Where to start:
Let's try the positives, first, always a good place to be: I loved the way Kenyon Blue, Clint Knickhrem, Mike Jablonski, Russell Hill, Eddie Thompson and several other Bengals too numerous to mention competed on Saturday, in the loss to Montana State. I know, Ws and Ls are the bottom line, and the Bengals left a lot of points on the field Saturday. (And the officials took 7 off the board -- I didn't see the replay, so don't know if there really was offensive interference by Jaron Taylor, but either way that call was a critical one.)
But you absolutely have to love the effort of many of the Bengals and that refusal to quit is going to be a critical trait as the Bengals try to turn this program around. Bad attitudes tend to spread, not only in the lockerroom, but when it comes time to bring in recruits. It's true -- players are the best salesmen for your program, and you've got to have players who believe in themselves and the program in order to convince other good players to come to your school. It all starts with leadership, and I'm starting to see a lot of leaders step up for the Bengals.
The down side, beside another loss, was the mounting injury report. We'll get an update from Coach John Zamberlin on the coach's show tonight (6 p.m.--AM 930), but it looks like the already depleted defensive line took a few more shots on Saturday. Injuries are a part of football, but sometimes it just seems like the football gods should be flagged 15 yards for piling on.
On to another topic: I talked with ISU Basketball Coach Joe O'Brien and his assistant Mike Brown at the Hall of Fame reception Friday night and neither could contain their excitement about the upcoming season. O'Brien's charges started "boot camp" on Friday -- a long run picking up 2,000 feet in elevation through a hail storm, and Coach OB said the players turned in their best collective times since he's been at ISU. Official practice will begin Oct.17, I believe, and instead of "Midnight Madness," the Bengals are planning 7 p.m. "craziness" for the first practice. A lot of Bengal fans are really looking forward to getting their first looks at what should be a deep and talented team. I spent my time flying to DC last week perusing the Big Sky pre-season basketball prospectus. I'll give you my pre-season predictions in a blog later this week.
Finally, the Hall of Fame inductions this week were incredibly poignant for me, for a number of reasons. Foremost was seeing my good friends Jim (posthumously) and Su Fox inducted. I won't go into a long babble about how important these two people have been in my life, suffice it to say, it meant a great deal to me to see them both honored. And Jim Lane, my oh my, ISU needs to hire him right now as a motivational speaker. He gave a great induction speech -- witty, emotional, tearful and inspirational. Finally, Dave and Barbara Kragthorpe remain two of my all-time favorite people. They are so down-to-earth, so genuine and such caring people. It's a shame Dave was only head coach for three years, he's the kind of person who not only could have coached winners, but he would have been a great athletic director when Babe Caccia retired. His loyalty to his alma mater (Utah State) shortcircuited that plan, and ISU has been the worse for it.
Off to Greeley Saturday, and a battle with a bunch of hurting Bears, beaten on a Hail Mary pass by UC Davis on Saturday. This will be another character test for the Bengals, who are trying to break a nine-game losing streak and get Coach Z and his staff their first road win at Idaho State. Jerry and I will be on the air Saturday at 12:30 p.m. to begin our coverage, please join us.
And thanks for being Bengal fans. It ain't always easy, but it's always fun.
PS--Folks who know me know I have an affinity for stats (that's probably why Frank tolerates me -:). Well, in doing my research before Saturday's game, one Big Sky Conference stat stood out at me -- before their game Saturday with Sacramento State, Northern Arizona had given up 36 yards rushing -- all season! That so intrigued me, I wanted to see how they did against Sac State on Saturday. The result? Sac had 41 rushing attempts, and 21 rushing yards -- less than half a yard per carry. I'll be keeping one eye on that NAU defense this Saturday against a Portland State team coming off an epic offensive performance against EWU last week.
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