Thursday, August 26, 2010.
Vacation put me behind the eight-ball on this. But, as impactful as Boise State’s appearance on the Sports Illustrated cover was, I’ve always preferred the meat in the Sporting News. Before we let go of SN’s College Football Preview issue, let’s hit on some of the highlights. How important is it for Boise State to get the injured Ryan Winterswyk back in uniform in time for the Virginia Tech game? Crucially important if you go by Sporting News college football writer Matt Hayes. He places Winterswyk on top of a list of non-BCS players who “will shape the season,” calling the Bronco senior the best run-stopper and pass-rusher on the defense. Hayes also forecasts that Kellen Moore will be 39-1 as a starter when the season’s over and will be invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York. And Hayes thinks Nevada’s Chris Ault will retire at the end of the season.
A unique perspective on Boise State comes from former coach Dan Hawkins in the Sporting News preview. “It’s funny how things work,” says Hawk. “As soon as I took over as head coach (in 2001), I told people our goals, that we’re going to be a top 15 team. And people told me, ‘You’re wacko.’ But I wasn’t. You look at what they’ve accomplished and can accomplish—all those things are possible. The ceiling is whatever the whole system can support. As long as they keep supporting facilities and recruiting and budget and salary, it can continue to blossom. The fabric there is unbelievable. Will the system allow them to be first or second at the end of the year? Oh yeah, I think so. I hope it happens.”
The magazine went to former NFL tight end Doc Walker to get a prediction that Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor could lead the Hokies to an ACC title. “The amount of sacks that Taylor avoids makes him special,” says Walker. “While the average guy is sacked, he’s eluding people and throwing downfield. This guy is invaluable because he saves plays. If he continues to develop as a passer, Virginia Tech will be very difficult to beat.” My take: Taylor’s ability to throw will be the key against Boise State a week from Monday.
Also in the Sporting News, Matt Hayes calls Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea as one of the players who will shape the Pac-10 race. Hayes notes the YouTube video showing Paea bench-pressing 225 pounds 44 times. Paea’s goal this year is to beat the status of former Nebraska defensive end Ndamukong Suh. Also, Hayes predicts, “Another awful season will cost Washington State coach Paul Wulff his job. Idaho’s Robb Akey, a former Wazzu assistant, will replace him.”
We can still get some SI.com in here. Kellen Moore is on the front page of the website. Again. George Schroeder writes about Moore being the ideal poster boy for the Boise State program. Through the column, Schroeder threads a story about Kellen and some teammates floating the Payette last summer when their raft was overturned. Some of the Broncos thrashed about in the water. “But there was Moore,” writes Schroeder, “floating on his back. Feet up, eyes focused straight ahead, headed calmly downstream. As his teammates panicked, he could have been bobbing lazily in a backyard pool.” Schroeder likens Kellen’s demeanor that day to his on-field presence and specifically talks about his first road game in 2008 at Oregon, when he dissected the Ducks. Schroeder remembers—he’s also a columnist at the Eugene Register-Guard.
Boise State’s Jeremy Avery is on the watch list for the 2010 Doak Walker Award. The senior from Bellflower, CA, is one of 49 candidates for the honor that has gone to the nation’s top running back annually for the past 20 years. Granted, Avery is in a crowded Bronco backfield. But he has made his mark as a thousand-yard rusher last season—he’s amassed 2,436 yards for his career. And here’s the amazing thing: Avery holds the top two single-game marks for yards-per-carry in school history, and both came on the road. He covered 16.9 yards per tote last year at Fresno State and 14.2 per attempt at Idaho two seasons ago. Meanwhile, Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman has made the Lou Groza Award watch list.
BYU independence update: Natalie Meisler, who covers Colorado State for the Denver Post, reported last night that the Cougars could be staying in the Mountain West, with differences between the school and the conference resolved as early as today. Meanwhile, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News wrote yesterday that BYU officials are reportedly set to discuss membership possibilities with the West Coast Conference imminently. Wilner says, “If the league actually lands the Cougars’ 18 (non-football) teams, then it’s a Game 7 walk-off home run.” Wilner also believes that the Mountain West might want Utah State with or without BYU, if only to hang onto a sliver of the Salt Lake market. Meanwhile, the notion of the WAC needing to form some kind of football alliance with the Sun Belt is gaining some traction.
It was “atonement night” for the Boise Hawks’ Arismendy Alcantara. In the seventh inning last night in Pasco, Alcantara’s two-run throwing error spurred a Tri-City rally that resulted in a 6-5 Dust Devils lead. But in the eighth, he blooped a two-out single that knocked in the tying run. Then the Hawks won it in the ninth on Elliot Soto’s hit-and-run single that brought home Pierre LePage, who went 4-for-5 in the game with three stolen bases. The final was 7-6. Former Centennial High standout Jordan Latham threw a scoreless eighth to pick up his first win since returning to the Hawks.
Remember Nate Jawai of the Idaho Stampede? Jawai was the first indigenous Australian ever to play in the NBA, and he was assigned to the Stampede by Toronto in February, 2009, to get a little more seasoning and get back into playing shape following a heart condition scare. He averaged 11.1 points and 6.4 rebounds in 14 games for the Stamps before being recalled by the Raptors. Trades to Dallas and Minnesota followed last summer and fall, but Jawai’s NBA career has not taken off. He played in just 45 games for the Raptors and Timberwolves, averaging 2.8 points and 2.4 rebounds. Jawai has decided to ply his wares overseas now, signing with BC Partizan in Belgrade, Serbia.
This Day In Sports…August 26, 1989:
Chris Drury pitches and hits Trumbull, Connecticut, to the Little League World Series championship in Williamsport, PA. The 12-year-old tossed a five-hitter and went 2-for-3 with two RBI’s. Ten years later, Drury would be named the NHL Rookie of the Year while skating for the Colorado Avalanche. Also in 1999, the South Central Boise All-Stars would make the Little League World Series.
(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.)