Wednesday, September 29, 2010.
You need only turn back the Boise State clock to 2006 to see how far the Bronco defense has come. Remember that game at New Mexico State? A Sunday night ESPN telecast? BSU was not a 41-point favorite, and there was nothing comfortable about the 40-28 victory. Fortunately for Boise State, Ian Johnson was on his game that night—one of the better performances of his stellar sophomore season with 192 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Because New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook was 50-of-66 for 529 yards. No one has ever completed more passes against a Boise State defense, and only two teams have thrown for more yards. In the three games versus NMSU since then, the Bronco defense has allowed 89, 150 and 191 yards as BSU has outscored the Aggies 149-7.
It’s hard to fathom the Las Cruces experience of four years ago. These days, the Broncos allow only 167 yards a game passing and less than 62 rushing. They lead the WAC in total defense—by far—with a 229-yard average. Here’s the best nugget out of Boise State’s penchant for stopping the run: it yields only 1.8 yards per carry. Next best in the WAC is 4.1 (Utah State). The Broncos have seen two of the nation’s most heralded running backs, with Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams managing only two yards per attempt and Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers just 2.6.
If D.J. Harper didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all. Harper, trying to repeat his junior year at Boise State after a torn ACL ended it last year, suffered the same injury on the same knee against Oregon State and is out for the season. Considering how hard he worked to get back this year, expect a strong D.J. Harper to reappear in 2011. And even 2012, if the NCAA will grant him another medical hardship. Jeremy Avery’s job description thus expands again as a backup to Doug Martin. Avery’s role has been limited so far this season—he has 65 yards on 18 carries.
A decision is expected today on a possible suspension of Boise State nickelback Winston Venable, whose helmet-to-helmet hit that knocked Oregon State’s James Rodgers out of the game last Saturday is being reviewed by the WAC. The league’s Supervisor of Officials, Jim Blackwood, said on Idaho SportsTalk yesterday that a one-game suspension for Venable is certainly possible. “The player that was hit was defenseless,” said Blackwood. “The player that delivered the hit seemed intent on leaving a calling card.” Incidentally, OSU coach Mike Riley says Rodgers is okay and should be set to play Saturday against Arizona State.
The only thing on Idaho’s mind this week is Western Michigan after last Saturday’s disappointing loss to Colorado State. That’s not the case with Vandal fans and Vandal watchers, though. They’re handicapping the rest of the season, trying to figure out if Idaho is going to be bowl-eligible. The Vandals need seven wins, since they have a 13-game schedule this season with the trip to Hawaii. Now that they’re 2-2, they need to beat Western Michigan—then split their WAC schedule. Wins over New Mexico State and San Jose State are expected. Wins against Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada are not. Idaho will probably need to take two out of three from Louisiana Tech, Utah State, and Hawaii.
There’s a story in the New York Post about the Big East being interested in TCU. As odd as that marriage would seem, why wouldn’t the Horned Frogs go? It’s a BCS conference, and who cares about geography anymore in college football? After all, the Frogs have been tolerating their Texas isolation in the Mountain West only because that league is stronger than Conference USA. TCU was deflated when BYU joined Utah in exiting the Mountain West—despite the addition of Boise State, its non-BCS brother-in-arms—and has been looking for answers. The Big East needs some cachet, and the Frogs would certainly provide that. The attraction there is 1) football, and 2) Dallas. No question it would be a colossal bummer for the Mountain West.
Brian Murphy reports in the Statesman that Boise State basketball coach Leon Rice has landed another recruit just after exposing five prospects to the craziness that was Bronco Stadium last Saturday. Michael Thompson, a 6-2 point guard from Canyon Springs High in North Las Vegas, has committed after his official visit to Boise last weekend. Thompson will be part of Rice’s 2011 class (Melba’s Joey Nebeker became the first commit of the 2012 class earlier this week).
New Idaho Steelheads coach Hardy Sauter is doing some homework before training camp starts next Monday. Sauter is in Austin, TX, to check out the camp of the AHL’s Texas Stars, accompanied by invited Steelies Dustin Friesen and Cody Lampl, the Ketchum resident who became the first true Idahoan to don a Steelheads uniform last season. If things go extremely well for those players in tryouts, they won’t be back (ala Greg Rallo last year).
So how is former Steelheads coach Derek Laxdal doing in his new digs? Well, the new Edmonton Oil Kings head man has a project on his hands. Laxdal’s club lost big in its first two Western Hockey League games of the season, falling 8-1 and 4-1 in a home-and-home series with the Red Deer Rebels. Meanwhile, the Steelheads have brought back one of Laxdal’s old Steelheads mainstays, as Mike Gabinet rejoins the team after three seasons away. The 29-year-old defenseman did not play last season due to injury. Gabinet was an ECHL All-Star with the Steelies in 2007. In other Steelheads news, single-game tickets go on sale today. The season starts October 15.
Women’s volleyball isn’t often on the radar in these parts, but tonight Boise State has one of its more eventful nights in recent memory. After some horrendous seasons before his arrival, coach Shawn Garrigus has turned things around. He has the Broncos at 13-3—they just had a 10-match winning streak snapped at Fresno State last Saturday. Tonight Boise State hosts Idaho in its WAC home opener in Bronco Gym, and the Broncos have dubbed the night a “Blue-Out.”
This Day In Sports…September 29, 1990, 20 years ago today:
Boise State faces a coaching legend in a game at Long Beach State. George Allen had come out of retirement to coach Long Beach—and would pass away early the next year. Allen gained fame as an NFL mastermind, winning 119 games with the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins. By the way, BSU dominated the game but lost to Long Beach State on the scoreboard, 21-20.
(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.)