Tuesday, October 22, 2013.
There’s going to be a lot of talk about Grant Hedrick this week as he goes into his first official start as Boise State quarterback at BYU this Friday. Let’s deal with what Matt Miller has to say about him—that carries some weight. Of course, Miller is biased, as he is Hedrick’s roommate. “The good thing is, things don’t change for me,” said Miller of the switch from injured Joe Southwick to Hedrick. “It’s all the same terminology, just coming from a different mouth.” Miller caught five of Hedrick’s passes for 55 yards to help the Broncos rally past Nevada 34-17 Saturday. He had the long catch of the night at a modest 23 yards. But that doesn’t mean the vertical game is gone without Southwick. “Grant has every throw in the book,” said Miller. “I think we’re just as dangerous with him as we were with Joe.”
That doesn’t mean the loss of Southwick wasn’t wrenching for Miller. “He’s in good spirits,” Miller said. “He’s handling it like a man—he’s just fine.” Miller credited Southwick’s halftime pep talk for a lot of the energy Boise State had in the second half against Nevada. Coach Chris Petersen says the Broncos are looking at a five-week window for Southwick, whose broken ankle has required surgery. “But we’ll see,” Petersen said. Nick Patti is now one injury away from going in himself. As for a No. 3 quarterback? Petersen smiled and said, “We’re figuring that out as we go.” True freshman Ryan Finley is still out after shoulder surgery, and the only other QB on the roster is true freshman Richard Hoppe. Thomas Sperbeck, a true freshman wide receiver, was a quarterback in high school (he’s the one who threw the interception on the halfback pass at Utah State).
You won’t be able to overlook Hedrick’s 18-of-21 passing night against Nevada, because it goes into the record books, too. Hedrick’s 85.7 percent accuracy in his first full game as a Bronco is No. 6 in Boise State history, sandwiched (interestingly enough) between Ryan Dinwiddie’s remarkable comeback night against Fresno State when he returned from a broken ankle in 2002 and Southwick versus Colorado State last year. Southwick, of course, holds the record with his 27-of-29 (93.1 percent) performance against Air Force last month.
This is long overdue, but Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was too obvious a choice this time for Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week. Lawrence logged 3½ sacks against Nevada, the most of any FBS player in a single game this year. One of them saddled Cody Fajardo with a 14-yard loss on fourth-and goal. Lawrence has now taken the Mountain West lead in sacks for the season with 6½. The last Bronco to record three sacks in a game was Andrew Browning in 2006 at Nevada in the game that clinched Boise State’s first trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
The best bulletin board material for Tim Socha this week is the stat sheet from the BYU-Houston game. The Cougars ran a staggering 115 plays in their 47-46 win over the other Cougars. Socha is Boise State’s strength and conditioning coach, and all the cardio drills he puts the Broncos through in the winter, spring and summer will have to pay off Friday. BYU players have said the Houston experience was almost like playing two games in one day. The Cougars used the hurry-up attack to roll up 681 yards and 41 first downs. The game lasted four hours and seven minutes. “However long this one was, it seems there ought to be a bye or a NCAA rule that if a game goes longer than four hours, a Friday game automatically goes to Saturday night,” quipped BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall of the turnaround for Boise State in the Deseret News.
There are Bronco Nation implications coming out of Wyoming’s 52-22 loss to Colorado State Saturday. Why? ESPN is obligated to show one more Boise State home game on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 (read that: ESPN2) this season, and the only two left are Wyoming and New Mexico. The game against the Cowboys is more atttactive, but it’s less so now after the Pokes got worked by the Rams. Get ready for ESPN to bury the Wyoming game (or New Mexico, as the case may be). Remember the painful 8:30 kickoff against San Diego State on the blue turf last November? That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Unless there’s some kind of wheelin’ and dealin’ to keep both games off the main ESPN networks altogether. We’ll see where it goes.
A big part of Northwest football heritage has left us with the passing of legendary Washington coach Don James. The “Dawgfather” proved a major West Coast program north of the Oregon-California border could dominate. The Huskies went to the Rose Bowl in six of James’ last eight seasons in a time when it was even harder to get there. James’ last public appearance was for the grand re-opening of Husky Stadium at the Boise State-Washington game on August 31.
There are conflicting reports on the status of Doug Martin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Greg Schiano said the Bucs are “still evaluating” the former Boise State star after he suffered a shoulder injury Sunday against Atlanta. Schiano would only acknowledge that Martin was a longshot to play Thursday night against Carolina. But reports are rampant that Martin tore his labrum and will be out for the remainder of the 2013 campaign. That would put the two highest-profile Boise State products in the NFL out for the season. Denver left tackle Ryan Clady was lost to a Lisfranc injury to his left foot in Week 1. Defenses have ganged up on Martin this year, holding him to 456 yards, 3.6 yards per carry, and just one touchdown.
Boise State’s answer to “Midnight Madness” will warm up hoops fans a week from Wednesday. The Broncos’ men's and women's squads will host “Heat Up the Hardwood” October 30 in Taco Bell Arena. It’s a free event featuring a hot shot competition, a three-point competition, a dunk exhibition and intrasquad scrimmages. There’ll be a lot of fan interaction, including some on-court stuff. My prediction: with all the buzz surrounding the men’s team, this will draw a lot more fans than, say, last year’s home opener against Texas Southern (1,950). Still hard to believe that number the way the season turned out. We’ll file that away.
It looks like star goalie Josh Robinson, the Idaho Steelheads team MVP last season, will land back in Boise for the home opener tomorrow night in CenturyLink Arena. There was concern that Robinson’s shutout of San Antonio in his AHL debut Saturday may have kept him with the Texas Stars, as the Steelheads signed an emergency backup goaltender just in case for this week, Will Gagnon. Incidentally, tomorrow night’s contest will mark San Francisco’s only visit to Boise the entire season. The Steelies play four games by the Bay this season, three of them coming in back-to-back weekends next month.
Boise State junior Emma Bates is the National Division I Cross Country Women’s Athlete of the Week after capturing a come-from-behind victory Saturday in the 2013 Pre-National Invitational 6-kilometer Blue Race. Bates ran a career-best 20:09.09 in Terre Haute, IN. Her win marked the first major regular-season victory in Boise State history. Next up for Bates and the Broncos is the Mountain West Championships a week from Friday at Air Force.
This Day In Sports…October 22, 1973:
The birthday of the most successful Japanese player ever to venture into big league baseball. Ichiro Suzuki was already 27 when he signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2001. He promptly led the American League in batting, earning Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. In 2004, Ichiro set the major league record for hits with 262. During his 13 years with the Mariners, Ichiro had a streak of 10 straight seasons with 200 hits, more than any player in history. He was traded to the Yankees midway through the 2012 season. Ichiro Suzuki…40 years old today.
(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.)