Tuesday, October 19, 2010.
I mentioned this on Sunday Sports Extra the other night—it’s time for the Boise State offensive line to get its due. What was the biggest question mark before the season started? That O-line, to be sure. First, with the new hopefuls at left tackle not strides, the Broncos had to give up on the experiment that moved All-WAC Nate Potter to left guard, and he returned to his tackle spot. That opened the left guard post to the irrepressible Joe Kellogg. Thomas Byrd settled back in at center and has all but eliminated the wacky snaps of last season, Will Lawrence has been an unsung rock at right guard, and Matt Slater and Brenel Myers have been trading off protecting Kellen Moore’s blind side at right tackle. The result? Only one sack allowed, fewest in the nation. And an eternally underrated running game that’s averaging 5.7 yards a carry.
Doug Martin gets his yards the old-fashioned way, by busting tackles and dragging opponents along for the ride. But a lot of that is done at the defense’s second level, and Martin gets there through the massive holes opened by those guys up front. It’s allowed Martin to average 7.4 yards per carry so far this season. You get to thinking about Boise State’s single-season record in that department, because there’s no reason Martin can’t continue at this pace. The mark is 35 years old: 6.6 yards per tote by John Smith in 1975. Jeremy Avery threatened that mark with a 6.5-yard average during his freshman year in 2007 (albeit on only 103 carries).
Boise State coach Chris Petersen did something interesting with Joe Southwick Saturday night at San Jose State. He put Southwick in to start the second half—with the rest of the first team offense intact. Southwick marched the Broncos 69 yards for their final touchdown. It reminded me of something Dirk Koetter did with Ryan Dinwiddie during a 59-0 win over North Texas 10 years ago. Dinwiddie was a redshirt freshman and hadn’t been particularly impressive in mopup duty behind Bart Hendricks in previous weeks. So Koetter put Dinwiddie in with the first-team offense, and a 56-yard touchdown drive resulted, capped by the first of Dinwiddie’s 82 career touchdown passes. Of course, Koetter made the move to make a statement to external forces as much as to give Dinwiddie experience.
How about the rise of Chris Potter in Boise State’s grand scheme of things? Potter had been waiting for his chance, and he got it on special teams when Mitch Burroughs was injured at Wyoming. The opportunity has paid off for Potter in the form of WAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after returning four punts for 76 yards in the 48-0 win at San Jose State. He also has a piece of the offense now—witness his 26-yard pass to Kyle Efaw versus Toledo. That time as Jimmy Clausen’s successor at Oaks Christian in California has finally come in handy. Potter also had one catch for eight yards against the Spartans.
As he has before, SI.com’s Stewart Mandel comes to the defense of Boise State in the ongoing BCS standings brouhaha. Mandel is not sure the doubters understand how important the Bronco defense is in this debate. “The only thing they can agree on is that the Broncos ‘haven't beaten anybody,’ what with their two most high-profile victims to date, Virginia Tech and Oregon State, barely hovering around the bottom of the Top 25,” writes Mandel. “The rest of their opponents, of course, are ‘garbage.’ But Boise's done to those opponents exactly what a championship-caliber team should do: beaten them 51-6 (Wyoming), 59-0 (New Mexico State), 57-14 (Toledo) and 48-0 (San Jose State). Maybe, just maybe, a team with an All-America quarterback, two NFL receivers and a consistently dominant defense may well be the most flawless in the country.”
You’re probably aware that things aren’t pretty for former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins at Colorado right now. The Buffaloes are 3-3, but the losses have been ugly, including the 31-25 setback at the hands of Baylor Saturday in Boulder—and Hawkins is now 19-36 in his fifth season at CU. Buff fans are jazzed over the thought that Hawk may be fired this month and replaced by former Colorado coach Bill McCartney, who led CU to the 1990 national championship. Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera writes that “McCartney has acknowledged he is flirting with the idea of returning to coaching.” McCartney turned 70 in August. What an ending that would be.
One thing that’s come out of the early days of Boise State men’s basketball practice is the word “chemistry.” If new coach Leon Rice has noticed anything about his football compadres across the parking lot, it is that. And Rice, after all those years at Gonzaga, knows how key chemistry is. The Bronco squad, which includes seven seniors, appears to be buying in. “They’re really trying to do what we ask,” Rice said the other night on Sunday Sports Extra. Another ingredient Rice points to is fan support, and that’ll be the wild card this season after the vacuum in Taco Bell Arena last season. “The one thing all great programs have is: tough place to play,” said Rice.
There are now two former Boise Hawks in baseball’s postseason. Reliever Clay Rapada was added by the Texas Rangers to their ALCS roster, and he was first out of the bullpen Saturday in Game 2 against the Yankees. Rapada pitched to one batter in the sixth inning—and got the Rangers out of a jam with a strikeout in a 7-2 victory. Rapada was a member of the Hawks’ 2002 Northwest League championship team, making 12 appearances with an ERA of 1.50. Hawks alum Sergio Mitre threw the eighth inning Saturday for the Yanks, walking two and striking out one without allowing a run. Mitre was also used last night once the Rangers’ half of the ninth turned into a train wreck for the Yankees. His wild pitch allowed the sixth of six Texas runs to score before he retired the final two batters in New York’s 8-0 Game 3 loss.
This is kind of like Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto being a one-time Boise Hawk, but defenseman Brian Fahey has become the 14th former Idaho Steelhead to make the NHL. Soto played one game for the Hawks in 2002. Fahey appeared in three Steelies games in 2005-06, scoring two points and racking up four penalty minutes. Hey, he counts. Fahey played for the Washington Capitals in a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators on Saturday—then we was sent down to the AHL’s Hershey Bears yesterday. As for the Steelheads of 2010-11, they’re packing for their trip to Anchorage, as they face the Alaska Aces this Friday and Saturday.
This Day In Sports…October 19, 1974:
The greatest comeback in Boise State football history falls just short in a 37-35 loss at UNLV. The Rebels, behind All-America running back Mike Thomas, raced out to a 30-6 halftime lead and upped it to 37-6 early in the third quarter. Bronco quarterback Jim McMillan brought BSU back, throwing for a record 454 yards that night. His favorite target was Mike Holton, who had a record 252 yards receiving. The Broncos’ final surge was stopped by an interception at UNLV’s 17-yard-line.
(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.)