Thursday, October 14, 2010.
How many times has a Boise State trip to San Jose State been identified as a trap game? In 2004, it took double-overtime to put away the Spartans, 56-49. And it wouldn’t have even gotten that far had Gerald Alexander not used his 40-inch vertical leap to block a field goal toward the end of regulation. In 2006, San Jose State led by eight points in the fourth quarter before the Broncos rallied for a 23-20 win on an Anthony Montgomery field goal with zeros on the clock. Each time an undefeated season hung in the balance. Boise State played with a little more of an edge in 2008, winning 33-16. Is anybody buying “trap game” this time around? Hard to imagine.
The most impressive thing about Boise State so far this season has been its unflagging focus, regardless of the opponent. Cliché time from coach Chris Petersen: “I just think the mentality around here is, our record is 0-0.” But it’s really true. What’s San Jose State’s history in situations like this? It was 10 years ago that the Spartans recorded one of the biggest wins in school history, bringing down ninth-ranked TCU and LaDainian Tomlinson in Spartan Stadium, 27-24. But San Jose State at least had some firepower in those days. This season, the Spartan offense has scored six touchdowns. The Bronco offense scored seven last week (an eighth came from the defense). San Jose State is 116th out of 120 FBS teams in total offense at 269 yards per game.
The only chance San Jose State would seem to have is mustering some semblance of a running game. The Spartans rushed for 178 yards at Nevada last week and are seeking to record 100 yards on the ground for a third straight game for the first time since 2006. But they’re talking 100 yards here, not 200. Now, 200 would be significant. Something tells me San Jose State’s rushing total will be under 100 yards Saturday night—unless the Spartans get a freakazoid run like Brandon Rutley’s 60-yard touchdown two years ago.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, as noted this week, has moved to No. 1 on a number of Heisman Trophy watch lists. He also tops Matt Hayes’ midseason list of 25 players to watch in the Sporting News. “Never, ever underestimate the value of a guy who knows how to win and doesn’t put his team in position to lose,” writes Hayes. What’s interesting is another name in Hayes’ top 25, Bronco wide receiver Austin Pettis at No. 17. Hayes’ colleague Dave Curtis then lists the top five overrated and underrated players in the country, and his No.5 underrated guy is BSU’s Titus Young. “Moore gets the attention, but Young, his most reliable target, deserves just as much buzz,” says Curtis.
When Malcomb Johnson didn’t pan out for Boise State, it left a gap in the natural progression of running backs for the Broncos. Johnson would have been a redshirt freshman this year and a sophomore next year. Boise State didn’t bring in a scholarship running back this year. But man do the Broncos appear to have one for next year. Jay Ajayi from Liberty High in Frisco, TX, is playing so well he warranted a column in the Dallas Morning News by Matt Mixon. Ajayi has 88 carries for 977 yards and 17 touchdowns while running around and through Texas 4A opponents. Ajayi, a native of London, is 6-0, 200 pounds, having put on 25 pounds since his sophomore year. He’s shaping up as one of those classic late-blooming Bronco finds.
Good news from Toledo: Rockets quarterback Austin Dantin was quickly out of his neck brace this week and says he doesn’t have any post-concussion symptoms after the hellacious hit he took from Boise State’s Jonathan Brown last Saturday. Dantin left the field on a stretcher with what was ultimately diagnosed as a mild concussion and neck sprain, but he was cleared by doctors yesterday and will be Toledo’s starter for Saturday’s game against Kent State.
Idaho is getting back in game mode after a bye week that has aided the Vandals’ health. Left guard Sam Tupua will be back in the lineup at Louisiana Tech Saturday after missing the win at Western Michigan with a concussion. Tupua will provide a lift to the Idaho offensive line, which has allowed 21 sacks, by far last in the WAC. Nathan Enderle could have a big night in Ruston if he can get protection—the Bulldogs are last in the WAC in pass defense, giving up over 260 yards per game. But just as good a tonic for the Vandal offensive line would be to get the running game going, as UI is averaging just 103 yards an outing on the ground.
Obviously, Boise State needs Virginia Tech and Oregon State to keep winning if it’s going to have a chance to do something historic this season. But what are the Beavers’ chances of maintaining now that James Rodgers is out for the season? OSU coach Mike Riley just can’t sugarcoat the loss of the star wide receiver. "It's too shallow to say it's part of football," Riley said Tuesday. "He's the heart and soul of the team." The left knee Rodgers injured at Arizona will be operated on in a couple of weeks. He’s sixth in the nation in all-purpose yards and, of course, he returned a punt 54 yards for a touchdown against Boise State last month on the blue turf.
Idaho Steelheads public address announcer Britt Talbert has to be disappointed over the release of Bear Trapp as the team narrows its roster for Opening Night tomorrow. What an opportunity that would have been for a PA guy. The Steelheads have had a lot of talent come through training camp, and it was evident in a transaction by an ECHL West Division rival yesterday. Defenseman Jason Fredricks, who scored a goal in last Friday’s exhibition win over Utah, was one of the players cut this week by new coach Hardy Sauter. Fredricks was quickly snapped up yesterday by the Grizzlies.
This Day In Sports…October 14, 2007:
The most exciting game in Bronco Stadium history. Nobody who saw it—in person or on ESPN—will argue. Boise State beats Nevada 69-67 in quadruple overtime, then the highest scoring game since Division I-A started keeping official records in 1937. The game was tied at 44 at the end of regulation, and each team continued answering the other into the fourth OT. It was then that Ian Johnson scored a go-ahead touchdown and Taylor Tharp hit Jeremy Avery for the required two-point conversion. The Wolf Pack scored in the bottom half of the period, but Bronco linebacker Tim Brady sacked Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the two-point conversion try to end the game.
(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 also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)