That's what we had yesterday after practice....little kids everywhere. ISU football hosted a free youth clinic on Thursday, and well over 200 kids came out, including girls, to learn some basic techniques, get taught by their favorite player, and just have a good time.
It was great to see the players interacting with the little kids (and some bigger junior high school kids). My favorites were the offensive line guys, showing kids that playing the line and blocking is cool. News Channel 6 was there filming at one point and Mitch Rudder started pumping one little guy up, yelling "Channel 6 baby, they want you little man...they want to see you throw a big block!" Now that little guy was pumped.
Great job by John Zamberlin and Jeff Tingey in setting that up. There was a huge poster signing after the day was over, and every kid got a voucher for a free ticket for Saturday. Many of the parents went around with the kids and got to talk with coaches and players as well, so there was lots of good communication lines going on. It was really a sight to see.
You Do Realize Returning Kicks Isn't Always Easy While I don't necessarily disagree that we have to do a better job returning kicks, Kellis might be slightly off base a bit here, because I'm pretty sure they will take their chances with JD as opposed to a touchback. The unit did spring JD Ponciano for some huge returns against Idaho, and getting big returns this week might be really tough facing a solid coverage team in Montana State.
I Would Think They Would Want the Attention The University of Idaho cheerleading saga continues, as the new, less risque uniforms will debut against Nevada on Saturday. It was nice of the cheerleaders to change the uniforms to focus more attention on the team, but Idaho hasn't won an FBS game since 2006.
Remember, soccer today at 4:00 pm at Davis Field....be there!
Dan Thompson of the Journal has a boatload of links, and he's pretty happy we have a dome for football. If you are wondering why, look here. Also, Tim Flagstad reported on Jen Munro leaving the soccer team this week, and they, much like the football team, have an injury list that is getting quite long.
Also, in case you missed it, the 2008 Hall of Fame Inductee release is here, and the photo gallery is included.
Just a short blog today, as I have to get the Hall of Fame release out, and the ISU football youth camp as well....which is tomorrow from 4-5 and is free for all kids in the 8th grade or younger. They get a free ticket for Saturday as well.
No, this won't be about the economy (although how long would that post be?). I would like that thank the government though, as I'll apparently be working at Idaho State for the next 45 years in order to retire, since you can't buy a house anymore or move, so I'm guessing I will see some more titles won LOL.
However, this is about credit. Credit as in thanks to the Journal for giving the players and the coaching staff some credit for this week. Boo however to Dave Coulson of the Sports Network. Dave's column contains this....
"Eastern Washington (3-2) struggled for three quarters against Idaho State before pulling away with a couple of fourth-quarter scores in a performance similar to its win against Western Washington the previous week." Yeah, that's it....Eastern STRUGGLED....it couldn't be that Idaho State isn't all that bad, could it? Nah....has to be that Eastern struggled. You know how folks always go on and say things like "they are the best 0-4 team in the country?" ... well, I think we actually fit that mold.
This week should be really interesting. Say this for last week's defense...they did make some plays. They gave some up, but for the first time this year, they made some...forced a fumble in the fourth quarter on a sure touchdown (and if you watch the replay, it kind of was actually a touchdown), and picked off a pass to set up a score. Also, the defensive backs knocked passes down, and generally made some pretty nice plays. That was a big, big positive.
Football love Dan Thompson showed a little love to the defense in his postgame blog, although the comment #5 afterwards by "pokeyfan" might be the most ill-informed internetpost I've seen in a while. Give someone access to a computer and an anonymous handle, and they can get pretty brave.
Yes Kellis, They Sure Do.... You know, Kellis put this really well. I haven't heard much of anything to this point about the last two men's basketball games being moved out of Holt Arena and into Reed Gym. Personally, I hate because my office is in Holt...if I forget a pencil, well, it's a pretty short walk. I also hate it for the fans because of the inconvenience, but here's hoping that this is what helps push Bengal Village into the forefront more, if that's even possible with Jay McMillin's promotion to Assistant A.D. for Major Gifts and working with the ISU Foundation to meet with prospective donors. O.K., it is possible, but hey, feet are moving.
But seriously, after the town said nope, we don't need Holt Arena (and I don't care how you interpreted the vote back when it happened, but that's what folks sort of said), I personally thought that kicking out the wrestling tournament would have basically proven the point. Instead, we are gonna have wrestling here (and my own personal loathing of the high school wrestling tournament will have to deal I guess), and basketball there, so the town will benefit at athletics' expense. Seriously, I hope the town sees the sacrifice.
If folks think I'm biased against wrestlers by the way, it has nothing more to do then the weigh-in area is always in front of my door, so I have to hear and see wrestlers in their jockstraps all day long fretting about losing a pound or two. Really, we should all be so lucky to have that at work.
A Little Cross Country Love What happens when you crash into a tripwire at Holt Arena? You get featured on the ISU website. Mitch Worthington's 10-minute chats with the athletes are quickly becoming must reads, and his interview with Ryan Davis of the cross country team is hilarious and brilliant...you have to read that if you do nothing else today.
On the coaches' show last night, John Zamberlin gave an update on the Bengals' injury situation. WR Isaiah Burel (dislocated knee) and MLB Brad Rife (dislocated elbow) are definitely out for this Saturday's game with Montana State. WR Eddie Thompson (knee and ankle), DB Michael Wright (concussion), and DB AJ Storms (high ankle sprain) are uncertain at this point.
One of the issues generally associated with building a football program under a new coaching staff is depth. Idaho State, in Year 2 of the John Zamberlin era, felt that lack of depth on Saturday, in the Bengals' 45-31 loss to Eastern Washington.
While Idaho State remained relatively healthy through its first three games of the season, the injury bug bit the Bengals hard on Saturday. Already playing without injured star WR Eddie Thompson, ISU lost WR Isaiah Burel to a dislocated knee in the second half, and the Bengal offense immediately went into shutdown mode. Without its two leading receivers, ISU was held to negative yardage in the fourth quarter.
The Bengal defense also wore down after losing staring MLB Brad Rife to a dislocated elbow and defensive back Michael Wright in the first half. DE Micah Cloward also limped off the field and missed substantial playing time in the middle of the football game.
The injuries were no excuse for the Bengals, who played excellent football for three quarters before EWU asserted its dominance in the fourth quarter. But they did point out the need for ISU to develop more depth in key areas. In some cases, the talent is there (at wide receiver, for example, the Bengals have some capable backups in J.D. Ponciano, Edsel Logan, Kelvin Krosch and Ryan Anchetta-Major), but they haven't been fully integrated into the offense yet. As the season wears on, I expect the coaching staff to work more of these kids into bigger roles.
On other items, Eagles officials could not have been thrilled with the turnout at Saturday's game, which was officially listed at just over 5,500. When you think of all the obvious factors for why teams draw well -- a good team (Eastern was ranked No. 11 nationally), a fun style of play (the Eagles have a great QB and wide receivers and always put points on the board), a meaningful game (this was the Big Sky Conference opener for a team picked to contend for a championship), the weather (picture perfect football day), there was no explanation for the poor turnout. Add in the fact that this was EWU's Hall of Fame game and the Eagles were honoring their top 100 football players of all time (50 of whom were in attendance), and it's really baffling why so few showed up at Woodward Stadium.
Another item of note along these lines: I often hear Idaho State fans say that if the Bengals just recruited more Idaho players, it would improve attendance (even though ISU has a lot of Idahoans playing key roles on the team). Maybe, maybe not, if Eastern is any indication. The Eagles have over 70 players on their roster from Washington state, and 40 of the 44 players on the two-deeps on offense and defense are from the Evergreen State, but all those "local kids" don't seem to make much of an impact on attendance at Eagles games.
In an ironic touch of scheduling, broadcast partner Jerry Miller and I will both be going to Washington, DC later this week for travel related to our "other jobs." We will be doing the John Zamberlin coach's show tonight at AM 930, and then we'll be back (God willing) for the Montana State game on Saturday. I'm also going to be involved in ISU Hall of Fame weekend -- I'll be the presenter for Su Fox, who is being inducted along with her late husband, my former broadcast partner and great friend, Jim. It will be an emotional weekend, but I'm really looking forward to sharing this special time with Su and her family, who will all be in town for the ceremonies at the induction breakfast on Saturday.
And what a great Hall of Fame class this will be. In addition to the Foxes, Dave Kragthorpe, coach of the 1981 national champions; Jim Lane, the center on that team; Holly Togiai, one of the lynchpins of those great Ardie McInally women's basketball teams; Alice Herberlein, an excellent volleyball player, and Jason Whitmer, the Bengals' all-time leading passer, will be inducted. It should be a great weekend, and I hope to see you all at the Montana State game Saturday afternoon, where the inductees will be honored at halftime.
Thanks for being Bengal fans -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun. --Brad B.