Quarterback? Don’t forget the tailback

If you were Chris Petersen, what would you do as you introduce a new QB on the fly Friday night? Whether it’s in Boise or Seattle, there’s been a preoccupation with who Washington’s starting quarterback will be. If you were Chris Petersen, what would you do as you introduce a new QB on the fly Friday night before a hostile crowd on the blue turf? Probably unleash a heavy dose of the run—untested offensive line notwithstanding. Washington has a centerpiece at tailback, junior Dwayne Washington, who’s merely 6-2, 226 pounds. Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates says Washington reminds him of NFL back Darren McFadden. “He’s fast—if he gets in the open field, he can score,” said Yates. He can cause problems. With Coach Pete, it always starts up front. He’s always going to try to get that running back going.”

Washington (the player) shared time with Lavon Coleman, current backup Deontae Cooper, and even linebacker Shaq Thompson last year, rushing for 655 yards and nine touchdowns and earning Apple Cup Player of the Game honors in the Huskies’ win over Washington State. Boise State has seen Washington before. He came in during the Huskies’ 38-6 win over the Broncos after Bishop Sankey had done his 161 yards’ worth of damage and ran for 52 yards and a touchdown. UW just has to hope its O-line can give him room to run Friday.

That’s where the Boise State defensive line comes in. This is the deepest it has ever been. Now this D-line looks to live up to the standard set by Shea McClellin, Ryan Winterswyk, Chase Baker, Billy Winn, Jarrell Root and Tyrone Crawford five years ago. The Broncos are capable of rotating three different four-man lines in Friday night, but Yates says at the core there’ll be only two sets of guys. At any rate, Boise State should be fresh in the trenches for the 60 minutes of chaos that awaits. For better or for worse, the weather won’t be sucking energy out of either team in this game, as temperatures are only going to be in the 60’s at kickoff.

According to the depth chart, the defensive line front-liners will be Kamalei Correa, Deuce Mataele, Tyler Horn, and Armand Nance or Justin Taimatuia. The second wave will bring Sam McCaskill, Gabe Perez, and Elliot Hoyte or Antoine Turner. That leaves talented guys like Jabril Frazier and Rondell McNair as wild cards. “That’s the battle right there,” Yates said of his defensive line against Petersen’s will to establish the run. Washington got it established two years ago with Steve Sarkisian at the helm, rushing for 268 yards and three touchdowns on the Broncos at newly-remodeled Husky Stadium.

Petersen was the biggest proponent of Boise State’s “blue-on-blue” (all blue uniforms on the blue turf) back when the Mountain West temporarily banned it in conference games. So it was interesting that a reporter questioned the look in Sunday’s press conference at UW. “I think it’s always the guys in the blue uniforms that created the problems,” he said. Then he told the media gathering what he knows as well as anybody. “It’s a great place to play,” said Petersen. “Unbelievable home-field advantage. The size of the stadium has nothing to do with it. Those are very passionate fans and a really good place to play a college football game. Noise is a factor. Tough place to play.”

Washington assistant Jeff Choate, another former Boise State staffer, talked to Christian Caple of the Tacoma News-Tribune about facing his old team. “At this point, we’re very, very focused on us,” said Choate. “And this is like anything else: every opponent is a nameless, faceless opponent. It doesn’t matter. You can’t worry about—a lot of those guys are our best friends. I still want to beat my best friend in H-O-R-S-E if we’re in the backyard playing basketball. That doesn’t change.” A classic Choate-ism. In case you’ve lost count, there are eight former Bronco assistants on the Huskies core staff: Choate, Pete Kwaitkowski, Chris Strausser, Jimmy Lake, Jonathan Smith, Brent Pease, Keith Bhonapha, and Bob Gregory. There’s also strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha and graduate assistant Kirby Moore.

True freshmen decisions are being made all over the country right now, and there’s a key one ahead in Lamarie. Wyoming coach Craig Bohl has to settle on the status of tailback Kellen Overstreet, the second-leading high school rusher in the nation last year with 4,259 yards on his way to Missouri Class 1 Player of the Year honors. By all accounts, Overstreet had a solid fall camp for the Cowboys, but they are well-stocked at running back. Senior Shaun Wick, plagued by injuries last year, is back from a concussion early in fall camp. And sophomore Brian Hill, who carried the load in Wick’s absence last season with 796 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, gives Wyo a one-two punch. You can feel the tide turning with the Pokes. They open Saturday at home versus North Dakota.

The first place football programs that are moving up to FBS go these days is the Sun Belt, and it’s all aboard for Coastal Carolina. That means one more cross-country road trip for Idaho somewhere down the line. After the Chanticleers go through a football transition year in 2016, they’ll become full members of the Sun Belt in 2017, allowing the conference to get into the championship game business. The Vandals flew more than 31,000 miles last season, their first back in the Sun Belt after a 10-year absence. Fortunately, Idaho gets to walk to its first game this year—the Vandals kick off the 2015 season Thursday night in the Kibbie Dome against Ohio.

Some more NFL wrap: not great, but certainly not terrible for former Boise State star Jay Ajayi. For one thing, he finally saw the field for Miami in Saturday night’s13-9 win over Atlanta. Ajayi shook off his bothersome hamstring to rush for 25 yards on seven carries and catch two passes for four yards. His fellow former Bronco running back, Doug Martin, continues his rebound with Tampa Bay. Martin had nine carries for 40 yards in the Buccaneers’ 31-7 loss to Cleveland last Friday night. His 19-yard touchdown run accounted for the Bucs’ only points. Is the beleaguered fourth-year pro Tampa Bay’s No. 1 running back? Well, ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas writes, “Martin’s strong preseason has given him a firm grip on the starting job.” Today, by the way, is the deadline for NFL teams to reduce their rosters to 75 players—then it’s 53 this Saturday.

The Boise Hawks are home for the rest of this season—which has only six days to go. The Hawks open a three-game series tonight against the Hillsboro Hops, with most of the team’s roster going into its final days with the club. The Boise player who’s topped the charts this year is Kevin Padlo, fourth in the Northwest League in batting with a .301 average. Padlo is also third in RBIs with 44, tied for fourth in home runs with eight, and second in stolen bases with 32. The third baseman from Murrieta, CA, could end up in Denver someday. He just turned 19 years old in July.

When Boise State thinks about having swept San Diego State in men’s basketball last year, it still has to pinch itself. The Aztecs are an elite program, and they keep stockpiling talent. The latest is 6-6 wing Montaque “Teki” Gill-Caesar, who has announced he is transferring from Missouri to SDSU, picking the Aztecs over Oregon. Gill-Caesar was rated a top 50 recruit out of high school in Canada and started 13 games for Mizzou last season. He worked around back problems to average nine points and three rebounds for the Tigers. Gill-Caesar will sit out this season—he’s projected to take the spot of San Diego State star Winston Shepard in 2016-17.

This Day In Sports…September 1, 2007:

Regarded as the biggest upset in the history of college football, Appalachian State goes into the “Big House” at Michigan and stuns the Wolverines 34-32 before 109,000 fans. The two-time defending Division I-AA national champions dominated the first half but saw Michigan take the lead in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers then booted a 24-yard field goal with 26 second left—and blocked a Wolverine field goal attempt on the final play of the game to put a dramatic exclamation point on the victory. It was the first time a I-AA team had ever beaten a ranked I-A school.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)