Friday, August 27, 2010.
Ten days before the next “biggest game in school history,” Boise State’s singular area of apprehension is the ability of its offensive line to get the running game going. In two fall camp scrimmages, the Broncos rushed 64 times for 37 yards—albeit with a pulled-back attack, and against one of the better defenses in the country. But still, the fact that two of the starting five are yet to be determined brings an Alfred E. Neumann (“What, me worry?”) response from coach Chris Petersen. “It’s not a concern to me at all—we do it every year,” said Petersen yesterday. “I have great confidence that we’ll get a good five out there, and away we go.”
The locks on the O-line are Will Lawrence and Nate Potter. Lawrence at right guard and Potter at left guard—er, is that left tackle? The Bronco staff is still trying to decide where to use Potter, the former Timberline star who was first-team All-WAC as a tackle last year. Of the current left tackles, Faraji Wright and Charles Leno have been inconsistent (with Leno is bit undersized to boot). Joe Kellogg and Thomas Byrd continue their battle at center, and that’s a good thing. Brenel Myers is trying to nail down the right tackle spot. “It’s always nice to have the same five out there, and they’re playing together, and they’re getting better together,” said Pete. “But that just isn’t how it’s been around here, so for us to have that situation would be abnormal.”
The Broncos have faced four ranked teams the past two seasons—TCU twice and Oregon twice. Only once were they able to rush for over 100 yards, with 164 last year on Opening Night against the Ducks. But that came on a whopping 59 carries, for an average of only 2.8 yards per attempt. With that said, Boise State went 3-1 in those games. And as much anxiety as many have over the ability of the offensive line to spring the rushing attack, the Broncos do have that certain other way of moving the football. The O-line knows what its role is in that facet of the game. Boise State allowed five sacks in 14 games last year, fewest in the nation. Petersen is sticking to his mantra from last spring, when he said, “That line took a step last year, and I think it’ll take another step this year.”
On many teams, there would be a spot waiting for a linebacker as talented as Daron Mackey when he returns from suspension. But Boise State uses only two true ‘backers now (if that), and there’s a logjam in that group. Without the benefit of fall camp, Mackey will have to chisel through Derrell Acrey, Aaron Tevis, Byron Hout and J.C. Percy to get any playing time. Mackey made an impact last season until injuring his knee against Nevada. Then, just when he was approaching 100 percent, a summer arrest resulted in the suspension.
Boise State will hold a press conference today on the next expansion of Bronco Stadium, where officials will presumably lay out the hoped-for timeline on moving the track to Dona Larsen Park on the old East Junior High grounds. That has to happen before the major addition begins. And that, of course, will be the focus, along with money money money money. The likely target now is horseshoeing the north end zone in stages—corners first. Trying to get massive supports built in and around the current buildings at the south end might be cost-prohibitive.
Utah State is looking for a payday just like everybody else, and the Aggies have one in 2013. USU has a one-time-only football date at USC that year, but the Ags wove a bonus into the contract. They get a home-and-home series with the Trojans in men’s basketball. Meanwhile, Utah State has inked a four-game home-and-home in football with Wyoming beginning in 2011 (hoping like heck they become conference games). USU president Stan Albrecht is facing a lot of criticism for rolling the dice on BYU rejoining the WAC—and turning down an invitation to the Mountain West. The Aggies are crossing their collective fingers that the MWC door is not closed.
But I wonder how eager Boise State would be to welcome Utah State to the Mountain West. Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune, which has obtained a string of e-mails leading up to last week’s bizarre Wednesday, dives into one correspondence. Writes Drew: “Utah State University President Stan Albrecht gleefully wrote in an Aug. 17 e-mail that Boise State University President Bob Kustra’s ‘world is crumbling around him and he is desperate. All signatures are in place. I don’t think either John or Milt has $5 million to buy their way out,’ said Albrecht, referring to Fresno State president John Welty and University of Nevada president Milt Glick. But a day later, Albrecht’s world—and perhaps the WAC as a whole—had disintegrated.”
It wasn’t Korey Hall’s first NFL touchdown. In fact, this one didn’t even qualify because it was a preseason game. But it was as entertaining as his whirling dervish interception return for a touchdown against Oregon State in 2004. In Green Bay last night, Glenns Ferry’s favorite son was leading the charge on punt cover against the Colts late in the second quarter when Indy rookie Brandon James muffed the catch and the ball when bounding. Hall fell on it in the endzone for a TD and promptly executed a Lambeau Leap. The score was one of many by the Packers, who went on to a 59-24 rout.
Former Boise State star Quintin Mikell has gone from a hungry undrafted free agent to a wily NFL veteran who’s been dissatisfied with his contract. As the leader of the Philadelphia defense last year, Mikell admits the four-year, $4 million deal he signed when he was primarily on special teams bugged him. He says he put too much pressure on himself to take the leadership role of the departed Brian Dawkins and show he was underpaid, and his numbers slipped. Mikell claims he’s moved past that distraction, though, as he enters the final season of his contract. Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott views this training camp as one of the best of Mikell’s eight-year pro career. Philly plays at Kansas City tonight.
Victories have been aberrations this month for the Boise Hawks. After gutting out a win at Tri-City Wednesday night, it was back to the doldrums last night, as the Hawks fell to the Dust Devils, 6-3. The Hawks’ Northwest League hitting leader, Alvaro Ramirez, was ejected from the game for arguing a call at first base in the fifth inning. Ramirez has been slumping, going 5-for-32 over the past nine games. His average has slipped to .355, just a 16-point lead now over teammate Pierre LePage. LePage had been 15-for-26 on the Western Idaho Fair road trip until an 0-for-4 collar last night. The Hawks have one more tonight in Pasco before wrapping up the long swing with three games at Spokane.
Progress is being made on a new ballpark for the Hawks, a facility that would be designed to house a multitude of events. A site has been identified in Boise on the west end of downtown, and sources say the funding could be there. It’s just a matter of determining how and when it can be activated—therefore, there’s no timeline. But an artist’s rendering of the stadium could be available within 60 days.
This Day In Sports…August 27, 1982:
Rickey Henderson of the Oakland A’s, who got his professional start in Boise six years earlier, steals four bases in a 5-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers—breaking Lou Brock’s major league single-season record of 118 (set in 1974). That brought Henderson’s season total to 122 in 127 games; he’d end up with 130.
(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.)