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Quarterback Situation At Boise State: Once Dark Now Dazzling

Grant Hedrick

Grant Hedrick

The once bleak quarterback situation at Boise State seems to have rounded out the past week or so.

Grant Hedrick is obviously the leader of the pack. He has a half-year experience as a starter. He plays well, in fact he plays exceptionally well. The bar for quarterbacks at Boise is set very high; there have been some great ones. Hedrick is probably the most athletic quarterback Boise has had.

It will be the first time at Boise State he will play the role as a front-runner. He’s always been chasing, now he’s being chased. It’s amazing how some horses don’t run well from behind, but when they take the lead they just don’t maintain the lead they increase it. They run faster than they do when trying to overcome the leader.

Thomas Stewart

Thomas Stewart

Thomas Stewart was a good pick-up. He is skilled coming to Boise State with junior college experience. He may likely line up as Grant Hedrick’s backup. Stewart looks as if he could slip into Hedrick’s uniform and you’d never know the difference.

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Ryan Finley

Ryan Finley, who comes to BSU with good credentials is a red-shirt freshman with a healing shoulder injury. He’s a different type of quarterback; tall and comfortable in the pocket. Could he move in behind Hedrick? It’s hard to say, he hasn’t taken any college snaps.

Alex Ogle

Alex Ogle

This past week Boise picked-up a high school senior, Alex Ogle. He is regarded as a sleeper and may well be the diamond in the rough. It’s difficult to project how soon it will take him to adjust to the college game and college life. Most likely he may be red-shirted. That has been Boise’s modus operandi.

Thomas Sperbeck

Thomas Sperbeck

Boise State also has Thomas Sperbeck on the roster who is a wide receiver, but quarterbacked in high school. (He can flat out fly. In the future there will be some wide receiver sweeps with Sperbeck launching some deep ones.)

Richard Hoppe

Richard Hoppe

The one quarterback that seems to escape mention is Richard Hoppe. He’s no slouch. He’s nimble on his feet and has a decent arm with a nice touch on the ball. He’s a walk-on. Those guys turn out to be the guys who have the greatest motivation to succeed. If he was good enough to be given a number he must have sufficient skills to play. Last year he red-shirted. (I’m giving him another paragraph.)

From watching some high school video he looks poised and comfortable. He’s Boise State; undersized, underrated, under recruited and if called upon will over achieve.

That makes a possible six quarterbacks roster. I think Boise State can live with that.

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Lame-Duck Coaches

"Hey, Petersen, you can have my job in a few months. It's gonna be open." "Dang! Now that's all I'm going to be able to think about."

“Hey, Petersen, you can have my job in a few months. It’s gonna be open.”
“Dang! Now that’s all I’m going to be able to think about.”

The importance of the loss to Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl is coming into focus. The peegate debacle led to a complete melt-down in morale and took the focus from the game. It could not have been orchestrated better.

The loss to Oregon State was huge. It may have cost a few of recruits, especially the ones that went to where nearly the entire Boise State coaching staff went – University of Washington.

The BSU coaches had no incentive to win at the Hawaii Bowl. Does that mean they rigged it to lose? Absolutely not! But the incentive was clearly not there.

Coaches are fierce competitors by nature, but they were a lame-duck coaching staff. They knew their future was not with Boise. They knew that a Boise win might make it a little more difficult to flip a recruit their way when they took up residency in Seattle.

Going to the Hawaii Bowl is like getting $2 tickets for a Broncos Basketball game; (not the basketball team’s fault, the fans) you’re there to just fill the seats. There was nothing to be gained in the final rankings; only the prestige that goes along with winning a bowl game and possibly attracting better recruits as a result of a victory.

If the head coach stays (which he didn’t, he had recruiting for UW to do) he would have at least tried to pad his resume with another win. Since the rest of the coaching staff was heading to UW what do they have to prove. Likely all of them knew they had jobs waiting for them at UW… except for one.

And coincidently the only bright spot was the coach who didn’t go to UW, Robert Prince. Grant Hedrick and the Boise State offense out-passed the heralded Beaver passing attack 382 yards to 259 and beat them in total offense. Prince didn’t fumble two balls ran back for TDs and checking the highlights he didn’t miss one tackle.

All agree that the last two years with the exception of a few bright spots BSU’s performance has been less than stellar. It starts at the top. At times, especially this past season, Petersen looked disengaged on the sidelines. Something like that is like the pebble in the pond; the ripples spread outward.

Petersen probably saw himself becoming anemic. He may have felt he needed a jolt; a new challenge to stimulate his ego and competitive spirit.

The BSU program needs a jolt, a wake-up call. Nothing magic happens when a recruit comes to Boise. The blue turf does not suddenly infuse a player with super powers. It is hard work and heart, maybe just maybe Petersen and his staff forgot that. Not the hard work, but the incentive to go out and prove you’re as good if not better than your opponents.

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Boise State Doesn’t Need Stars Or Numbers, They Need Ingredients

thAQRABOUJThe ranking of college football talent is suspect and flawed. It tells us how good a player is on his own, but not in relationship to the team and others. Nor can it tell how good that recruit will be in the future with equal talent beside him and facing good talent day in and day out.

Ranking recruits is a serious business. Game video is studied, scouts attend actual games, they also visit camps to see how players match against other top rated players. Even after that the evaluation is subjective.

Certainly the rating number or the stars behind a player’s name means something, but we don’t see hearts behind their names. We don’t see anything that determines willingness to work hard and fit into a system.

Stepping up from high school to college can’t be likened to going from junior high to high school, because a player is moving up with the same level of competition. In other words it is likely the kid a player blocks in the 8th grade will likely be the guy he blocks when a senior. I was a center in basketball and faced the same six or seven centers as a senior as I did when in the 7th grade. Your competition moves along with you.

Boise State has to find pieces that fit the puzzle. They don’t get the highly sought after five-star recruits that pieces must fit around them. This is really the beauty of the college game; the best players don’t necessarily win. It’s the team with the pieces that fit. It is finding the players that fit. It’s putting the square peg in the square hole.

By the accounts of many beyond the Bronco family the 2010 team should have been in the BCS championship game. It was made up of pieces; pieces that fit. Some of those pieces went on to the next level. They were not great high school recruits, but came to Boise where they could grow and shine.

When a recruit commits to Boise State and recommits because he wants to follow the coaching staff that indicates a lack of understanding of the program. The program is bigger than the coaches. Boise State had a winning program before those coaches arrived.

The recruits coming this year to Boise are the highest rated ever. Yet the real story is how well will they adapt to their role.

It’s interesting to note Johnny Manziel was a 3 star 78 and Colin Kaepernick 78. This is nothing new to Boise State. That 2007 recruiting class had two number 1 NFL draft picks; Shea McClellin who was not even rated and Doug Martin was rated something like 64.

They came to Boise and played within a system that allowed them to grow.

Good coaching is like being a good chef. Ingredients in the hands of the wrong chef and you have slop; in the hands of the right chef you have a culinary experience. It’s not so much the ingredients as it is how they are used. A good chef can take inferior ingredients and arrange them into a feast fit for a king.

The numbers and stars are looking better, we just hope they are the right ingredients.

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Go East, Boise State, Go East… To Recruit

Welcome to the Blue, Dylan Sumner-Gardner, from Texas.

Welcome to the Blue, Dylan Sumner-Gardner, from Texas.

Boise State has been very successful in recruiting outside the Northwest and into California. I think all Californians have a secret desire to live in Boise. You can’t sling a dead cat through town without hitting a Californian. Or it might be that dead cats are attracted to Californians (just kidding).

Also they are very good at recruiting from the wealth of rich high school talent in Texas. A recruit from Texas can come here and nobody’s going to think he’s strange for wearing cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and belt buckle with more metal than a Honda Civic.

Than there are the recruits that come from the other western states. Mom and Dad feel comfortable in sending little Billy to Boise. After all they don’t want to send Billy back East where he’ll come home saying “ya’ll,” “pak da ca,” or “how ’bout a sodie pop?” No, at Boise nobody’s going to change his Western ways and attitude.

In recent years Boise has played a number of Ohio schools; Bowling Green, Toledo, Miami, nearby Michigan State and upcoming Cincinnati. Playing those schools and winning or at least playing exciting and competitive football should serve to send a message to recruits in Ohio that Boise might be a good place to go.

Currently nobody from Ohio appears on Boise’s roster.

Ohio is a good state to recruit. Logically the bulk of players on the Ohio State roster are from Ohio. There are enough players on the Michigan and Michigan State roster to field another all Ohio Big Ten team. Notre Dame has around 15 Ohio players. Between Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois another Big Ten school could be fielded with all Ohio players. Take the Ohio recruits on three Indiana teams, Indiana, Purdue, and the aforementioned Notre Dame and there is another team. This is not to mention the 15 or so Ohioans on the 10-2 Ball State of Muncie, Indiana.

Cincinnati and Louisville have had a great deal of success in recent years. Where do their recruits come from? Well, nearby Ohio is pretty well harvested. They go to Florida.

Boise has had some moderate success in Florida, but they must make inroads into the breeding grounds of the entire SEC, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and so on.

Boise needs kids that use language like slobber knocker, the guy is big and strong enough to eat hay and crap in the street, tougher than a Waffle House steak, and runnin’ like a preacher from strip bar. They have places kids are overlooked and want nothing more than to be a part of a program that comes back home and opens up a can of whoop *ss on the school that passed them by in front Momma, Daddy, Uncle Bubba, and Cousin Billy Bob and Daisy Mae who turned him down for the senior prom for Lance Butterfield who went to the Crimson Tide and blew out his knee the first week of practice and got addicted to oxycodone and is now suspended from college and doing time at Holman.

Boise has been able to come up with some nuggets missed by other schools in the West. They are able to recruit with some success players that the PAC give only a nod.

Tennessee Suesue, welcome to the Blue. He can block. He is a great recruit. Boise needs blockers and tacklers.

Tennessee Suesue, welcome to the Blue. He can block. He is a great recruit. Boise needs blockers and tacklers.

Boise State must make those games back East pay off with recruits.

If the fortunes of Boise State are to extend into a national championship program they must have a national recruiting presence. If Boise is going to remain the premier team in the Mountain West they have to recruit outside the box.

Why would a top recruit want to come to Boise? It is likely he will be able to play and start sooner. If he wants to play on Sunday’s Boise has proven it is a good training ground. He will receive a lot of playing time which will prepare him for the next level. It is a less distractive environment. Not that a kid can’t get in trouble or become distracted in Boise, but it’s less likely than Los Angles, Miami, Columbus, or … Seattle.

Boise State just landed its highest rated commitment ever, Dylan Sumner-Gardner. He’s from Mesquite, Texas. He’s a d-back and, boy, do we need them. This is big. It shows Boise State is open for business and dealing.

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An Inconvenient Truth About Chris Petersen

Petersen preached playing by the rules and living up to commitments. I guess they only applied to the players he suspended.

Petersen preached playing by the rules and living up to commitments. I guess they only applied to the players he suspended.

Before the coronation of Bryan Harsin as the messiah let’s remember this season is not over. Boise has to play Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl.

This is a tough game for the Broncos without the distraction of losing head coach Chris Petersen to Washington and hiring Bryan Harsin from Arkansas State.

Before I go further, don’t get me wrong, Harsin coming to Boise was the best thing that could have happened. Of all the candidates I’m glad it was he that was hired. Candidly, I was hoping for Urban Meyer or Nick Saban, but I understand, they had bowl games to prepare.

The Petersen Principle

I have always been a Petersen supporter, but I expected more. You don’t leave before the season is over. I’m certain he preaches and teaches commitment. In fact, he demands it.

He had a contract. That was his word.

This past year the Boise State defense struggled. It could have used suspended D-backs  Lee Hightower and Eric Agbarogi along with D-lineman Sam Ukwuachu. I’m wondering if their reasons for suspension and dismissal were anywhere near what Petersen did?

That’s crapola about a great opportunity, leaving Boise being a tough decision, and it was best for the program. Does anyone really understand his comment about growing as a person. Is that somehow supposed to make Boise supporters feel they were standing in the way of his personal development? He’s been looking since day one. That’s what coaches do.

For him to move on is one thing, but to make it something other than what it is, is another.

Boise fans withheld criticism of Petersen all year long allowing blame roll of his back and onto the OC Robert Prince.

Coaches leave because they are fired.

Coaches leave because the NCAA rules committee is about to catch up with them and their program.

Coaches leave because they see that they have failed to recruit a winning team and they want to get out before the house of cards caves in on them.

Coaches leave because of an impending scandal.

Coaches leave for more money.

None leave for the good of their families, the university, the players, the fans, or the program; only for themselves.

Certainly the buy-out provision of the contract makes it all legal, but is it principled. This is from the coach who spared no one from punishment or suspension when it came to breaking team rules. Petersen broke a contract.

That is the only thing that makes Harsin breaking his contract and leaving Arkansas State palatable; they all do it.

I know; it’s not personal, it’s business. And many wonder why universities turn out moral dunces. And coaches feel justified because the universities will break contracts on their end when convenient also.

A Lesson From Woody Hayes

History and sport’s journalism will judge Ohio State’s Woody Hayes for punching an opposing team’s player, who was in full battle gear. That entire episode diminished how I felt about the man.

Woody would have never left Ohio State for money. His assistants were paid more.

The number of great coaches and citizens spawned by passing through his program is staggering. Not only did he talk the talk, but he walked the walk. To him commitment and loyalty were treasured principles and words beyond their meaning.

If a recruit committed to Ohio State and played somewhere else in the conference, when he played against Woody it would not be a good day for him.

When Washington comes to Boise in 2015 I hope it’s a bad day for Petersen.

Back to Boise

At Boise State the program is bigger than one person.

Although great attention and emphasis has been attached to the head coaches at Boise State, much credit must be given to the program itself. There is a feeling that a recruit can come to BSU, not get lost in the machinery, and get a degree.

The program attracts players who are willing to forego the lure to play primetime every week for the opportunity to play every week. It attracts a guy who develops late, a late bloomer. It attracts recruits that are willing to play a role in order to play and win.

And if you’re not a great player and don’t have an opportunity to play much, you can learn by being a part of a progressive and innovative program. And by the time your 20th high school reunion roles around you’ll be commanding a million dollar a year head coach’s job.

Back To The Season (Remember, It’s Not Over)

The type of season the Broncos are having is called a rebuilding year in Boise. At most other schools such a record is a rebuilt year. That said, a loss to Oregon State will make this year seem like a losing season among those of the Bronco nation.

Boise will face the 3rd ranked passing offense in the nation. And if the Boise secondary doesn’t get smarter and more aggressive in the next week or so we will yet have another reason why Petersen left; he’s saving the five loss season for his Washington resume.

I hope the BSU coaching staff is keeping the team focused. There is yet another game to be played.

And here is that inconvenient truth; Boise did more for Petersen than Petersen did for Boise.

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Boise State: What Kind Of New Head Coach?

The Petersen era is over. I'm glad he stayed as long as he did.

The Petersen era is over. I’m glad he stayed as long as he did.

Boise State will never crack the upper echelon of football programs until it can put 50,000 + fans in the stadium week after week. That may be one reason why Petersen left. Seeing fans leave mid-way through the third quarter come hell or high water, good times or bad denotes a hint of indifference that lies beneath all the Bronco sweatshirts you see on game day.

Yet, not withstanding those empty second half seats, not being a part of the football elite is the appeal of Boise. That is the Boise State mystique.

That is how Boise State gets the guys who think they are good enough to play primetime every Saturday afternoon, but have been overlooked. Boise gives them the platform on which to prove everybody else wrong.

Boise is thus able to hire the same sort of coaches. It is a proving ground to move on to the big time.

There is a long list of coaches who have passed through Boise and moved on to greener pastures only to find other places did not provide the pipeline of overachieving talent that comes to Boise.

I personally think it’s good to have a changeover every so often.

Chris Petersen gave Boise some good years, but he was entering a dangerous era of his career – godship; attained by Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, and the likes. They have so much power the universities won’t change to a different grade of toilet paper without checking with them first.

Frankly, Boise is better changing. Coaches get complacent. Programs become stale. Announcers were predicting trick plays with accuracy.

Let’s be brutally honest; Petersen inherited a pretty good program. He was surrounded by motivated, innovative, and creative coaches. To his credit, he was able to inspire young men to play beyond their expectations. He was a good college and community citizen.

I hope that Petersen leaves Boise with the feeling that if there’s a recruit at UW that doesn’t quite fit he’ll recommend he comes to Boise.

I hope Petersen wins the PAC next year. I hope he takes UW to a National Championship game – against Boise.

As for the next coach; I don’t want a guy who wants to retire here. I want him to be so hungry to get to the next level he’d send his grandmother on to the field and over the middle as a diversion to get a first down.

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Boise Vs. New Mexico: Predicting The Score

Joe Southwick will wave goodbye to Boise this Saturday. Whether he likes it or not or fans like it or not the last two years will be known as the Southwick years. I think he gave it more than his all. That's all fans can expect. I truly think Southwick is as good as Fresno's Derek Carr. Somethings are beyond our control; a fumble, dropped pass, holding call, missed field goals, and missed assignments. So much goes into making a great player - others.

Joe Southwick will wave goodbye to Boise this Saturday. Whether he likes it or not or fans like it or not the last two years will be known as the Southwick years. I think he gave it more than his all. That’s all fans can expect. I truly think Southwick is as good as Fresno’s Derek Carr. Somethings are beyond our control; a fumble, dropped pass, holding call, missed field goals, and missed assignments. So much goes into making a great player – others.

In spite of all the naysayers, hand-wringers, Debbie-downers, and peasants with pitch forks demanding the heads of everybody from the dog who gets the kicking tee clear up to Coach Prince I think this is one of the best coaching jobs done at Boise State. That is not to say criticism is not due and mistakes have not been made, but this year’s team is not laden with anywhere near the best Mountain West Conference talent. It would be good if Boise was still in the WAC, but they’re not.

The competition is tougher and so is the coaching.

This week against New Mexico will be the culmination of all the season’s frustration. Boise will win big.

The word is that Joe Southwick will start. When you compare the numbers between Hedrick and Southwick, Southwick is a tad south of Hedrick.

Both of them have good numbers, but good numbers don’t begin to tell the story for a less than stellar year. There are obvious problems with the d-backs. Their ineffectiveness keeps the opponent’s drives alive and the ball out of the hands of the Boise offense.

If you can’t pass against Boise State, you can’t pass.

That was the problem two years ago. That year, 2011, spawned a great secondary in 2012. As I recall after a dismal 2011 year for the d-backs they resolved to make life miserable on quarterbacks and receivers alike. It was a personal dedication to excellence. I don’t think Boise had that this year – taking personal responsibility to be ready to play and be coached.

What about this week‘s game; there is no doubt. Boise will win.

New Mexico can run and score. They average over six yards a carry and over 32 points a game. Boise has held opponents to 3.71 yards per carry. Boise has been tough against the run this year.

New Mexico also gives up a lot of points. They give up better than 42 points a game.

Here’s a quote from last weeks prediction:

“I was very close to calling an Aztec upset,”

Well, what’s the old expression, you think long you think wrong.

I’m going with 63-7 Boise.

How did I arrive at that score? I don’t know. I just picked it out of the air. Likely it is because that’s the score I want.

I sort of want Wyoming to beat Utah which will give Boise another shot at Fresno. Yet, it may mean Boise’s fifth loss also. Nevertheless, I’d like to see them have the chance.

Here’s my previous predictions:

1. Boise over UW 35-17 (Actual, 6-38 UW, hope springs eternal.)

2. Boise over UT Martin 49-0 (Actual 63-14, got the spread.)

3. Boise over Air Force 45-17 (Actual, 42-20, missed by a field goal on both ends.)

4. Boise over Fresno 45-30 (Actual 41-40 Fresno win, Frankly if the game were held any place, but Fresno…)

5. Boise over Southern Miss 49-10 (Actual 60-7, Petersen purposely left the first team in too long to foil me and Demarcus Lawrence was off-sides on one of his blocked field goals [not really, I’m just a sore loser})

6. Boise over Utah State 35-7 (Actual, 34-23, My original prediction was 52-7. I think if BSU would have played the second half without their foot on the brake that would have been more likely. Let’s be honest the game was not really that close.)

7. Boise over Nevada 52-10 (Actual, 34-17. If not for the Southwick injury Boise would have scored 50+ and Nevada would not have scored 17.)

8. Boise over BYU 38-21 (Actual, 37-20 BYU. BYU was simply too big and too strong. Boise turned the ball over 4 times.)

9. Heart: 45-10 BSU, Head: 35-24 BSU (Actual, 42-30. My head was close on the spread. BSU D had a real lapse and the Broncos put the brakes on in the second half.)

10. Head: 40-23 BSU, Heart: 55-14 BSU (Actual 48-7 BSU. My heart was closest. In fact, Wyoming was lucky to score.)

11. Head: 40-27 BSU, Heart: 48-17 BSU.(Actual 34-31 SDSU) Like I mentioned earlier and upset was on my mind, but I changed it. I’ll live with being wrong.)

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