Monday, December 16, 2013.
At his introductory press conference Friday, new Boise State coach Bryan Harsin was naturally asked about the offense, his specialty during his days as Bronco offensive coordinator. “I’m going to come in here and look under the hood,” said Harsin, noting he did the same thing when he went to Texas and Arkansas State. Then he emphasized a word that should endear him to Boise State fans: “creativity.” Harsin says fans will see an offense they’re accustomed to. “Our style is our style, and it’s a Boise thing.” That doesn’t mean some schemes won’t be tweaked to accommodate the personnel. The clubhouse leader for starting quarterback going into spring football will be Grant Hedrick, and he’s a lot different than Kellen Moore. But would the offensive adjustments Harsin makes be as drastic as the ones we saw this year? Stay tuned.
Harsin talked at length about the Arkansas State situation, and his status as the third straight coach to leave the Red Wolves program after one year. The difference this time, Harsin said, is players and fans at Arkansas State understand this move, as the coach is coming home to his dream job. I couldn’t help but think that Harsin’s very first game as BSU coach will be against one of the other Jonesboro jilters, Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss. The Broncos face the Rebels in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome on August 28.
Harsin was introduced at halftime of Saturday’s Boise State basketball game against Saint Mary’s and received a loud and lengthy standing ovation before athletic director Mark Coyle even had the chance to say his name. Harsin repeated his line from Friday’s press conference, “We’ll embrace our past, but we’re going to attack the future.” Then he laid down his own gauntlet by saying the Broncos were out to win another championship. Next year. Taco Bell Arena responded rather positively to that sentiment.
Steve Gress of the Corvallis Gazette-Times has an interesting perspective on Oregon State’s invite to play Boise State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. “When Oregon took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter of the Civil War a couple weeks back, I was all prepared to write a column saying the Oregon State football should not accept a bowl berth even if they received an invitation,” writes Gress. “But what transpired over the final three quarters of that Civil War game made me start to change my mind,” pens Gress, pointing to the Beavers’ rally that was eclipsed by the Ducks in a 36-35 Oregon win. “When they were invited to the Hawaii Bowl to take on Boise State, I thought it was a pretty darn good fit.” Gress notes that Hawaii is fertile recruiting ground for OSU, and a win over the Broncos would be a springboard into next season for a 6-6 team.
Boise State fans have had their fill of San Diego State’s Colin Lockett, but those who attend this Saturday’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl get to see him one more time. Lockett returns to the blue turf, where last year he took the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown to set the tone in a 21-19 upset of the Broncos, SDSU’s best road win ever over a ranked team. Then he ended this season’s game against Boise State with a similar gut-punch, the overtime TD catch that beat the Broncos 34-31 at Qualcomm Stadium. That reception is the one that essentially earned the Aztecs this bowl bid against Buffalo—they lost decisively at UNLV the following week and would be sitting home were it not for the win over Boise State.
It can happen any which way in college football recruiting. Some Boise State commits are sure to end up in Washington’s 2014 recruiting class (quarterback Jalen Greene made his official visit to UW over the weekend), and now it’s happened to the Huskies again with word that Timberline High defensive end Don Hill has switched to USC. Also, former Borah High defensive end Hawkins Mann’s tour of the Mountain West continues. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that Mann, now attending high school in Burbank, CA, has committed to Nevada. Mann had previously given verbals to Boise State and San Diego State.
When was the last time you saw so many dagger three-pointers from a Boise State opponent? Saint Mary’s drained its treys early and often Saturday, scoring 15 of its first 17 points from beyond the arc. Then, after the Broncos erased a 16-point deficit by wrapping a 28-10 run around halftime, the Gaels retook the lead for good on a demoralizing three early in the second half on the way to an 82-74 victory. Digging out of that huge hole took a lot of starch out of Boise State, and its crucial misses down the stretch negated efforts for a second comeback. The loss was the Broncos’ second straight and came before a loud and eager crowd of 8,234.
Some of the stats could not be more misleading. Boise State actually out-shot Saint Mary’s by a percentage point, but every BSU miss seemed to be glaring. Derrick Marks scored 22 points but was just 8-of-20 from the field. Jeff Elorriaga added 20 points, including six three-pointers. But no other Bronco connected from beyond the arc. The Gaels’ defense was suffocating, especially against Anthony Drmic, who had just six points. Boise State committed one fewer turnover than Saint Mary’s, but many of the Bronco miscues were momentum-killers (with the Gaels often cashing in). The visitors from the Bay Area won the rebounding battle, 35-27—nothing misleading about that. Boise State is off now until the Diamond Head Classic this Sunday night at Hawaii.
I’m thinking there’s an increasing number of people interested in attending the Idaho Stampede’s homecoming from this long December road trip in 11 more days. Fans have to be anxious to see Pierre Jackson, who’s been doing unprecedented things for Boise’s D-League franchise. The former Baylor star has raised the bar again, breaking the franchise single-game scoring record with 49 points Saturday night in a 98-94 win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Jackson scored exactly half of the Stampede’s points. The whole team is worth seeing, as a matter of fact. The Stamps’ 8-0 start is their best in history. The Stampede come back out west now, visiting the Bakersfield Jam Wednesday night.
Even in the ECHL, a 5-1 lead with less than 11 minutes left in the third period would seem safe. That would especially be the case for the Alaska Aces, who came into Saturday night’s game at CenturyLink Arena having outscored their opponents 23-7 in the third stanza. But the Idaho Steelheads couldn’t have made it any more interesting, scoring three times in a minute and 22 seconds in the third period to make it a 5-4 game. The Steelies had a couple solid opportunities to tie it up down the stretch, but Alaska goalie Olivier Roy survived the shellshock to preserve the Aces win. Still, Idaho was able to take two out of three games from its rivals after winning 4-3 in overtime Friday night. The Steelheads open a three-game home series against the Bakersfield Condors Wednesday night.
Former Boise State standout Graham DeLaet and playing partner Mike Weir, a fellow Canadian, finished tied for eighth overall yesterday in the 12-team Franklin-Templeton Shootout. The duo was behind the eight-ball after the first day Friday, going one-over in the “Modified Alternate Ball” competition at the Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, FL.. But DeLaet and Weir rallied, especially yesterday when they were 12-under in the scramble. They earned $80,000 each.
Back to football—and the NFL. Austin Pettis had taken a backseat in the St. Louis offense since mid-October, more or less coinciding with quarterback Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury. Pettis had 22 catches for 222 yards and four touchdowns in the Rams’ first five games. The former Boise State star recorded only eight receptions for 105 yards and no TDs the last eight games going into yesterday’s home date with New Orleans. Pettis was back in it against the Saints, though, leading St. Louis with four grabs for 41 yards on a day when the Rams threw sparingly and completed only 14 passes. And they upended New Orleans, 27-16.
This Day In Sports…December 16, 1973, 40 years ago today:
O.J. Simpson of the Buffalo Bills gains 200 yards against the New York Jets to become the first NFL player ever to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. Simpson finished the season at 2,003. Enough said. By the way, there have been three 2,000-yard rushers in the new century, and Boise State faced two of them during their college careers, the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and the Titans’ Chris Johnson. The third was the Ravens’ Jamal Lewis.
(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.)