Wednesday, September 12, 2012.
This is not your 2009 Miami (Ohio), which lost 48-0 in Bronco Stadium in the second game of the season. Sure, the RedHawks finished 4-8 last year, and they lost 56-10 at Ohio State to open this season. But they moved the ball that day, and they’re laden with experience. And this isn’t your 2009 Boise State, either. The Broncos can take nothing for granted right now. Miami quarterback Zac Dysert was an excitable freshman when he saw his first collegiate action on the blue turf at the end of that 2009 game. And he was a bit unsettled, going 2-of-4 for one yard with two interceptions. It’s a different Zac Dysert in his senior year. Since that debut, he’s merely thrown for an additional 9,058 yards and 50 touchdowns.
“I think these guys are really, really good in the pass game,” said Chris Petersen Monday. “This will be one of the top quarterbacks we’ll see this year. That’s how good I think he is.” It didn’t sound like coach-speak when Petersen rattled off Dysert’s attributes: “He can sling it, he’s accurate, he’s crafty, he’s strong in the pocket, his eyes are downfield, and he can avoid the rush.” Bronco players see the same thing. “Great quarterback,” said cornerback Jamar Taylor of Dysert. “He fits the ball in tight windows. He breaks a lot of tackles, too.”
Dysert is complemented by a pair of outstanding wide receivers. Over his last six games, Nick Harwell is averaging nine catches and 131 yards. Yes, nine catches and 131 yards. And he has eight touchdown receptions in that stretch, Harwell corralled eight passes for 120 yards at Ohio State, including grabs of 42 and 44 yards, the latter a touchdown. Then there’s Andy Cruse, the MAC’s leading receiver through two games with 20 catches. Cruse is tied for fourth in the nation. On Saturday, Boise State could use a healthy Jerrell Gavins and continued growth from Bryan Douglas and Darian Thompson, who played well against Michigan State.
While Boise State was on a bye last weekend, Miami (Ohio) was on the field. The Redhawks played their home opener last Saturday against Southern Illinois, winning 30-14, so they have some rhythm. Here’s a factoid: vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is an alumnus of Miami. In fact, he dropped by the Redhawks’ locker room before their season opener in the Horseshoe against Ohio State and gave the team a pep talk. It lasted 45 seconds or so. Miami then charged out of the tunnel and lost to the Buckeyes by 46 points. But, Ryan pointed out, the Redhawks were up 3-0 when he left the stadium.
The National Weather Service pegs Saturday’s high temperature at 84 degrees. Not earthshaking news, but that will make the blue turf a little toasty, as this will be the earliest on the calendar Boise State has ever played an afternoon game in the current Bronco Stadium. The previous record was last year when the Broncos hosted Nevada on October 1. The high that day, incidentally, was 90. The tradition of night games in September and most of October has gone by the wayside with TV dictating kickoff times. Saturday it’ll be 2 p.m.
Idaho is hoping this is a good omen, even though this week’s game at LSU may not tell us if it is. Dominique Blackman put up numbers not seen since Nate Enderle in last week’s 21-13 loss at Bowling Green. Last year, the Vandals didn’t put up a single 300-yard passing game and topped 200 only four times. Blackman threw for 352 on a 30-of-37 effort. It was the best night by an Idaho quarterback since Enderle threw for 373 yards in a 48-35 loss at Louisiana Tech in 2010. Like Blackman, Enderle had to do it without a running game. The Vandals rushed for only 20 yards that day in Ruston—they had a net of six at Bowling Green. And you’d think it would be up to Blackman Saturday, as LSU allowed only 26 yards on the ground last week in a 41-3 shelling of Washington.
It’s tight atop the Web.com Tour money list going into the Albertsons Boise Open tomorrow, with only $3,232 separating No. 1 and No. 2. Both players, Casey Wittenberg and Luke List, are in the field at Hillcrest Country Club this week. Wittenberg is set for a PGA Tour card next year and is on a roll, making his last six cuts. But winning this tournament would be huge, as it would be Wittenberg’s third Web.com victory of the year. That would give the former Oklahoma State star an immediate promotion to the big tour and exempt status through 2013.
Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge, out of the pro golf spotlight the past couple of years, made the Albertsons Boise Open field through the Monday qualifier, when he shot a 67. Aldridge spent time on the PGA Tour in 2009, making three cuts in 14 events and earning $24,370. He also collected $67,804 on the Web.com Tour that year. Aldridge has played in only seven Web.com events since. Only two other locals are in the field this time, the much-discussed Troy Merritt and Boise’s Ryan Hietala, who’s played in 13 Web.com tournaments this season and made three cuts.
The Idaho Stampede and Portland Trail Blazers have jointly announced Michael Peck as the Stampede’s new coach. Peck comes in without any professional coaching experience—then again, he’s been guiding a developmental team of his own the past five seasons. Peck has been coaching the Findlay College Prep program at the Henderson International School outside Las Vegas, arguably the top high school team in the country. He went 157-8 at Findlay and won the National High School Invitational three of the past four years. Peck’s teams also went 14-2 on ESPN. Six of his former players are currently in the NBA. This is a unique hire by the Blazers, one that might prove to be a perfect fit in the D-League. Peck will be in Boise early next week.
Defensemen often define the personality of a hockey team, and new Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph has brought in Scott Fletcher and Scott Todd to that end. Fletcher is an ECHL veteran who played last season for Toledo, Florida and Trenton. He has accumulated 267 penalty minutes the past two seasons. Todd is a 6-4, 230-pound rookie out of the University of Windsor in Canada.
This Day In Sports…September 12, 1999:
The reincarnation of the Cleveland Browns franchise makes its debut, suffering a 41-0 rout at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was three years after the original Browns, a fixture in Cleveland for 50 years, were moved to Baltimore by the late Art Modell and became the Ravens. This version of the Browns was an expansion team, though it used the same basic uniforms and color scheme.
(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.)