Thursday, September 5, 2013.
“Call-out” might be a strong term for it, but Boise State coach Chris Petersen has made it clear this week that his wide receivers did not play the way they needed to at Washington. “I thought the receivers were average, which affected our whole pass game,” Petersen said. “When they give you chances, you’ve got to strike.” It’s a veteran group that should have the savvy to get separation from defenders and go get jump balls, but the wideouts did neither in the loss to the Huskies. The most glaring absence in the box score is Aaron Burks. He was wide open on a deep attempt that was overthrown by Joe Southwick. But Burks, who with Geraldo Boldewijn is supposed to reach into that reservoir of potential as a senior, did not have a catch at UW. That’s out of 29 receptions the Broncos logged in the game.
Boldewijn led Boise State with eight catches for 62 yards at Husky Stadium. His longest grab went for 16 yards, but that was as good as it got through the air for the Broncos. Matt Miller was unable to work his way into open space much last Saturday, but he still had six catches and is now in the top 10 on Boise State’s career receptions list with 134. Kirby Moore also had six grabs and fought for a couple key first downs. Expectations for Shane Williams-Rhodes were not met, though, with just two catches for 19 yards, both in the final two minutes of the game. In addition, the tight end group gathered in only two receptions.
This is tucked into Boise State’s game notes this week, and it’s kind of ironic. The six points the Broncos put up at Washington were the program’s fewest since 1997, when they were shut out 58-0 by Rose Bowl-bound Washington State. But at least they scored. If Boise State gets on the board against Tennessee-Martin Saturday, it will be the 200th consecutive game in which it has scored. It’s amazing that in 45-plus seasons of four-year football, the Broncos have only been shut out twice. Idaho fans would be disappointed if I didn’t mention the other one—a 37-0 Vandal win in Bronco Stadium in 1984.
Petersen has often called cornerback the most scrutinized position on the field, because when a guy gets beat, he’s the only one the fans see. There’ll be 30,000 sets of eyes zeroing in on the corners when Tennessee-Martin goes against the Bronco defense Saturday. It takes a village, though. Boise State’s front seven was not able to get pressure last week on Keith Price, who camped in the pocket waiting for open targets. So when you see that the Broncos have already allowed half as many touchdown passes as they did through the entire 2012 season, there’s plenty of blame to go around. For the record, Boise State allowed just four passing TDs last year, the fewest in the country. Price, of course, threw two last week.
The complexion of Idaho’s upcoming schedule has changed a little bit based on Week 1 happenings. Wyoming’s offense looked eminently potent in a three-point loss at Nebraska, and it now faces a Vandal defense that struggled mightily in a 40-6 loss at North Texas. And it happens at 7,200 feet in Laramie. As good as the Idaho offense promises to be, it’s the other side of the ball that will determine if the Vandals can produce some upward mobility in Paul Petrino’s first season. Idaho’s home opener is a week from Saturday versus Northern Illinois, last season’s BCS buster which will be coming off a bye week following a 30-27 win at Iowa. It’s a tough way for Petrino to gain traction as a new head coach.
Talk of the trench battle between Ryan Clady and former teammate Elvis Dumervil has been all the rage as Denver opens the NFL season by hosting Baltimore tonight at Invesco Field. Dumervil signed with the Ravens during the offseason after starring on the Denver defensive line for six seasons. Clady, the former Boise State star, is going into his sixth year with the Broncos and has been named one of the team’s captains. He allowed only one sack last season (one more than most seasons) and parlayed that into a new five-year contract in July that could be worth up to $57.5 million. Clady is paid to keep Peyton Manning’s jersey clean, and he’ll try to do that against a familiar face tonight.
The Boise Hawks have been streaky this season, but they’ve chosen a good time to get hot again. The Hawks blasted out to an 11-4 lead in the fifth inning last night at Salem-Keizer and went on to an 11-7 victory, advancing to the Northwest League Championship Series. And what a way to end it. The Volcanoes had a runner on second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and he tried to advance on a pitch that skipped to the plate. But Boise catcher Lance Rymel gunned him down at third base to end the game. The biggest bat last night belonged to Justin Marra, who hit two doubles and knocked in four runs. Kevin Encarnacion remained en fuego—he was 3-for-5 and went 24-for-46 this season against Salem-Keizer.
It was quite an accomplishment for a Boise team that ended the regular season on a five-game skid. The Hawks had never beaten Salem-Keizer in a playoff series—in fact, they had never even won a postseason game at Volcanoes Stadium. Vancouver completed a sweep of Everett last night in the North Division playoffs. The Hawks will now face the Canadians in the Northwest Championship Series beginning tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium.
Former Boise Hawk Josh Donaldson slugged his 20th home run of the season yesterday, helping Oakland to an 11-4 win over Texas that pulled the A’s back into a first-place tie with the Rangers in the American League West. Donaldson’s homer was a three-run shot, giving him 80 RBI. Oakland has won nine of its last 10 games to set up another see-saw September showdown with Texas. “It should be fun,” said Donaldson, who is enjoying by far his best major league season. He’s been the A’s most consistent position player and is hitting .293.
The second leg of the inaugural Web.com Tour Finals tees off today at the Chiquita Classic in Davidson, NC. Former Bronco Troy Merritt will be there, trying to continue his rejuvenation. Merritt tied for 15th in the first stage of the Finals last week, and that becomes his official standing in the series. There are 25 players in the Finals who have already earned PGA Tour cards—those are the Web.com circuit’s Top 25 from the regular season. The final PGA Tour cards for next season will go to the top 25 at the end of the Finals who don’t already have them. So Merritt has given himself new life.
This was a nice touch the last two years, and it attracted 4,813 fans last October, according to the Idaho Steelheads. So the Steelheads are bringing back their “Season-Ticket Holder Only” preseason game on Saturday, October 12. The Steelies will host the Utah Grizzlies at CenturyLink Arena, with admission to season ticket holders and their invited guests. It’ll be part of a two-game exhibition series with Utah—the two teams will play in Logan the previous night.
Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice co-hosted the Bob & Murph Show yesterday on KTIK with Bob Behler. Believe it or not, Rice and the Broncos are just over three weeks away from the start of fall practice. Behler tried to get Rice to talk about Boise State’s game at Kentucky in December, but the coach said there’s “a lot of water to go under the bridge” before that game arrives. He did offer this nugget, though: “They’ve probably got the No. 1 team in the country, and if they split their team in half, they probably have the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the country.” As for the Broncos, USA Today tabbed them yesterday as the nation’s No. 48 team in its preseason countdown.
This Day In Sports…September 5, 1983, 30 years ago today:
On Monday Night Football, Redskin' wide receiver Alvin Garrett uses a herky-jerky maneuver to get a first down against the Cowboys. On the replay, Howard Cosell remarks, "That little monkey gets loose, doesn't he?" The apparent comparison of Garrett, an African American, to a primate got Cosell in a heap of trouble. However video evidence surfaced of Cosell using "little monkey" to describe white players as well. The incident wore on Cosell as the season progressed. By the end of the year, Cosell was so bitter with football and all sports that he resigned from the ABC booth.
(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.)