Monday, August 16, 2010.
It’s safe to assume the strength of the Boise State defense against the run can help account for the net zero rushing yards posted by the offense in the Broncos’ first fall camp scrimmage Saturday. But you can’t assume Virginia Tech isn’t also capable of run stoppage on Labor Day. That was the one unsettling aspect of the scrum. The Bronco defense looked outstanding, but it registered that goose egg minus four key starters who were held out: Ryan Winterswyk, Billy Winn, Winston Venable and Brandyn Thompson. That Boise State will need its ground game against the Hokies goes without saying. The Broncos spent precious time in the film room yesterday dissecting it.
From my viewpoint, though, the quarterbacks looked very good. The most important one, that Kellen Moore guy, was his cool, calm, collected self. Moore was 14-of-20 for 135 yards and two touchdowns, one of them capping a 75-yard drive. Joe Southwick, who’s looking more and more like Kellen’s backup, had some misfires. But Southwick counteracted those with big plays, including a 25-yard touchdown strike to Geraldo Hiwat.
For future reference (like 2012?), true freshman Grant Hedrick was solid. Hedrick, working with a lot of guys who’ll be populating the scout team this season, completed his first eight passes. And the ninth wasn’t bad—he connected in the corner of the endzone with fellow incoming freshman Matt Miller, who was just out of bounds. “Grant is a poised guy,” said coach Chris Petersen of Hedrick, who made numerous plays off scrambles. “He can really run.”
D.J. Harper’s line in the box score won’t tell you the whole scope of what the day meant for him. Harper was credited with minus-13 yards rushing, but 12 negative yards should have gone to the team after he had to chase down a bad snap. The play of the day in Petersen’s mind was Harper being nailed for a five-yard loss by Aaron Tevis. A good play for not only Tevis, but Harper, said Pete. “That was the exact same play that he hurt his knee on at Fresno,” Petersen noted. “It was a good thing that he was able to take that shot and put it behind him.” The old Harper was on display on the first possession of the day, when he took an outlet pass from Southwick and darted 22 yards.
Oh, did I mention bad snap? Let me insert here that the first-team offensive line, left to right, was Faraji Wright, Nate Potter, Joe Kellogg, Will Lawrence and Brenel Myers. Yes, Kellogg instead of Thomas Byrd at center. Now Byrd is a valuable player—a two-year starter and a coach’s son who acts as the O-line’s field general. But he had this little problem last year: snaps going every which way. And that has to be one of the reasons Byrd is second-team right now. The bad snap Harper had to retrieve was sprayed into the backfield by Byrd. And it happened with Southwick under center. “We’ll keep practicing that,” said Petersen, stone-faced. In fact, as Pete said that into a circle of media microphones following the scrimmage, Moore and Byrd were by themselves about 15 yards away, briefly working on the exchange.
Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer says his guys are feeding off the matchup against a top five team in fall camp. “I think it makes your summer workouts better and your preseason workouts better, and I think it will make us better by just playing a big team like that early,” Beamer said. “During the summer, nothing says you can’t outwork the guy from Boise State.” Beamer feels that really drove the Hokies during player-run practices in June and July. He also says he’s been a little blindsided by the lineup the Broncos will bring in three weeks from tonight. “When I said we’d play them, I didn’t realize they had everyone coming back. Seriously.”
Just like every other coach in America, Idaho’s Robb Akey will preach the “one game at a time” mantra. But U of I president Duane Nellis strayed from that philosophy a bit Friday when he dropped by the Vandals’ practice. Akey stopped drills for about 10 minutes so that Nellis could speak to the team, and Dana Strong of the Lewiston Morning Tribune writes, “Near the end of his address, Nellis expressed his anticipation of a Vandal victory when No. 5 Boise State visits Moscow in November. The players' reaction to this prediction was subdued, not due to a lack of confidence but rather due to the fact that no extra motivation is required for that particular game.” And, perhaps, the fact that it was only August 13.
Former Boise State star Kyle Wilson gets to dust it off tonight as the Jets and Giants christen their New Meadowlands Stadium on preseason Monday Night Football. Wilson will command a lot of attention as he takes the spot normally occupied by absent star Darrelle Revis. Matching the talent of Revis isn’t really the biggest challenge according to Wilson, the Jets’ first round draft pick back in April. While the standard reaction to life in the NFL by rookies involves the speed of the game and the size of the players, Wilson sees it as going back to football school. “The guys are a little bit bigger,” said Wilson. “But the big thing is the mental part of the game. It’s so much more intricate. You really have to take stuff home and study it, and really understand this new craft.”
Boise Hawks manager Jody Davis was welcomed back last night by a resourceful offensive effort as the Hawks dropped Everett for the second straight night, 8-4. The Hawks peppered the AquaSox with 14 base hits—12 singles and two doubles—and used a couple of three-run innings to get separation. Northwest League batting leader Alvaro Ramirez got his average back up to .386 with a 3-for-4 performance, and Jesus Morelli was 3-for-5 with two runs batted in. Davis must have enjoyed it; it was the AquaSox against whom he pulled his team off the field last weekend in Everett, causing the penalty to be levied by the Northwest League. The teams play the third of their five-game series tonight at Memorial Stadium.
The ending wasn’t what the North Boise Little League All-Stars had hoped for in San Bernardino, but it was an unforgettable experience. The boys played two games on national TV and made it to the Northwest Regional championship game Saturday night, where they were 10-runned by Auburn, Washington, in a 13-3 loss. But North Boise’s Tyler Oldenburg made ESPN’s Plays of the Day later that night. Oldenburg’s monster home run in the first inning cleared the fence and a couple concession stands and was No. 2 on the ESPN list.
This Day In Sports…August 16, 1954:
A concept some thought was unworkable is born, as the first issue of Sports Illustrated is published. On the cover was one of the top young sluggers of that era, Eddie Mathews of the Milwaukee Braves. At the time he was overshadowing another young slugger in his rookie season: starting rightfielder Hank Aaron, who would hit a modest 13 home runs that year. This week’s SI cover subject, Boise State football, was then known as Boise Junior College and was gathering for its modest fall camp. The Broncos would go 9-1 in 1954 under coach Lyle Smith.
(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.)