Tuesday, June 22, 2010.
Timing is everything, and that’s what player-run practices are for. Through all the utter chaos of the past three weeks, Boise State’s PRPs have been quietly rolling. That’s where players gather “voluntarily” in the summer—for years the Broncos’ attendance has been virtually 100 percent—and go through drills on their own without the benefit of a coaching staff’s watchful eyes. Coaches aren’t allowed to be involved this time of year; only Boise State strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha can oversee workouts. But Bronco players will point to PRPs as a key to their 122 wins in the past 11 years. That’s where the team’s chemistry has been consummated and timing has been perfected.
Did I mention timing? Take quarterback Kellen Moore and his receivers, for example. They can never practice that enough. Onlookers will forever point at the first play from scrimmage at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last January. Moore overthrew a wide-open Titus Young on what would have been a touchdown. And how big would that have been, considering what a defensive struggle the game ended up being? You can attribute the misfire to Kellen being amped up, but timing would have helped. As experienced as Young is—and as savvy as Moore is—keep in mind that the duo missed 10 games (and 14 weeks of practice including bowl prep) together due to Young’s suspension during his sophomore year.
It’s hard to imagine Moore’s timing with Austin Pettis getting any better. But Pettis, now healthy after that lower leg fracture suffered against Nevada last November, is shaking off the rust in the PRPs. Moore’s been throwing to younger brother Kirby since he could hold a football, but Kirby’s getting his groove back after missing the spring. Kellen’s working on route communication with Tyler Shoemaker, Mitch Burroughs and Chris Potter. But perhaps the most exciting thing for the WAC Player of the Year is the one-on-one time he’s getting with the freshmen “Bambis” (as coach Chris Petersen calls them), Aaron Burks and Geraldo Hiwat. This summer’s PRPs are invaluable.
Watch list season continues, and Boise State has added to a couple of them. Offensive lineman Nate Potter has been named to the Outland Trophy watch list, which goes to the nation’s top interior lineman. It’s yet another huge step for the Timberline High grad who had a spotty start to his career but exploded to first-team All-WAC status as a sophomore. And Bronco defensive end Ryan Winterswyk is on the watch list for the Bronco Nagurski Award, honoring the top defensive player in the country. Winterswyk is one of those great Boise State development stories. He was a walk-on safety in 2006—now he’s the two-time first-team All-WAC anchor of the Bronco defensive line.
There are two routes former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli could take after being dismissed by the Ducks. And boy are they different routes. Various reports have Utah State interested in taking on the shamed quarterback, although there’s no word on whether the interest is mutual. Masoli wouldn’t be eligible for the Aggies until 2011. But he is also said to be considering an application into the NFL Supplemental Draft on July 15. That sounds more likely.
The rosters may change year to year, but the frustration remains the same for the Boise Hawks. They can’t beat Salem-Keizer. At least not very often. Back-to-back home runs by Jose Medina and Jesse Shriner off Hawks starter Austin Kirk in the fourth inning gave the Volcanoes the cushion they needed in a 5-2 victory. At least Memorial Stadium got a beautiful evening out of it for the sold-out Opening Night crowd of 3,438. The Hawks and Salem-Keizer play the second of their five-game series tonight.
We’ve reached summer solstice without talking about former Boise Hawks on the L.A. Angels roster, a 15-year tradition around here that’s gone practically dormant. That’s because, 10 years after the Hawks’ final year of affiliation with the Angels, there’s just one Boise alum left on the Halos’ roster: reliever Scot Shields. The veteran righthander turns 35 years old a month from today, and he’s at a turning point in his career. Shields is coming off the worst season in the bigs—a 6.62 ERA last year in an injury-shortened 17 2/3 innings. Things are only slightly better this season, as Shields is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.70. The good news for Shields is he hasn’t allowed a run in his last two outings, which lasted two innings each. He pitched for the Hawks way back in 1997.
It seems strange to be talking about Wimbledon before we’ve hit 90 degrees, but the Championships are underway at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Former Boise State All-American Wesley Moodie and playing partner Dick Norman of Belgium have a tough go in what they still call “Gentlemen’s Doubles,” earning just a No. 7 seed despite making the semifinals of the French Open this month—and the semis at Wimbledon last summer. Moodie and Norman open play against another South Africa-Belgium pair, Jeff Coetzee and Kristof Vliegen. Moodie won the Wimbledon doubles title in 2005 with Australia’s Stephen Huss.
When we talk about the Idaho Steelheads’ place in the divisional race next winter, there’ll be a new frame of reference. The Steelheads’ division, previously known as the West, will now be the Mountain Division (with Victoria, Alaska and Utah). The conferences will be called “Western” and “Eastern” as opposed to National and American. The ECHL will be down to 19 teams next season—the Eastern Conference will have three divisions, but one of them will have only three teams.
This Day In Sports…June 22, 1938:
Popular sentiment has Joe Louis fighting not only for the heavyweight championship, but also for democracy as Max Schmeling unwittingly represents Hitler and fascism. Actually, the German boxer was not a member of the Nazi party, but 70,000 at Yankee Stadium cheered as if he were as Louis blitzed him. Sent to the canvas three times, Schmeling was counted out just 124 seconds into the fight.
(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.)