Friday, August 10, 2012.
With all the Chris Petersen press conference tidbits yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to throw in some juice on Boise State’s first full-pad practice of fall camp. For starters, the session was as fast-paced, precise and meticulously scripted as ever. With more than 100 players at work, the Broncos were making use of every square inch of the blue turf. The placekickers were booting sideline-to-sideline over the heads of their teammates. It was not a time for squib-kick practice. With all that said, here was Petersen’s take on Wednesday’s drills: “The first day on the blue was average, in terms of energy and focus. That’s what happens when you have youth—and some new seniors.” If that was average, average is pretty impressive.
There was a lot of scrambling among the Boise State quarterbacks Wednesday. Man, was that a foreign sight in the wake of the Kellen Moore era. The predecessor of Joe Southwick, Nick Patti, Grant Hedrick and Jimmy Laughrea did not run much. I asked Petersen how much of it is “good scrambling,” and how much is out of “happy feet” mode. He doesn’t think the QBs are jumpy. “I haven’t felt that way with these guys,” said Petersen, who has been pleased with the quarterbacks’ ability to anticipate when it’s time to take off. “I think they have a decent sense, a decent time clock in their heads.” But whether they can take that one instinctive side-step to get out of trouble in live game situations like you-know-who remains to be seen. “Pocket presence was one of Kellen’s unbelievable gifts,” Petersen said. “We’re still working on that.”
I mentioned to a fellow sideline observer that running backs Jay Ajayi and Jack Fields have Doug Martin-type legs (at least they’re on their way). The observer replied, “You could just as well call them D.J. Harper-type legs.” Harper’s as chiseled as he’s ever been in this, his sixth season. Those are some strong gentlemen out there. For the record, true freshman Devan Demas has more of a Jeremy Avery look.
Speaking of Martin, the Tampa Bay first-round draft pick makes one of two highly-anticipated NFL preseason debuts tonight. Martin is second to LeGarrette Blount on the first official Buccaneers depth chart released this week, but coach Greg Schiano sounded like the Bucs were just filling in blanks on a sheet because the NFL requires it. Martin will provide quite a contrast to the 6-feet, 247-pound Blount against Miami tonight. The Muscle Hamster takes pride in his 5-9 frame. “I can get under the other guys’ pads and give them a nice pop,” said Martin said in his recent Sports Illustrated story. “I like to dish it out.”
Detroit plays its preseason opener at home against Cleveland tonight, and you know what that means. Kellen Moore sees game action in an NFL uniform for the first time. Now we’ll begin to see whether Moore’s uncanny ability to run an offense, read a defense, and move the chains starts to emerge at the next level. The former Boise State great is supposed to be in a battle with R.J. Archer for the Lions’ No. 3 quarterback spot, but offensive coordinator Scott Linehan keeps talking up Moore. "It's going to play out," Linehan told the Detroit Free Press. "Kellen's got such a great background, and he's got such a command of offensive football and already what we're doing. He's really taken his game to another level from our earlier off-season program and OTAs." Wouldn’t it be something if Billy Winn was the first player to sack Moore in the NFL…
The most highly-anticipated debut by a Boise State product last night was that of Shea McClellin in Chicago. The Bears’ first round draft pick got a good night’s work in with three tackles, a sack and two quarterback hurries in a 31-3 loss to Denver. ESPNChicago.com had this review: “While McClellin consistently displayed the speed the Bears raved about upon drafting him, the rookie struggled when engaging blockers, a problem he’s faced throughout training camp. McClellin also received a 15-yard personal foul penalty at the end of the first half for a blow to the head on Caleb Hanie. The one positive to take from this is the fact the regular-season opener isn’t until Sept. 9. McClellin has shown gradual improvement throughout training camp, but needs to refine his technique even more to be a key contributor in the regular season.”
Boise native Nick Symmonds did indeed run the race of his life yesterday, but the field in the Olympic men’s 800-meter race was epic. Symmonds clocked a personal best—by far—at 1:42.95. The Bishop Kelly grad had said he’d have to be in the 1:43 area to medal, but seven of the eight runners recorded personal bests, and gold medalist David Rudisha of Kenya smashed his own world record with a 1:40.91. Still, you have to give props to Symmonds’ intestinal fortitude in a race that he said “is going go down as the greatest 800 ever.” I saw a Facebook post showing Symmonds’ senior photo from Bishop Kelly’s 2002 yearbook. The quote Symmonds chose was prophetic relative to where life would take him. “A lot of people run to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.” – Steve Prefontaine.
Unbeknownst to many, former Boise State star Kurt Felix suffered a hamstring injury during day one of the decathlon. The hammy happened during the 400 meters, Wednesday’s final event. Felix, representing Grenada, tried to work through it while warming up for yesterday’s first event, the 110-meter hurdles, but was forced to withdraw from the competition. The 2012 NCAA champion was in 12th place among 21 athletes halfway through the decathlon.
There’s one more Idaho athlete left to compete in the Summer Games. Mountain biker Georgia Gould, who credits her formative years in Ketchum with launching her rise to Olympic status, rides in the mountain bike cross-country race tomorrow. She won her fourth national championship in the cross-country event last month in Ketchum. Gould has been trying to maintain an even-keel. "Even though it's not just another bike race, it is just another bike race," she told NPR. "My success in recent races is the result of good prep, and if I keep doing the same thing that I'm giving my best chance to have a great race in London." Gould finished eighth at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She knows the drill, and she has a chance at the podium.
Boise Hawks designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach is getting ridiculous. Vogelbach crunched two more home runs last night and now has four in the last three games as the Boise Hawks rallied past Everett last night, 3-2. Vogelbach’s second round-tripper of the evening came in the top of the seventh and tied the game at 2-2. Then in the top of the eighth Gioskar Amaya brought in Izaac Garsez with the ultimate winning run on a sacrifice fly. Vogelbach’s bombs accounted for half of the Hawks’ four hits. Between his time with Boise and the 24 games he played in the Arizona Summer League earlier this season, Vogelbach has now hit 13 homers.
A couple other notes today: Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports that Pistons assistant coach and advance scout Bill Pope is a candidate for the head coaching job with the Idaho Stampede. The Portland Trail Blazers, who now control the Stampede’s basketball operations, will make the call on Randy Livingston’s successor. Pope appears to be a stable guy—he’s been with the Pistons since the 2003-04 season. And one of those teenage sensations finally overcame the old wise one at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in Cleveland. Boise’s Maddie Sheils beat 16-year-old Ashlan Ramsey of Milledgeville, GA, 1-up in the round of 32 yesterday. But later in the day, Sheils’ run ended at the hands of 15-year-old Marijosse Navarro of Mexico, 3 and 1.
This Day In Sports…August 10, 1971:
Minnesota Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew, the pride of Payette, Idaho, hits the 500th home run of his major league career off Baltimore’s Mike Cuellar. Killebrew would end his career in 1975 with 573 homers. For the next 34 years that would remain the most by a right-handed batter in American League history. Alex Rodriguez eclipsed that mark in 2009.
(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.)