Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser for Kuna’s Hero Trio

CAM00570The Boys & Girls Club in Kuna is holding a silent auction to benefit Kuna’s Hero Trio. Boise State University was very generous and donated some items that I think Boise State fans would be very excited to get their hands on. All proceeds from the silent auction will be going to the KH3 charity that was created to benefit the families of 3 young men who experienced tragedy. That charity now aims to be there for other families who maybe in need during hard times.

To learn more about Kuna’s Hero Trio click here or here.

The items up for auction are as follows:

Item #1 – Kellen Moore limited edition autographed “50 win” framed photograph. (starting bid 100)

Item #2 – Nike Boise State football signed by Coach Bryan Harsin. (starting bid 50)

Item #3 – Large Nike Boise State T-shirt (starting bid 15)

Item #4 – XLarge Nike Boise State T-Shirt (starting bid 15)

If you are interested, everyone is welcome to come into Reed Elementary between 9am – 6pm in Kuna, Idaho & place a silent bid on the items (items are on display in the school). The silent auction goes until next Thursday at 5:30. Winners of the items will be called Friday, August 1st to pick up their prize.

Remember, all proceeds go to this great cause. So get some awesome Boise State gear, and feel great doing it!

 

BTN’s Take – Boise State’s Quarterbacks

 

Photo courtesy of Brian Losness – USA TODAY Sports

 

Question: What can we expect from the Quarterback position this year? What do you make of the backup position?

Derek -  I think we can all agree that Grant Hedrick is the man this year.  It would take either a major catastrophe or an incredible fall camp by either Ryan Finley or Tommy Stuart for anyone other than Grant to be under center against Ole Miss on August 28th.  The real question is what kind of quarterback play will Hedrick bring to the field this year?  Will his years in the program, and his familiarity with Harsin’s system turn him into an all-MWC type QB?  Or with only half of a season under his belt will he simply do what it takes to keep the Broncos in the game and give them a chance to win?  My opinion is that as the Broncos prepare for the MWC championship game in early December, Grant Hedrick will be the quarterback that everyone is talking about for offensive player of the year.  I liked what I saw from him last year, and if he is given full control of the offense with nothing holding him back I think we will see great things from him.  We saw many times last season, especially when he took over against Nevada, what he can do with his legs.  He also made some incredibly good throws at times, and with a full year practicing as the number one guy, I think we will see him get even better.  He may be the closest thing Boise State has had to a duel- threat quarterback in a long time…. (Jared Zabransky?  Bart Hendricks?).  With the weapons he has at both receiver and running back, and his ability to make plays with his legs and arms, I really think we may see a Boise State offense that is going to be incredibly hard to predict and defend this season.  The two question marks will be can the offensive line give him time to make the plays, and can Hedrick’s propensity for turnovers (mainly fumbling) be limited.  If we can get past those two weaknesses, Grant Hedrick will add his name to the long list of great Boise State quarterbacks.

The past couple seasons our main discussion when it came to Boise State’s quarterbacks was who is going to be the starter?  We had social media wars with #TeamPatti and #TeamSouthwick, (was there ever a #TeamHedrick?)  and we pretty much knew that the loser of the starting QB battle would be the back-up.  Even in all of Kellen Moore’s years we knew each season who the clear-cut back-up would be – Hamdan, Coughlin, Southwick.  So do we have a clear-cut back-up this season?  Common sense says Finley has been in the program so he will be the man.  I am going to go against common sense (which has gotten me into a lot of trouble in the past) and say Tommy “Football” Stuart is  the man this year.  I am not much into watching film, but there was something about watching Tommy’s recruiting videos that hooked me.  Plus, all the kid does is win – in High School and Junior College combined he is 33-3, and was the MVP of the CCCAA State Championship game in Junior College and the MVP of the Maryland High School All-Star game (The Crab Bowl – Yum!).  Grant Hedrick may be the starter, but put me on #TeamTommy for the back-up spot.

Heath - I might end up being the overly optimistic one in this conversation. But I ultimately think the situation is much better than people view it on the surface. I put a lot of faith in what Bryan Harsin has done in the past at Boise State. When looking back at Hedrick last season, I don’t think he was as bad as his lows, but I do believe he has the potential to be as good as his highs. Last season watching Hedrick, I felt like the offense was conservative and restricted to simple play calling. Which is saying something considering the offense we ran last year. However, despite that, Hedrick still threw 16 TD’s & only 5 picks. Hedrick is a Harsin guy – Harsin recruited Hedrick while he was at Boise State. I imagine during that time Harsin had a plan for Hedrick, who would have thought we would see that plan in action.

As for the backup spot, I have to say Finley is the guy and then everyone else. I think it is easy to forget how highly touted Finley was when he signed on at Boise State. He was supposed to be the next generation of Boise State QB’s. The size of a “prototypical QB” and the drive and mental fortitude of a “Boise State guy”. Stuart obviously has the excitement factor, and seems to be the right kind of guy. But I just have to imagine if Finley is healthy he has a major edge going into the season. If Finley still has lingering issues though, then we all better just cross our fingers Hedrick is an iron-man. Because I can’t imagine we have much success with Stuart or Ogle next year.

Jeremy – I think there should be a balance in expectations with Grant Hedrick. On one hand, we are scrapping the old new offense and returning to the multiple offense Boise State has been known for, a system Hedrick has experience in. He needs to be given some leeway, the entire offense is learning Harsin’s and Sanford’s approach. That said, Grant is also a 5th year senior. If any QB should make the transition quickly, you would hope it’s the experienced veteran. Ajayi returns, along with a talented WR group and a play-caller that we hope is more imaginative with this offense this fall. Cannot ignore the youth and lack of depth on the O-Line though. Grant’s judgement will ultimately be decided by the play of his teammates. Grant statistically was actually pretty decent in 2013, he just turned the ball over too much. Just my opinion, but I don’t think the Broncos can win the MW without Hedrick taking a step forward this season. He doesn’t need to be Kellen, but he does need to be a leader on this offense, and must lead by example. He threw for around 1800 yards, 16 TDs, and 5 INTs with a little more than half a season to work with. I think north of 2900 passing yards, 30 TD passes, and at most 11 INTs is what it would take to win the conference. It’s so hard to give a concrete expectation with all the uncertainty with the new staff, but I hope Grant goes all 2006 Jared Zabransky on us and follows up a turnover-laden season with a consistent but safe season. I go back and forth. One day I think he’ll surprise, the next I think it will be another season in which multiple MW teams have better QB play than Boise State. I will say this though: I’ll be sweating bullets if Grant goes down and Finley or Stuart have to pick up the slack.

Tami – The ideal situation is to have a mature, stable starter with a deep and thorough understanding of the new offense. He should be accurate, hopefully have a cannon, and be able to extend plays with his legs when the situation requires. It is a rare quality for a quarterback to be able to only scramble when it adds to the quality of the play, not just out of desperation. I don’t want to see our starter getting huge running yards because the routes aren’t hooking up or because the offense is predictable. I want to see the yards come from designed run plays and recognition by the QB that they are open and should take off and make us drool over a true, Andrew Luck style dual-threat. Grant Hedrick is probably the guy. Senior leader, works extremely hard, smart kid, got some quality minutes last year.  The past is in the rear view. His success is going to depend on his commitment to conditioning this summer, how well he picks up the new offense, how many reps he gets with the receiver corps, and the offensive line. Too many question marks for those who long for the stability that surrounded this program a few years ago, but we’re in ATF mode round here now.

As far as backups, Finley looked like a pretty clear 2 at the spring game, and rightly so. Tommy Stuart captured my imagination though. I think that is going to be a big battle going into fall camp, with Finley coming out ahead. Imagine a world in which we get to see an inventive small ball package with Stuart, Shane Williams-Rhodes, Dallas Burroughs, and Devan Demas. Yee!

More than likely though, there will be problems to solve. Grant did have issues hanging on to the ball last season. The defense looked fantastic at the spring game – are they that awesome or were the receivers really having THAT hard of a time getting open? None of this is going to be solved before the end of fall camp, and we’re going to find out the answer in the most nerve-wracking way possible: In Atlanta, vs. Ole Miss, in the heart of the SEC, playing the prime time game on ESPN. Here’s hoping for a game more reminiscent of VT and less of UGA 2005.

Noel - This is definitely as not-as-exciting of an off-season when it comes to the quarterback position that we expected at the start of 2013.  This was supposed to be a big battle between Grant Hedrick and Nick Patti for the future Kellen-ness of the program.  But, since Joe went down, Grant got the nod, and Nick left for his home state, it’s all but Hedrick’s starting job. So we’re all set with the starter.

Our most intriguing look is going to be the back up spot.  We know how important that can be especially after last year. I think Finley has the major advantage to be the #2 since he’s been around the program a bit longer. As long as he’s fully recovered, he’s the guy.  Tommy Football has some major upside though and showed it during the spring game. It would be a major coup to have him move up to #2 after fall camp.

Look. Do I expect this to be 2007 or 2010?  Probably not. But I expect our quarterbacks to be useful. With a QB coach as a head coach and an amazing coaching staff backing him up, our young quarterback groups should be able to handle their business.

 

Gage- I’m swinging the pendulum to the opposing side–putting on the villain cape and thus forgoing my usual homer like tendencies. Simply put, the faith I have in Grant Hedrick is washy. Last year was a dismal season as a whole. Compare it to habitual Boise State standards and well, no, don’t do that. The record (8-5) speaks for itself and although not horrible (On the bright-side, our “friends” up north might do some unspeakable things for that record) still, FAR…..far…….. far, from what Boise State fans have grown accustomed to.

Quarterback play was not the kryptonite nor was it better or worse than pedestrian. Grant’s season stats weren’t eye-popping, but at first glance someone could pose the question ‘really, just average?’ His line (mentioned above by Heath) was formidable. 1,800 passing yards w/ 16 TD’s, 5 INT’s and a completion percentage of 69% (Only started 7 games–bowl game included) Where lies the problem?

From my expert analysis (ha ha ha) I saw a quarterback who struggled to be consistently accurate on mid-to-deep throws and lacked the big play ability (7.5 yards per attempt, #51 in the country). Grant scuffled in critical situations, completing only 59% of his attempts on 3rd down and throwing four of his five total interceptions. #9 commonly looked unsure of himself and never seemed comfortable in his surrounding; Grant’s reads and/or play progression were sporadically precise, but more frequently forced. Lacked the awareness to feel the pressure of pursuing defenders and would commonly hold the ball longer than needed. Most frustrating being that he often neglected his biggest asset–speed & athleticism. YET, I give him a partial pass because of the following: 1. He took over mid-season and has never had an off-season to prepare as the clear-cut starter 2. Receivers lacked explosion and were atrocious on reeling-in deep balls 3. Offensive line was consistently inconsistent 4. Last year’s offense was in disarray, a sloppy-jumbled-quickly-sewn-together-concoction of what was supposed to appear as a Boise State offense but lacked the usual prowess and creativity. The mastermind was (now gone, phew) offensive coordinator Robert Prince.

To piece it all together, I just think Grant is more average than he is exceptional. I believe he what is called a “game-manager.” A QB without elite talent who won’t lose you a game, but won’t win you one either. He is not the guy you say – We need a first down here, give the ball to Grant. None of which means he is impossible to win with.

All in all, if the new regime is able to input a systematic approach that allows Grant to utilize his strengths (arm and mobility) and use them to feed off the potentially strong running attack, I foresee success. If not, I’m concerned. I hope my fear is erroneous.

Your Take – What do you make of the quarterback situation this year?  How will Grant do, and who will be the back up?  Let us know in the comments, on Twitter, or Facebook!

 

Behind Enemy Lines

I’ve given it time to sink in. Six whole weeks. The wife and I have been here for five weeks.  After almost 28 years, I moved from Idaho. And after 26 years, I’m no longer within an hour of my beloved Boise State Broncos.  So what is a man to do?  Better yet, what is a FAN to do? By the way, we moved to the land of the Ducks – Eugene, Oregon.  I think I have three very simple options that will help any expatriated Bronco.

The first option is the worst option.  That’s just changing alliances.  That won’t happen with me but I’ve seen it happen before.  A fan that isn’t invested fully in their fandom will always take the easy way out.  Just remember though, the easy way isn’t the cheap way.  In order to be a fan of another team, you have to assimilate into their culture.  That costs money.  Big money.  A hat costs $26.  A jersey, at least a new-ish one, is $60-$100, and in order to properly entertain at your house, you have to get all the household items (I have a Boise State Grill Cover for heaven’s sake).

Besides the financial ramifications of jumping ship, you have to also consider how you’ll be perceived to the fans, friends, compatriots, whomever, that you’re leaving.  Most people will say that they don’t care about what other people think. That’s a load of bull and you know it.  Most people hate to be seen as a bandwagon-jumper (ask pre-LeBron Heat fans) and most people won’t go from a great team/school like a Boise State to a lesser program.  In championship terms, no one is going to move from Auburn, AL to New Orleans, LA and change his/her team affiliation from Auburn to Tulane.  Bandwagoners always upgrade.

Option number two is a bit easier and probably not all that fun.  You just fade in to the background.  Become a wallflower.  Don’t publicly root for anyone.  Not even your own team.  Just sit there and say things like this – “I love college football but I don’t really have a team.  I just like the competition.” or “I’m more of a XYZ Conference fan, not a particular team.”  This way you won’t arouse suspicion as to what your true fandom is.  You can privately root for your team at home or behind a screen name on the internet.  You will never have to worry about being called out for being what you truly are: a fan.

The third and final option (At least in my story.  You can come up with as many as you’d like.) is to fly your flag high and root for your team wherever your travels take you.  Again, the Mrs. and I just moved to Duck Country and there is a disgusting tinge of green and yellow on everything.  Our temporary living situation has us living with a born-and-raised Duck fan.  I don’t care.  When it’s cold, Boise State hoodie.  When it’s warm, Boise State t-shirt. And, as much as possible, a Boise State hat.  Our car even has the Boise State sticker on the back as well as the Bronco Stick Figure family.  I’m not going to hide my love for my beloved Broncos and I wouldn’t ever do so, not even in “enemy” territory.

Of course, these are just 3 ways to show your love (or not show your love) for your team. I broke it down in the most simple way as possible.  I’m sure this could be a way deeper topic if we delved into it.  Analysis is meant for more important things like depth charts and game performance.  Celebrate your fandom and enjoy your summer, Bronco Nation!

Jeremy’s 2014 Football Season Prediction

Temperature is rising in the Treasure Valley, must mean football season isn’t all that far away. Rumors of a new helmet and possibly new jerseys? Yep, it’s definitely July. Figured now is a good time for some Boise State football predictions. Before I get to my 2014 predictions, lets take a step back and make of fun of me for my 2013 predictions.

Football is a team game, but make no mistake about it…missing ASJ would be a huge loss for the Huskies. His shaky status is tough to predict, and makes this game tough to decipher…….Broncos 29, Huskies 23.

With Robbie Rouse gone, lacking an established run game, you would have to think the stout Bronco D-Line will have another field day with Carr and the Bulldog offense. I’ll give the Fresno hype train the benefit of the doubt and give Fresno 24 points. That is more points than the last 3 contests against BSU combined. That said, that point total will not be enough…….Broncos 37, Bulldogs 24.

Bronco-Wolf Pack games are typically hard-fought games, but UNR has entered a new era. I think the Broncos win by around 3 TDs, but it could be worse if the wheels fall off the wagon in this new regime in Reno…….Broncos 37, Wolf Pack 17.

Anyways, there are my predictions! I’ll probably be very wrong on all the scores, but I am confident the Broncos go either 12-0 or 11-1 (loss to Washington) this upcoming season. In Pete we trust! The Broncos will more than likely be inviting one of Fresno State, San Diego State, or San Jose State to Boise on the first weekend of December for the MWC Championship game.

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Glad that’s over. Let that serve as evidence that I have no idea what I’m talking about. Take these predictions with a grain of salt, and if you’re angry with my picks please fling your internet poo at me and not my BTN mates.

Thursday, August 28th. Ole Miss (Game is played in Atlanta)

It feels like it has been an eternity since Harsin took the job as head coach. Lots of exciting assault on the future has occurred in these last 6 months, but the Harsin era opens with the brutal task of taking on a sure-to-be ranked Ole Miss team in the south. Another season, another highly touted opponent on the road. Things have not gone well for the Broncos in these openers since Kellen graduated. In fact, we’ve scored a whopping 19 points in the Michigan State and Washington games combined. With a brand new offense and a young O-Line taking on a dominant and extremely talented Ole Miss defense, I doubt we see much better in this edition of openers. I hope I’m wrong, but I see Ole Miss covering the spread fairly easily……Broncos 14, Rebels 33.

Saturday, September 6th. Colorado State

Broncos won’t have a lot of time to mope around. Harsin’s debut in front of Bronco Nation will be late at night vs. the Rams of Ft. Collins. Last years game was a struggle for an injured Bronco defense, but Grant Hedrick actually had a field day vs. CSU. The Rams lose a lot of starters in the trenches, and will be without their top 3 rushers from 2013, including Kapri Bibbs. The Rams have a nice schedule that could get them another 8-win season, but I think they struggle on The Blue……Broncos 37, Rams 19.

Saturday, September 13th. @Connecticut

This is a really long trip. Not often the Broncos play a game all the way on the east coast. Bob Diaco and the Huskies are trying to turn the page on a rough 2013 campaign. They’ll be a young team replacing many starters, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing when you lost so many games. I think the Broncos may struggle early on, but they’ll manage to win comfortably as the Huskies learn how to win games under Diaco……Broncos 35, Huskies 24.

Saturday, September 20th. Louisiana don’t call us UL-Lafayette

The Ragin’ Cajuns come to Boise after playing common opponent Ole Miss on the road. Louisiana returns a significant amount of starters on both offense and defense, and managed to beat Harsin’s Arkansas State Red Wolves in 2013. Despite all that, I think things will be quite a bit different on the blue turf. Like the Colorado State and UCONN games, I think the Cajuns stick around in this one for a while but ultimately lose by three TDs or so……Broncos 42, Ragin’ Cajuns 22.

Saturday, September 27th. @Air Force

What on earth happened to Troy Calhoun and the fly boys in 2013? That double-digit loss season came out of nowhere. Air Force’s defenses are routinely undersized, but for some reason that seemed to play a larger role than usual. The triple option is always difficult to defend, but we have the LB and DE corps to stay disciplined enough to keep them at bay. Jay Ajayi should have another huge day….Broncos 44, Falcons 21.

Saturday, October 4th. @Nevada

Back-to-back road games always suck. Last year injuries were a big deal in Ft. Collins, the second of our only back-to-back road games in 2013 (BYU/Colorado State). We played Kharyee Marshall at DT for a while! Here’s hoping injuries aren’t a big deal this time around. I don’t get Brian Polian’s teams. They looked great against San Jose State, absolutely horrible vs. UNLV. Inconsistent, and slightly underachieving. Will Fajardo be healthy? Seems like a given that he’ll play hurt. The Wolf Pack return a lot of starters, most in the MWC for that matter. This is a potential trap game for Harsin and the staff. I think we squeak this one out…..Broncos 29, Wolf Pack 27.

Friday, October 17th. Fresno State

This game. Many Bronco fans have anxiously awaited this game in particular. None of us enjoyed seeing Southwick and the team fight like their lives depended on it vs. Lord Derek Carr and the Bulldoggies, only to come up 6 yards too short. Fresno loses a tremendous amount of talent on offense. Carr, Adams, Burse, Wenworth, Jensen, the list is long. I’m siding with history on this one. Hawaii 2007, Colt Brennan eviscerated the Bronco defense. Nevada 2010, Colin Kaepernick did the same. What do UH and Reno have in common? The following year they lost their star QBs, and returned to Bronco Stadium and had their offenses, which dominated BSU the year before, dominated themselves. Hawaii scored 7 points. Nevada was held to 182 total yards! I expect Yates and the Bronco defense to come up big in this game…..Broncos 27, Bulldogs 10.

Friday, October 24th. Brigham Young

Back-to-back big games! Hope Bronco Nation has the energy to make Albertsons Stadium a nightmare for both Fresno and BYU. There’s really no way around it; Taysom Hill and the Cougars whipped the Broncos last fall in Provo. We simply were not physical enough to play with them. I’m not sure if much has changed in that department. Not having to deal with Kyle Van Noy will be nice. Coming off an emotional rivalry game the week before will make this game even tougher. I can’t stand BYU, but unfortunately see the Broncos dropping this one…..Broncos 18, Cougars 27.

Saturday, November 8th. @New Mexico

The Broncos get a much-needed bye before they travel to land of Walter White to play the Lobos. Last years game vs. New Mexico had a somber feel to it. Coming off a loss to SDSU (again), the vibe was off in Bronco Stadium. Still managed to win fairly convincingly. This is going to be year #3 for Bob Davie, and with a recruiting class of JC players coming to help, the Lobos are hoping to surprise this fall. Our last trip to Albuquerque was not one many Bronco fans want to remember. Narrowly beating a down-in-the-dumps 2012 Lobos team was a rude awakening to the fact that we were truly in a new era of the Petersen regime. I expect the Lobos to come out swinging, but the game won’t be quite as close this time around……Broncos 41, Lobos 17.

Saturday, November 15th. San Diego State

This team, man. They are annoying. The Aztecs have knocked off Boise State back-to-back seasons, both times it appeared the Broncos were severely out-coached. Will Harsin and Sanford fair better vs. Long’s complicated defense than Petersen and Prince did? I’m not sure, but I am sure that I’m getting sick of this Aztecs team. I want to win by 50, but think we’ll see another closely fought game. Either way, I don’t want to live in a world where the Aztecs beat us three consecutive seasons. Please Bryan Harsin, do not lose to San Diego State…..Broncos 26, Aztecs 13.

Saturday, November 22nd. @Wyoming

This game might be a little cold. Wyoming fired Dave Christensen, so no more post game tirades for us. They actually made a fantastic hire in Craig Bohl, the former North Dakota State coach who won three national championships. Unfortunately for Bohl, Wyoming loses Brett Smith and Robert Herron. Pretty much the only Cowboy players Boise State fans could name off. Shaun Wick returns and Eddie Yarbrough may be the MW’s best DE, but I think the Cowboys will be in rebuilding mode while Bohl revamps this roster…..Broncos 37, Cowboys 17.

Saturday, November 29th. Utah State

When was the last time we had a meaningful opponent on Senior Night? Been awhile. Utah State and the vaunted Chuckie Keeton come to town in what is sure to be one of the MW’s best games of the season. Utah State loses more starters than any team in the country according to Phil Steele, so that can’t be good. The Aggies will have played 8 consecutive games without a bye entering this game, that can’t be good either. Still, I’m told despite his healing knee, Chuckie Keeton trumps all arguments that Utah State will have any struggles this season. Some preseason magazines have the Aggies winning the conference. I guess we’ll see. I forecast a close game…..Broncos 30, Aggies 26.

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There you have it. I say 10-2, a successful first season under Harsin. As evidenced in this post, I’m bound to be very wrong about these picks. Enough about me….how do you think the Broncos will do in Harsin’s first season? Comment below or reply to @TheBTN on Twitter.

#ATF

Boise State Track Has An Image Problem

A former Women’s Track and Field athlete at BSU has filed a lawsuit accusing the University of being in violation of Title IX because they took no action after two complaints of harassment and rape had been made against a male athlete by two different women.

Here comes the nauseating part:

“Coach Hardy said that he could not help her because she had consumed a minor amount of alcohol before the rape,” Allred wrote in the lawsuit. “He failed to inform her of her right to file a criminal complaint against the BSU perpetrator, and even failed to provide her with information regarding available mental health services.”

This is the second woman that former coach J.W. Hardy gave this line to in response to them telling him that another member of their team wouldn’t listen to the word no and raped them.  The lawsuit also claims that the male athlete would often slap them on the butt, make lewd faces, and generally make practice a hellacious environment for his victims.

Some might believe that it couldn’t be that bad to be raped and then have to face the guy every day; that victims must “want it” somehow. She was drinking at the time of the assault. Not too much of a stretch to think they both were. Maybe she was wearing a short skirt or a low cut top. Maybe both! And lipstick! She was probably talking to her teammates, having a good time. Maybe she liked her attacker. Maybe they were flirting. None of those things are of any consequence whatsoever in this case. This case is about a woman going to her coach who she most likely trusts, opening up and saying out loud that someone took advantage of her and is now being an antagonistic jerk about it, and being told that because she was drinking, the university couldn’t help. He couldn’t help.

Hardy’s contract was not renewed in 2013. That means that he knew for over a year and did nothing. My question, and the one that Boise State is going to have to answer, is who knew? Who else looked around the track program and saw nothing wrong? How many assistant coaches? How many graduate assistants?  How many assumed that this behavior was okay? Because the lady is about to get her and her high powered lawyer very paid if that number is more than 4 – the perpetrator, the victims, and Coach Hardy.

Boise State Track and Field has an image problem. This isn’t the first lawsuit BSU is going to have to settle on their behalf. In 2008, Amy Christoffersen, an assistant (in fact the only female) coach sued because she was being paid roughly $15,000 a year less than male assistants with less experience. The difference between twenty thousand dollars a year and thirty five thousand dollars a year is the poverty line. She got tasked with anything deemed secretarial, like booking travel, keeping track of meal money, and keeping financial records. She was also demoted after 9 years from assistant coach to insurance coordinator. Of course, this was under Head Coach Mike Maynard, but this was the lawsuit that launched the NCAA investigation that would take both the coach’s job, as well as the AD who built the joint, Gene Bleymeyer, now the AD at SJSU. It would also find violations in Tennis, Track, and Football. (Admittedly, football’s violations were the ridiculous Cheeseburger and Couchgate.)

Boise State is going to have to answer some questions before the image issue corrects. Is this just leftover misogynistic residue from the previous AD? Has everyone associated with the Boise State Track Program who let this go on been disciplined and up-trained or just fired? Can we hear from someone who isn’t a man who works inside the Athletic Department truthfully discuss the current state of that office? Because if this ass patting testosterone fest is still the daily, there is a big issue that has to be resolved before Boise State can call itself “a metropolitan university of distinction.”

The Spring Game Has Sprung

For over 8 months, Bronco Nation weathered the harshness of an unprecedented frosty year that we hadn’t seen in almost a decade.  With matching opening losses to Washington and dual “Aloha means goodbye” bowl game losses in Hawaii, it seemed like we’d gone back to 2007.  That’s where the similarities end though.  We’d just finished our first, and until 2013, our worst year in the Coach Pete era.  This April brings a renewal.  The Bryan Harsin-Era brings a rebirth.  And, on April 12, 2014, me and 13,821 Bronco fanatics got our first look at it.

There is a buzz around the Boise State football program that is noticeably different that it’s been in recent years.  Coach Harsin has done that by being the opposite of what Coach Pete was (this isn’t an indictment on Coach Pete.  To each his own.).  He’s accessible and he makes sure that his staff is. He lets us in on the program in ways that we haven’t been used to.  Coach Harsin is an Idaho boy and most of us can identify with his mannerisms and the way he speaks his mind.  I only bring this up because the electricity around Bronco Stadium was palpable.  The last time I felt that personally was when College Game Day was on campus.  And it wasn’t just a grown up event. It was a family event. Bring Dad Bronco, Mom Bronco, Brother, Sister, & Baby Bronco down and get some sunshine and football in your Saturday. It was a perfect day weather-wise.

Inside Bronco Stadium, the crowd was amazing. The goal was to get 20,000 fans out.  It was a lofty goal and I was pretty sure by the way people were filing in that we’d get close.  Obviously, I was a little incorrect as to my estimation but I think that it the Nation showed good form.  In comparison, the University of Michigan only had just over 15,000 fans at their Spring Game in a stadium that holds 109,901. I say we shoot for a sellout streak that starts with our first home game and goes on in perpetuity.

As far as the Spring Game is concerned, I’ll give you the laymen’s analysis. I am in no way an expert in college football and I can only give you my opinion on what I saw. A good friend once said “I’m not a reporter, I’m a writer.” and I fully identify with that statement.  Also, I do realize that Coach Harsin and his staff have not fully installed their playbooks, we have plenty of people learning new schemes, and there are some players that didn’t participate for various reasons.  This is in no way representative of what this Bronco team is fully capable of.

What is better than starting a “game” off than a kickoff return for a touchdown?  Not really anything, I’m quite sure.  Ask Devin Hester.  Sure – it was the scout team that covering the kick and it didn’t seem full speed but the crowd seemed to enjoy Bryan Douglas taking it back for 100 yards. I know I did.  After that, special teams was pretty much an afterthought. No field goals were attempted.  The PATs were all made.  The punting was made interesting by the wind but the return game wasn’t really a focus.

The two teams were “Boise State” and “Broncos”.  Boise State was made up of the first team offense and defense and Broncos were the 2nd team.  Everyone else filled in.  In the beginning, it seemed like a huge mismatch.  The Boise State offense had the ball moving really well on the first drive with the big play coming on a 52 yard run by Shane Williams-Rhodes.  Jay Ajayi punched it in from one yard out two plays later.  That, and the kickoff return, was the only scoring of the first half.  The defense for Boise State dominated Broncos and Broncos settled in and held Boise State after the first drive (the names make it confusing, right?).  The second half was basically more of the same.  Defense dominated.   Boise State’s first drive ended with Dionza Blue picking off Grant Hedrick and Broncos were moving the ball with Tommy Stuart at the helm but a fumble stopped that drive.  The Broncos team did get their only score on a wheel route from Ryan Finley to Devan Demas for 82 yards while the Boise State team topped off their scoring on a 13 yard run by Shane Williams-Rhodes. We were treated to a bit of excitement with a final score of Boise State 21, Broncos 7.

So here are some observations/predictions:

-The offense still needs some work.

-Grant Hedrick is well ahead of Ryan Finley and Tommy Stuart.

-I think Finley will be #2 although Stuart looked more “on-point” to me yesterday.

-Jay Ajayi will get 75%-80% of the carries this year. Maybe more.

-Derrick Thomas will get more carries than Jack Fields and Devan Demas.

-Matt Miller will never have a regular game that resembles this Spring Game.

-Shane Williams-Rhodes will be utilized like no other Bronco ever.

-The future is bright on both offense and defense.

-Sometimes I state the most obvious things.

-Our defense will be better than expected.

-Statue Left will always-ALWAYS-be the greatest play ever called in history.

We, as fans of this great program, are lucky enough to be here for the rebirth.  We are in for something special I believe.  Does that translate into a perfect season in 2014? Most likely not.  Does it translate into great expectations?  Yes and that’s not a bad thing.  Judging on the way things went yesterday and the excitement of every fan that I know, the annual Blue and Orange Spring Game was everything that we hoped it would be.  Welcome back, football.  Welcome back, Bronco Nation.  Only 137 days until Ole Miss.

Next Gen Bronco Fans

Next Gen Bronco Fans

Brett Rypien Commits to Boise State

Back in December, not too long after Bryan Harsin began to #AttackTheFuture at Boise State, the Broncos landed a superstar recruit in Dylan Sumner-Gardner. Recruits of Dylan’s caliber are not in abundance in the college game, and in the past rarely did Boise State ever have a shot with such a recruit, let alone actually secure a commitment and get them to sign. There was no doubt, Marcel Yates hit a home run right away after returning to Boise with Sumner-Gardner. But this was no flash-in-the-pan…Eliah Drinkwitz upped the ante by landing 4-Star TE Chase Blakley. Then on signing day, 4-Star DE Jabril Frazier jumped on the bandwagon too.

These were not flukes. Harsin and his staff proved to be legit recruiters….and it didn’t take them long to make a major splash in the 2015 recruiting cycle.

Brett Rypien, a unanimous Top-10 ranked 4-Star recruit across all recruiting services, only Boise State’s second such recruit (Sumner-Gardner is the other), committed to Boise State on Saturday in Coach Harsin’s office right after the scrimmage that was made public to students, faculty, and staff. Rypien has accounted for around 8200 passing yards and is close to 100 TD passes in his high school career….that isn’t over with.

4-Star QB from the eastern side of Washington. Put up ridiculous record-breaking numbers. He wears #11. The similarities to you know who have us all grinning.

Sure, we can spit out the typical drivel…..”It’s a long time until signing day”, “Recruiting rankings don’t mean anything”, “He has to prove it” blah blah blah…..we get it, all that is true. But convincing an athlete of this caliber to come to Boise State shows just how special this new staff is, and how far our university and facilities have come. We have a history of being the little engine that could….its clear Harsin envision’s a bigger train.

Its a long ways until signing day, and hopefully we don’t have to wait until then to see Brett on campus. Either way, Boise State fans could not possibly be more elated to have Brett Rypien and his family joining #BroncoNation. Welcome to #BroncoNation, Rypien clan!!! (You too, Mark)

Let the fun begin….

#ATF #BleedBlue #RideTheLigthening

Getting Behind BTN Hall-of-Famer Scott Jorgensen

Scott-Jorgensen-WEC-53-450x

Image Courtesy: http://www.mmaweekly.com/

Scott Jorgensen is a lot of things, a 3x Pac-10 wrestling champion, former #1 contender, BTN Hall-of-Fame inductee, and undoubtedly one of the most exciting fighters in MMA history. However, tomorrow night this former Boise State star could very well be fighting for his future in the premier MMA organization in the world, the UFC. Jorgensen is coming off back-to-back loses and loses in 4 of his last 5 bouts. And though many including myself would point to the fact that 3 of those 4 loses have come against guys who are either champion, former champion, or #1 contender’s, the UFC tends to have little sympathy or care about such things. The UFC is a cut-throat business where a losing streak often means walking papers.

There is no doubt Scott Jorgensen is aware of this fact. Overall, I am pretty sure he is probably tired of addressing these questions all together. My purpose in writing this article in fact is not even to rehash these issues over and over again. My point in writing this was to make Bronco Nation aware that one of our own is going into battle tomorrow and they should tune in. The fight itself will be on Fox Sports 1 between 3 and 5pm. But even if you can’t catch the fight don’t hesitate to send Jorgensen some well wishes on Twitter (@ScottJorgensen). Jorgensen is one of our own, he wrestled at Boise State, and still trains here today. He has opened a gym in Boise, and has spent a lot of time giving back to the community. It is time for Boise to support one of our own.

Good luck Scott, the Blue Turf Nation has your back!

Boise State Spring Football: Early Speculation

After months of anticipation, the Boise State Broncos finally hit the field in the last week. The coaching staff and Video Coordinator Chris Mitchell have treated Boise State fans to “Bronco All-Access” videos that give fans an inside look at how this new era is unfolding. Unfortunately for the local media, Boise State’s practices are closed off for the most part and not much info is getting out. Completely understandable of course, makes game-planning harder on Ole Miss.

However, the staff has been releasing a “player of the day” for multiple categories each practice, allowing fans to speculate without having seen the team practice.

First Observation: Derrick Thomas is coming on at the right time

Coaching chances can be a blessing for players who were not on the best terms with the previous staff when it comes to playing time. Derrick Thomas appears to be our first example of this. The Senior RB, who faltered a bit on the depth chart late in the season, has been labeled offensive player of the day TWICE in back-to-back practices. RB coach Kent Riddle had this to say about Thomas’ performance,

“Derrick has put together two really nice practices in a row,” said running backs coach Kent Riddle. “He showed some nice explosiveness and power on Sunday night, and caught the ball well out of the backfield for a couple of scores.”

Finding a good compliment to Jay Ajayi in the RB rotation is a goal the coaching staff has set, and Derrick Thomas appears to be making a name for himself early. It’s still early in spring ball, and a ton can change between now and August 28th, but D.T. has taken the bull by the horns so far.

Second Observation: Corey Bell is leaving nothing to chance

Marcel Yates pointed out not too long ago that the Bronco defense will be returning to a 4-2-5 set that will see the nickel spot return in the role former players like Ellis Powers and Winston Venable once played. This opened up a variety of possibilities, and I’m sure must have stressed out Corey Bell a little bit. Those who didn’t play much under Chris Petersen are elated to see a coaching change. It means they might play more! Former starters on the other hand might be a little worried about roster instability. Marcel Yates wanted to give Bell first crack at the spot, and it appears the first audition at nickel might be the last for 2014. In just three practices, Bell has won honors for Defensive player of the day, Ballhawk honors (twice), Special Teams player of the day. Its clear Bell is leaving nothing to chance, and he’s an early candidate to have a breakout year in 2014. Still early of course, but Corey has his eyes on the prize.

Third Observation: Ryan Finley making an impact?

My final bit of early speculation involves a QB…finally! Its been well-noted that the Broncos have very little to no depth at QB. Grant Hedrick is supposedly the only serviceable QB, and if he gets hurt we are doomed. Contrary to that, Thomas Stuart has been said to be having a good camp so far, albeit still learning. One detail that caught the eye of Bronco fans was that of Ryan Finley earning Playmaker of the day honors in the Broncos third practice. What this means nobody is completely sure, but it is encouraging to see that a QB other than Grant Hedrick is making plays in practice. I’m not ready to call Ryan Finley a dark horse to start at all, but if he continues to earn honors like that in the coming practices, you can bet #BroncoNation will go nuts over the RS-Freshman QBs progress.

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That is all for now, we’ll have more speculation and food for thought as spring ball develops. What do you guys think? Is Thomas going to be the #2 RB? Will Ryan Finley come out of nowhere and shock the fans, media, and coaches?

Remember Coach Harsin’s goal! Make Project20K happen! #ATF

Boise State Football Spring Preview

It seems like its been an eternity since Chris Petersen stunned #BroncoNation the morning of December 6th when it was announced that after years of speculation, he finally took another head coaching job. It only took a week for Bob Kustra and Mark Coyle to find their man to replace Pete, but it certainly didn’t feel that way to Broncos fans.

Since then lots has changed. Bryan Harsin and his young staff shocked Broncos fans by getting commitments from 4-star prospects Dylan Sumner-Gardner and Chase Blakley, showing everyone the kind of recruiting prowess and potential this staff has. Now that the recruiting games are somewhat over (at least for this recent class), the staff can finally pause their recruiting efforts to coach football! The Broncos hit the field for the first time under Harsin tomorrow morning, and unfortunately if you’re expecting a ton of news and updates from the local media, you will be a bit disappointed. Harsin is keeping things on the down low, possibly to keep the Broncos scheme anonymity intact until after the Ole Miss game.

Updates or no updates, the team will be practicing, and there is lots to sort out…..here are some things to keep an eye on this spring, and going forward into summer workouts and fall camp.

The QB “Battle” – It is natural that with a coaching change, every position is open for the taking. That said, Harsin and the coaches have made it clear that RS-Senior QB Grant Hedrick is the leader in the clubhouse. I know fans have a bad taste in their mouths about last season, and Grant was far from perfect, but he did some good things. Hedrick finished the 2013 season with a passing efficiency rating that ranked 23rd nationally at 150.0. Hedrick struggled with turnovers, often at bad times (ugh….that SDSU pick-6)…but 1825 passing yards, 22 total TDs, and 5 INTs in only 6 total starts isn’t exactly terrible either. Grant earned the right to be the “incumbent”. That said, nobody is guaranteed anything. Grant will have to fend off JC-transfer Tommy Stuart, who impressed fans with his highlight tape and has done nothing his entire life but exceed expectations. He won’t concede that starting spot without a fight. RS-Freshman Ryan Finley will attempt to compete as much as he can, but Harsin has warned that they’ll need to bring him along at a slower pace with Finley coming off of surgery. Put all that together, and the details suggest Hedrick will be a heavy favorite to win the job, but nonetheless fans will pay very close attention to the QBs come the spring game.

Will the future play-makers please stand up! – Jay Ajayi, Matt Miller, Shane Williams-Rhodes….fans know who the stars of today are on this Bronco offense. Jay and Shane however are already juniors and Matt Miller is a senior! The Broncos are in need of some future play-makers to step up and make a name for themselves. Unfortunately the RB depth behind Jay Ajayi is a little cluttered with Aaron Baltazar’s unfortunate departure (sigh). From Charles Bertoli, to Devan Demas, to Jack Fields, to Derrick Thomas…I swear all of these RBs have had bright spots, but none have solidified that #2 or #3 RB spot in the rotation much like Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper did behind Doug Martin. You can take your pick, all of them have talent. But someone needs to stand up behind Jay Ajayi and establish themselves.

The same can be said for the WR position. Matt Miller and SWR were awesome last season, but whoa boy does production fall off a statistical cliff after those two. The Broncos cannot continue to rely solely on these two in 2014, or 2015 will present some serious concerns at WR. Fortunately, there are lots of talented candidates waiting in the wings. A.J. Richardson is one of the more highly rated WRs to ever commit to Boise State. Tanner Shipley and Thomas Sperbeck both impressed during last August’s fall scrimmage. Troy Ware had some good moments last season sans fumble vs. Oregon State. Much like the RB spot, the talent is there….but who will step up? Junior Adams will have a fun time sorting through this crew. With SWR taking it easy coming back from surgery, the opportunity is there.

O-Line depth to be tested – Also noted in Chadd Cripe’s linked notes from the Statesmen is the fact that Rees Odhiambo will sit this spring out as a precautionary measure. Meaning Marcus Henry will be the only returning starter from 2013 to participate this spring. Travis Averill, Mario Yakoo, Steven Baggett, among others come into spring with some experience. This is a very talented group who will benefit from lots of reps this spring. Winning football games derives from how you play in the trenches. If the Broncos want to hit the ground running on offense in 2014, this O-Line unit will need to gel quickly.

Can Yates fix the Bronco Defense? – Joe Southwick this, Robert Prince that…..Grant Hedrick that, Robert Prince this…..talk about the offense all you like, the reason the Broncos struggled in 2013 is because the defense took a tremendous step backwards. The days of abusing opponents upfront and suffocating passing games under a dominant secondary appeared to be a thing of the past. Marcel Yates said it was hard to watch film of last season. LOL You’re telling us……everyone struggled. Freshman LBs Tanner Vallejo and Ben Weaver provide optimism, and inserting more depth with Joey Martarano coming into the fold is exciting. But this entire defensive unit sucked. No getting around it. The secondary has come under a ton of scrutiny from media and fans. Whether it was a scheme issue or talent issue is what we’ll begin to unravel this spring with Yates taking over. The introduction of stud recruit Dylan Sumner-Gardner and many redshirt corners like Dionza Blue and Cameron Hartsfield to name a few, should light a fire under this unit. Nobody’s spot is safe. The secondary battle, more than any other group, should be intense as Marcel begins to rebuild this unit. They know what happened last season was not satisfactory. Time to fix it.

The Broncos lose very few starters on defense going into spring. In fact, only two really. Unfortunately, those two are Demarcus Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. Outside of Armand Nance, nobody really has an inside track on the D-Line starting spots. Kamalei Correa, Gabe Perez, Beau Martin, among other DEs figure to fight for those spots. RS-Freshman DT Nick Terry was one of the most highly rated DTs Boise State has ever landed. Can he potentially be our next 4-year starter at DT? God I hope so. The Broncos desperately need play-makers at DT to stand up. Nance has been very good, but he cannot do it all himself. The Broncos need to be four deep. Can the likes of Taimatuia, Terry, Ash, etc. take that next step? To return to national prominence, the Broncos will need to recapture their dominant ways on the D-Line.

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Coach Harsin has challenged fans to break the 20,000 fans barrier at the spring game. The theme of this spring seems to be everyone needing to step up. The Broncos need young talent to step up at all positions, and the fans need to step up too. Coach Pete made it clear that things began to go stale here in Boise, even for him. The Broncos have every intention to kick this funk and fans need to do the same. We need to break that 20,000 barrier for the spring game and then attempt to sell-out every home game next fall. This is a team effort and we need to help this young team and staff as much as we can. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this 2014 Boise State football team. Lets start off things on the right note…

Go Broncos!!! #BleedBlue #Project20K