss would not be well-received.
Now for the personnel housekeeping as Boise State’s first official depth chart is out. Petersen will still tell you it’s not a dependable document, but it does tell us a few things. At tailback, true freshman Aaron Baltazar is listed as a co-No. 2 with Jack Fields behind Jay Ajayi. “He hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been here,” Petersen said of Baltazar, the 5-10, 215-pounder. “He’s natural, and he’s very calm. And he’s pretty good on top of that.” Baltazar was one of five true freshmen Petersen identified as probably being active this Saturday. The others are cornerback Jonathan Moxey, defensive ends Kamalei Correa and Gabe Perez, and linebacker Darren Lee.
There are a couple missing persons. One is much-discussed defensive tackle Deuce Mataele, who missed fall camp because of an academic issue. That issue has cost Mataele the season, and he’s not enrolled at Boise State. The problem dates back to junior college and wasn’t caught until later, Petersen said. The absence of Mataele has moved junior Tyler Horn from end to tackle alongside Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (at least on the depth chart). The Broncos had hoped to keep Horn outside. The other player not on the roster now is safety Deon’tae Florence, who has elected to transfer to an FCS school to get more playing time.
Dan Goodale has won the placekicking job—a fresh start for a guy who was dropped into a pressure-cooker as a walk-on redshirt freshman two years ago. Not only that, Goodale has been awarded a scholarship. “He’s worked as hard as anyone around here,” said Petersen of the Timberline High grad. “He’s spent hours and hours working his craft.” There are two such local success stories out of fall camp. Travis Saxton, a junior linebacker from Star who walked on out of Eagle High three years ago, has also earned a scholarship. Saxton is No. 2 on the depth chart at middle linebacker behind Blake Renaud.
The observation I had yesterday advanced by Boise State faithful claiming Washington fans in 2007 were the nastiest they had ever encountered (worse than Nevada in 2010) predictably drew a response. Here’s one from a Bronco supporter that appears to be objective: “Admittedly, the Bronco fans kind of got off on the wrong foot at Husky Stadium back in 2007. When the Huskies stepped out onto the field to practice beforehand, a large contingency of Boise State fans (me included) booed the players. That made everybody angry. But I didn't feel threatened with bodily harm like Reno in 2010, and everybody was nice following the game. Seattle is no Reno. And we even had a great time in downtown Reno last year. They just need to keep the Nevada game in the afternoon.”
Washington has released its depth chart for the Boise State game, and I’ll be darned if tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins isn’t on it. There hasn’t been a peep from UW coach Steve Sarkisian about suspending the star junior for his DUI arrest in March and subsequent conviction last month. Any doubt about Seferian-Jenkins appearing against the Broncos rests more with the healing of his pinkie finger, which was broken in practice during fall camp two weeks ago and required surgery. Sarkisian said yesterday the All-America candidate hasn’t been cleared to play yet.
This is the final day for NFL teams to pare their rosters to 75 players. A lot of the work has already been done. Former Boise State linebacker Tommy Smith was cut by Cleveland yesterday, although there is some speculation he’ll be a candidate for the Browns’ practice squad. Ex-Bronco D.J. Harper, whose performance in preseason games was spotty, was released by the 49ers. And former Idaho quarterback Nate Enderle, thought to be a ”camp arm” when he was signed by San Diego, was waived by the Chargers. The final cuts to 53-man rosters have to be done by this Saturday.
Two rain delays did the Boise Hawks some good last night at Hillsboro. The Hawks trailed 3-0 after the first stoppage, which last 58 minutes. The first batter when play resumed, Kevin Encarnacion, got Boise on the board with a home run, his third of the Western Idaho Fair road trip. Then after the second delay, the Hawks were the beneficiaries of a hit-by-pitch, two walks, and a gigantic two-run error to score three times in the seventh inning. They went on to a 4-3 win. There’s now a three-way tie atop the Northwest League South Division between Boise, Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer. The Hawks get their final day off of the season today before the Volcanoes come to town for a three-game series beginning tomorrow night.
Some followup on the Web.com Tour’s regular season: the leading money winner was indeed Michael Putnam, who earns full exempt status for the 2013-14 PGA Tour season. Putnam, who tied for third at the Albertsons Boise Open last month, won the money title by more than $50,000. Boise Open champion Kevin Tway finished fifth to secure his PGA Tour card for next season.
Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph now has three forwards on his training camp roster who combine for a total of 352 games of AHL experience. Ralph has added Anthony Nigro, who has 175 of those games under his belt, most of them with the Peoria Rivermen. Nigro appeared in 19 ECHL games last season with Evansville as he rehabbed an injury. He joins Gaelan Patterson (117 AHL games) and Taylor Vause (60) as AHL veterans on the Steelies roster.
This Day In Sports…August 27, 2004:
The United States loses to Argentina, 89-81, in the Olympic semifinal in Athens, marking the first time the U.S. had ever failed to win a gold medal with an NBA roster. The team was devoid of NBA stars, with most of the day’s luminaries electing to sit out the Olympics to rest. Argentina would go on to win the gold behind another NBA player, Manu Ginobili. It was then that the U.S. resolved to convince its top players to become Olympians, and the Americans went undefeated in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)