Sunday, Nov 3 at 6:09 PM
Thursday, September 30, 2010.
While I totally understand the need for the WAC to suspend Boise State nickelback Winston Venable (there must be no gray area on helmet-to-helmet hits), the Bronco senior is getting a bad rap. Venable was suspended for one game for his violent collision with Oregon State’s James Rodgers, with the term reduced to half a game yesterday after an appeal by Boise State. WAC Supervisor of Officials Jim Blackwood said Monday Venable was leaving a “calling card” on a “defenseless player.” That is patently unfair. Venable led with his helmet instead of his chest or shoulder. Suspension warranted. But the intent? You can watch the replay 100 times—and see that Venable was trying to get an angle on OSU quarterback Ryan Katz. It just so happened that Rodgers was in his way. Venable needs to keep his head up, and otherwise just keep doin’ what he’s doin’.
Half a game doesn’t give the guys behind Venable much of an opportunity to make an impact at New Mexico State Saturday night. Hunter White has already seen a considerable amount of playing time at nickelback. Jonathan Brown, the athletic redshirt freshman from Alameda, CA, was seen on defense in the fourth quarter against Virginia Tech, demonstrating the confidence the coaching staff has in his potential. And Jason Robinson returns from suspension this week. Even though Robinson has been moved to safety, he played well at nickel behind Venable last season and is capable of stepping in.
Here are some New Mexico State basics for you. The Aggies fired Hal Mumme following the 2008 season after the one-time Kentucky coach went 10-49 in four seasons. Now NMSU is on a 10-game losing streak, and coach DeWayne Walker is 3-13 in his second season. Yeah, there’s not a lot of good to report. The Aggies are 119th out of 120 FBS schools in total defense, giving up almost 520 yards a game. They remain the only team in the FBS yet to record a sack. New Mexico State still hasn’t been to a bowl game since the 1960 Sun Bowl. And the 50th anniversary of that event is going to come and go this year without fanfare. Wait, here’s a positive: the Aggies have allowed only one sack this season.
There’s never been this much interest in who Boise State’s non-conference opponents are playing every week. But then again, it’s never mattered so much that they do well. Virginia Tech, having started its long road to recovery with a 19-0 win over Boston College last week, can do some more healing with an upset at No. 23 North Carolina State. Two of the Broncos’ non-league foes play each other, as Wyoming goes to Toledo, giving us a barometer for the Rockets’ visit to the blue turf next week. And Oregon State is home against Arizona State, which gave Oregon a tussle in Tempe last week.
The Boise State-Oregon State game didn’t resonate with the ABC audience the way the Bronco-Virginia Tech clash did on Labor Day. The Broncos and Beavers attracted a 3.4 rating, about half of the near-record 7.3 on ESPN for the showdown with the Hokies. The number was also down from the 4.9 on ABC the preceding week for Texas-Texas Tech. Earlier last Saturday, the Alabama-Arkansas game drew a 5.4.
While four schools were in presentation mode with the WAC membership committee in Dallas yesterday, the school the conference would like most was on a fact-finding mission. Montana is still weighing the pros and cons of leaving its cozy confines in the FCS for college football’s top level and went to the meetings to get to know all the moving parts. Texas State, Texas-San Antonio, Denver and Seattle made their pitches. Benson said in a teleconference that the WAC could add as many as five schools over the next 30 to 60 days—which would mean all of the above. That would be 11 total if the league can get Montana, nine for football and 11 in basketball (Seattle and Denver don’t field football squads).
“Work-in-progress” certainly applies to Kyle Wilson after the first three games of his NFL career. The former Boise State star and first round draft pick of the Jets, has been a target—Monday night included. Wilson was replacing the injured Darrelle Revis at cornerback and was picked on as he tried to cover, among others, Brandon Marshall. Wilson allowed 34 yards on two completions on one drive and was called for a 27-yard pass interference penalty that gave Miami a first down at the Jets’ three-yard-line. The Dolphins scored on the next play to cut into a 14-point Jets’ lead. “I don’t think he played as bad as everybody made it out to be,” safety Brodney Pool said in the New York Times. Still, Kyle may lose his starting spot this week to Drew Coleman.
Football continues to pay dividends for basketball at Boise State. Coach Leon Rice loaded up on recruiting trips for the electric day and night surrounding the Oregon State game, and he got two more commitments out of it yesterday. The Broncos have a verbal from 6-2 shooting guard Derrick Marks out of Plainfield, IL. Chicago Hoops.com called it a “recruiting coup,” tabbing Marks as “one of the top Class of 2011 prospects in the state of Illinois.” Boise State has also picked up 6-8 forward Darrius Hamilton from San Antonio.
As NBA training camps open, there are seven former Idaho Stampede players on NBA rosters. Three have guaranteed contracts for at the upcoming season: Utah’s C.J. Miles, Indiana’s Josh McRoberts, and Minnesota’s Anthony Tolliver. Miles was assigned to the Stampede by the Jazz four seasons ago—same for McRoberts in 2008, by the Blazers. But Tolliver has become a classic D-League story, working on his game as a Stampede player, getting a callup last season by the Golden State Warriors, and parlaying a solid NBA winter into a contract with the Timberwolves. The other former Stamps: Lance Allred with the Pacers, Sundiata Gaines with the Jazz, Luke Jackson with the Grizzlies, and Patty Mills with the Blazers.
The D-League this season will, in effect, be experimenting with a couple of rule changes that the NBA can monitor. The league will adopt the international goaltending rule, which allows a player to knock the ball away when it’s on the rim. The NBA rule prohibits players from touching the ball when it’s on the cylinder. The D-League will also reduce the length of overtime periods from five minutes to three.
This Day In Sports…September 30, 2006:
Boise State wins its 11th straight game over current members of the Mountain West Conference by shocking Utah, 36-3, in sold-out Rice-Eccles Stadium. Star linebacker Korey Hall set up two scores with interceptions, and fellow senior Colt Brooks notched his first career touchdown on another, as the Broncos had four picks on the day and held the Utes to 178 yards. Things were just as impressive in the stands, as the Salt Lake Tribune estimated 8,000 BSU fans made the trip. And they made noise wire-to-wire.
(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.)