Wednesday, October 23, 2013.
Chris Petersen hasn’t been counting, but plenty of others have. Friday night’s game at BYU will be his 100th as Boise State head coach since taking the reins in the 2006 season. Not by choice, Petersen talked extensively about it Monday. “In some ways it seems like that period of time went really fast,” said Petersen. “But the days are really long. It’s such a grind.” Petersen rattled off some of what he still considers perks of the job. “Being with the guys, by far,” he said. “I like being with our coaches, I like being with our players. I like studying tape, game-planning, those types of things.” Petersen acknowledges the experience that comes with 100 games as a head coach, however: “I don’t want to say I’ve seen it all, because every time I say that it’s like, ‘Okay…’”
The Boise State job has become an enormous undertaking. Petersen points to the growth of the support staff, and it’s been necessary. “You couldn’t function if you didn’t have ‘em,” he said. “I always go back to my days at (UC) Davis and just going, ‘How did we do that there?’ I remember leaving after practice—I don’t think we watched tape. Loved wearing New York Jets sweatshirts out to practice, or Michigan, and didn’t think twice about it. We just went and coached.” With the Broncos these days, and throughout FBS football for that matter, there’s a way to dress for every occasion.
When Dan Hawkins left for Colorado in December of 2005, Petersen finally had to fish or cut bait. He had long resisted the notion of being a head coach, but he felt the situation was right. “I think about that first year,” said Petersen. “Timing is everything in life, and we had a lot of really good players. We were able to keep the system the same. Maybe if it hadn’t worked out so well, I’d be right out there with you (media) guys.” But it’s worked out to the point that Petersen has the highest winning percentage of any active coach in the country. Friday night he guns for his 90th victory, which would get him back to 90 percent—he’s currently 89-10.
Jay Ajayi’s 222-yard effort against Nevada has put the sophomore on the fast track to a 1,000-yard season. Ajayi has rushed for 766 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He needs to average 56 yards a game the rest of the way (counting a bowl but not counting a possible Mountain West championship game). Now, has a one-two punch re-developed at tailback for Boise State in the absence of injured Aaron Baltazar? Derrick Thomas made a bid against the Wolf Pack, gaining 48 yards on just six carries. “In some ways to our system, he’s like a freshman,” Petersen said of the junior college transfer. “You can see him gaining some confidence. Even out in practice you can tell he’s starting to take the next step.” Rushing yards are going to be a lot harder to come by against BYU’s defense Friday.
BYU’s offense revolves around Taysom Hill, do you think? The sophomore from Pocatello did something last week nobody in the Cougars’ storied quarterback history has ever done: throw for more than 400 yards and rush for more than 100. In fact, only seven QBs have done that in FBS history. How about this, though: Hill ran for 128 yards officially at Houston but actually gained 194 yards on the ground—he lost 66 yards on eight sacks. Hill cemented his reputation as a running quarterback with his stunning 259 rushing yards against Texas last month.
What makes Hill scary now is his upward zoom in passing stats. Through the first three games he had completed just 35 percent of his pass attempts for 564 yards with only one touchdown. In the last four games Hill’s accuracy has been 65 percent, and he’s totaled 1,116 yards and eight TDs. What Boise State fans remember is the 95-yard drive Hill engineered last year on the blue turf, the one that almost beat the Broncos. He ran for 56 yards and passed for 39 in relief of Riley Nelson during a tense 3½-minute fourth quarter stretch, scoring on a four-yard run. It took a bat-down by J.C. Percy on a two-point conversion attempt to preserve Boise State’s 7-6 victory.
Boise State’s 2014 recruiting class is back down to 10 with the news that prized wide receiver Shay Fields has decommitted from the Broncos. Fields was going to be hard to hang onto anyway. He visited Boise last weekend and attended the Nevada game. It was a great game and a great atmosphere—if that didn’t reinforce Fields, then the Broncos obviously aren’t for him. He also has offers from three Pac-12 schools. Boise State earlier lost commit Hawkins Mann, the former Borah High star who suddenly relocated to Burbank at the beginning of the season. Mann switched to San Diego State.
Is Idaho getting Ole Miss at a good time? Really, there’s no good time for the Vandals to face an SEC team on the road. But this game comes a week after the Rebels’ 27-24 upset of No. 6 LSU and a week before a bye. Could Ole Miss hit the snooze button? Idaho is rested coming off a bye but is a 40½-point underdog. The Vandals’ depth chart inserts the word “or” in between quarterbacks Chad Chalich, Josh McCain and Taylor Davis. But the health of Chalich and McCain is still in question, and it’s likely that Davis, the senior, will get the start against the Rebels. Davis came off the bench 11 days ago at Arkansas State when Chalich went down and was 15-of-34 for 199 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Boise State junior Derrick Marks has become only the second Bronco ever to make the watch list for the Cousy Award that goes to the nation’s best point guard. Marks, who averaged 16.3 points per game as a sophomore and led the Mountain West with 56 steals, is one of 50 players on the list. Boise State’s Anthony Thomas made the Cousy midseason watch list in 2008-09 and the preseason list the following season. Marks joins New Mexico’s Kendall Williams and Utah State’s Preston Medlin in representing the Mountain West.
Rewind a year. The Idaho Steelheads went into last season with two goaltenders, Tyler Beskorowany and Josh Robinson. Beskorowany was the presumed starter, but Robison quickly gained a foothold between the pipes and went 27-8-4 for the Steelheads. Robinson has now returned from Texas of the AHL and is set to start the Steelies’ home opener tonight in CenturyLink Arena. And guess who’s coming to town with San Francisco? It’s Beskorowany, who made a Bulls team record 44 saves in a 2-1 win at Alaska last Friday night. The tables were turned on him the following night, though, in a 5-0 loss to the Aces. Beskorowany was 17-12-3 for Idaho last season.
This Day In Sports…October 23, 1921:
The Green Bay Packers play their first official NFL game. The Packers faced off against the Minneapolis Marines and won the game 7-6 when Curly Lambeau kicked the winning extra point. Lambeau, for whom Green Bay’s iconic stadium is named, founded the team in 1919. The Packers joined the American Professional Football Association, forerunner of the NFL, in 1921. They have played in their original city longer than any other team in the NFL.
(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.)