Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:09 PM
Thursday, September 2, 2010.
It’s clear that, even if Boise State is able to pry open some running lanes Monday night against Virginia Tech, the receiving corps is going to have to come up big. First downs, touchdowns, no drops. The Broncos couldn’t be better set up to do it with the traffic jam they have at wideout, with all-WAC starters Austin Pettis and Titus Young primed for their final campaigns. For Pettis, it’s a return to health, as Boise State had to essentially win the Fiesta Bowl without him in January. For Young, it’s a mindset that the coaching staff has been working on for three years. The guy who was suspended for 10 games in his sophomore year now gets it as a senior. Chris Petersen on Titus: “If he can take that next step in his game—of being a very detailed and consistent player, and person, he can do something special.”
In the slot, two guys who played hurt against TCU in Glendale are ready to bust out healthy. Tyler Shoemaker, who went without a catch against the Horned Frogs, returns as a starter as a junior. And his backup, Kirby Moore, has solved the foot problem that had lasted about a year. Moore is a gamer, as is evidenced by his great touchdown catch on a fade route in crunch time against Nevada last November. Don’t forget about Kirby’s pedigree—he is the national high school record holder for career TD receptions with a whopping 95 in his four seasons at Prosser High.
And how much stronger could Boise State be at tight end? Senior Tommy Gallarda wants to catch more passes—junior Kyle Efaw wants to block better. On the other hand, Gallarda’s been scoring the touchdowns you’d think would be coming from Efaw. I’m still looking forward to the first TD connection between Kellen Moore and the former Capital High star. Efaw’s only career touchdown remains the one he caught on a halfback pass from Matt Kaiserman against Idaho last year. Efaw does have two receptions for two-point conversions—both of them came from…Pettis.
The Nike combat uniforms that Boise State will be wearing Monday night at FedEx Field were unveiled yesterday in New York. Looks like they use the same font for the numerals. In other words, hard to read (and harder on gray than white). But hey, I’m a throwback guy. They are very cutting edge. This is a slippery slope for the Broncos, though. If it was all about looks, they could morph into the Oregon Ducks of September 3, 2009. But I’m reasonably certain this has been impressed upon the team by Mr. Petersen.
It’s Opening Night for college football. So let’s wrap BYU’s declaration of independence into one tidy paragraph so we can get back to the task at hand. A capsule of the updates announced yesterday: BYU has an eight-year deal with ESPN to televise the Cougars’ home games. BYU is closing in on a six-year home-and-home series with Notre Dame. And the WAC ended up with a band-aid for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. All six remaining teams in the WAC will play BYU over the next two years (Utah State already had the Cougars scheduled). Each team will get one home game versus BYU except Idaho, which will go to Provo once. The consolation prize for the Vandals is a home-and-home with the Cougars in men’s basketball.
Idaho’s defense has to take the next step if the Vandals are to sustain their 2009 success. Tonight won’t tell us if it’s sure to happen, but there will be hints as the season opens in the Kibbie Dome against North Dakota. Defensive coordinator Mark Criner professes to have more depth and leadership than he’s ever had at Idaho. There were some monstrous defensive lapses last year—Criner says the Vandals are ready to rectify that with more sacks. "The D-line is going to have extra time to get to that QB because the secondary has the receivers locked down,” Criner said in the Lewiston Morning Tribune. “And the linebackers have the knowledge and talent to disrupt everything in between.”
Hawaii hosts No. 14 Southern Cal tonight on ESPN as coach Greg McMackin begins a crossroads season. The spread on the game is USC by 21½ points. I don’t know if that’s enough, since the Warriors are replacing four starters on what was already a suspect offensive line last year. It might not be a fun night for quarterback Bryant Moniz. The Trojans are going to be jazzed in their first game under Lane Kiffin. It’s kind of a reverse bowl trip for them since they’re banned from the postseason.
As Nevada ramps up for its opener tonight against Eastern Washington, the focus is defense, Colin Kaepernick’s passing game, and then more defense. Is the Wolf Pack’s pass defense going to get out of the FBS basement? A lot is riding on Corbin Louks, the former Utah quarterback who’s expected to be Nevada's starting free safety. Louks was moved to the position during a redshirt year after transferring last season and is still learning the ropes. He’s a great athlete and runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, but decisions are as important at safety as any other spot. Louks has a lot of time to get grounded between now and, say, Thanksgiving, though.
The last time the Boise Hawks posted a bonafide rout was a month and a half ago, in a 10-3 win at Salem-Keizer. Last night the Hawks piled it on against Spokane, winning 11-2 at Memorial Stadium. It was only the third time this season the Hawks have scored 11 runs—ironically, all three games were against Spokane, but one was an 11-10 win, and another was a 12-11 loss. Dustin Harrington became only the third player in the Northwest League this season to record a five-hit game. Harrington was just a home run short of the cycle. The Hawks have just four games left this season, one more versus Spokane tonight, followed by three against Yakima.
The Idaho Steelheads have come up with a new way of attaching added value to their season tickets. They’re hosting the Utah Grizzlies in an exhibition game Friday, October 8, and it’s “Season Ticket Holders Only Night.” If you have a 2010-11 Steelies season ticket, you’ll get a bunch of general admission tickets to give to family and friends that night. The Steelheads and Grizzlies will play in West Valley City the following night.
Former Boise State All-American Wesley Moodie is back at it in the U.S. Open, playing men’s doubles again with Dick Norman of Belgium. Moodie and Norman are into the second round after beating Americans Andrew Courtney and Michael Shabaz in straight sets. Their next assignment is David Marrero and Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain. Moodie and Norman have had a pretty good year, making it to the semifinals of both the French Open and Wimbledon.
This Day In Sports…September 2, 2006:
Dennis Erickson makes his much-celebrated return to the University of Idaho in a the season opener at Michigan State—against his former Vandal defensive coordinator and one-time Idaho head coach John L. Smith. The Vandals, 29-point underdogs, stay with the Spartans to the end of a 27-17 loss. Erickson, however, would be Idaho’s coach for less than a year, bolting to Arizona State in December of that year as Dirk Koetter’s replacement.
(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.)