Wednesday, March 14, 2012.
Everything’s new for Chris Petersen in his seventh Boise State spring football session. A lot of Bronco faces move from the background to the foreground. “It’s energizing—but it’s also scary in a way,” said Petersen at his press conference yesterday. But in the initial gathering of spring on Monday, he got just what he wanted. “If we can practice 14 other days like we practiced that first day, that’s all we can ask,” an enthused Petersen said. He’s talking coaches as well as players, as three new assistants are breaking in on the staff. Petersen actually conducted a walk-though for coaches a few days ago so they’d be ready to go on the first day of spring ball. “Those (new) guys did a great job of staying one step ahead of the kids.”
The quarterback battle between Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti, as Petersen said last week on IST, will stretch into August. “All these guys are going to look pretty good in drills,” said Petersen. He just needs to know which one is going to be able to run the team when the popcorn’s poppin’. The staff kept stats Monday (“in shorts and helmets,” Pete was quick to point out). He said, “Nick Patti completed almost all his passes, and the one he didn’t was dropped.” One thing Petersen knows: Southwick is determined and hungry. “He’s been here awhile, and he’s done a great job of grinding and learning,” Petersen said. The hunger is the nature of the QB position. “If you’re the number two safety, you’re probably going to get on the field, at least on special teams. That’s not the case at quarterback.”
Clarification on what I trumpeted yesterday: the head start an experienced offensive line might provide the Boise State QB quartet. At least three of the Broncos’ returning starters won’t be around for most or all of spring football as they heal various ailments: Joe Kellogg, Cory Yriarte and Jake Broyles. There are “about nine” players on the shelf right now, although Petersen didn’t have a list of them yesterday. D.J. Harper is in practice, and although Petersen is glad to see Harper playing spring football for the first time since 2009, he notes it’s most important that D.J.’s there in the fall. “We’re going to be smart with him,” said Pete.
Kellen Moore taped his episode of “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp” yesterday with the former NFL coach and current Monday Night Football analyst. Gruden broke down tape with Moore and grilled him on formations, defenses and decisions. Kellen told the Statesman’s Chadd Cripe that Gruden came into the 4½-hour session in Tampa well-prepared, having watch numerous Boise State tapes. Moore’s episode will air on ESPNU on April 12 at 3 p.m., with excerpts included in a one-hour special that features all 10 of Gruden’s camp quarterbacks April 19 at 5 p.m. on ESPN.
Idaho got into the spirit of postseason bidding to land its home date with UC Santa Barbara in the College Insider.com Tournament tonight. The Vandals had a shot at hosting in the CIT last year but chose not to, instead traveling to San Francisco where they lost to the Dons, 81-73. “I thought it was important that we step up and host,” Idaho athletic director Rob Spear told the Lewiston Morning Tribune. “I think we have a good basketball team, and against a team like UC Santa Barbara, I think it's important to get them on our home floor." Schools must pay $31,000 to host in the CIT. With the Vandals having to re-sell Cowan Spectrum from scratch for this game, it’ll be a challenge to break even tonight. Tickets are $10 apiece, and Idaho has drawn 3,000 fans only twice this season—with the season ticket base already built in. Oh, and it’s spring break.
Twenty years ago, Larry Eustachy was enjoying his first head coaching position, leading the Idaho Vandals to an 18-14 record in his second season at U of I. A lot has happened since then, including a scandal that cost him his job at Iowa State two years after the Cyclones’ infamous first round loss to 15th-seeded Hampton in the BSU Pavilion in 2001. Eustachy was fired after photos of him surfaced from a campus party at the University of Missouri following an ISU-Mizzou game. After lying low for a year, Eustachy resurfaced at Southern Miss and is now wrapping up his eighth season there. And he’s guided the Golden Eagles into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years. Southern Miss is 25-8 and will play Kansas State tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
The Idaho Stampede return home tonight, with a halftime event almost as compelling as the in-game action against the Texas Legends. The Stampede are honoring members of the military and all war veterans by hosting “Heroes of the Hardwood Night” at CenturyLink Arena. Halftime features a wheelchair basketball game with the Idaho Warriors, a group of native-Idahoan injured war veterans. That matchup will probably go more smoothly than the Stampede’s last game, Monday night’s loss to the L.A.D-Fenders. The Stampede were whistled for a staggering 41 fouls, with the D-Fenders attempting 62 free throws. Each Stampede starter had four or more personal fouls, with three more players off the bench committing four or more as well. There were also six technicals called in the game.
That pesky third period finally paid off for the Idaho Steelheads last night. The Steelheads got goals from Derek LeBlanc and Michael Neal in the final frame to beat Ontario, 3-2. Goalie Jerry Kuhn withstood a 22-shot barrage from the Reign in the third period, allowing just a desperation goal with one second left in the game. Now Idaho turns its attention to climbing in the ECHL Western Conference standings as the regular season winds down. The Steelies could still finish as high as the fifth seed in the West for the Kelly Cup Playoffs—they’re five points behind Stockton with four head-to-head matchups remaining, including a road matchup tonight.
Northwest Nazarene pounded out 13 hits in the first three innings and took an 11-2 lead over the College of Idaho yesterday at Vail Field. But then the Coyotes’ bats, kind of like yesterday’s weather, started to roar. And C of I rallied for a stunning 13-11 non-conference victory over the Crusaders. Zachary Fabriscius pitched one-hit ball over the final three innings to earn the win—and knocked in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth. The Yotes improved to 17-6, while NNU lost its fifth game in a row to fall to 11-9.
This Day In Sports…March 14, 1998:
In the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the BSU Pavilion, one of the classics of all the tournament games played in Boise. West Virginia, a No. 10 seed, upset second-seeded Cincinnati, 75-74, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Bearcats coach Bob Huggins bickered with his players at the end, and Cincinnati star Ruben Patterson left to a chorus of boos as he ripped off his jersey while exiting the arena. Huggins, of course, now coaches at West Virginia.
(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.)