Monday, October 8, 2012.
It wasn’t scary for Boise State like it was a week before at New Mexico, but it was just as odd. The Broncos were outgained by 114 yards—and won by 26 points in a 40-14 triumph Saturday at Southern Miss. The Broncos may have gone 0-fer on third down conversions for three quarters (they were 2-of-11 for the game), but they were four-of-five converting turnovers to touchdowns. For some reason, the Boise State offense cranked it up a notch when the defense and special teams gave it the ball on an otherwise average day. The four TDs off turnovers put Southern Miss away. Total yardage for the Broncos on those four drives was 117 yards, and it all took only nine plays. All four of the possessions combined took just over 2½ minutes of clock time.
Safe to say coach Chris Petersen is bothered by Boise State’s other 54 offensive snaps. The Broncos managed only 193 yards on those—3.6 yards per plays. “We’re running some base plays and we’re getting them blown up,” said Petersen on his KBOI postgame show. “We’re having negative plays for no reason.” There’s also concern over a defense that, despite being so turnover-happy, allowed four plays of 30 yards or longer. Boise State likely won’t be able to get away with that against a rejuvenated Fresno State offense this week. “We’ll see how good we are on defense,” Petersen said. “They are a juggernaut.”
Chris Potter had a big hand in Saturday's victory, if a little unsung. The senior wide receiver had two punt returns for 37 yards, the second one a 24-yarder that set up Boise State's final scoring drive. Potter caught that dagger 33-yard touchdown pass with six seconds left in the first half, and he called signals in the wildcat, starting the Jack Fields-to-D.J. Harper inside reverse that resulted in an 11-yard touchdown. For the season, three of Potter's seven catches have gone for TDs, leading the team. And his punt returns are going to be on the rise with Mitch Burroughs out right now.
Boise State has been playing around with this all season, but it looks like it has found a kickoff groove. The Broncos have decided to take college football's new kickoff rules and run with them. Trevor Harman is basically booting the ball somewhere between the goal line and the five-yard line and letting the other 10 guys have at it. There wasn't a single touchback among Boise State's eight kickoffs Saturday, yet only one Southern Miss return made it as far as the 25-yard line, the new line of demarcation for touchbacks on kickoffs this year. Average field position after kickoffs for the Golden Eagles was on their own 21.
Kirby Moore collected his first touchdown of the season Saturday on a 27-yard pass from Joe Southwick in the fourth quarter. Moore has always seemed like he should be six points waiting to happen. He set the national high school career record for touchdown catches three years ago with a staggering 95 at Prosser High School in Washington. Out of Moore’s 58 career receptions at Boise State, four have gone for touchdowns. Maybe this sparks a scoring spree for the 6-3, 203-pound junior.
Boise State keeps bouncing around at the bottom of the Top 25, and this week the Broncos have bounced back into the AP Poll at No. 24 after the win over Southern Miss. They moved from 25th to 22nd in the Coaches Poll. What’s interesting now is the pecking order among non-BCS schools. Boise State no longer has the rankings all to itself among mid-majors. In fact, Louisiana Tech debuted in the polls this week and is ahead of the Broncos on the AP list, at No. 23. The Bulldogs, now 5-0 after drilling UNLV 58-31, are No. 24 in the Coaches Poll. In the first Harris Poll, Boise State is 22nd and La Tech is 24th.
After almost grabbing his first NFL catch and touchdown on the same play last week (it was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty), former Boise State tight end Tommy Gallarda settled for the catch yesterday. Gallarda’s initial NFL grab was a seven-yarder from Matt Ryan in the Falcons’ 24-17 win over the Redskins. Billy Winn continues to get a lot of snaps for Cleveland—he had two tackles and a quarterback hit on Eli Manning in the Browns’ 41-27 loss to the Giants. A lot of Boise State products had byes this weekend, including Tyrone Crawford, who attended the Southern Miss game Saturday, Doug Martin, and Titus Young. Oh, and Kellen Moore.
Nothing stunning over the weekend in the Mountain West, except perhaps a margin of victory. Nevada, with Cody Fajardo sidelined by back spasms, needed a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Devin Combs with 1:18 left to send its game against Wyoming into overtime. Then Combs struck again in OT as the Wolf Pack survived, 35-28. The Cowboys were also without their starter, Brett Smith, who was ejected in the fourth quarter after being called for his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game. Smith was tagged after reacting to officials who picked up a flag they had thrown against Nevada when Wyo was trying to run out the clock.
No more goose egg in the win column for Idaho, as the Vandals gutted out a 26-18 win over New Mexico State Saturday in the Kibbie Dome. Trey Farquhar captured another national Placekicker of the Week honor from College Football Performance Awards after nailing four field goals in the game, including boots of 55 and 53 yards. The 55-yarder came on the final play of the first half, and it had room to spare, giving Idaho a 20-10 lead. The Vandals also got 304 yards passing from Dominique Blackman, who went 26-of-48 with two touchdowns and one interception and was not sacked. And the Idaho defense forced four Aggie turnovers. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season and gave the Vandals a 1-0 record in the WAC.
The Idaho Steelheads got a good showing from new goalie Ryan Zapolski in Saturday night’s 3-1 exhibition win over the Utah Grizzlies, but they’ll have a two-way competition going into Opening Night this week nevertheless. Zapolski stopped 36 of 37 Utah shots and was backed by goals from Ron Meyers, Corey Tamblyn and Mike Towns in front of season ticket holders and friends in CenturyLink Arena. Now the AHL assignments begin in earnest, and the Steelies will be getting rookie netminder Josh Robinson from the Texas Stars. Robinson played his college hockey at Michigan Tech. The Steelheads fell to the Grizzlies in their first exhibition game Friday night in Logan by an identical 3-1 score.
Former Boise Hawk Al Alburquerque has his first major league postseason victory, and he only pitched one-third of an inning to get it. It was a pressure-packed and controversial appearance, though. Alburquerque was summoned by Detroit in the top of the ninth with two outs and Oakland runners on first and third in a 4-4 game. The 26-year-old righthander forced A’s star Yoenis Cespedes into a comebacker to end the inning—the Tigers then won it in the bottom of the ninth to take a two games-to-none lead in the AL Divisional Series. Thing is, Alburquerque incensed the A’s by kissing the baseball before he underhanded it to first base. Former Hawks Josh Donaldson and Jerry Blevins are playing for Oakland in the playoffs. Both played in Game 1 in Detroit, with Donaldson going 0-for-4 and Blevins pitching an inning of scoreless relief.
This Day In Sports…October 8, 1995:
Probably the most memorable moment in Seattle Mariners history, as Edgar Martinez beats the Yankees in the Kingdome with a dramatic double in the playoffs. Martinez, a 2007 inductee into Boise’s World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame, brought home the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 11th inning to rally the M’s to a 6-5 win, sending them to the American League Championship Series for the first time. Seattle would, however, lose the ALCS in six games to the Cleveland Indians.
(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.)