Wednesday, November 13, 2013.
It took nine days following the Colorado State game for us to get an assessment of Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick from coach Chris Petersen. Suffice to say Petersen’s excited about his reinforcement for the injured Joe Southwick. “He’s got some really good tools, and we knew that from the day we recruited him,” said Petersen. “He can run, he’s got a great arm, and his mechanics are really clean.” Hedrick’s passing yards in the last three games have gone from 150 to 232 to 305, and his touchdown passes from zero to one to five. Inquiring minds want to know: where do Hedrick’s rushing numbers go from here? On the ground, he’s gone from 115 yards to 24 to 30. Of course, preserving Hedrick’s body right now is paramount for the Broncos.
The root of the growth in Hedrick’s game from the time he was thrown into the fire against Nevada through the impressive performance in the Colorado State win is really quite simple. “It’s probably just confidence,” Petersen said. “Good clean practice reps translated into good clean game reps.” We’re talking the reps that had been few and far between for the junior from Independence, OR. Through his first 2½ seasons, Hedrick had 34 rushing attempts, a majority of them in specially-designed package plays, and had thrown 36 passes. Since the second play against the Wolf Pack, he’s carried the ball 25 times and thrown it 90 times. There’s no substitute for experience, as they always say.
Demarcus Lawrence’s junior year remains on a serious roll, as the Boise State standout has been named to the Mid-Season Watch List for the Ted Hendricks Award that goes to the nation’s top defensive end. The list has been narrowed to 18 players and will be furthered trimmed to 4-6 in the next few weeks. Lawrence is fourth in the country in both sacks per game and tackles-for-loss per game going into Saturday’s Wyoming tilt. In 19 career games as a Bronco, Lawrence has 18 sacks.
Boise State has lost a Californian and a Texan out of its 2014 recruiting class the past couple of weeks. Last night the Broncos picked up a good ol’ Idahoan. Rocky Mountain High’s Kekoa Nawahine has committed to BSU, bringing the Broncos’ class back up to 10. Nawahine plays both wide receiver and defensive back for the Grizzlies, who play at Highland in the state 5A semifinals Friday night. He told KTVB he plans to go on an LDS mission and begin his college career in 2016.
There’s a game tonight that could produce a trickle-down effect to Boise State (and the rest of the Mountain West). Northern Illinois, No. 16 in the BCS standings, plays Ball State, a much stronger opponent than anybody left on Fresno State’s schedule. If the Huskies win, they’ll get a boost in the computers—enough to at least close in on the No. 14 Bulldogs, who have a bye this week. Fresno State doesn’t have a signature win; the Bulldogs have beaten only three teams with winning records: Rutgers, Boise State and San Diego State. If Fresno State runs the table and goes to a BCS bowl, it likely bumps the Broncos up to the Las Vegas Bowl to face a Pac-12 school. If the Bulldogs don’t make a BCS game, they’d be naturals in Las Vegas, and Boise State would be looking at the Poinsettia Bowl, or even the Hawaii Bowl.
There was a letter to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch the other day about Ohio State’s much-maligned 9-0 record that was just classic. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was living in Boise, Idaho, and not Columbus,” penned the writer. “I had to drive past the ’Shoe to make sure the turf wasn’t blue. For years, Boise State would tell anybody that would listen, ‘Don’t look at who we play; look at our results. Give us a shot, and we will prove that we can play with the big boys.’ Now, the Buckeyes, who haven’t played a top-10 team since 2009, are screaming the same motto.”
He continues: “I’d say that any loss by one of the remaining unbeaten teams would be better than any win the Buckeyes could point to. Stanford should jump the Buckeyes with one loss and, if Baylor runs the table, it would also have a more-impressive résumé than Brutus. The only difference between Boise State and OSU is the history of the teams and the perception of each program. Ask Oklahoma how that worked out.” Good stuff, although his point regarding the Buckeyes is a bit muddy.
A year ago, free safety Ed Reed was a key cog in Baltimore’s run to the Super Bowl championship. Then Reed left as a free agent and signed with Houston—and after just nine games with the Texans, the 35-year-old free safety has been released. That blows a door open for former Idaho star Shiloh Keo, who has logged a career-high six tackles in each of the last two games. Keo got the starting nod over Reed in last week’s win at Atlanta.
Who is Simpson University, and what does it want with the Boise State basketball team? Simpson, which visits Taco Bell Arena Friday night, is an NAIA school from Redding, CA. College of Idaho is familiar with Simpson, mainly through baseball. The Coyotes usually play the Redhawks in February during a California swing as the season gets underway. The Simpson hoops squad is 1-4 after a 92-59 loss at Oregon Tech last night. The Redhawks have been giving up points in bushels, allowing 96.6 per game. Now they face a Division I team that scored 116 last Friday. Uh-oh.
So what do you think Leon Rice and his Broncos might have been doing last night? They must have had their noses up to a TV to get as close a look as they could at top-ranked Kentucky, a team they play December 10. Tne Wildcats were chasing Michigan State all night and couldn’t catch the Spartans in 78-74 loss in Chicago. UK’s Julius Randle, part of a freshman-dominated team that features six McDonald’s All-Americans, led the Wildcats with 27 points. Randle, a 6-9, 250-pounder, could be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft next June. He’ll be a handful in four weeks for Ryan Watkins—and anybody else who gets in his way.
As the Idaho Steelheads wrap up their homestand tonight against the Ontario Reign, it looks like Hubert Labrie might be the Steelheads’ yo-yo this season between the ECHL and AHL. Labrie, after playing a cameo in Boise last Saturday, is headed right back to the Texas Stars. But the Steelies are getting forward Mitch Wahl back for tonight’s game after loaning him to Utica of the AHL. Wahl played two games for Utica without registering a point. Also, Idaho has traded defenseman Connor Goggin to Orlando in exchange for future considerations. The Steelheads feel there’s a chance they’ll get starting goaltender Josh Robinson back from Texas later this month. In the meantime, goalie Pat Nagle has gone 2-1-1 with a .920 save percentage in his four starts during November.
This Day In Sports…November 13, 1993, 20 years ago today:
Number one against number two—Florida State and Notre Dame in South Bend. The Fighting Irish won 31-24 after fighting off a Seminole desperation drive led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, who the year before had played for the FSU basketball team in the NCAA Tournament at the BSU Pavilion. But the Irish would lose the following week to Boston College, opening the door for Florida State’s run to the national championship.
(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.)