Friday, October 8, 2010.
A pop quiz for Friday. To what facet of Boise State’s performance was coach Chris Petersen referring this week when he said, “We all still feel we need to play harder there.” And, “Guys gotta start making plays.” I’m thinking most Bronco fans are saying “special teams,” thereby acing the quiz. There have been breakdowns on every unit, and the Broncos are resolute in their desire to right that ship tomorrow night against Toledo. Boise State would like to spring its return men. The Broncos are 35th in the nation in kickoff returns and 36th in punt returns. Yes, that’s in the top third of FBS teams, but it’s not where BSU wants to be.
The cover teams are on alert. The Broncos don’t punt much—they’ve only had three returned all season. But one of them was James Rodgers’ 54-yard dandy for an Oregon State touchdown two weeks ago. On the other hand, the Broncos kick off a lot. The first guy they have to pay attention to tomorrow night is Toledo kickoff return man Eric Page, who’s 10th in the nation at 31.7 yards per runback. Do the Broncos get creative with pooches and knuckleballs? It looked like that’s what they were doing last week against New Mexico State, when kickoffs were all over the board. But Petersen said only one of the strange boots was by design. “The other ones weren’t necessarily planned,” said Pete. “And that certainly didn’t help our coverage.”
One special teamer has been a cut above for Boise State, though. Kicker Kyle Brotzman is 9-of-10 on field goal attempts this season. It’s ironic that Brotzman would break the WAC’s career scoring record before he breaks Boise State’s. But that’s the way it shakes out. The senior from Meridian has scored 377 points in his 44 games and is 18 away from the WAC mark of 395 set by Jason Elam from 1989-92. The Bronco record is 408 points held by Brock Forsey, who played two seasons in the Big West and two in the WAC. Forsey is the eighth-leading all-time scorer in FBS college football.
The Boise State football program’s loss is the Bronco basketball program’s gain. But, without question, it’s more of a loss for the football program. Utah has canceled the final three years of its four-year football series with the Broncos, which was to resume next year. The Utes cited their move to the Pac-10, which plays a full round-robin conference schedule (nine games). The consolation prize is a four-year set of home-and-home men’s basketball games between Boise State and Utah, with the first one (that had already been scheduled) to be played December 17 in Salt Lake City. The Utes will visit Taco Bell Arena November 16 of next year. The first obvious question: does this development make room for a continuation of the Bronco-Vandal football rivalry next season? Boise State still doesn’t know how many Mountain West games it’ll have.
If you don’t remember who Joe Santoro is, it would take too long to explain here. We’ll just leave it at this: he was a long-time Reno Gazette-Journal columnist who’s now at the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon. This piece is good by itself, but it’s really good if you’re familiar with Santoro and his history in the Boise State-Nevada rivalry. In a column headlined, “Wolf Pack Fans—This Is For You,” Santoro writes, “If everything plays out true to form, the Pack will be unbeaten and could be ranked in the Top 10 when it faces unbeaten Boise State on the night of Nov. 26 at Mackay Stadium. It will be a historic night in Reno, the greatest single sporting event in northern Nevada since Jack Johnson beat Jim Jeffries in the Fight of the Century 100 years ago. You don't want to miss it. It will be a night you'll tell your grandchildren about.” One way or another.
The Game of the Week in the WAC is Hawaii at Fresno State, with the Bulldogs wanting to prove their newly-balanced offense is for real, and the Warriors suddenly harkening back to the days of Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan. Hawaii comes in as the No. 1 passing team in the country, averaging 431 yards a game, and sometimes the Fresno State defense doesn’t react too well in situations like this. What is Nevada up to tomorrow? The Wolf Pack will be running roughshod over San Jose State and honoring the 1990 Pack team that made it to the Division I-AA national championship game by beating Boise State 59-52 in triple-overtime in the semifinals. Now do you remember Joe Santoro?
As expected, the Dallas Stars have assigned goaltender Tyler Beskorowany to the Idaho Steelheads to start the upcoming season. Beskorowany spent time with the Steelheads last spring during the Kelly Cup Playoffs but never saw any game action. Now he’s the team’s probable starter. Beskorowany was the Stars’ second-round draft pick in 2008—and he’ll be a big presence between the pipes, at 6-5. The Steelheads have their “private showing” for season ticket holders tonight in the form of an exhibition game against the Utah Grizzlies. The two teams play again in Logan tomorrow night.
Mark Olver, the son of former Steelies coach John Olver, made the opening day roster of the Colorado Avalanche. The younger Olver played junior hockey in Boise before embarking on his career ice path. He turned pro last spring following his junior year at Northern Michigan, where he was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s player of the year. There are four former Steelheads on NHL rosters: Zenon Konopka with the New York Islanders, Dan Ellis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, B.J. Crombeen of the St. Louis Blues, and Tom Wandell of the Dallas Stars.
Last week it was former Boise State star Graham DeLaet making a move to stay in the top 125 on the PGA Tour’s money list, the cut line for full-season exemptions to next season’s tour tournaments. DeLaet finished fifth at the Viking Classic, the first event of the PGA Fall Tour Series, to move up to No. 114. This week it might by ex-Bronco Troy Merritt’s turn, as he fired a six-under-64 yesterday to sit one shot back after the first round of the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island, GA. Only a bogey on the 18th kept him from being tied for the lead. Merritt came into the tournament at No. 123 on the Money List. DeLaet also started well yesterday with a two-under-68.
Homecoming as it pertains to sports kicks off today with the Boise State Fall Tennis Classic, a three-day event that includes 15 schools. Matches will be played at the Appleton Tennis Center and Julia Davis Park, with virtually all the Division I conferences in the West represented. The Broncos won’t have a full roster, as James Meredith and Damian Hume are competing at the ITA All-American Tournament in Tulsa. But the General wants you there this weekend—Greg Patton and the Broncos won’t be appearing on their home courts again until March 5 of next year.
This Day In Sports…October 8, 1995, 15 years ago today:
Probably the most memorable moment in Seattle Mariners history, as Edgar Martinez beats the Yankees in the Kingdome with a dramatic double in the playoffs. Martinez, a 2007 inductee into Boise’s World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, brought home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to rally the M’s to a 6-5 win, sending them to the American League Championship Series for the first time.
(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.)