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Spread offenses and the effect on Boise State

Spread offenses and the effect on Boise State

by Tom Scott

Bio | Follow: @thescottslant


Posted on November 12, 2013 at 8:28 AM

Tuesday, November 12, 2013.

As expected, Boise State coach Chris Petersen was mum at his Monday press conference on which players among his injured masses would be back for Saturday night’s game against Wyoming.  Petersen did say none of the injuries suffered at Colorado State—or the week leading into it, as in Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe’s case—was season-ending.  Subject No. 2 was the effect the hurry-up spread attacks are having on what appears to be an acceleration of injuries everywhere in college football.  Petersen won’t go as far as to say the no-huddle offenses have fostered an increase in injuries.  Yet.  “I think there needs to be a study done,” he said.  “But the guys we got hurt (at Colorado State)—it was earlier on.”

The new proliferation of spread offenses this year has created an interesting dynamic for the Boise State defense, one that includes a lot of yards allowed.  Youth has been a factor, but so have the injuries.  Linebacker Corey Bell doesn’t want to come out and blame the general change in offensive philosophy in college football either.  “I don’t know if that’s why, or if it’s just freak things that happen,” said the Capital High grad.  But playing 109 snaps on defense, like the Broncos did at Colorado State?  “That’ll take a little toll on your body after awhile,” Bell said.  Players having to fill in at unfamiliar positions due to injuries—like Bell and Kharyee Marshall, among others, had to to at CSU—isn’t necessarily a bad thing according to Bell.  “I think overall it grows you as a player and gets you understanding the defense a little better,” he said.

Petersen said yesterday quarterback Joe Southwick could be back from his broken ankle in the next couple of weeks.  Saturday will mark four weeks since the injury against Nevada.  Petersen acknowledges Southwick is champing at the bit to get back on the field, but Boise State will leave it to the doctors to decide.  You can’t predict what life will be like for a guy on a newly-healed ankle in a sport like football.  “It’s one thing to stay in the pocket, it’s another thing to have to run for your life to get out of there,” said Petersen.  One problem former Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie had when he returned from his broken ankle 11 years ago was bulk.  Dinwiddie lost a lot of weight during his six weeks of down time.  That’s apparently not the case with Southwick.  “He might even weight more—he’s been eating more,” quipped Petersen. 

Jamar Taylor didn’t get the chance to tackle Doug Martin on Monday Night Football last night, with his former Boise State teammate out for the season now with a torn labrum.  Turns out Miami’s second-round draft pick didn’t get to tackle anybody—he played but didn’t record a stop in the Dolphins’ 22-19 loss to Tampa Bay, which finally picked up its first victory of the season.

Boise State received 24 points in college basketball’s AP Poll this week and is sixth among those bubbling under the Top 25 in the “Others Receiving Votes” category.  The Broncos garnered 14 points in the Coaches Poll and is fifth in line there, tied with Cal.  Boise State’s December 10 opponent, Kentucky, is still No. 1 in both polls.  New Mexico remains the only Mountain West team in the rankings, rising from 23rd to 22nd in AP and dropping from No. 20 to No. 21 in the Coaches Poll after an 88-52 win over Alabama A&M Saturday.  In the Mountain West last night, No. 15 Gonzaga routed Colorado State, 93-61.  The Rams are replacing all five starters from last season’s 26-9 team.

One sidebar to the hoops opener last Friday was attendance.  Not only was the crowd of 5,662 Boise State’s largest for a home opener in eight years, it dwarfed the throngs out of the gate last season.  The Broncos drew just 1,950 for last year’s Taco Bell Arena debut against Texas Southern.  To be fair, that was on a Sunday afternoon.  Two days later Boise State hosted Oakland University for a night game and attracted 2,616.  The turnout for the UT-Arlington game was impressive considering the challenges this program has faced the past 10 years while football season is still in session.  The fact Boise State is hosting an NAIA opponent (Simpson) this Friday night may not matter as much anymore.

There are many ways to magnify the fact that it’s early in the season with the Idaho Steelheads sporting a 4-4-1 record.  Tomorrow night’s game versus Ontario in CenturyLink Arena will mark the Steelheads’ eighth straight against three of the hottest teams in the NFL.  Alaska, Ontario and Colorado are a combined 20-5-4, and Idaho has beaten each of them now.  The Steelies have gone 3-3-1 against the trio over the past seven outings.  The schedule is a bit more forgiving later this month.  And then there’s this: Reading started 1-6-1 last season and then basically steamrolled its way to the Kelly Cup championship.

Lee Leslie was the subject of a very painful interview yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk.  The Kuna High football coach was updating listeners on Boone Bartlome, the Kaveman player who broke his neck in the state 4A playoffs last Friday.  Bartlome had successful surgery according to Leslie, getting a titanium plate to stabilize his neck.  But there’s still a lot unknown.  “He’s got a lot of swelling in his neck area,” said Leslie.  “Until the swelling goes down, there’s nothing we can say that will make anyone feel better.”  Bartlome’s tragic injury has hit Kuna hard.  “The kid’s a rodeo champion—he can do everything,” said Leslie.  “He’s (always) the happiest guy in the room.”  The coach thanked the Knights, his former team, for the way they handled it at the time of the injury.  “We decided to pray, and when Bishop Kelly saw that, they rushed over to join us,” he said.  “It was a pretty powerful moment.”

Another passing to note today—one with an interesting local angle.  Ray Willsey, the head coach at Cal from 1964-71, died last week at his home in Hailey.  First of all, Willsey led the Bears’ program during a wrenching time in UC history.  Weeks after the start of his first season in 1964, the “Free Speech Movement” was formed on the Berkeley campus.  It was the beginning of student activism, antiwar protests and sporadic on-campus violence that Cal was infamous for during Willsey’s entire tenure.  He later spent seven years on the Raiders’ staff in Oakland and L.A., going to two Super Bowls.

Willsey’s daughter, Louise Poole, has lived in Boise for 12 years with her husband and children.  Willsey consequently moved to Hailey several years ago to be closer to them.  He spent a lot of time in Boise.  A friend of Poole’s (and mine) took Willsey to a Boise State game while Kellen Moore and Doug Martin were ruling the roost.  He commented that Coach Pete's offense was the most creative he had ever seen,” says the friend.  “He was impressed at the way the Broncos schemes did not telegraph the plays.  He said he couldn't predict what play was coming, and that Kellen was the real deal.”  This from a former NFL offensive coordinator and Pac-8 head coach. 

This Day In Sports…November 12, 1977:

Boise State tailback Cedric Minter goes one up on his fellow true freshman running mate, Terry Zahner.  Minter notched the second 200-yard rushing game in BSU history, going for 210 in a 42-21 win over Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.  Zahner had become the Broncos’ first 200-yard rusher three games earlier, gaining 205 against Northern Arizona.

(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.)