Monday, August 4, 2014.
There's already been a lot written and said about the challenges facing the Boise State defensive line going into the season. I'll add two more cents here. The D-line is where a considerable amount of mojo went missing as the Broncos slipped to an 8-5 record last year. The coaching dynamic is interesting at that spot. Boise State lost one of the best defensive line coaches in the country when Pete Kwiatkowski joined Chris Petersen at Washington. But Kwiatkowski was the Broncos' defensive coordinator the past four years, with Andy Avalos learning the ropes under him as D-line coach the past two.
Matt Miller's "we were too comfortable in our own skin" comment at Mountain West Media Days comes to mind. It was a malady that may have permeated the whole team last year. That's why Avalos' move to coach the line backers, the position he played for the Broncos 10 years ago, and the entrance of veteran SEC D-line coach Steve Caldwell give the defense a chance for rejuvenation. Caldwell, for one, will have no preconceived notions about his unit's chances of success against a powerful SEC offensive line from Ole Miss August 28. He knows the tall task the Rebels will present the Broncos and will have to figure out how to move his pieces around to stem that tide.
I talked about the emerging redshirts from the 2013 team last night on Sunday Sports Extra, and one bears repeating as the Boise State defensive line searches for new stars. Nick Terry was a highly-touted member of last year's recruiting class out of Elk Grove, CA, where he was a solid run-stopper. At 6-3, 282 pounds, he has a defensive tackle's frame. Now we'll see if he has what Caldwell envisions as a D-tackle's mentality.
Fall camp begins today at Idaho, with questions still surrounding a major hole to fill. Wide receiver Dezmon Epps, who led the Vandals with 79 catches last season, was dismissed from the team a couple weeks ago. Now coach Paul Petrino says one of the hopefuls to replace him, junior college transfer Kenny Torrence, won't be joining the team. Petrino had said Torrence reminded him of one of the star receivers he coached at Louisville, Arnold Jackson, remembered locally for his big performance in the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl loss to Boise State. Jackson had nine catches for 109 yards that day and hauled in a 54-yard touchdown from Chris Redman. (Uh, I only used those numbers because I had already looked them up.)
Kellen Moore's chances of sticking with Detroit for a third year as the Lions' No. 3 quarterback appears to depend on whether new coach Jim Caldwell keeps three QBs on the active roster. The former Boise State great is looking like the Lions' choice as a No. 3 over former Missouri standout James Franklin a week into training camp. "There hasn't been any comparison between Kellen and James Franklin regarding their workload yet," Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press told us on Idaho SportsTalk Friday. "Kellen's able to pick up the new system pretty easily."
But will the Lions keep three quarterbacks? "It's going to depend a little bit on the receiver spot and the running back spot," said Birkett. Detroit could keep an extra player at one or both of those spots to stock special teams and drop the No. 3 QB from the regular season roster. If so, it could actually favor Franklin, who can be placed on the practice squad. That's a place Moore can't go. A player is ineligible for the practice squad if he has "one accrued season" of NFL experience. An accrued season is six or more games on a team's 53-man regular season roster, whether he plays or not. Moore has two accrued seasons of NFL experience.
It was an interesting weekend for the Boise Hawks. Friday night's 11-10 win in 11 innings won't soon be forgotten. The Hawks rallied from a 9-2 deficit, making it the 16th come-from-behind win for the club this season and the second time in the Vancouver series that Boise had rallied from a seven-run deficit in the final four innings to win. On the other hand, it was the Hawks' first win this season when trailing going into the ninth (they scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game). The Hawks almost did it again Saturday night when, trailing 4-1, they got a three-run homer from Justin Marra to tie it in the seventh. That time the Canadians were able to eek out a 5-4 win in 10 innings. Yesterday's matinee saw a more conventional nine-inning affair, with Boise taking the series from Vancouver with a 3-2 victory.
John Lackey made good on the first National League start of his 13-year big league career. The former Boise Hawk, traded to St. Louis by Boston on that whirlwind trade deadline day last Thursday, went seven innings yesterday and allowed two runs on seven hits, earning the win in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory over Milwaukee. Another note among Boise alums: Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison is on an uncommon roll for a utilityman, albeit a starting utilityman. Harrison belted another home run Saturday night in the Pirates' 8-3 win at Arizona, his fifth homer in seven games. He now has 10 home runs this season after hitting seven in his first three major league seasons combined.
The third round blew up on Graham DeLaet Saturday at the Bridgestone Invitational—to the tune of a six-over 76 that included a 41 on the back nine. Suddenly the former Boise State star went from a tie for ninth to a tie for 42nd. Then minutes before he was to tee off in yesterday's final round, DeLaet withdrew from the World Golf Championships event due to the flu. DeLaet should be able to recover in time for the PGA Championship this Thursday.
Defenseman Matt Case is returning to the Idaho Steelheads, giving the organization yet another familiar name heading into the 2014-15 season. Case played in Lillehammer, Norway, last season and scored seven goals with 12 assists in 45 games. He had played the previous three seasons with the Steelheads, including a 2012-13 campaign that saw him named first-team All-ECHL and win the ECHL's Plus-Performer of the Year award.
Idaho Cup Day at Les Bois Park Saturday night was highlighted by the Governors Cup, a race featuring Idaho-bred thoroughbreds that was won by First Cauzin and jockey D.M. Collins. Leading jockey Nikeela Renae Black was aboard Floating Feather for the victory in the Idaho Cup Classic and then rode Northern Poptart to the winner's circle in the Idaho Cup Sprint. Black now has 58 wins on the season.
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August 4, 2007: A day of irony in baseball history. To a mixture of cheers and boos in San Diego, the Giants' Barry Bonds hits his 755th career home run, tying Hank Aaron on the career list—asterisk and all. And the guy most people expect to surpass Bonds someday, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez, clubs his 500th homer (with an asterisk himself now). Three years later, to the day, Rodriguez would hit No. 600 in his career after a 12-game wait. He was only the seventh player in history to reach that milestone—and at the age of 35, the youngest.
(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.)