Wednesday, April 14, 2010.
“If one of our younger guys can beat out an older guy, that’s the way we want it here.” That was Chris Petersen’s declaration at the start of Boise State spring football. And that’s part of the intrigue of the Blue & Orange Game Saturday—identifying which up-and-comers have a chance to displace a veteran in fall camp. But spring ball is noteworthy as much for who’s not present as who is, so there’s a lot we won’t know until August. The Broncos are missing about 10 key players. For example, we’d like to see kicker Kyle Brotzman boom through from the left hash after an injury-affected junior year. But the former Meridian Warrior’s shoulder is currently on the mend.
We’d like to see Daron Mackey pick up where he left off before a knee injury ended a stellar junior season last November. We’d like to see centers Thomas Byrd and Cory Yriarte snapping the ball instead of rehabbing knees. We’d like to see Kirby Moore continue to develop that sixth sense when he’s on the field with his older brother instead of setting off metal detectors with the screw in his foot. And we’d like to see D.J. Harper carry the ball—again and again and again. You’d hate to see lingering injuries in the spring play a major part in a fall position battle. The roles of the aforementioned guys would seem to be safe, with the possible exception of Mackey, who’s got to try to earn time all over again at an extremely deep linebacker spot.
Before this week’s Sports Illustrated gets away from us, let’s look at the magazine’s angle on college football 2010. SI featured a “Top 10 Take Two.” Andy Staples didn’t re-rank his early 2010 rankings published January 18. Instead, he attached “up” and “down” arrows to each team. No. 1 Alabama is down. “Replacing nine defensive starters will be the key,” writes Staples. No. 2 Boise State is up, with Staples saying, “The defense could be better than expected.” No. 9 Virginia Tech? The Hokies also get an arrow up. “Running back Darren Evans, out in ’09, looks healthy,” points out Staples. That’s going to be a running theme between now and Labor Day—Virginia Tech’s one-two punch in the backfield with Evans and Ryan Williams, last year’s freshman phenom.
A year ago, the Boise Burn were getting a healthy dose of local sports coverage. Now, of course, there’s no more Burn, and there’s no more af2. The new incarnation of the Arena Football League does exist, and the 15-team circuit includes a collection of one-time AFL cities and six of the old af2 franchises. One is the Spokane Shock, the former Burn rivals who opened the season a couple weeks ago with their standard crowd of 10,500—and a 74-62 loss to Milwaukee.
There are former Burn players dotting rosters around the new AFL. Former Boise State star Alex Guerrero is on the Arizona Rattlers’ “physically unable to perform” list. Guerrero played for the Burn last season and had 12 sacks. Terrence Sanders returned a kickoff for a touchdown for Arizona on Opening Night. And for the Chicago Rush, Nygel Rogers has two interceptions over the first two games, and the first offensive touchdown of the AFL season was scored for by one-time Boise offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun—on a pass reception. Nichiren Flowers also had five catches in each of the first two contests for the Rush.
Las Vegas finally rolled snake eyes. In the Kelly Cup Playoffs a year ago, the Wranglers staved off elimination twice in the final game of a playoff series, beating Bakersfield 5-1 and Stockton 5-1 in a couple of Game 7’s. The score was 5-1 again last night in an elimination game, but this time Vegas was on the short end in the finale of its best-of-five first round series against Utah. So it will be the Grizzlies heading to Qwest Arena Friday night to challenge the Idaho Steelheads.
It looks like it’ll be on Richard Bachman’s shoulders in the early going between the pipes, as the Steelheads have placed goaltender Rejean Beauchemin on the reserve list to start the postseason. The club is holding Beauchemin out as he rehabs a minor injury. So the Steelies have picked up an emergency backup goalie, but he’s not your run-of-the-mill fill-in. The Dallas Stars have assigned Tyler Beskorowany, their second round draft pick in 2008, to Idaho to replace Beauchemin.
Expectations for the Boise State men’s basketball program? Oh yeah. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz writes, “On the East Coast, the chatter is always that Rutgers is the sleeping giant in the Big East. On the West Coast, especially in the Northwest, Boise State is quietly earning that moniker. If in the next few years expansion causes a tectonic shift in conference alignments, Boise State will be one of the most coveted programs, thanks in large part to its success on the football field. That means the basketball program has to keep up and (Leon) Rice is now charged with the task of increasing Boise State's profile to make the Broncos a more attractive option. The hire of Rice didn't get the fanfare of Steve Lavin at St. John's or Steve Donahue at Boston College, but to those out west it is a hire that will be as intriguing to watch as any.”
An old Bronco-killer won’t be doing so as a senior, as Jahmar Young will depart New Mexico State to enter the NBA Draft. I’m not sure how upset Aggies coach Marvin Menzies is, though. Young not only disrupted WAC opponents, winning the conference tournament MVP award last month after NMSU upset Utah State for the WAC championship, he also disrupted a Las Cruces convenience store early Sunday. Young was arrested for battery on a peace officer—not his first run-in with the law. Good luck in those NBA team interviews, Jahmar.
This Day In Sports…April 14, 1910, 100 years ago today:
William Howard Taft begins the presidential tradition of throwing out the first ball on Opening Day in Washington. Taft watched as Walter Johnson—who five years earlier was playing semi-pro ball in Weiser—pitched a one-hit shutout to lead the Washington Senators past the Philadelphia A’s, 3-0.
(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.)