Friday, September 17, 2010.
What do you need if you’re going to compete at 7200 feet? Lots of interchangeable players. And that’s what Boise State takes to Wyoming tomorrow night, especially on defense. The Broncos didn’t wear down against Virginia Tech on Labor Day. They let down in the middle of the game, but they didn’t wear down, finishing strong in the 33-30 win over the Hokies. Boise State utilized its full arsenal of defensive linemen that night.
Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski had his preferred two waves in the trenches—seven of 10 D-linemen who played record tackles against Tech. The standout, of course, was Shea McClellin, who had four tackles for loss, including 2½ sacks. The most important contributor may have been Tyrone Crawford, though. The junior college transfer helped spell a less-than-100 percent Ryan Winterswyk during a critical stretch of the game.
In fact, Boise State is two-deep all the way across its front seven with the return of Derrell Acrey at middle linebacker. Acrey took his boundless energy back to Washington D.C. for the opener, but he had to expend it from the sidelines due to an ankle injury. At Wyoming, he and Byron Hout will be able to keep each other fresh. Same for Aaron Tevis and J.C. Percy at outside linebacker and Winston Venable and Hunter White at nickel. In the secondary, bigger roles may await Cedric Febis and Jerrell Gavins tomorrow night.
Former Wyoming coach Joe Glenn confirmed the consensus yesterday on Idaho SportsTalk: Austyn Carta-Samuels has to have a big game for the Cowboys to upset Boise State in Laramie. He’s the guy the Broncos have to tame. Coach Chris Petersen compares Carta-Samuels to former Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky. And the Wyo star is starting his sophomore year the way Zabransky did his in 2004. Carta-Samuels has completed 75 percent of his passes for 479 yards and three touchdowns against one interception. But you don’t compare someone to Z without a look at his running ability. Carta-Samuels, wearing No. 5, had an 18-yard touchdown run at Texas last week. His net rushing total over two games is nine yards, though, due to sacks. As Carta-Samuels goes, so go the Pokes.
Wyoming always plays emotional football at War Memorial Stadium, but it could be above and beyond tomorrow. This will be the Cowboys’ first home game since teammate Ruben Narcisse was killed in a car accident. “We’re in a better place right now than we were a week ago,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said at ESPN.com. “We’re moving forward. We’re not trying to move on, but we’re in a better place now than we were.” A different Cowboy will wear Narcisse’s No. 12 jersey each week. Against Boise State, it’ll be junior linebacker Brian Hendricks. Sophomore safety Shamiel Gary had the honor versus Texas last week.
UNLV is going to get used to trips north to the Gem State. Tomorrow night the Rebels face Idaho in Moscow, their first trip to our state since going to both Bronco Stadium and the Kibbie Dome in 1977. That year, Boise State ambushed the Rebels 45-14 in UNLV coach Tony Knap’s homecoming, while Idaho fell to the visitors 35-14 later in the season. The Rebels will be coming to the blue turf every other year when the Broncos join the Mountain West. Of course, the Vandals couldn’t care less about that bit of trivia. They’ll be trying to corral UNLV quarterback Omar Clayton and prolong the Rebels’ football misery. Clayton’s been decent so far—UNLV is one of 32 teams in the FBS that has not thrown an interception in 2010.
The first conference game of the season in the WAC will be enlightening. Utah State, which has seen its share of devastating injuries, hosts Fresno State, which has just been struck with a rash of its own. The Bulldogs dare take nothing for granted in Logan—they’ve lost starting running back Robbie Rouse for at least the USU game because of ankle and shoulder injuries. And speedy wide receiver Devon Wylie could be out for the season with a foot injury. Fresno State won only 31-27 last year at Bulldog Stadium, with Aggies quarterback Diondre Borel rushing for 105 yards.
The biggest non-conference game of the weekend in the WAC is in Reno tonight, where Nevada hosts Cal for the first time since 1915 (the teams have met 24 times over the years in Berkeley). Nevada is feeling some pressure to log a marquee win. The Reno Gazette-Journal came up with this nugget: Since coach Chris Ault returned to the sidelines in 2004, the Wolf Pack is 2-18 against BCS schools, Boise State and its bowl game competition. Nevada has been outscored by an average of 43-23 in those games. The Pack has lost eight straight to BCS schools. So everyone wants to know if it means anything that Nevada leads the nation in total offense at 592 yards per game—or that the Wolf Pack defense limited Colorado State to six points last week. The Bears are favored tonight by 2½ points.
The Denver Broncos are wondering if they’ll get the old Ryan Clady back for Sunday’s game against Seattle at Invesco Field. Because it sure looked like they had a rusty Clady in their 24-17 loss at Jacksonville last week. Clady, who suffered a torn patellar tendon playing basketball back in April, yielded 2½ sacks against the Jaguars. This is a guy who allowed only half a sack his entire rookie season in 2008. The former Boise State star was first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler last season. Even at les than 100 percent, Clady’s still the best Denver’s got to protect Kyle Orton’s blind side at left tackle. Going into this season the Sporting News had ranked Clady the 20th best player in the NFL—and the second-best O-lineman.
Cliff Kresge had a career day yesterday, and that’s saying something when you’re 41 years old. Kresge shot his best-ever round in a Nationwide or PGA Tour event, carding an eight-under-63 for sole possession of first place after the first round of the Albertsons Boise Open. Kresge put up seven birdies and an eagle. He needed ‘em—Thursday's scoring average of 69.731 was the third-lowest opening round average in the tournament's 21-year history. Kresge leads by a stroke over Canadian Barrett Jarosch. Notables in a group of 14 that is three shots back are 1995 Boise Open champ Frank Lickliter, Sam Saunders, grandson of Arnold Palmer, and Michael Putnam, who put himself in position for a PGA Tour card with a win last week at the Utah Championship.
Locally speaking, the two guys with high expectations had unexpectedly high scores, as Hillcrest Country Club got the best of them. That would be former Boise State and current PGA Tour rookies Troy Merritt and Graham DeLaet. Merritt bogeyed his final two holes to drop to even-par 71. Merritt said earlier this week on Idaho SportsTalk, “I’ve never gone lights-out at Hillcrest, but maybe I’m saving that for this week.” Hopefully it’s saved up for today’s second round. DeLaet had it worse. He’s near the bottom after five bogeys led to a three-over-74 yesterday. Among the other local ties, Nampa’s Tyler Aldridge, a PGA Tour pro last year, had a one-over 72.
This Day In Sports…September 17, 1994:
Boise State’s magical 1994 season is kick-started in the third game of the year as the Broncos upset Nevada, their only Division I-A opponent, 37-27. Offensive coordinator Al Borges emptied the playbook, scoring touchdowns on a flea flicker and a hook-and-lateral to beat a team that had pounded BSU the year before in Reno, 38-10. Nevada would go on to a 9-2 season, and Boise State would be 13-2 after a trip to the Division I-AA national championship game.
(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 1350 KTIK/The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)