Monday, August 20, 2012.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen could have been on the stand in an old “Perry Mason” episode Saturday night while surrounded by media after the Broncos’ only public scrimmage. “You’re badgering the witness,” prosecutor Hamilton Burger may have said. Petersen’s reply to pointed questions about the Bronco starting quarterback job: “When we know, we’re going to announce it.” Well, it’s not going to take Perry Mason to solve this mystery. Joe Southwick was so far separated from the other three Boise State quarterbacks, it’ll be stunning if anyone else takes the field for the first snap at Michigan State a week from this Friday. “You know as much as I do about how he did,” Petersen said of Southwick Saturday night. “You saw what I saw.” We saw the obvious choice for the East Lansing experience.
Southwick’s decision-making was mostly on point in the scrimmage. Several times he wisely threw the ball away when a play wasn’t there. The one time he didn’t he was called for intentional grounding. At the end of his third possession of the night, Southwick threw the first pass ever to land in the new south end zone grandstands to avoid a sack. Moments later, though, during a botched field goal attempt (Southwick is the holder), he tossed it into the second row again to escape trouble when he actually could have tried to make something happen—after all, it was fourth down. But it was clear Southwick had a command of the offense and the respect of his teammates. “We really like his leadership,” said running back D.J. Harper.
More importantly, fans saw that Southwick could get a big assist from the Boise State running game. Behind Harper were Jay Ajayi, Jack Fields, Devan Demas and Drew Wright, with Ajayi and Fields chewing up impressive amounts of real estate. Ajayi looks like the first guy off the bench after rushing for 78 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries. Fields ran 10 times for 51 yards. Both players racked up a lot of yards-after-contact, and neither looked like a freshman out there. Now, to redshirt or not to redshirt Fields…
One of the most striking things about Saturday night’s scrimmage was the Broncos’ apparent depth in the secondary. Four of the defense’s six interceptions came from backups in that group, including two by Darian Thompson. Chancellor James and Donte Deayon had the other two, with James tipping the one picked by Deayon. Ebo Makinde contributed two pass breakups, with James (on the tip), Deon’tae Florence and Chaz Anderson adding one apiece. Sophomore Lee Hightower, the likely starter at free safety, looked like a natural at that position Saturday night after being pressed into duty at cornerback last year as a true freshman. Hightower blew up Mitch Burroughs for a four-yard loss on a swing pass. “I like being back there seeing the whole defense,” said Hightower, noting, “I haven’t even played safety in a game yet.”
The preseason AP Poll didn’t differ much from the others in relation to Boise State. The Broncos were ranked 24th Saturday. The Broncos had been No. 22 in the preseason Coaches Poll released earlier this month. Boise State is the only non-BCS school in the Top 25—TCU is ranked 20th, but the Horned Frogs are now in the Big 12. Michigan State came in 13th on the AP list, exactly where the Spartans were in the Coaches Poll.
His completion percentage was a lot more Kellen-esque in the second game of the preseason. Former Boise State star Kellen Moore was 10-of-15 for 96 with no interceptions in a quarter and a half of Detroit’s 27-12 win at Baltimore Friday night. How much progress Moore made over the unimpressive performance in the Lions’ first preseason contest will be judged by the coaching staff. He was unable to throw downfield much, but he did show a knack for keeping plays alive, going to secondary receivers and safety valves. Kellen’s final possession of the night covered 59 yards and ended with a 31-yard field goal. It would be great to see Moore and Titus Young on the field at the same time—even once. Young had one catch in the game, but he turned that into a nifty 24-yard touchdown on a throw from Matthew Stafford.
Doug Martin had seven carries for 23 yards in Tampa Bay’s 30-7 loss to Tennessee and got some more positive reviews from coach Greg Schiano. LeGarrette Blount, the former Boise State star’s competition at tailback, left the game early with a groin injury. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but it will increase Martin’s reps with the Buccaneers in the near-term.
The most impressive game of any former Bronco in the NFL over the weekend came from Jeron Johnson. The second-year Seattle safety had an interception, pass deflection and forced fumble, all in the first half of the Seahawks’ 30-10 win at Denver. The fumble was recovered by Seattle and set up a field goal. The pick came off Peyton Manning and was returned 21 yards by Johnson, setting up three more Seahawks points. “All along he’s really improved from last year,” said ‘Hawks coach Pete Carroll. “It’s exciting to see him in there.”
Fruitland’s Joey Martarano went 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI single in the Under Armour All-American Game Saturday at Wrigley Field. It was a great baseball experience for Martarano. Boise State hopes he opts for a great football experience in February, as Martarano has verbally committed to the Broncos’ 2013 recruiting class. His big moment in Chicago came in the top of the fifth, when he knocked a 2-2 pitch through the hole and into left field to score Austin Meadows and put the American team up 5-3. The American squad went on to win, 7-6.
The Boise Hawks saw their five-game road winning streak halted last night in a 4-3 loss at Yakima. The loss came on the heels of Boise’s first three-game road sweep in eight years (at Tri-City). Things were looking good for the Hawks when they carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. But the Bears touched up Hawks reliever Nathan Dorris three runs, and that was enough. Those were the first runs Dorris has allowed this season. Another great start by Tayler Scott thereby went for naught. The South African right-hander went five innings and yielded just three hits and one run.
It was a notable weekend for three former Hawks in the majors. Josh Donaldson had the biggest night of his young big league career Friday, hitting a tiebreaking single with the bases loaded in the eighth inning as the A’s rallied from four runs down to beat the Indians 6-4. Donaldson, in his third call-up with the A’s this season, went 4-for-4 in the victory and is batting .417 in six games since returning from Sacramento. Saturday was a big night for ex-Hawks Brett Jackson and Brooks Raley. Jackson’s first major league home run helped Raley earn his first big league victory as the Cubs outlasted the Reds, 9-7. It didn’t prevent Raley from being sent back to Triple-A Iowa yesterday, though.
Graham DeLaet is in position for a nice payday as the final round of the Wyndham Championship concludes today in Greensboro, NC. The former Boise State star is two-under for the round and nine-under for the tournament, tied for 23rd as he resumes play on the 15th hole at the weather-delayed event. This is DeLaet’s first appearance on the PGA Tour after a three-week layoff, a well-deserved break after retaining his PGA Tour card with $674,230 in winnings this season on his major medical exemption.
This Day In Sports…August 20, 2008:
On what he said was a “gut feeling,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen names redshirt freshman Kellen Moore as his starting quarterback. Moore would become the first freshman to open a season at quarterback in BSU history after beating out fifth-year senior Bush Hamdan. Moore came to BSU with a stunning resume from Prosser High in Washington—he threw a state record 66 touchdowns as a junior, then topped that with 67 as a senior. He had 173 career TD passes, also a state record.
(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 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)