Thursday, September 16, 2010.
Chris Petersen has long said one of the only football statistics he puts regular emphasis on is pass efficiency. To be sure, an interception-free performance by Kellen Moore in a victory before 86,000 fans trumps that. But Moore is only sixth in the WAC in pass efficiency with a rating of 134.1. Good but not great. There are two things that would pull the figure back up to what Kellen is accustomed to—he was second in the nation last year behind Florida’s Tim Tebow with a 161.5 rating. One item is completion percentage; Moore hit on 60.5 percent of his attempts against Virginia Tech. The other is yards per attempt, where Kellen produced only 5.7 per throw versus the Hokies.
Expect those things to improve. Moore had a few bad throws at FedEx Field, had two dropped, had some broken up, and threw some others away. I see him being in much more of a rhythm Saturday. And there should be a little more verticality. Moore’s longest connections against Virginia Tech went for 28 and 21 yards to Titus Young. No bombs to Young. No long seam routes to Kyle Efaw. No jailbreak in the Broncos’ screen game. Those are waiting to happen.
One good thing that came out of the win over Virginia Tech, as perfect as the winning drive was: plenty of teaching moments from the rest of the game. It’s been a humble bunch of Broncos on the practice field the past week. It starts with the uncharacteristic onslaught of penalties—11 of them for 105 yards. The biggest was the running into the kicker penalty on the Hokies’ missed field goal attempt late in the third quarter. One play later, Tech was in the end zone. There are also the issues of leverage in the secondary (witness Brandyn Thompson’s out-of-position tackle attempt on the aforementioned TD) and ball security (witness the scraping of Moore’s arm by Nate Potter).
Is Virginia Tech grasping for straws now that it’s 0-2? You be the judge. A story in the Washington Post advances the theory that the Hokies are tipping off their plays on offense. Coach Frank Beamer was asked about it in his weekly press conference Tuesday. “There’s some people who’ve been in good calls for a particular play," Beamer acknowledged, according to the Post story. "Whether they fell into it or not, we’re checking it out. I don’t think we are [tipping off plays], but we need to check it out.” Beamer said his staff has already spoken with James Madison’s run game coordinator and plans on contacting Boise State coaches to get some input. Does Virginia Tech need a win against East Carolina Saturday, or what?
Wyoming officials say they expect Saturday’s game against Boise State to sell out sometime today. Full houses are not a regular occurrence in Laramie. The Cowboys had Texas, BYU and TCU at home last season—they did sell out for the Longhorns at over 31,000. But the Pokes attracted only 19,000 for BYU and a scant 15,000 for TCU. The Broncos do have drawing power these days. By the way, with the addition of the new Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites in War Memorial Stadium this year, some seats were lost in the upper east stands of the stadium. The new capacity of the facility, which turns 60 years old today, is 29,086.
Nevada has a shot at a rare sellout when its hosts Cal for the first time ever tomorrow night at Mackay Stadium. You can bet that it’s not only the attraction of big brother from the other side of the Sierra, there’s probably going to be a huge throng of Bears fans in Reno. Cal faithful can neutralize the Wolf Pack’s home field advantage, just like a certain other team that visits Mackay every other year. Attendance has been an ongoing concern at Nevada, as the Pack was 101st in the country last year with only 17,500 fans per game. Over its first two home games this season, Nevada is averaging 17,205.
One of the most interesting games in the WAC this weekend is also interesting for one-time Boise State coach Dan Hawkins. The seat is hotter than ever for Hawk at Colorado after the 52-7 punishment the Buffs absorbed at Cal last week. The game against the Warriors in Boulder Saturday is a must-win. CU’s offense has not been very good the first two weeks—Hawkins is shuffling the offensive line to try to find a combination that works. This would be a good time for an answer, as Hawaii is allowing 248 yards per game rushing. Plus, the Warriors are ranked last in the nation in pass efficiency defense. The Buffs are favored by almost two touchdowns.
The largest galleries at Hillcrest Country Club today should form at 9AM on the first tee and 1:35PM on No. 10. That’s when Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet, respectively, tee off in the first round of the 21st Albertsons Boise Open. That’s kind of how it goes for Boise State guys these days, especially successful ones. Both are among the most productive rookies on the PGA Tour this year, and both hope to be in the top 125 money winners to secure their tour cards for next season. Merritt is 119th on the PGA money list with $669,000, while DeLaet is just below the Mendoza line, ranked 129th with over $589,000. The PGA Tour is off this week, and the former Broncos are enjoying home cookin’.
If you’re looking for a non-local to pull for, you’d have to consider Carl Paulson. Yes, he was the 1999 Albertsons Boise Open champion. But how about the fact that Paulson, now 39, hasn’t teed it up in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event (Nationwide included) in over five years. Meanwhile, Jason Gore will definitely draw admirers. The popular champ of the 2002 Boise Open has returned to one of his favorite tournaments. Gore has had one PGA Tour victory—in the 84 Lumber Classic in 2005. That was when he high-tailed it out to Boise to play in the old Kraft Shootout the next day with Troy Matteson and LPGA stars Annika Sorenstam, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis and Juli Inkster. Matteson and Sorenstam had also won the day before.
This Day In Sports…September 16, 2000, 10 years ago today:
Boise State plays its first-ever game against a team from the Southeastern Conference, facing Arkansas and former BSU coach Houston Nutt. It took the Broncos awhile to settle down as they fell behind 24-0 in the second quarter before rallying to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Then, trailing 38-31 with just over a minute to play, BSU had a fourth-and-goal from the Arkansas nine. Bart Hendricks hit Jay Swillie, but he was stopped a half-yard short of the goal line and a possible overtime.
(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.)