Thursday, March 25, 2010.
“The defense is always ahead of the offense at this time of year.” I don’t know which coach first said that early in some ancient spring football session, but it was duly reinforced yesterday at Bronco Stadium in front of 2,000 fans at Boise State’s first scrimmage of the year. It was evident during the first series Kellen Moore ran the offense, with the star quarterback scooting around the backfield for survival. Then a glance across the defensive front showed second and third-teamers causing the havoc: Matt Paradis, Greg Grimes, Rick Tjong-A-Tjoe and Kharyee Marshall. So you can’t just chalk it up to a line that already knows Moore’s scrambling tendencies inside out.
Another backup defender who started the scrimmage strong was free safety Cedric Febis, the junior from the Netherlands by way of Bishop Kelly. First it was a ringing Holland-to-Holland hit on fellow Amsterdam product Geraldo Hiwat, jarring the ball loose. Then Febis brought down a bulked-up Kyle Efaw on a big stick. Later in the day, Febis hammered Preston Minter after a reception. The fact that Minter held on made it one of the more impressive catches of the day. All that probably got George Iloka’s attention, because the Broncos’ starting free safety played well during the limited time he was in.
Everybody wanted to know how the redshirt freshmen wide receivers were going to do. The report would be generally superior on Aaron Burks and “work-in-progress” for Hiwat. Burks, who almost played as a true freshman last year, was open when Mike Coughlin threw a nice deep ball into the wind, but he stumbled slightly toward the end of his route and couldn’t reach it. Four snaps later, Joe Southwick hit Burks on a similar play for a 54-yard gain. And on the next play, Southwick connected with Hiwat on what was supposed to be a fade but ended up being a reach, a nice catch for a seven-yard touchdown. At other times, though, Hiwat was being coached up on the nuances of route-running and blocking assignments.
Sideline notes from the scrimmage: former Bronco coach Dan Hawkins was up from Colorado to watch as he enjoys spring break with his clan. It has to be a nice break from the Boulder fishbowl. He and his family are visiting son Drew, the one-time quarterback who’s still a student at BSU after having to retire from football last summer due to concussions, and daughter Brittany, who’s married to former Bronco linebacker Tim Brady and made Hawk a grandpa last year. Also, BSU Director of Football Operations Viliami Tuivai just returned from an exploratory trip to FedEx Field in Washington, DC, site of the Labor Day extravaganza between the Broncos and Virginia Tech. Tuivai says the stadium isn’t as impressive as University of Phoenix Stadium, but “the sky suites are just huge.” Reserve yours now.
Hard to believe it’s been almost three months since Idaho’s wild win over Bowling Green in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. But it has been—and now it’s time for spring football up north, beginning today. There’s been a lot of talk since the H-Bowl about probable first round NFL Draft pick Mike Iupati, the massive All-American offensive guard. Now the focus is on how to replace him. In fact, Idaho has to identify four new starters on its offensive line, as the only returning one is left tackle Matt Cleveland. It’s crucial for the Vandals, who allowed 25 sacks last year, fifth in the WAC. That was down from 36 sacks yielded in 2008.
The Oregonian reports that University of Portland coach Eric Reveno is among those who have interviewed for the Boise State men’s basketball job. Reveno is only 58-69 in four seasons at Portland. But progress has been made. The Pilots were 21-11 last season, and Reveno was named West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. They were 19-13 in the season just completed. Larry Krystkowiak would still seem to be the frontrunner for the Bronco post—if he wants to be.
The Idaho Stampede’s playoff hopes took a hit last night in a 123-115 loss at Utah. The Stampede are now two games behind the Flash with five to play, including two more in Orem tomorrow and Saturday. It would help if the Stamps could get Utah at home, but this season’s bizarre D-League schedule has Idaho playing the Flash in Boise just twice—and on the road six times. In last night’s contest, the Stampede roared back from a 12-point halftime deficit and took the lead on a three-pointer by Yemi Ogunoye 22 seconds into the fourth quarter, but that was as good as it got. Donell Taylor led Idaho yet again with 24 points.
The Idaho Steelheads blanked Victoria 5-0 last night in Qwest Arena, and it was a better win than it looks on the surface. Steelheads play-by-play man Doug Plagens made the point that every other team in the ECHL’s National Conference is turning it up with playoff-type hockey in these waning moments of the regular season. That’s because only five points separate the second through eighth-place teams in the standings, and one of those clubs is going to be left out of the Kelly Cup Playoffs next month. The Salmon Kings are among the group of caged cats, but they could not penetrate Rejean Beauchemin, who picked up his second shutout of the season. John Swanson’s hat trick overshadowed the fact that Mark Derlago tallied one goal, tying the Steelheads’ ECHL-era single season record for both goals and points (39 and 87, respectively).
The Boise State men’s tennis team returns home today for a doubleheader of significance to coach Greg Patton. The morning match is against much-improved Idaho. ‘Nuff said there in the significance department. This afternoon Boise State hosts UC Irvine, Patton’s old school. The General left the Anteaters for the Broncos in 1992—he won an NCAA Division I Coach of the Year honor at Irvine in 1987. Today’s action will be followed by the Boise State Spring Break Tournament tomorrow and Saturday.
The College of Idaho can’t buy a break against Lewis-Clark State. Of course, not many teams can. The Coyotes saw the Warriors rally for a 10-7 win yesterday at Wolfe Field, L-C State’s fourth straight victory over C of I this season. It also snapped a 13-game home winning streak for the Yotes. The two teams close out their season series this afternoon. Elsewhere, NNU split a doubleheader with Hawaii Pacific doe the second time in two days. In a 22-7 win in the first game, Crusaders centerfielder Sean McDonald set a school and conference record with seven hits.
This Day In Sports…March 25, 1972:
UCLA captures its sixth straight national championship and completes a perfect season with an 81-76 win over Florida State at the L.A. Sports Arena. Bill Walton had 24 points and 20 rebounds, with Keith Wilkes adding 23 points and 10 boards for the invincible Bruins, who finished the season 30-0 with an NCAA record average scoring margin of 30.3 points. It was the last NCAA title game played in the afternoon. The tournament final would move to Monday night in 1973—and UCLA would win again.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)