Wednesday, October 31, 2012.
Rewind about 12 weeks, when Boise State fall camp opened. There was a hubbub over this true freshman wearing the sacred No. 11 jersey, no matter how good he was projected to be. I was one of the protesters, writing, “Shane Williams-Rhodes, by all accounts, is going to be an outstanding wide receiver at Boise State. Heck, maybe he’s good enough to break some of the records set by Austin Pettis and Titus Young. I just wish he wasn’t wearing No. 11.” Then I acknowledged, “What’s done is done.” Now, what’s not to like about what Williams-Rhodes has done—and has the potential to do? The 5-6, 154-pound blazer has rushed for 84 yards and last week’s touchdown, averaging 6½ yards per carry, has caught 15 passes for 93 yards and a score, and may return a punt or two before too terribly long.
There was a reason coach Chris Petersen didn’t put Williams-Rhodes on the redshirt list in August. Boise State needed the different dimension he brings. “We’re excited about Shane,” said Petersen. “(Offensive coordinator Robert) Prince has expanded his role but not given him too much, so he can still play fast.” Petersen notes the Broncos can move Williams-Rhodes around to a number of different spots. In fact, he lined up at tailback last Saturday when he took the misdirection pitch from Joe Southwick and zipped 28 yards for a touchdown in Laramie.
San Diego State is bowl-eligible for the third straight year and is understandably coveted by the Poinsettia Bowl in its home city. Remember that if things fall into place for the Aztecs and they win the Mountain West title, the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas doesn’t necessarily take the conference champion. Las Vegas just has the first choice. The Poinsettia could work out a deal to take San Diego State, which it reportedly would love to match up with BYU. The Aztecs played in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl and drew a game-record 48,049 fans for their 35-14 win over Navy. The Mountain West's other bowls: the Armed Forces Bowl, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and New Mexico Bowl.
San Diego State coach Rocky Long says Boise State gives an opponent plenty to prepare for, right down to something as innocuous as PAT attempts. “They line up in what we call `swing and gape', but they line up in 14 different formations for the extra point,” said Long. “And if you don't line up correctly, they run it in there for two points. If you line up correctly, then they all come back in there and they kick the extra point. And out of all the games they've played there's been 13 different formations that they've been in for extra points. We can line up against every one of those, which we will in practice, and then they'll give us a new one come Saturday.”
I was interested to see analysis of the NCAA’s new enforcement policies, and SI.com’s Andy Staples went right to the Boise State file. “Before, infractions were either secondary violations or major violations,” writes Staples. “Schools could jaywalk or commit murder. That's how the Boise State couch-surfing case wound up being viewed through the same prism as Alabama buying Albert Means at the turn of this century. Those cases weren't even close to the same, but under the old system, each constituted a major violation. Now, the NCAA will have four categories of violations.” Staples notes that the Broncos’ case would be Level II, and Alabama’s would be Level I under the new process.
When the NFL preseason ended, so did the almost daily news dispatches out of Detroit on former Boise State star Kellen Moore. We knew Moore wouldn’t be seeing the field anymore as the Lions’ No. 3 quarterback. But Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News has been paying attention to Kellen, who is doing just what you’d expect him to do. Moore tells Katzenstein he often stays 15-20 minutes after practice to throw with quarterbacks coach Todd Downing (by the time Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill take their reps, there aren't many left). But Moore’s learning all he can from Detroit’s first two quarterbacks. "I couldn't ask for a better situation," Moore said. "I really enjoy it and like the two guys that I work with." Hill feels the same. “He's able to read defenses well, which is kind of something that a lot of rookies have to learn, but he already has all that,” said Hill.
Jason Gesser’s first assignment as Idaho’s interim coach during the last week was to get the Vandals’ spirits back up. Gesser tried to use the extra time during Idaho’s bye week to lighten the mood, having the defense play offense and the offense play defense during a passing drill and holding a field goal contest. Then the hammer dropped on the Dominique Blackman/Conrad Scheidt dismissals, and there was more repair work to do with the players. It would seem Gesser would be able to relate to the players—the 33-year-old Gesser is the second-youngest of the 124 head coaches in the FBS (Toledo’s Matt Campbell is six months younger). The Vandals return to action this Saturday in the Kibbie Dome as Gesser makes his head coaching debut against San Jose State.
There’s only one game this week for the Idaho Steelheads, a rarity, as they return to CenturyLink Arena Friday night to face Utah again. The Steelheads will carry an unbeaten-in-regulation streak of six games into the contest. It’s their longest such streak since winning seven straight games in March, 2010. When the Steelheads take the ice Friday, they’ll have forward David de Kastrozza back in uniform. de Kastrozza skated in four games with the Steelheads earlier this season, picking up one assist before being released briefly last week.
The NBA season begins with seven former Idaho Stampede players on NBA rosters. All but one of them were assigned to Idaho at one time by NBA clubs. The guy who made it the old-fashioned way is Anthony Tolliver of the Atlanta Hawks. Three years ago Tolliver started the season with the Stampede after a cup of coffee with the San Antonio Spurs the previous season and averaged 21.4 points and 11.4 rebounds in 14 games. Then he was signed by the Blazers, was released, and was picked up by the Warriors. It was with Golden State that Tolliver made his mark, appearing in 44 games with averages of 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. The former Creighton star played the last two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Other Stampede alums in the NBA include Luke Babbitt (Blazers), Jordan Hamilton and Julyan Stone (Denver Nuggets), Josh McRoberts (Orlando Magic), C.J. Miles (Cleveland Cavaliers), and Patty Mills (Spurs). Babbitt, Hamilton and Stone all had short stints with the Stamps last winter. Twenty-nine of 30 NBA teams open the season with at least one player with D-League experience.
This Day In Sports…October 31, 1997, 15 years ago:
Six-foot-ten Tim Duncan, the NBA’s top draft pick out of Wake Forest, scores 15 points in his pro debut. His mentor, veteran 7-1 center David Robinson, added 21 as San Antonio opened the season with a 107-96 win over Denver. Duncan would go on to be NBA Rookie of the Year—and the following season would help the Spurs to their first NBA title.
(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 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)