Presented by ANGELL'S BAR & GRILL.
Friday, August 1, 2014.
The days of Boise State shuttling its football team over to the grass field at the old East Junior High have been over since Dona Larsen Park was built in 2012. Now the Broncos have a new place to go for natural turf, as DeChevrieux Field makes its debut today with the opening of fall camp. Coach Bryan Harsin says the team will spend a lot of its practice time there this month—it's easier on the legs. The new field has plenty of room to separate offense and defense position groups, and it's next door to the blue turf and the Caven-Williams indoor facility. "It's going to be easy for us to move back and forth," said Harsin. DeChevrieux Field was built on the land where the Boise State Vo-Tech building once stood, adjacent to the Albertsons Stadium/Taco Bell Arena parking lot. (And it has big blue screening around it, so don't get any ideas.)
It wouldn't be Boise State fall camp if there wasn't an inordinate amount of focus on the quarterbacks. Ryan Finley will be spotlighted as much as starter Grant Hedrick, because it's imperative that the Broncos have a reliable backup. Just ask Hedrick how he was feeling one play into the Nevada game on the blue turf last October. As for Finley, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has said he was in "show me" mode in the spring. Sanford was shown that Finley has tools, can operate the offense, and had the gumption to overcome last year's shoulder injury. Harsin agrees. "You saw 100 percent of Finley, but you saw about 80 percent of what his physical ability is in the spring," said Harsin, who wants to get the redshirt freshman ramped up this month. "We've got a deadline coming up August 28th, so he needs to be prepared."
We haven't heard much about Antoine Turner since the Jay Tust story on the one-time homeless recruit went viral in May. The 6-3, 280-pound defensive tackle was allowed by the NCAA to get housing and meals help early from Boise State, before summer conditioning began. Harsin says Turner has acclimated well to Boise, where living day-to-day is a lot easier than what he was accustomed to. And Turner has embraced the work that goes into this level of college football. "He has a lot of demands on him," said Harsin. "How much does he know (about our system)? I don't know that yet." But the coach is impressed with Turner the person. "I think he has a plan—I really do," Harsin said. "He's mature. He gets it."
Other than running back Derrick Thomas, who was dismissed from the team a couple weeks ago, the only missing person going into fall camp is Jabril Frazier. The true freshman defensive end, who chose Boise State over USC in a signing day ceremony in February to become one of the prizes of the 2014 recruiting class, is taking care of academic issues before heading for Boise from Los Angeles. Frazier "will not be here through fall camp, but will be here when school starts," said Harsin. Remember Deuce Mataele, the defensive lineman who was a spring football star in 2013 but ran into difficulties that summer? He is on the roster and is able to practice, but he has to sit out this season.
Forgive me if I don't call it the "Amway Coaches Poll." Whatever you want to call it (since USA Today no longer has its name attached), the first one for the 2014 season is out. Boise State is unranked in the preseason for the first time since 2008. It's just a matter of "what have you done for me lately?" among voters. The Broncos did receive 13 points among the others receiving votes. Their Chick-fil-A Kickoff opponent in Atlanta, Ole Miss, is ranked No. 19. And former coach Chris Petersen's team, Washington, comes in at No. 25. Not a single team from a non-power conference is in the Top 25. Central Florida is third in line to get in, with Marshall also ahead of Boise State. Louisiana-Lafayette is one point behind the Broncos.
Idaho's fall camp kicks off Monday evening, as the Vandals' season opener looms four weeks from tomorrow at Florida. Coach Paul Petrino won't be putting his guys through massive scrimmages like he did in the spring—there are only two scheduled, on August 9 and August 16. Idaho held four scrimmages in the spring, with one of them reaching 190 snaps.
No fireworks and no magic last night for the Boise Hawks, as they fell 2-1 to the Vancouver Canadians at Memorial Stadium. David Bote singled in Charcer Burks in the first inning, and that was it for Hawks scoring. The loss spoiled an outstanding middle relief effort by Boise's Ryan Williams, who threw four scoreless innings and allowed just two hits, lowering his ERA to 1.50. The Hawks, now 4-6 in the second half of the Northwest League season, host Vancouver again tonight through Sunday. Oh, and there will be fireworks tonight—the real kind.
Let's see if we can wade through some of what happened before Major League Baseball's trade deadline. Former Boise Hawk John Lackey was indeed dealt by the Boston Red Sox, going to St. Louis for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. The Cardinals are getting mixed reviews for the move. The blockbuster of the day, of course, was Boston's deal with Oakland, sending Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Bay for Yoenis Cespedes. That pushes ex-Hawk Josh Donaldson into the role of the A's featured slugger. It also puts one-time Treasure Valley Community College Chukar Jason Hammel into limbo. Hammel, who came to the A's along with Jeff Samardzija in the deal with the Cubs on the 4th of July, is an abysmal 0-4 with a 9.53 ERA since the trade.
Graham DeLaet was solid in the first round of the Bridgestone Invitational, part of the World Championships of Golf. The former Boise State star shot a three-under 67 yesterday and is tied for fifth, three strokes off the lead. It was a very clean round—three birdies, no bogeys. This is the first time DeLaet has played the Bridgestone. With the elite field and large galleries at Firestone Country Club in Akron, OH, it's an ideal tuneup for next week's PGA Championship. "You kind of feed off it," said DeLaet. "This is where you want to be in the world of golf."
Eamonn McDermott was just a new camper with the Idaho Steelheads at the end of last season—now he'll be a full-fledged rookie. McDermott came to Boise after finishing his career at Colorado College and showed coach Brad Ralph enough to earn a contract for this season. The 22-year-old defenseman led the Steelies in plus/minus rating during the Kelly Cup Playoffs at plus-3.
Tomorrow is the biggest day of the season at Les Bois Park, as the Idaho Cup races unfold beginning at 5:30 p.m. Top Idaho-bred thoroughbreds and quarter horses will compete for the largest purses of the year. Leading jockey Nikeela Renae Black will have a mount in all three of the biggest races, the Idaho Cup Derby, the Idaho Cup Claiming Stakes, and the Idaho Cup Classic. Black has finished in the top three in 107 of her 164 races this season, including 55 trips to the winner's circle.
This Day In Sports…August 1, 2012:
Boise's Kristin Armstrong wins her second consecutive Olympic gold medal in the women's time trial with a dominant performance in London. Armstrong, who just 10 weeks earlier had broken her clavicle at the Exergy Tour in Boise, won by more than 15 seconds over Germany's Judith Arndt. At the age of 38, Armstrong became the oldest road cyclist ever to capture a gold medal. She had retired after winning the 2009 world time trial championship to have son Lucas, but mounted a comeback in 2011 and capped it by ending her career on the highest of notes.
(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.)