Wednesday, August 22, 2012.
When we talk “supporting cast” at the wideout spot, we’re talking support for Joe Southwick as much as anything. The Boise State receiving corps was already considered one of the strengths of the team. What we saw in the final fall camp scrimmage did nothing to change that—and Southwick should reap the benefits. Senior Mitch Burroughs, who graduated from Meridian High way back in 2006, has gone from grayshirt to role player to key target in the BSU passing game, and he had seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown last Saturday. Burroughs’ nerves have turned steely. And how big a difference will Matt Miller make in the lineup? Miller was held out of last Saturday’s scrimmage. He’s a sophomore who’s already performing like a senior.
But probably most pleasing to the Broncos was the job junior Aaron Burks did Saturday. Burks did the opposite of Burroughs, graduating early from high school and enrolling at Boise State in January of 2009 in order to participate in spring football. But he hasn’t seen the field much, coming into this season with 12 career catches. This should be Burks’ time—and the Broncos need it to be, with Geraldo Boldewijn suspended for the first four games. Burks made three nice catches in traffic in the scrimmage and looked like a dependable option.
The horizon also expanded at wide receiver with thoughts of what true freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes might be able to do. It’s going to be hard to redshirt the dynamic 5-6, 154-pound true freshman. Williams-Rhodes can return punts, run the fly sweep, and turn a quick out into a 40-yard gain the way he did on a completion from Nick Patti in the scrimmage. The only problem coach Chris Petersen had with it: it should have been a 43-yard touchdown, but Williams-Rhodes launched into an Austin Pettis-type somersault into the end zone at the three-yard-line. And from there the Broncos were marched back 15 yards due to this year’s new celebration penalty. “It’s going to be a great lesson,” said Chris Petersen with a grin, no doubt envisioning Williams-Rhodes in some strenuous extracurricular exercise. And there you have your new No. 11.
It was surely a surprise to see someone wearing Boise State jersey No. 1 last Saturday night. It looked like the Broncos would go a second straight season with that uniform hanging in equipment director Dale Holste’s closet. “There were players who asked for it,” said Chris Petersen two weeks ago. “It’s usually all those young guys who come in and ask for it. They’ve got to do something for you before they get it.” Turns out Petersen had told sophomore cornerback Bryan Douglas he could wear No. 1 if he took care of his academics and worked hard during the summer. Douglas did—and he donned the prized single digit for the scrimmage.
The No. 1 jersey has some tradition to it now at Boise State. The last player to wear it was career receiving yards leader Titus Young in 2010. Before that it was eventual first round draft pick Kyle Wilson. And before that it was Jerard Rabb, the most interesting possessor of the numeral. When Rabb came to Boise State, he wanted No. 2. That was already taken by Gerald Alexander, so Rabb settled for No. 1 (and finished his career with the most famous hook-and-lateral in college football history). Chris Carr, now in his eighth NFL season, wore No. 1 during his junior and senior seasons in 2003-04. And Jay Swillie, the seventh-leading pass catcher in Bronco history, had it from 1999-2002 during the first four years of the Bronco’s current 13-year run.
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell has some things in common with Joe Southwick (if Southwick is indeed the Boise State starter—had to throw that in). Maxwell is a first-year starter with three previous years' experience in the program. But, writes Drew Sharp in the Detroit Free Press, “There are whispers from practice that Maxwell is much further along in his progression than his predecessor, Kirk Cousins, was at this same juncture three years ago, when the eventual Spartans career passing leader approached his first season as starting quarterback. He's more athletic, possesses a stronger arm than Cousins and is less inhibited toward running for those necessary third-down yards rather than taking unnecessary risks throwing downfield.” Less than 10 days left now.
Former Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, now in his second year at Texas, has never been a fan of alternating quarterbacks. And he may not now. But in Austin this season, Harsin feels he has two different QBs he can employ and says David Ash and Case McCoy will both play in the Longhorns’ opener against Wyoming next week. "Right now obviously one guy is going to have to roll out there at the beginning. You have to do that," Harsin told ESPN.com. "But if they continue progressing like they have been through these next few practices before we play, you can expect both guys out there." Word is that Ash, still the likely starter, and McCoy are both exponentially better than they were last fall.
One man’s misfortune could open a door for former Boise State standout Nate Potter, who’s trying to make the Arizona Cardinals roster as a seventh-round draft pick. Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown had surgery yesterday to repair a torn right triceps tendon and could be out for the year. Potter is still down several notches on the depth chart, though. The Cards are expected to go with raw second-year pro D.J. Young, journeyman D’Anthony Batiste and reserve Jeremy Bridges at left tackle tomorrow night at Tennessee before they turn to Potter. One other NFL injury note: former Borah Lion Caleb McSurdy, the Dallas Cowboys’ seventh round pick out of Montana, tore his Achilles tendon last week and is likely gone for the year.
It had to be a fairly wrenching decision for new Idaho Steelheads coach Brad Ralph, but KTVB’s Ryan Larrondo reports the Steelies will not re-sign longtime captain Marty Flichel. That likely brings an end to Flichel’s pro hockey career. He wore a Steelheads sweater nine of the past 10 seasons and is the franchise’s career leader with 180 goals and 475 points. Flichel’s now 36 years old, and Ralph is remaking the club with youth this season. Ralph told Larrondo he offered Flichel an assistant coaching post but was turned down.
In the last game they’ll ever play in Yakima, the Boise Hawks’ bats lit up quickly last night. And this time the Hawks were able to hold the lead, beating the Bears 7-4. Boise scored four times in the top of the first, highlighted by a Gioskar Amaya home run. It was the Hawks’ 60th homer of the season. Boise survived four errors to improve to 18-10 in the second half of the Northwest League season. The Hawks lead the East Division by five games with 10 to play as the annual Western Idaho Fair road trip continues tonight with the beginning of a five-game series in Vancouver.
Chris Rusin became the 101st former Boise Hawk to make the majors last night when he got the start for the Cubs at Milwaukee. Rusin allowed just one hit, an infield single, and one run over five innings but had no run support and took the loss as the Brewers won, 5-2. The 25-year-old leftie also chalked up his first major league hit in the game—and it was a triple. Rusin was a hard-luck 0-4 with a 3.48 ERA in eight Hawks appearances in 2009.
This Day In Sports…August 22, 1965:
San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal hits Los Angeles catcher Johnny Roseboro over the head with his bat, giving baseball one of the more bizarre moments (and most infamous photos) in its history. Marichal was angered when Roseboro returned a pitch from Dodger hurler Sandy Koufax too close to Marichal’s ear. The Giants star was suspended for nine days and fined $1,750.
(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.)