Friday, March 2, 2012.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen’s one-hour tour of KTIK’s Idaho SportsTalk is over, and he left plenty of food for thought. Yesterday’s hottest topic, of course, was the Broncos’ impending four-way quarterback battle between Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea and Nick Patti that will commence when spring football begins March 12. The most emphatic tone Petersen struck during the hour was when he said, “We are always going to play to our quarterback’s strengths.” And he acknowledged the obvious: there will be different strengths this year, as all four are capable runners. Does Laughrea have the strongest arm of the quartet? “No question—cannon,” said Petersen, who immediately added that doesn’t mean a lick. “It’s decision-making and accuracy.”
Boise State won’t have a starter identified by the end of spring football. “That’s not going to happen,” Petersen said. This is going to be quite a process. “Joe knows the most, Grant Hedrick knows the next-most, then Jimmy Laughrea, and Nick Patti’s learning fast,” said Petersen. “It’s such a hard position (at Boise State)—it’s even hard to call our snap count.”
Petersen is settling in with a revamped coaching staff this year. He lost three coaches during the offseason after losing only three assistants in the previous five years combined. Turnover may have been overdue. “Make no mistake—every year, every guy on our staff has been offered multiple jobs,” said Petersen. The upside is new energy and new ideas, and this season that begins with new offensive coordinator Robert Prince, who just returned to the Broncos a year ago as wide receivers coach. “I think the beautiful thing is—he’s a Boise State guy,” Petersen said of Prince. “We know what we like. And he’s all about that.”
The subject of Boise State’s early entry into the Big East, now tabled, was broached with Petersen. “I still thought it would be better to go in 2013,” he said. “This is going to be a much different team than we’ve had the past three years.” Although Petersen says “rebuild” is not in his vocabulary and “reload” is, one more year in the more familiar Mountain West is appropriate. “In 2013 we’re going to have the most difficult schedule in the history of Boise State football,” he said. Petersen wasn’t asked about the scheduling of FCS Tennessee-Martin in 2013, but you can consider that an answer. I am interested in what Pete said was the “noise” still out there about Boise State’s conference arrangement.
Petersen revealed yesterday that former Boise State center Thomas Byrd has started down his expected career path. Byrd will be offensive line coach at Contra Costa College in his native Bay Area. He was always considered a “coach on the field” during his four years as a starter. At any rate, Byrd is now officially a part of the Broncos’ past. As for the future, Boise State has a late addition to is 2012 recruiting class, as Scout.com reports offensive lineman Archie Lewis of Rancho Cucamonga, CA, has signed a National Letter of Intent. Scout.com lists Lewis at 6-4, 250 pounds (calling Tim Socha).
Ah, the perils of the Pit. Boise State is about to see it up close and personal tomorrow as the regular season ends at New Mexico. The Lobos’ venerable home floor could hardly be more inhospitable—the average crowd at the Pit is 14,336. The Broncos certainly don’t want to pick up where they left off against New Mexico. Boise State shot just 31 percent, including 6-of-28 from beyond the arc, as UNM smothered the Broncos 65-49 a month ago in Taco Bell Arena. And this difficulty in reaching the 60-point mark kind of sticks out for Boise State going into tomorrow’s game. The Lobos are undefeated over its last 62 games when holding teams to fewer than 60 points, including a 56-0 mark under Steve Alford.
The third try was a charm last night for the Idaho Stampede, as they finally solved the L.A. D-Fenders. The Stampede busted out to an 18-point halftime lead and cruised home with a 101-93 win after dropping two straight to the D-Fenders. The victory snapped L.A.’s 10-game winning streak. Veteran center Mikki Moore posted a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, leading six Stamps in double figures. The Stampede now face five straight road games, beginning with a pair against their old CBA colleagues, the Dakota Wizards, Sunday and Monday in Bismarck.
A team with an eight-game losing streak is happy to find positives. The Idaho Steelheads can look to their rejuvenated power play, which has converted eight of its last 32 chances. Compare that to the nightmarish 4-for-70 power play run the Steelheads experienced early in the year. Individually, forward Tommy Lange has ten points in 14 games with Idaho this season. And forward Michael Neal has set career highs this season with 14 assists and 20 points. Neal has played 150 games for the Steelies, yet he’s still the youngest player on the roster at 22 years old. The Steelheads try to accentuate the positive and snap their skid when they face the Las Vegas Wranglers tonight and tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena.
Colorado Eagles forward Joey Sides, a native of Sun Valley, is the ECHL Plus Performer of the Month for February after leading the league with a plus-minus rating of +13. If you’ve forgotten, that means how many goals your side scored while you were on the ice versus the number of goals your opponent scored. Sides moved away from Sun Valley during high school to pursue his hockey career. He remains good friends with Cody Lampl, the Utah Grizzlies defenseman from Ketchum who played for the Steelheads the past two seasons. Sides is rooting for a Colorado-Idaho first round matchup in the Kelly Cup Playoffs next month so he can play some more games in Boise.
Other weekend doings: the Treasure Valley has a 75 percent chance of taking home the state 5A basketball title, with Borah facing Timberline and Mountain View taking on Post Falls in tonight’s semifinals at the Idaho Center. Borah’s winning streak reached 21 games yesterday with a 49-45 quarterfinal win over Coeur d’Alene. And there’s one rivalry that hasn’t gone by the wayside with Boise State’s move to the Mountain West. That’s because the Bronco gymnastics team is an independent and can continue its series with BSU’s biggest rival in that sport, Utah State. The Broncos and Aggies will meet for the 82nd time tonight in Taco Bell Arena, with USU holding a 55-26 series lead. Boise State has the edge this year on paper, but the Aggies upset the Broncos five weeks ago in Logan.
This Day In Sports…March 2, 1982:
The birthday of one of the most impactful NFL quarterbacks of the new century. Ben Roethlisberger was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round draft pick in 2004 out of Miami (Ohio)—then became the youngest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl when the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks to cap his second season. Big Ben won another Super Bowl three years later when the Steelers triumphed over the Arizona Cardinals, throwing the winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes with 35 seconds left. Ben Roethlisberger…30 years old today.
(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.)