Monday, April 16, 2012.
I saw what the other 17,000 people saw Saturday night in Bronco Stadium. The Boise State coaching staff may never say so, but Joe Southwick has emerged the favorite in the four-way battle to replace Kellen Moore as the Broncos’ starting quarterback. Southwick led the offense to a 22-19 win over the defense, capping the night with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Chris Potter with 54 seconds left. There’s still a lot left in the process—fall camp, for one thing. But Southwick took his natural leadership ability and parlayed it into a command of the offense on the field. During his four series he made good decisions, was accurate, and played confident. Southwick was turnover-free and was 14-of-19 for 145 yards. Hmmm...Moore was 14-of-19 in his debut against Idaho State four years ago. Okay, not relevant.
What is relevant is the reason Southwick attempted 11 more passes than any other quarterback in the game. It was not preferential treatment for the elder statesman in the race. It was because Southwick moved the chains. With every new set of downs come more occasions to throw the ball. Three times he led sustained drives, converting third downs along the way—and twice making good on fourth down tries (the winning TD was scored that way). Southwick has never had a chance to get into a rhythm with the first-team offense, and he cashed in when he got the opportunity with the popcorn poppin’. His first throw of the evening was batted away by Michael Atkinson, but he instantly put it behind him.
There were two fan favorites on the blue turf Saturday night: true freshman Nick Patti, and any ball that went through the uprights. Patti displayed the immense potential he brings with him from Florida. On a night that he probably should have been at his spring prom in Orlando, Patti was as advertised—an elusive runner and effective thrower, bringing the house down with his 35-yard touchdown pass to Troy Ware. Patti was 4-of-8 for 60 yards and rushed for 15 more.
Those were pretty loud murmurs in the stands after Dan Goodale bounced the first extra point off the goalpost. Then there was a mock roar when Michael Frisina connected on the second PAT—and a more of a heartfelt roar when Jake Van Ginkel hit a 37-yard field goal. Coach Chris Petersen stressed that he and the staff are the ones that see the kickers every day in practice. “If we don’t think we can make a field goal, we’re going to go for it (on fourth down),” said Petersen, harkening back to his confidence that Goodale would make the 39-yard field goal that went awry versus TCU last November.
The two players who made interceptions were fitting. Boise State needs a starting strong safety to replace Cedric Febis (who had replaced Jeron Johnson). And sophomore Jeremy Ioane has come on, grabbing Potter’s attempt on a double-pass play and keeping his toes inbounds. The Broncos also need a starting linebacker to replace Byron Hout, and Blake Renaud appears to be filling the bill (and, at 6-2, 242 pounds, the uniform). Renaud read a play perfectly and picked off Grant Hedrick, showing some Hout-like moves on the return. Petersen was not surprised by either player’s playmaking. “It wasn’t just one day,” Petersen said. “Both those guys have had good springs, so you saw a little taste of that.”
Taylor Davis rallied Saturday in Idaho’s quarterback battle. The sophomore quarterback went 13-of-23 for 132 yards in the Vandals’ second scrimmage of the spring (the stat sheet said 13-of-20). Either way, that completion percentage—be it 56.5 or 65—is important for Davis. That had been a liability for him last season, when he was at just 45 percent. Dominique Blackman was 11-of-16 Saturday, but for only 83 yards. Idaho wraps up spring football with the Silver & Gold Game this Friday night in the Kibbie Dome.
Finally, it’s time for the ECHL Western Conference semifinals. After a week’s wait, the Idaho Steelheads open the best-of-seven series against Las Vegas tonight on the Wranglers’ home ice in Orleans Arena. Idaho and Las Vegas have a history in the playoffs—this will be the fifth time they’ve locked horns in the postseason, with the Steelheads winning three of the previous four matchups. It was the Steelies who ushered the Wranglers out last season in the first round, three games to two. The Steelheads lost a double-overtime game in that series and won a triple-overtime marathon. Individually, Idaho was helped immensely in the first-round playoff series win against Ontario by the two oldest players on the team, with 36-year-old captain Marty Flichel; and 30-year-old Kory Scoran combining for two goals and 11 assists.
This tournament experience was opposite of the last one for Graham DeLaet. After carding a three-over 74 in the opening round of the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC, the former Boise State star shot a 68 Friday and made the cut. DeLaet went 73-72 over the weekend, tying for 44th and earning $16,473. He’s pacing behind in his quest to retain his PGA Tour card as he plays on a medical exemption. DeLaet has 16 tournaments left to make the remaining $477,976 he needs. Of course, one top five finish would change everything.
Other campus notes: The Boise State men’s tennis team won a couple Mountain West road matches by identical 5-2 scores at TCU and New Mexico. But they were hardly identical. Against the Lobos, the Broncos had to win six straight games in the final doubles match to earn the doubles point. Then in the six singles pairings they had to endure five first-set tiebreakers. The Boise State softball team swept UNLV over the weekend at Mountain Cove Field to extend its home winning streak to 26 games, the second-longest streak in the nation. At 29-13, the Broncos have clinched a second consecutive winning season in just the fourth year of the program’s existence. And the Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run/Walk drew a record 2,515 participants, with 1,062 beating Chris Petersen. The coach thus donated $5,310 to the BSU general scholarship fund.
This Day In Sports…April 16, 1952:
The birthday of one of the NFL’s most accomplished coaches. Bill Belichick had an uneventful five-year run as head coach of the Cleveland Browns two decades ago, going 36-44 before being fired. But since Belichick took over the New England Patriots in 2000, his record has been phenomenal. Belichick’s first season with the Pats was the only losing one, and they have since played in five Super Bowls, winning three. Bill Belichick…60 years old today.
(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.)