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Is the Bronco secondary ready for prime time?

Is the Bronco secondary ready for prime time?

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on August 13, 2012 at 7:26 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 13 at 7:26 AM

Monday, August 13, 2012.

“Everybody wants to talk about the quarterback—I think the No. 1 area is on defense,” said Boise State coach Chris Petersen last week.  It was with that backdrop that the Bronco defense, according to the coaching staff, rose up in BSU’s first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday.  Petersen singled out the secondary.  The Broncos are eager to improve against the pass this year, and Deon’tae Florence made a case for that single-handedly in the scrimmage.  Florence had two interceptions and forced a fumble, returning it for a touchdown.  The sophomore transfer from College of the Desert may be that insurance policy Boise State needs if Jerrell Gavins either isn’t 100 percent or needs to pace himself on Opening Night in 18 days.  Florence is one of those Broncos playing bigger than he is.  He’s 5-9, 168 pounds.

Jamar Taylor, of course, is set at the other cornerback.  So, how are things going at safety?  “I think there’s talent there, I think we’ve got a very good coach back there in Jimmy Lake, and that’s a pretty good combination,” said Petersen.  “The one thing we don’t have at the safety position is a lot of experience.  There’s no substitute for that—that’s going to take time.”  That’s not to say that free safety Lee Hightower didn’t get valuable experience filling in at corner as a true freshman last year.  “You can hear Lee on the sidelines when he’s not in on the scrimmage coaching up these guys,” Petersen noted.  At strong safety is the wild card, Jeremy Ioane.  “We’re really counting on him,” Petersen said.  “We really feel like he’s ready to go.  He’s playing faster—the safety position is a lot more complex than people know about.”

Former Boise State offensive coordinator Brent Pease surely isn’t shying away from his roots as he plugs in his system at Florida.  Pease has Gator quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel studying film of the winningest QB is college football history.  "I'm sure they get tired of me showing Kellen Moore clips, talking about Kellen Moore," Pease told the Florida Alligator.  "There's a few different personalities in there, but they can grow from it and learn from it."  One of the other quarterbacks Pease is working with is true freshman Skyler Mornhinweg.  Which is neither here nor there, but Mornhinweg is the son of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who Pease followed as a starting QB at Montana in 1986.

Moore has been roundly tattooed for his first preseason performance Friday night in Detroit’s 19-17 loss to Cleveland.  He was only 4-of-14 for 40 yards with an interception and was under duress for much of the night.  One of the biggest roastings comes from NBC Sports’ Michael David Smith, who writes, “It appears that those who say Moore can’t play in the NFL are right.  Moore got two-plus quarters to prove his doubters wrong, and he did nothing with that opportunity.”  Ah, but there’s the rub.  I checked out the “comment-isphere” (which I usually avoid like the plague).  It was amazing how many commenters felt Moore should be cut some slack, especially with the dropped passes that plagued him.  The general theme was, “Hey it was the guy’s first game.”

No such barbecue for Doug Martin in Tampa Bay.  Martin rushed seven times for 21 yards and a touchdown that gave the Buccaneers a 14-0 lead and the ultimate winning points in a 20-7 win over Miami Friday night.  The former Boise State star’s battle with LeGarrette Blount for the Bucs’ starting tailback spot may go on all through training camp, but coach Greg Schiano doesn’t seem concerned.  Schiano indicates he’ll be using both Martin and Blount—a lot.

Legedu Naanee started at wide receiver for the Dolphins against Tampa Bay and had one catch for 12 yards Friday.  By last night, though, Naanee’s role in the Miami offense was magnified.  The Dolphins released wideout Chad Johnson (formerly Ochocinco) after his arrest on charges of domestic battery.  Johnson’s wife, Evelyn Lozada, accused him of head-butting her during an argument in front of their home.  Naanee, the former Boise State standout, is now further cemented as a key cog in the Miami attack this season.

You can read between the lines of Idaho’s quarterback battle after the Vandals’ second scrimmage Saturday.  Junior college transfer Dominique Blackman is going to be the guy.  In the two scrimmages, Blackman is 25-of-35 for 348 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions.  Taylor Davis is just 9-of-21 for 155 yards and two TDs with one pick.  The concern right now is the running game, which managed only 32 yards on 18 carries Saturday.  Presumptive starter Ryan Bass, carrying big expectations one year after his transfer from Arizona State, is being held out while he and the university iron out academic questions.

Boise Hawks hitters continue to crush the ball during the team’s hot start to the second half of the season.  But last night Hawks pitchers didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, as Salem-Keizer pushed across five runs in the seventh inning to rally for a 10-9 victory in Memorial Stadium.  Jmaes Pugliese was the victim of the outburst and allowed seven runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings falling to 1-5 on the season.  Boise got two home runs—one of them a grand slam—from Xavier Batista and another from Willson Contreras, giving the Hawks a Northwest League-leading 52 homers on the season.  By contrast, the Tri-City Dust Devils have a grand total of 12.  Boise has now hit at least one home run in eight straight games.

The Summer Olympics wrapped up on a high note for Idaho ties over the weekend, with former longtime Ketchum resident Georgia Gould winning the bronze medal in the women’s mountain biking cross country race.  Gould became the first American mountain biker to reach the podium in 16 years—and only the second ever.  She had finished eighth in Beijing in 2008.  Gould is now arguably the best U.S. women’s mountain biker ever.  She’s the holder of five national titles, the most recent coming earlier this summer in Ketchum.  Next up for Gould is the World Championships beginning August 29 in Austria.

This Day In Sports…August 13, 2008:

Kristin Armstrong becomes Boise’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist and only the second American ever to take a gold in women’s cycling when she wins the time trial in Beijing by 24 seconds over Britain’s Emma Pooley.  Armstrong made the U.S. Olympic team in 2004 and won the world championship in the time trial in 2006.  She won the world title again in 2009—then retired—then began the amazing comeback that culminated with her second time trial gold medal 12 days ago in London.

(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.)