Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford lined out his top three fall camp questions for KTVB's Jay Tust on Sunday Sports Extra the other night. The answers are to be determined, but we can certainly speculate. First on the list: who are his five offensive linemen going to be? The Broncos have to replace two more NFL Draft picks, Matt Paradis and Charles Leno Jr. Right tackle Rees Odhiambo is now a left tackle. Right guard Marcus Henry is now a center. Mario Yakoo, Travis Averill and Steven Baggett, if they are indeed the other three, have to take the torch and run with it—in front of Jay Ajayi.
The offensive line's primary job is to make Ajayi look as good as everybody thinks he will be. The O-line had been known for its pass-blocking more than its run-blocking after the departure of Doug Martin. But last year Boise State's sacks-allowed number jumped to 26 from 10 in 2012 and eight in 2011. On the other hand, Ajayi had a tremendous year with those 1,425 rushing yards, helped by some holes you could drive a truck through. The focus now shifts back to protecting the quarterback. If the Broncos can be successful in that endeavor, Grant Hedrick's ball security will naturally improve.
Second on Sanford's list: who is the third receiver going to be? For the Boise State passing attack to recapture its old unpredictability, it'll need more than Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes. I talked last week about Troy Ware and the fact that if he's going to be that guy, he'll have to quadruple last year's numbers (10 catches, 107 yards, two touchdowns). The Broncos themselves might nominate Thomas Sperbeck, the sophomore who was beginning to emerge last season before he was slowed by injury in November. Sperbeck had some "wow" factor in spring football, displaying his playmaking potential. Dallas Burroughs, the former Rocky Mountain star going into his senior year, is a wild card. Tanner Shipley and Eagle High grad D.J. Dean are unknowns at the outset of fall camp.
Sanford's third question: who are the No. 2 and No. 3 tailbacks going to be? Will it be some combination of Devan Demas and Jack Fields? You know sophomore Charles Bertoli wants to be a factor (and get in line for a scholarship). But this is where the 2014 recruiting class really comes into play. Instantly, this becomes a big fall camp for the Broncos' two true freshmen running backs, Jeremy McNichols and Cory Young. The door is open for them.
Coach Bryan Harsin may be engaging fans via social media and other vehicles far more than Chris Petersen did at Boise State. Hey, the Broncos' women's seminar makes its triumphant return tonight in the form of the Helmets and Heels Clinic. But Harsin is just as guarded as Petersen when it comes to game prep. The Broncos' fall camp practices will be closed to the public—nothing new there—but only a select few will be open to the media at the beginning of drills. There will be one public scrimmage on Friday night, August 15, with free admission.
With NFL training camps all in session now, it's notable that Ryan Clady is said to be participating in all drills for Denver and is ready to return from the Lisfranc injury that ended his 2013 season in Week 2. Fellow former Boise State standout Matt Paradis, Denver's sixth-round draft pick in May, is also in camp. Council reportedly turned out big-time for Paradis' send-off barbeque a week and a half ago. The townspeople filled Veterans Peace Park to meet him and get photos and autographs. I'm told Matt's petite 90-year-old grandmother was wearing a No. 61 Denver jersey that Matt had signed in "small, very neat and legible handwriting on the back left shoulder."
The Boise Hawks were done in by a Keystone Cops inning last night and suffered a 6-1 loss at Hillsboro. It was just a three-run fourth inning by the Hops, but it was deflating. The Hawks allowed three stolen bases, one of them a steal of home. A throwing error helped Hillsboro runners advance. There were also two wild pitches, the second one scooting back to the screen on a swinging third strike, allowing another run to score on what should have been the third out. Suddenly it was 5-1, and the Hawks couldn't rediscover their mojo. Boise has lost five of seven games in the second half of the season.
One of the steadiest Idaho Steelheads of last season is on tap to return. Gaelen Patterson has agreed to terms with the Steelheads after appearing in 68 of the club's 72 regular season games in 2013-14. The 23-year-old forward scored a career-high 10 goals and led the Steelies in plus/minus after February with a plus-11 rating down the stretch and into the postseason. Patterson had two of the most clutch back-to-back performances of the season, assisting on the game-winning goal in Idaho's four-overtime win over Colorado to end opening round of the playoffs and then coming back with the OT game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals at Alaska two days later.
A sign of the evolving times at the College of Idaho: this morning the C of I dedicates the Marty Holly Athletics Center, a new 22,000-square-foot building named after the school's longtime athletic director. The facility will provide training and support facilities for all Coyote sports programs, including the football team that returns to action this fall after a 37-year hiatus. The Yote gridiron countdown is now just 39 days.
The Boise State women's softball program has lost, in effect, its founder. Coach Erin Thorpe has resigned to take the reins of the UC Davis program. Thorpe built the program from ground zero six years ago and went 173-150-1 with three 30-win seasons. The Broncos were 30-22 this spring and were in contention for the Mountain West championship into May, finishing with a 14-10 conference record. "UC Davis provides outstanding academic programs, a high-quality support staff, and an environment where student-athletes can thrive," Thorpe said in a UCD press release. "I look forward to recruiting quality student-athletes who will take full advantage of the academic and competitive opportunities UC Davis has to offer."
This Day In Sports…July 29, 1994, 20 years ago today:
After bouncing around in the CBA for five seasons, former Boise State star Chris Childs signs with the New Jersey Nets. Childs would make his NBA debut five months later and would play 53 games for the Nets that season, averaging four assists and just under six points a game. After one more campaign with the Nets, he signed as a free agent with the New York Knicks.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m. 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.)