Wednesday, March 24, 2010.
Talk about interchangeable parts. There may have never been an offensive line like the one Boise State is putting together. And the first public peek at this newest transformation of a perennially strong Bronco position group comes today at the first scrimmage of spring football. No one personifies it better than Brenel Myers, a guy few had heard of even through the first month of last season. Myers started at guard in place of the now-retired Kevin Sapien against UC Davis when Sapien took a much-needed week off last October. Then Myers made his unexpected and now-famous start at tackle in the Fiesta Bowl opposite TCU superstar Jerry Hughes after Garrett Pendergast broke his ankle two weeks before the game.
You can’t just throw a greenhorn into the fire against one of the best defensive ends in the country and not believe in him. Myers made the coaching staff look good—and made believers out of everybody else. And coach Chris Petersen says the 6-2, 267-pound sophomore did so courageously. “Brenel played with one cast in the Davis game, and came out of the game with two casts,” said Petersen. “I don’t know if he was even healthy in the Fiesta Bowl.” Now, Myers is getting a look at guard again. And he’s just one horse on a positive merry-go-round.
You also have a first-team All-WAC offensive tackle, Nate Potter, experimenting at guard. That’s because redshirt freshman Charles Leno Jr. and sophomore Faraji Wright are deserving of a serious look at tackle. And with centers Thomas Byrd and Cory Yriarte injured for spring ball, it’s all on Bronson Durrant, listed as a guard, to make sure Boise State’s hiking hell is a thing of the past. “We’re really counting on him,” Petersen said of Durrant. “Snapping the ball is so important, and I don’t say that facetiously.” It would be better if no positions were specified for any of the Boise State offensive linemen. Who’s to say O-line coach Chris Strausser couldn’t switch ‘em up play-to-play this fall? It wouldn’t be out of character for the Broncos.
If you’ve been following Bronco football for 20 years, you may remember Joe Santoro, who wrote a snide column in the Reno Gazette-Journal lampooning all things Boise State the morning of the BSU-Nevada Division I-AA playoff game in 1990. He said the Wolf Pack would absolutely beat the Broncos that December day, and they did. But it was in triple-overtime, 59-52, in one of the all-time classics. Well, Santoro is still in the Reno area, now working for the Lahontan Valley News. His take on Boise State and Nevada now?
“It is not out of the realm of possibility to imagine the Wolf Pack playing Boise State on November 26 for a BCS bowl game spot,” writes Santoro. “Stop laughing. Dare to dream, Pack fans. The Pack can beat Cal at home. They've beaten BYU before and they beat UNLV every year. They aren't going to lose to Eastern Washington, Colorado State, San Jose State, Utah State and New Mexico State at home. Trips to Fresno, Idaho, Hawaii and Louisiana Tech won't scare this team. The only WAC team that is in their heads is Boise. And that game is at home. It's time. It's definitely time.”
It’s kind of a backward way to look at it, but NFL scouts want to make sure what they saw during Senior Bowl week in January wasn’t a mirage. They’d like to see Kyle Wilson do in footwork drills what he did on the field in Mobile, and they’ll get their chance during Boise State’s Pro Day on Friday at the Caven-Williams indoor facility. Wilson was unable to run at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, so he’ll turn it loose in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles, vertical jump, and broad jump. Wilson unofficially ran a 4.3 in the 40 during the Broncos’ Junior Day last May.
It took Hawaii 11 days to hire its new men’s basketball coach, Gib Arnold. It’ll take probably Boise State a bit longer (it’s been 12 days already since Greg Graham’s firing). The Broncos, with seven seniors returning next season, don’t have the sense of urgency the Rainbow Warriors did. Hawaii lost four seniors off a team that was already woeful, so it needs Arnold, who coached at College of Southern Idaho from 2003-05, to get on the recruiting trail right away. The signing period for basketball begins on April 14. Unlike football’s National Letter of Intent Day, it doesn’t all happen in one day, though.
With a sweep of a three-game series at Utah starting tonight, the Idaho Stampede can regain control of their own destiny in the D-League playoff race. Right now the Stampede are a game and a half out of a playoff spot, and one of the teams they’re competing with is Utah. The Flash have been, shall we say, inconsistently consistent. They’ve been alternating wins and losses over the last nine games. Last Friday, Utah beat the L.A. D-Fenders by 21 points—then lost to the same team Sunday by 20. So the Stamps don’t know what they’re going to get tonight.
We interrupt the Idaho Steelheads’ Mark Derlago watch for an Ashton Rome watch. Rome has returned to Idaho from an AHL callup with Hershey and will be in uniform tonight when the Steelheads open a three-game series against Victoria in Qwest Arena. The Steelies will also have another new rookie face to throw at the Salmon Kings. They’ve signed defenseman Brett Blatchford, who recently finished his college career at Notre Dame. As for that Derlago watch, the ultra-talented left wing is one point short of Marty Flichel’s team ECHL-era single-season scoring record of 87 points. Derlago is also one goal short of Flichel’s and D’Arcy McConvey’s season mark of 39. It’s not a stretch to call Derlago a frontrunner for the league’s MVP award this season.
There is college baseball being played in the valley this week—good college baseball. The College of Idaho hosts its annual home series with perennial NAIA champion Lewis-Clark State, with single games today and tomorrow. The Warriors are 19-2 this season after a 15-2 win over Whitworth yesterday in Lewiston. The Coyotes come in at 19-7, with a 13-game home winning streak at Wolfe Field in Caldwell. Meanwhile, NNU is in the midst of a pair of doubleheaders against Hawaii Pacific. The Crusaders split with HPU yesterday and are now 14-13 on the season. The two teams play the second twin bill today at Vail Field in Nampa.
This Day In Sports…March 24, 1980, 30 years ago today:
Darrell Griffith and the “Doctors of Dunk” present Louisville coach Denny Crum with the first of his two national championships as the Cardinals beat UCLA in the NCAA Tournament final, 59-54. For the Bruins, it was the first trip to the title game since the retirement of John Wooden five years earlier. And it was the second stop in Larry Brown’s coaching odyssey.
(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’s also handled color commentary on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football the last five seasons.)