Tuesday, Nov 16 at 10:34 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2010.
The rest of the country is beginning to realize that this Boise State football thing has been built on mental and intestinal fortitude as much as talent. That’s how these guys make plays. The latest play to epitomize it was Chris Potter’s 76-yard punt return at Idaho last Friday. It took moxie for the sophomore to break tackles, keep his balance, and find the end zone. In all, Potter had four punt returns for 106 yards and was named WAC Special Teams Player of the Week yesterday. He’s been returning punts since Mitch Burroughs was injured in the Wyoming game two months ago and hasn’t relinquished that spot.
Coach Chris Petersen said last month it’s not an accident that Potter ended up a Bronco. Petersen says wide receivers coach Brent Pease walked into the offices at Oaks Christian High School in Southern California three years ago and was greeted with, “Coach, we’ve got a ‘Boise State guy’ for you.” Potter fit the profile. He’s done whatever it takes since his prep days, playing quarterback for a season after Jimmy Clausen graduated and went to Notre Dame. “(Potter’s) very diligent in his preparation, and has been since he’s been here,” said Pete. And there are Chris Potter clones all the way up and down the Bronco roster.
Completion percentage has always been a point of pride with Kellen Moore. Now Moore goes into the four games (including a bowl game) that could define his junior year in that category. That’s what happened last year, anyway. Kellen has been on an incredible run, completing at least 70 percent of his passes in each of his last seven games. For the season, he’s a shade over 72 percent. Last season he finished at just 64 percent, because over the last four contests of that campaign, including the Fiesta Bowl, he hit just 56 percent of his attempts. Moore doesn’t seem capable of such a slip this year, despite a tougher final four stretch that includes Fresno State, Nevada, Utah State and the big unknown.
A couple wrapup notes from the Bronco-Vandal game. I asked Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier about Martin Stadium in Pullman as a possible solution to the impasse over the Broncos traveling to the Palouse again. Bleymaier said that hasn’t been discussed yet. But it makes sense to me—a capacity of over 35,000 (not that it would be full). But it makes room for everybody, maybe even the Boise State band. Idaho A.D. Rob Spear, meanwhile, throws out the possibility of something being worked out between the two schools for 2012 if TCU moves to the Big East, opening up a spot on the Broncos’ schedule.
Gabe Linehan picked a perfect spot for his first career touchdown reception. And it was a great one by Boise State’s freshman tight end, in the back of the end zone. It happened on a field that’s been dotted over the years by his relatives, wearing black and gold. Uncle Scott, the future Idaho offensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams coach, quarterbacked Idaho to the only shutout win in the Bronco-Vandal series, 37-0 in 1984 (that was at Bronco Stadium). Uncle Rick played in the late 1970’s, and Uncle Ron played in the first-ever matchup between the two schools in 1971. Gabe hadn’t made a catch since the winning drive against Virginia Tech until snagging two in the win over Hawaii 10 days ago. Then the big one in the Kibbie Dome. “I think you’re seeing the tip of the iceberg with Gabe,” said Petersen.
Boise State released 600 tickets for Friday night’s Fresno State game for sale yesterday. This event deserves a sellout obviously. And Bronco Nation was taken to task (here, among other places) for not filling up Bronco Stadium for the Louisiana Tech game on that cold and raw night three weeks ago. But it bears mentioning that this is an issue throughout the West. Take Stanford, for example, experiencing one of its best seasons ever. The Cardinal hosted another top 15 team, Arizona, in a crucial Pac-10 matchup 10 days ago. On a cool but otherwise pleasant Bay Area night, attendance was 43,500, about 7,000 short of a sellout in the four-year-old Stanford Stadium, by all accounts a dandy of a facility. I maintain there are only three true football towns in the West: Eugene, Provo and Missoula.
So how was it at Colorado in the Buffaloes’ first game after the firing of Dan Hawkins? Kind of surreal, as the Buffs broke a five-game losing streak with a 34-14 win over Iowa State Saturday. Hawkins’ son, Cody, was still at the helm of CU’s offense and threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns. After each score, the former Bishop Kelly star pointed up to the balcony outside Dan Hawkins’ former office, where the elder Hawk was watching with his family. "He's a Buffalo first," new interim coach Brian Cabral said of Cody in the Denver Post. "He's Dan Hawkins' son, but he's a Buffalo first. He's a leader second."
Is Kyle Wilson on the way back with the New York Jets? The first-round draft pick out of Boise State returned to the starting lineup Sunday at Cleveland, replacing Drew Coleman at nickel corner after playing sparingly on defense the preceding few weeks. An ace observer of local ties in the NFL reports that Wilson was assigned primarily to Brian Robiskie or Mohamed Massaquoi in one-on-one coverage. Kyle stopped Robiskie short of the chains on a key third down play—he also knocked down a crucial pass in overtime in the Jets’ 26-20 win. Wilson had one punt return for 18 yards that could have gone to the house were it not for a shoestring tackle.
As the Idaho Stampede gear up for Opening Night this Saturday, their best player from the beginning of last season is getting a second chance in the NBA. Sundiata Gaines, the Stamps’ first round pick in the D-League Draft last year, was released by the Utah Jazz in training camp but was picked up last Friday by Minnesota. Gaines joined the Timberwolves in time that night to see Kevin Love notch the first 30-point, 30-rebound game in the NBA since Moses Malone in 1982. Love actually had 31 of each in a 112-103 win over the Knicks. Gaines has played 20 minutes in his first two T-Wolves games, recording one point, one assist, one steal and one rebound.
This Day In Sports…November 16, 1996:
In one of the most emotional games in Boise State history, cancer-stricken Pokey Allen returns to the sidelines to lead the Broncos against New Mexico State in Las Cruces. BSU was struggling with a school record eight-game losing streak, but three Tony Hilde-to-Ryan Ikebe touchdown passes—the last with less than a minute left—gave Pokey his first and only victory as a Division I-A football coach, 33-32. The cancer would claim his life a month and a half later.
(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.)