Tuesday, December 29, 2009.
The assumption all along has been that we might not know until the first Boise State snap of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl whether Austin Pettis will be part of the Bronco offense. Upon landing in Phoenix, Chris Petersen said, “Gametime decision.” The junior wide receiver, who set a BSU record for single-season touchdown catches this year and is one short of the school career mark, suffered the fracture in his lower leg 4½ weeks ago against Nevada and has been furiously rehabbing the injury since. How much will Boise State miss a guy who caught 62 passes, 14 for TDs? A lot.
The Bronco offense has been practicing as if it will have to go without him. Tight end Kyle Efaw’s been working some in the slot, and safe to say Kirby Moore’s been moving all over the pace. So at this point, any presence of Pettis could be considered a bonus. You know that TCU’s defense has been drilling as if Pettis will be in the lineup, so the Horned Frogs will be ready for almost anything. The Frogs are remarkably healthy, but if there’s one place they’ve been bitten, it’s the secondary. They could be short two of their original starters in the defensive backfield, as strong safety Colin Jones is definitely out and cornerback Rafael Priest injured a foot in practice last week.
Petersen got it right out on the table when the Broncos arrived in Phoenix yesterday. Three of his players didn’t make the trip, freshmen Raphael Lambert, Preston Minter, and Malcomb Johnson. Petersen said the reason is basically conduct “not meeting the Broncos’ standards.” By all accounts (including mine), Minter is a stand-up, hard-working kid. Johnson, a running back, is said by the coaching staff to have just completed an outstanding redshirt year. And Lambert was making a bid for the depth chart at cornerback before he tore his ACL during spring football. Talk about a lifelong lesson. And now, because of the stage the Broncos are about to play on, it’s splashed all over the national sports wires.
Usually we’re not familiar with out-of-state high school football players, but I have heard of this guy. He’s Matt Miller, the 2009 Montana Gatorade Football Player of the Year out of Helena Capital. Miller is a 6-4, 215-pound wide receiver, and the Helena Independent Record reports that he has committed to Boise State. The Broncos have only a handful of scholarships available for the 2010 recruiting class. Miller sounds like a good way to fill one of them after catching 54 passes for 900 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for 851 yards and 12 TDs this season.
We’ll find out what kind of effect Nate Enderle’s absence had on Idaho’s winless November by what his presence means to the Vandals in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl tomorrow. Idaho is going to need plenty of points, and Enderle says he’s ready to deliver them. The junior quarterback missed two games with a shoulder injury last month before returning and throwing for three touchdowns in the regular season finale. But he re-injured the shoulder in that game, a 52-49 loss to Utah State. Enderle’s been very good when healthy this season. They key number is interceptions. He threw 35 picks over his first two seasons with the Vandals and cut it down to nine this year.
You know what Bowling Green star Freddie Barnes is constantly asked about. The Record. The senior wide receiver needs just five catches tomorrow to break college football’s single-season record of 142 receptions set 20 years ago by Houston’s Manny Hazard. “The only time I think about it is when I’m asked about it in the media,” said Barnes yesterday. “Otherwise, I’m just trying to help the team win this bowl game.” Idaho coach Robb Akey says he’s rooting for Barnes to get the record. “I’d love to see that happen—with five hitches for five total yards.” It’s not like opponents started figuring Barnes out as the season went. He has scored 14 touchdowns and averaged 158 yards receiving in his last seven games.
Former Boise State star Daryn Colledge is the Green Bay Packers’ selection as its 2009 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. That means he’s nominated for the league-wide award to be selected from 32 NFL players. According to packers.com, Colledge has been heavily involved in Green Bay’s community outreach efforts. The fourth-year left guard has been involved in a laundry list of charitable organizations. Go to the website to see it. It’s long. The NFL Man of the Year honor is the only award that recognizes players’ off-the-field service as well as playing excellence. It’s appropriate to have that story in today. Last night, Idaho’s Max Komar and Bowling Green’s Craig Rutherford were presented the 2009 Humanitarian Awards in conjunction with the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl and the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.
It’s kind of obvious how the head-to-head Boise State and Idaho home basketball games will be viewed tonight. Which one will draw the most fans? The Broncos against Northwest Nazarene in Taco Bell Arena, or the Vandals versus Lewis-Clark State in Qwest Arena. Nothing’s really at stake in either contest, as both the home teams tune up for the WAC season beginning this weekend. But Idaho’s special Boise appearance in conjunction with the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl is an event. The BSU-NNU game is not. The only thing that could save the Broncos’ gate is a big turnout from Crusader fans. NNU comes in at 7-1 but hasn’t played in 2½ weeks.
I don’t know how much parity there is in the D-League this season, but the Idaho Stampede and Utah Flash certainly have it right now. After a 97-96 Stampede win Saturday, the Flash got one back in overtime last night, 112-109. Roberto Bergersen looked like he had given Idaho a win in regulation when he broke a 95-95 tie with a three-pointer with 13 seconds left. But Utah’s Orien Greene answered with his own trey at the eight-second mark to force the OT. Sundiata Gaines and Cedric Simmons were the show for the Stamps—Gaines pouring in 31 points and Simmons 29. Simmons also had 13 rebounds. Utah won it with balance, placing six players in double-figures.
The Idaho Steelheads got a lift yesterday in time for their quick trip south. Forward Mark McCutcheon, called up to the AHL two months ago, has been returned to the Steelheads by the Manitoba Moose. While McCutcheon potted the Steelies’ first goal of the season on Opening Night, he only tallied twice in 17 games with Manitoba. He should be suited up tonight as the Steelheads play in the Las Vegas Wranglers’ annual “Midnight Game” (1AM our time). No biggie in Vegas—that’s prime time down there. It might be a biggie for Idaho goaltender Rejean Beauchemin. He’s started 12 consecutive games in net since Richard Bachman’s AHL callup, going 8-3-1 in that stretch.
This Day In Sports…December 29, 1997:
The first Humanitarian Bowl is played before 16,000 fans in Bronco Stadium—Cincinnati beating Utah State, 35-19. The Bearcats virtually bid their way into the game out of Conference USA with ticket guarantees and the promise of a future trip of their nationally-ranked basketball team to the BSU Pavilion. The Aggies, meanwhile, were being coached for the final time by John L. Smith, who had taken the head coaching job at Louisville.
(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 handles color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football.)