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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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Boise State Vs. Colorado State, Predicting The Score; Let The Lightning Out Of The Bottle

If you look closely you can see the number 9.

If you look closely you can see the number 9.

You will not see a great Grant Hedrick performance unless you let Grant Hedrick be Grant Hedrick. Let the lightning out of the bottle. Grant Hedrick reminds me of a compressed spring. That said, the coaches know more than I do. I’m just a fan and that’s what I see.

Hedrick is trying to throw touch passes to guys that haven’t seen them. He trusts his receivers too much. Matt Miller and Kirby Moore are his type of guys. If he doesn’t see those guys open let him go or let him sprint outside. He’s most effective on the move. Let him check-down while running not standing in the pocket.

It looked to me like Hedrick had too many things in his head against BYU. Here it is; if you don’t see the first man open, move. If you don’t see the second man open move again. If you don’t the third man open, move a lot.

Grant Hedrick is the guy who will pick up the fallen flag and charge the hill.

He has more potential than what we've seen. Someday he will explode.

He has more potential than what we’ve seen. Someday he will explode.

Hedrick has been prepared in the past only for mop-up action and special packages, not to engineer an entire game. That is not an excuse for not being prepared; he is. Let’s face it, we don’t have the talent across the board position by position we have had in the past, but it is developing.

I’m always expecting the best from Boise. I expect them to always play at maximum. I’m a fan and fans think with their heart, but yet there is always a rational side that eats away at me. Sometimes the heart and head are the same. To CMOB (Cover My Own Behind) I’m going with two scores.

Heart: 45-10 BSU

Head: 35-24 BSU

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Requiem For Joe Southwick’s College Career?

This is not the way Joe Southwick chose to be remembered, nor did any of his fans.

This is not the way Joe Southwick chose to be remembered, nor did any of his fans.

On the first play from scrimmage of the Boise State/Nevada game quarterback Joe Southwick sprinted for a seven yard gain and was tackled as he ran for the sidelines. He grabbed for his ankle in pain and was helped to his feet. Moments later he was hopping with crutches to the dressing room.

If it were up to Joe he’d have played with his foot missing.

News came later that he would not reappear in the game. In the second half there was a camera shot of him in a private booth above the stands with his ankle bandaged and iced. The next day we all got the bad news that Joe’s ankle was broken. Certainly this was not the way Joe Southwick nor anyone wanted to end a great career at Boise State.

Before the Utah State game players from Boise lamented Chuckie Keeton would not be playing due to an injury. I recall from my playing days that if your opponent was not playing with their best the victory was diminished.

Like many fans I don’t know Joe personally, only the body language and his on camera presence. He always seemed eager to compete and always mentally in the game.

I recall games prior the his junior and senior years when he was relegated to standing on the bench and waving a white towel to whoop-up the crowd. Then the times he wore a headset and sent signals to Kellen Moore. He waited for his time to come.

He had the unenviable job of replacing everybody’s boy next door or everybody’s lawn boy, Kellen Moore. There was nothing to dislike about him.

Joe became to many fans like the stepchild of abusive parents; no matter what he did, it was not good enough.

Everything about his legacy at Boise State will be talked about in terms of “what would have happened if not for…”

Joe’s first year at quarterback was offensive coordinator Robert Prince’s first year. That’s tough; for both of them.

Southwick was supported by less talented players for the day to day competition Boise State was now facing. Southwick did not have the likes of Doug Martin, Austin, Pettis, Titus Young, and Nate Potter. Those are just the offensive guys who went pro and started.

This year a new offensive scheme was administered. Four seasons Joe played and was tutored in one system of play and was asked to change. Not only him, but the other 10 guys on the field plus whoever was ran in from the sidelines. He was like a general in command of an untested army using weapons they’d never used before. When that occurs there’s a lot of collateral damage. Most in the form of criticism from fans that were aimed at Joe.

He came along at a time when many of Boise’s best (fans) would accept nothing less than perfection. He faced challenges with steely determination, heart, and courage. I don’t think anyone played harder or tried harder than Joe Southwick.

Joe was heading for an incredible year. He is every bit as good if not better than the darling of the Mountain West, Fresno’s Derek Carr.

Does he have another game or three left in him? Speculation is that he will be out for five weeks. Does that mean he’ll be ready for the final game of the regular season on November 30th with New Mexico? If Boise wins the rest of their games will he see action in a possible conference playoff against Fresno. In what post season Bowl game will Boise appear?

Whatever the case it should be what is best for Joe and the team.

Joe Southwick, always ready to play and willing to compete.

Joe Southwick, always ready to play and willing to compete.

As a quarterback no one knows what his future will be beyond college. Will he have a opportunity in the pros? Frankly with some college players that is the only thing they have to look forward.

Football is a game. It’s not reality. Yet it can effectively be used to teach life lessons and prepare one for much larger and more important endeavors.

If Joe has taken his final snap, as sad as I am to see Joe’s college career end in such and unceremonious way, I don’t think football will ever define who he is, was, or will be.

Daily Prompt: Pep Rally

 

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Boise Vs. Nevada, Predicting The Score

We know Jay Ajayi is going to have a colossal game sometime; what not now?

We know Jay Ajayi is going to have a colossal game sometime; why not now?

Once again as a fan I see this game much differently than a coach or an odds maker.

Boise State is definitely on the up-swing. The have improved in every category, especially on the defense. They are not the caliber of last year’s defense, but they aren’t that far behind.

Nevada does not have the offense to mount any sort of a serious attack on the Boise defense. They will score 17 points at best, but most likely be held to 10.

Look for the Nevada offense to key on Shane Williams-Rhodes and look for Matt Miller of Kirby Moore (if he plays) to have big games.

Boise’s run game, as it stands, needs some fire. Not Jay Ajayi, but the o-line.

With the new offense that Boise has administered a heavy burden falls on the line. They are playing at the speed of light so to speak. Once it clicks with them, look out!

Now entering the second half of the season a lot of improvement should bee seen in the o-line. To date they have not dominated. It wouldn’t bother me if they saved the domination for BYU, but it is at a point in the season when it is now or never.

I can’t help but think Joe Southwick has a 400 yard game in his arm and Ajayi has a 200 yard game in his legs. If not for some dropped passes we may have seen Southwick pass for 400 last week. Ajayi is due for the game that will put him at the top of the heap in the Mountain West.

It looks like a 50 point performance from the Broncos. Much depends on the play calls in the second half. Coach Pete doesn’t run up scores.

I’m going to call the game 52-10 Boise.

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.)

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Boise State; Starting To Rumble

SWR - Shakes Wiggles Runs

SWR – Shakes Wiggles Runs

Boise State dominated Utah State in a 34 to 23 win.

It seemed like Boise State came out in the second half of the Saturday night game against Utah State with the brakes on.

It was the Shane Williams-Rhodes show all the way; 13 catches for 150 yards and a TD. He not only ran good tight routes, but broke those routes and got open when the play became extended. He not only was able to break away from his coverage, but also made great catches in tight coverage.

I see him running for governor of Idaho someday.

Another good game for Joe Southwick; two TD passes and he ran one. He had two picks, but the one, Boldewijn slipped and allowed the defender to go over the top for the pick. It was ran back for a score that should not have happened.

Is there a conspiracy to keep Southwick’s numbers down? There were at least five passes that hit the receivers in the hands on the numbers; that’s Sun Belt Conference stuff.

What was really impressive about the offense was the long scoring drives. Utah put Boise behind the twenty a couple times, but Southwick engineered four TD drives of 91, 89, 69, and 61 yards.

If not for the numbers Williams-Rhodes put up, player of the game goes to Jay Ajayi. He averaged 5 yards a carry where there was not five yards to carry. He carried defenders five yards. I thought it was one of the most courageous performance I’ve seen in a while. There is a lot of pride in the Ajayi family this week.

That said, the average per carry as a team for the game was 2.9 yards. That ain’t good. The o-line has to make holes. There are none. Perhaps what may cure that is Southwick pulling the ball out of Ajayi’s gut and dinking the ball to a tight end or slot receiver where the linebackers (who are bunched up for a run) should be.

Sometimes you have to call plays away from your weakness.

The Boise State defense seemed to get to the ball faster. Demarcus Lawrence was an absolute beast (and I mean that in the best possible way). On several possessions he single-handedly stopped drives.

Ben Weaver is playing like he’ll receive the Butkus Award someday. Great teams have great linebackers. There is something about the way they play the game that raises the level of everybody else, including the offense. A good football player is agile, mobile, and hostile. That’s Weaver. He’s the future.

At times the d-backs played a little soft, but their play was outstanding. Bryan Douglas had a pick as did Donte Deayon. Jonathan Moxey would have likely had one also if not for an offensive interference call.

I hate to say this, but Coach Pete said it first. Coach Pete got out-coached with time management at the end of the first half. A blocked field goal by Charles Leno saved what could have been a half-time locker room boost for Utah.

Okay, okay, Coach Pete coaches pretty good special teams too.

All in all it was well-played game.

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How Boise Beat Air Force

If Jay Ajayi has too many more games like the one with Air Force, pickle juice may become a banned substance. Ajayi is becoming a beast.

If Jay Ajayi has too many more games like the one with Air Force, pickle juice may become a banned substance. Ajayi is becoming a beast.

There is the obvious, Joe Southwick and Jay Ajayi; both record setting performances.

There is another obvious, the Bronco defense. Ben Weaver said after the game, “At halftime, we said we just can’t rely on our offense as much. For us it was about knowing your job and staying with your job.” Translation: win on your side of the ball.; go to your spot and let your teammates direct the ball to that spot.

Instinct tells a defensive player to pursue the ball. That is what the option offense feeds off. Defensive players have to trust their coaches and shed their instincts.

The second half was one of the best second half defensive efforts and positive adjustment I’ve seen from Boise State. They were mentally into the game.

In the first half a complete mental lapse gave Air Force their first touchdown. A roughing-the-passer call kept a dying drive alive. The defense was not putting a body on the runner. There was another roughing the passer call near the goal. Being aggressive is one thing, being brutal and stupid in another.

In the second half the Broncos played the swarming bone-crushing defense of years past. Ben Weaver had one stop that put an exclamation mark on the entire defensive effort.

DeMarcus Lawrence has won his way back into my heart. His play was incredible.

Darian Thompson had a second half interception and there was almost another one in the first half. On both plays the d-backs showed patience and good instincts.

The game was won by the defense in the second half. If the defense would have allowed Air Force to get away with their option game, who knows? But defense saved the day and put the ball into the offense’s hands.

The Broncos defense is incredibly young and growing whiskers. They are maturing under our eyes.

On offense while Air Force was obsessing over Aaron Burks and Geraldo Boldewijn Southwick found Matt Miller 10 times and Kirby Moore 8.

One of my favorite plays of the night was watching the Air Force scramble to cover everybody and Southwick hitting Gabe Linehan. He looked like a lumbering water buffalo on the Serengeti chased by lion cubs.

Jay Ajayi had a four touchdown day, but lost the ball twice. Fortunately Air Force was only able to recover one of them. This is not to take anything away from his great effort, but ball protection is a must. When teams sense you can’t hold on the ball it’s like blood in shark infested waters; it starts a feeding frenzy.

The record book is not finished on Joe Southwick. He is slowly moving toward legend status. His 27 for 29 performance should have been more remarkable if the a referee who was apparently in a drug altered state missed an obvious pass-interference call. There were about four last week. I’m not kidding; there ought to be drug testing of officials before, during, and after games.

The offensive line effectively locked on to their assignments and pushed them around with authority.

Back to Southwick; passing is only part of his great performance, he had 6 carries for 53 yards. Perhaps the thing that remains for him to do is put up a couple of 400 yard games or maybe even a 500.

With all that being said, no matter how well he does personally, it is likely the season will seem a like a let-down if another game appears in the loss column.

Next comes Fresno, this will be the first really big test to see how far the Broncos have come since UW. Fresno has cracked the top 25 in the US Today poll.

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Kellen Moore: In An Army Of Howitzers He’s A Smart Weapon

images[3]Kellen Moore is now in his second year as the third string quarterback for the Detroit Lions.

He had a good pre-season. The Lions brought in another quarterback, Thad Lewis, in the off-season. A move like that normally means they weren’t satisfied with what they had in Moore or wanted to see how another type of quarterback looked with their existing personal. Nevertheless Moore was the quarterback who shined in the preseason.

In preseason with the Lions this year in completed 62.5% of his passes with four touchdown throws, more than anyone of the Lion’s squad. He tossed only one interception and was not sacked.

In college Moore was not known for in physical prowess on the field. He was the tactician who read defenses, called the best audible, and threw to the right spot. Yet, some of my best memories of him were slipping the grasp of on-rushing lineman, blitzing linebackers, and backs. It seemed like every time he rolled left good things happened.

Moore’s first year at Boise State he was a red-shirted. When he took the field his first year it was as a fully developed and complete quarterback. The learning curve from high school to college is great, but from college to pro it is greater.

When he was in high school the major programs looked the other way. He was too slow, too short, and had no arm strength. At one school they told him to just go over to the side and throw a few balls. When he visited Boise State head coach, Chris Petersen, was impressed with his size; the problem was that Petersen was looking at Kellen’s taller baby brother, Kirby. (Nobody will draft him either.)

Boise liked what they saw. They saw something overlooked by others; heart and mind.

There is no doubt that Boise’s success and the 50 wins over his career as a starting quarterback is abundantly due to a short and immobile quarterback with less than desirable arm strength.

Kellen Moore’s college career is riddled with games where he out-played quarterbacks with more mobility and better arms. Of all the quarterbacks during the years of his college career he stands out as being the most reliable and efficient in clutch situations. He just never seemed rattled.

Players elevate their game when he’s in charge. He is the epitome of leadership. He’s the quiet unassuming guy who sits at the table and always has the good hand. The greatest generals were not always the greatest soldiers.

Moore picked up a little more zip on the ball in the off-season. He will likely add a bit more next year. Right now I’d say he is patiently waiting for his chance. Sometimes chances come to you.

Detroit has a guy, Matthew Stafford, who puts up some impressive numbers. He has a arm like a Howitzer. Wars are fought with smart weapons now. A well placed missile down an air vent has more effect than and an entire battery of Howitzers and a boxcar full of shells.

Right now Moore is absorbing data and calculating. If all Stafford can produce is numbers perhaps someone should be given an opportunity who can produce wins.

When Boise State took a chance on Kellen Moore he reciprocated. It is likely he will do the same with Detroit.

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