To start, if you have not yet seen the latest video out of the football complex, please watch it now. In fact, if you have seen it, watch it again until you have it memorized because it is one of the best illustrations of the whole “what it is to be a Bronco” concept that has ever been. Anybody else think Hars has a future in voiceover work if this whole football thing ever gets old for him?
After an offseason rife with controversy (both the position battles as well as a little of the, uh, offfield kind), it’s nice to have a day with real football in the long drought after March Madness ends. Yeah, there will be some interesting stuff going on in the interim, but time itself is marching toward the biggest season opener since some short lefty kid from BFE, Washington went to Eugene and took down the mighty Ducks.
Attempting to analyze the spring game as an indicator of where a team will be in 4 months is a little like trying to project out what a child will be like as an adult by tearing apart every detail of how they play in the yard as a toddler. However, since this is football and there’s nothing else to do between now and The Beginning, we’re going to do just that.
There are two questions that will be argued about all summer long, no matter what happens today. Who is going to carry the offense, and will the team be ready to play UW next fall and win? Because everybody knows that while yes we will keep cheering and showing up whether the Broncos win that game or not….we’re really going to need them to step up and win that game. For themselves, their program, and Bronco Nation as a whole.
Boise State didn’t lose a whole lot of seniors last year, but the gaps that they have left are looming large. The QB position is loaded, but at this point, nobody really knows what’s going to happen. We need to look at not only throwing and footwork mechanics, but also understanding of the offense as well as the speed of making the reads. At RB, while The Weapon himself, Jeremy McNichols won’t be out there today, we should be watching for which guys have that vision and patience that set great BSU running backs apart. The Broncos need to find their workhorse, and while depth shouldn’t be an issue at that position, it would be nice to not have to RB by committee all the time.
It would be nice to see some progression on the lines, both sides of the ball. Last year they were talented and strong, but it’s going to take stepping up to exceptional to make the playoff dream even part of the discussion. On offense, there is a lot returning. 5 OL are back this season, with two more around who saw significant playing time last season. These were the guys that made Jay Ajayi a star, and now to be able to come in with experience and depth, well, the new RB and QB will be very lucky, well protected and well blocked for guys. Defensively, losing a guy like Beau Martin would normally be very difficult to do. However, BSU is basically sitting on a gold mine of experienced leadership on the line, rolling 2-3 deep at every position. This defense will be the envy of the Mountain West for sure, and could easily make national noise.
The receivers and TE’s also will be fun to watch today. Getting to see what Chase Blakely and David Lucero are working with will be good. I’m looking to see that they have a handle on the playbook and also try to get an idea of what role the TE’s will have this season. It was nice to see them back last year, but it felt like they could’ve been utilized a bit more. Jake Roh and his awesome hands are returning, and Holden Huff has a great opportunity to step up and be a leader right now in this young and potentially epic group. On the receivers side, there are a billion questions. Based on last season, Sperbeck and Anderson are the fire, but leadership is important. Gotta get those spark type plays from Shane Williams-Rhodes. There is depth at WR, but not much experience. There is more speed on the way as well. Highly touted recruits Akilian Butler and Bryan Jefferson will be arriving this fall, but spring is about the guys on campus.
Remember what it was like to have depth on defense, with amazing returning talent, some up and comers with something to prove, and the knowledge that There Will Be Shut Down Defense Played By Boise? 2006-2011 were pretty good times. The noise out of the complex is sounding a bit like a renaissance. Deayon, Moxie, Maston, and Thompson are all back. So is college-football acclimated Dylan Sumner-Gardner.
Tyler Rausa has been appointed the Broncos new kicker. You only get one chance at a good first impression, bro. Don’t shank it wide left on your first time out in front of the crowd and all will be well.
This spring game is unlike any we’ve seen. First, we will be celebrating the career of one of the greatest Broncos ever or ever will be, Kellen Moore. The university has already confirmed that the ol’ #11 won’t be retired, but are also saying that nobody will be wearing it for a good, long time. Kellen is building himself a career in the NFL, looking to be the #2 QB after re-signing with Detroit this spring. We at the BTN are still beating the JUST PLAY HIM ALREADY drum, but Kellen is obviously a much more patient person than we are and is willing to play the long game. It will be good for Bronco Nation to see him today, and help celebrate a wonderful college career.
After the game, BSU has invited 2007 American Idol winner Jordin Sparks to perform a concert on The Blue as part of their Bronco Day celebration. Fans will be allowed on the field, and it’s at least a unique opportunity to watch a pop concert on the turf. Hey, if Jordin’s excited about it, why not?!
I am writing this letter to let you know we noticed. We noticed the heart, the fight, the determination, and the effort you gave against Tennessee. Don’t let the result get you down, we all saw you put on an incredible show and you deserve the accolades to go with it. Brooke, your performance against the Vols is something that will go down in history for Boise State Women’s Basketball. The future is bright, and I am here to tell you I will be at your games. You made Bronco Nation proud against all odds, and it was something to behold. You put the Mountain West Conference and the rest of the NCAA on notice today, and we couldn’t be prouder to be Broncos. Few performances have been as inspiring as yours was today. We have watched a lot of basketball in our time, and what you did today was truly amazing. Once again congratulations, and thank you for choosing to showcase your skills in a Bronco uniform.
To Coach Presnell, and the rest of the Broncos. Congratulations on a great season, your heart and determination was truly inspiring. We all saw the odds you faced, (In Tennessee, the refs against you, ESPN even calling the game in favor of the Vols.) you ladies never quit and you represented Boise State with incredible pride and sportsmanship. To all of the seniors, congratulations on finishing an incredible season. To those of you who will be back, see you next season. We can’t wait to see how you follow up an incredible performance.
Perhaps it’s fitting that the both the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournament Committees are burying the Broncos and their Idaho loving faithful in shoulder chips leading into March Madness.
The women’s team got seeded to start tournament play vs. Tennessee in Knoxville, so while it would be fantastic if Bronco Nation could show up to support the team and all, it’s still the powerhouse of the Lady Vols on their home turf we’re talking about here. The 2 seed vs. the 15. Real David and Goliath stuff. Winning can happen for the correct orange and blue, but it’s going to take a perfect storm to get there.
The men also are between a rock and a hard place – their last venture on to the court ended in a stupid miracle banked three pointer in OT with what seemed like half the team unable to make anything happen offensively. That half included MW Player of the Year, Derrick Marks. It was as heartbreaking as it was infuriating to watch. But now, they’re back in Dayton, OH for the second time in 3 years, facing off against yet another fire hot team in the hometown Dayton Flyers. Dayton finished second in the Atlantic Ten, and some of their fans felt slighted by having to go to the play-in game. There’s some less than enthused faces around the player’s table during the announcement as well. These boys are ready to cause a bloodbath on their way to the Sweet 16 and Boise is just in the way. Shoulder chips all around, then!
However, it depends on point of view. Yes, Dayton is a very good basketball team riding a home winning streak in a tough conference. So were Utah State, SDSU, and New Mexico. The venue and experience of playing in Dayton won’t be new to the leadership of this team. If the Broncos are loose and ready to go, this game will be a metaphorical fist fight full of three-ball haymakers. The home team is a walking, talking, shot-sinking highlight reel, not unlike some other gentlemen we know.
The Flyers are a scrappy, small-ball team that shoots 35% from the arc and averages 68 points. They’re led by senior Jordan Siebert, a guard who averages just under 17 points a game. There are three point threats all over their squad, which I guess is the tradeoff when you don’t have a player over 6’6 on the roster. James Webb III and Rob Heyer should be gorging themselves on the boards all night. However, that means that the big time Boise defense that we saw in the thick of the run through the MWC better return in force. The Flyers are fast and dangerous, scoring 68.2 ppg and holding teams to 60.9 points on average. Boise State is just as stingy on defense, but has been averaging 70.8 ppg.
Also have to remember that Dayton was last season’s Cinderella. They made a run to the Elite 8. They also have fought through some tough stuff, with their starting big guys all dismissed from the team amongst…circumstances…and having to regroup in January. Huh. I mean, it’s not exactly the MWC POY candidate in the midst of having a stellar senior season getting injured and having another senior stand up and put the team on his back leading to a stellar conference campaign and POY accolades for him, and the team tied for first place in the regular season, but it’s a pretty good story.
Thinking in the context of giant killers, this is probably new ground for Dayton. They spent last season winning the country’s collective hearts and minds with their improbable run, and now they are the home team against what is probably the biggest name connected with the idea of a Cinderella in Division 1. Sport be damned. Of course, that line of thought won’t matter much if the Boise State Broncos that Wyoming has managed to tame all season show up in Dayton on Wednesday. Because bricking three pointers and allowing anybody and everybody to drive to the basket willy-nilly will not a win make.
With it basically being a home game for Dayton (even though the Broncos will be in their home whites), the fact that, well, Dayton has won in the Dance before and the Broncos have not stacks the deck some. It felt fortunate to even get to the play-in game with the way the committee was hosing the mid-majors this season (Sorry, CSU, but your tears are still delicious.) On the other hand, Boise State has been very good at spoiling other team’s good times at home. IF Derrick Marks plays his A game AND Nick Duncan can get hot AND Webbie does what he should on the boards and Hutchison plays some stellar, lights out defense and IF Rob Heyer and Montigo Alford both are on their collective game and can cut down the outside threat as well as protect the paint effectively, then, it’s going to be a real good time. The Broncos did that a lot this season. Now they just need to do it again. Everything after this game is a bonus.
It’s truly a great year to be a Bronco fan. Football champions, regular season men’s basketball co-champs, women’s basketball tournament champions. So much hardware coming to Boise, we’re going to have to start storing them at the University of Idaho downtown campus offices. Running out of space over there Vandals, sorry. They’re in preparations over across the river, yanno. It’s the Broncos vs. the World.
Another week, another fun time with the Diggitys. You know, that means it’s closer to National Letter of Intent day. And that’s the next bit of Bronco Excitement so get ready for that. After that it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump until spring practice and the spring game. Year two of the Harsin Era has me on the edge of my seat.
I know I’ve been a proponent for the College All-Star games as being “still college football” but I just wasn’t interested this time around. College football is over… Does the “Rainy Days/Back in Black” Chevy commercial have to be on during EVERY commercial break?… Can the Seahawks be any more lucky than they were in the NFC Championship? They may have to be against the Patriots. Super Bowl XLIX will be an amazing game (I hope)… Congratulations to Derrick Marks and Brooke Pahukoa for winning the MWC Player of the Week for both Men’s and Women’s basketball. Our basketball teams were awesome last week… So, something new this week. I’m now an ordained minister. Our daughter, Kristen, asked me to do it so I can perform her wedding ceremony this summer. Get ready for the Bronco Nation version of Jim & Tammi Faye Bakker. You know, without the makeup, crying, and infidelity. Ok, Mrs. Diggity wants the makeup… President Obama visited Bronco Nation this week. I’m sorry I missed it. Presidents happen. The opportunity to see one speak in person may not… I’m irritated with this DeflateGate thing. Cheating is cheating and shouldn’t be tolerated. That being said, do you really think the PSI of the footballs could have helped out the Colts’ defense? 45 points is no joke… Partying hard can age you. Need proof? The members of Mötley Crüe look almost as old as the members of the Rolling Stones… Apparently, a man in Colorado has filed suit against the NFL for Dez Bryant’s non-catch against the Packers. He’s seeking $88+ BILLION for the emotional toll on The Cowboys and their fans. You should have filed this suit a long time ago if it’s about emotional distress… I mentioned to Mrs. Diggity that you could be called an award-winning songwriter if you wrote a song in 7th grade and won an award for it. She said I was weird for even thinking of it that way… Because I have a bitter taste in my mouth about buying the PPV of Tyson/Holyfield II, I’m glad that the UFC and Fox have some big names on occasionally.
The song of the week is simply just a song I like. I guess that’s what happens when you get to write the column.
I’m sorry that this was a day late. You know, I try my hardest. The offseason is tough on everyone. Enjoy your week!