Thursday, April 15, 2010.
It’s kind of predictable that it’s going down this way, but it’s as if nothing happens on Boise State’s calendar between September 6 in Landover, MD, and September 25 on the blue turf. At least as far as all those national scribes are concerned. But all three of the Broncos’ September opponents were bowl teams last year, and the one in the middle is darned proud of it. Wyoming feels so good about what’s going on at 7,200 feet that it’s extended coach Dave Christensen’s contract through 2014. Like Boise State, the Cowboys wind up spring football Saturday with their spring game. Mountain West Freshman of the Year Austyn Carta-Samuels, the quarterback who led Wyoming to the win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl, is having a solid spring. The Pokes would like to think there’s an ambush waiting in Laramie the third Saturday in September.
Boise State’s Blue & Orange Game will be blue and white Saturday, with the offense (blue jerseys) going against the defense (white jerseys). That’s a departure from last year, when the Broncos held a draft to divide the roster in two. The offense will get their points the conventional way, but you may want to write down the defensive scoring system. That side of the ball will get six points for a touchdown, four points for a turnover (unless a TS is scored), four points for stopping a fourth down conversion, two points for a sack, and one point for a three-and-out. And you should get home in plenty of time to do, uh, more yard work, as the Broncos will play four eight-minute quarters. We can only hope wide receivers coach Brent Pease wears his Bear Bryant houndstooth hat again.
It was hard to tell what kind of progress Kellen Moore was making on his spring goals during Boise State’s first scrimmage. Moore made what amounted to a courtesy appearance and threw for only 15 yards. We’ll see if Kellen gets a chance to show anything Saturday. The top priority is accuracy with the deep ball, and coach Chris Petersen says Moore is “making some strides” with it. It’s funny—because of his build, Moore’s arm strength has always been questioned. But he proved on the first play of the Fiesta Bowl that strength is not an issue when he overthrew a wide-open Titus Young. It’s timing and touch, and those are eminently solvable items for Moore.
Idaho is set for another scrimmage Saturday morning, leading up to its Silver & Gold Game next week. After the defense had its way last week, the Vandal offense looks to circle the wagons. That will have to start up front, where the offensive line is a work in progress, trying to replace three departed seniors—not the least of which, of course, is Mike Iupati. The offense allowed six sacks in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Junior left tackle Matt Cleveland is the new leader of a group that tops 300 pounds all the way across the first-team line.
Don Banks at SI.com had to turn his mock draft inside out after the trade yesterday of Brandon Marshall from Denver to Miami. Not sure how that affected Boise State’s Kyle Wilson, who Banks has as the No. 18 overall pick, going to the Steelers. Writes Banks, “We've been focused on interior offensive line options like Iupati or Florida's Maurkice Pouncey for most of the pre-draft season, but the Steelers need help at cornerback, too. Wilson is the consensus second-rated cornerback, but we're told the Steelers love Alabama's Kareem Jackson as well.”
Banks currently pegs Iupati as the No. 26 overall pick, to be selected by Arizona. “Iupati would immediately upgrade the Cardinals at guard, and some project him as an eventual right tackle in the NFL. Many teams grade him in the teens in the first round, so he's a great value for Arizona at No. 26.” Banks doesn’t say why—if so many others do—he doesn’t have Iupati in the teens, too. Also of note, the list has Fresno State’s Ryan Mathews at No. 28 to the Chargers and TCU’s Jerry Hughes No. 32 to the Saints.
Here’s the essential information as the Idaho Steelheads play their first Kelly Cup playoff series against Utah beginning tomorrow night. The Steelheads have won 10 of 14 games against the Grizzlies this season and have dominated them over the past five seasons. But Utah has Ryan Kinasewich, and he’s given Idaho as many fits as the rest of the ECHL. Actually more. Of Kinasewich’s 48 goals this season, 10 came against the Steelies. The ECHL first-teamer also had six assists versus Idaho. The wild card, though, is goaltending. The Grizzlies bring in Mike Morrison and Mikko Koskinen, and the Steelheads haven’t faced either netminder this season.
The Steelheads have welcomed six key players back from AHL callups the past several days, the latest being forward Mathieu Tousignant. But one of the indispensible components of the team in tomorrow night’s playoff opener will be a guy who never left. John Swanson appeared in 70 of the Steelheads’ 72 games this season and was one of five Idaho players to reach 50 points (there were only two last year). And the 24-year-old left wing was one of six different Steelies to record a hat trick this season. We’ll give Swanson the UVP Award—Unsung Valuable Player.
Former Boise Hawk John Lackey yesterday picked up his first big league victory for a team other than the Angels. Lackey led the Red Sox past the Twins, 6-3, in the second game ever played at Target Field. The 6-6 righthander has been better, but yesterday’s win makes up for his first start, when he pitched masterfully but saw his bullpen let it slip away against the Yankees. Versus Minnesota, Lackey allowed seven hits and two runs over 6 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out two. But he looks good on the stat sheet—1-0 with a 1.42 ERA through two outings with Boston.
This Day In Sports…April 15, 1985, 25 years ago today:
In Las Vegas, two of the greatest fighters of the era meet when middleweight champion Marvelous Marvin Hagler defends his title against WBC light-middleweight champ Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns. After a ferocious first round in which both boxers land tremendous punches, Hagler took charge. In the third round, he floored Hearns with three vicious rights, prompting the referee to stop the bout.
(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.)