Thursday, August 13, 2009
The first week of practice for the Bengals has been filled with a mile run, tough work outs, rain and plenty of sweat. Photographic services took a peek at the Bengals during a practice so that we can share it with the fans. In a team with ten freshman the Bengals have been working on cohesion and unity amidst a strong offensive strike. Freshman standouts include Ashley Jones and Laura Perez who have posted several goals during scrimmage drills. Returners who will surely see more time on the field include senior defenders Christina Beseris and Kacey Ball. Their hard work has shown on the field with their increased fitness level and stamina. This season the Bengals will be led by midfielder and all-time career assists leader Annamarie Hofstetter, forward Lauren Ryan, who was ISU’s lead scorer last season, as well as defender Karissa Henage-Fisher who was named to the Big Sky All-Conference First Team last season.
Kat Ford and Bailey Williams will be ISU’s goalkeepers for the 2009 season. Though Bailey competed in 12 games for 986:56 at goal the spot for this season’s keeper position is still up in the air. Williams who posted a 2-7-2 record last season, complete with two shutouts, had a goals against average of 1.46 and a .771 save percentage. Ford did not see much playing time last season as she competed in two games for a total of 78:39, however she allowed just one goal against Northern Colorado when the Bears were on a hot streak defeating ISU 6-2 in October. Ford posts a 1.14 goals against average and an .800 save percentage having amount four saves in her time at goal. Pictured in goal during an ISU practice is Kat Ford.
Previous assistant women’s soccer coach Lindsay Massengale is still competing in the Women’s Professional Soccer League for the FC Gold Pride in the Bay Area. Massengale earned a spot on the team after showing her skills during the team’s preseason camp. She has played four games and started in two as a defender for the FC Gold Pride and has played 193 minutes. Massengale has been replaced by assistant coach Becky Hogan, (see her in the photo on the left). It rained during practice and was unusually cold for the end of summer thus the beanie and rain jacket. Hogan comes to ISU with a great deal of knowledge having served as the head coach for the Utah Rush Soccer Club and Skyline High School in Salt Lake City. She also played professionally for the RushSLC (WPSL). In a fun connection both Hogan and Massengale played for the Boston Breakers of the WUSA.
Replacing Nakada in charge of the goalkeepers is assistant coach, and former ISU Bengal, Shannon Boyle. The team couldn’t be in better hands as Shannon is considered one of the best keepers in Idaho State history. In her time with ISU saw the Bengals earn three-straight Big Sky Conference Tournament titles and was named the Big Sky Tournament MVP in 2002 under the direction of Nakada.
Fans will be able to see the Bengals in action for the first time in an exhibition game against Northwest Nazarene on Tuesday, August 18 at 11:00 am at Davis Field.
---Katie Zigars, Asst. SID
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Many of you folks know, or maybe you don't know, about my favorite band, which is Chicago. Now, there's a myriad of reasons I like that band, the horns, the vocals, whatever, and some folks around here know that I can play the drums (set taught) and percussion, but I have always wanted to play the piano. That statement is even funnier because my wife is a piano player and teacher. Anyways, with the advent of the internet, I was able to really learn more about Chicago, and what I learned was maybe the most talented musician on the planet was in the band, and he was the guy who I tended to gravitate to when listening to CDs and stuff, and that guy in Bill Champlin. Bill joined the band in late 1981 after Chicago was doing so horribly that they were dumped by Columbia records after two albums of a long multi-album deal. Chicago 13 missed the top 20 and had no hit singles, and Chicago XIV hit #71, and it looked like Chicago was done, but the band brought in Champlin, and a wave of hit singles followed, including songs like Look Away and You're Not Alone, in which Bill sang lead.
Now, 28 years after joining Chicago, giving up a promising solo career that came on the heels of eight albums with the great Marin County band Sons of Champlin (who played in Holt Arena in 1973 doncha know), Bill is no longer with Chicago, having been replaced for the remainder of the 2009 summer tour by Lou Pardini, who is now officially in the group.
If you are still reading this, you might be going....Bill Champlin? Who the hell is that? This is Bill Champlin at his best, reworking the power ballad Look Away (the Billboard #1 song of 1988) into an unreal acoustic piece. Well, in this overbloated age in which Lady GaGa is a star, and Britney Spears churns out horrendous garbage that qualifies as a hit song, Bill is a musician. Actually, a musician's musician.
Bill has a pair of Grammies to his credit for writing Turn Your Love Around, which was a monster smash for George Benson (here is George singing it live in Madrid, and here is Bill's take while performing live on German television) and After the Love is Gone, which was an even-bigger hit for Earth, Wind, and Fire (Here is Earth, Wind and Fire singing it live, here is Bill singing it with EWF on tour in 2004, and this is such a rare version from Thicke of the Night back in 1983 which is the only performance with all three writers, Champlin, Jay Graydon, and David Foster).
Bill got his start with his own band the Sons of Champlin (originally the Opposite Six), who had eight ridiculously fun and tight albums, and came out of Marin County and the great San Francisco scene, but somehow they never hit it big...perhaps SoC was a little too R&B with their upfront horns and musicianship. Still their songs are amazing, such as You, 1982-A from their debut album Loosen of Naturally, and even seeing video from a few years ago of the band performing at the Palms in Vegas is a treat.
From there, Bill ended up as the most in-demand guy in the music industry, performing on albums and CDs for Boz Skaggs, REO Speedwagon, Amy Grant ... anyone and everyone. Then he put out two solo CDs, Single and Runaway, which featured songs such as Fly with Me and Keys to the Kingdom. Runaway featured songs like Tonight, Tonight and Take It Uptown, which was from the movie Copper Mountain (Jim Carrey's first movie).
Bill then joined Chicago, and in recent years the band has featured him prominently in concert with a special medley of some of his vocals, including a great introduction where he got to showcase a little of his talents. Still, Bill put solo stuff out from time to time, such as No Wasted Moments (one of my favorite CDs ever). Even his unreleased Chicago stuff is better than most music out now or then.
How does any of this relate to me other than as a fan you ask? Well, way back when, after I had accumulated all the Chicago stuff I could, I decided to get the solo stuff from folks, and naturally, I was trying to figure out how to get Champlin stuff, as it's just not readily available at Wal-Mart. Well, Bill had a website to sell his CDs, and there was a link to "ask Bill". So I asked which one would he recommend...figuring he had like a flunky answering, but I actually got a nice note back, and just by reading it, you could tell it was from him. I ended up buying two, and over the course of the next year or so, I got pretty much everything, and he and I started emailing a bit. Eventually, he gave me his home address so I could send a CD cover for him to sign, and we finally met in 1999 in Boise after a show (he left my friend Doug and I a pass to wait afterwards and meet up).
Bill also offered my family and I tickets to the Stadium of Fire July 4 show in Salt Lake, and I passed because I wasn't going to be there due to that being my daughter's birthday. I then somehow not only ended up there, but in a meet and greet, where he was baffled to see me and gave me a bear hug, and then took time to talk to my kids and stuff, which was funny just to see their faces.
Cut to this week, and Bill's newest CD "No Place Left to Fall" hit stores on August 4 (it had been out on iTunes for a while and I've had it pretty much since it was available for download there) and it is getting rave reviews. From start to finish, it is an amazing CD...one of those CDs that you need to listen to over and over to catch the little musical nuances that let's face it, you don't get with Lady GaGa or Britney Spears or T-Pain. You can catch a little of the title track here with Bill talking about it, but right now my favorites are a funky little number called Tuggin' on Your Sleeve, the title track, and Stone Cold Hollywood.
It sucks that after 28 years, Bill is out, but he is going on a short little club tour of the West Coast from San Diego to Seattle. So here is my imploration to you guys, because I never try to steer anyone wrong, but check those dates out, and if you can make it to a show ... don't think about it, just go. You will never see a better musician surrounded by other unbelievable musicians as you will if you catch one of Bill's shows (I believe he has Jerry Lopez joining him on guitar, who is a monster on his own). Seriously, you will not be sorry, and knowing Bill, he will just hang after the show for a while and tell stories and make it a night to remember.
Anyways, I know plenty of famous people, mostly pro athletes, but this was weird to hear news like this about someone I know have great respect for. Sure, Matt Gutierrez got cut from the Patriots and I know him, but this is inherently different. Bill is a great guy who will always make the best of a situation, but if you want to treat yourself, pick up this CD, or see his show. You just won't be sorry about it.
OK, now back to ISU....thanks for hangin' in there...
How's the BBQ?
Matt Gutierrez did get cut by the Patriots, and then got promptly picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs, and guess who threw the only offensive touchdown in KC's intersquad scrimmage? That would be Matt.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel gives out a thumbs up to our very own Evan Dietrich-Smith. When the paper calls you "almost impossible to beat" and says that you "dominated one-on-one pass rushing drills", well, that can only mean good things. By the way, this should surprise no one. Evan is a gamer.
Outjumping Steve Smith
Scroll down a little here to see D.J. Clark picking off a pass outleaping Steve Smith.
Getting His Big Chance
Did you know that New Orleans Saints defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith (not that Will Smith, this Will Smith) are out for the first four games? Jeff Charleston does, and the former Bengal is making big waves at Saints camp as he projects to be a starter.
Scroll down and get to picture number five to see Pago in action for the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals.
And last but not least, good ol' Jared
The media just loves Jared Allen...he's not a bad quote. He talked here about the end of Vikings camp, and pretty soon he will be featured on Cribs and in Maxim. Be warned. Of course, he is kid accessable, as this report from CBS/Fox 12 in Mankato shows.
Boise State East....or so it seems, but Kelvin Ang had a nice story regarding ISU's four Broncos who have made a home here at ISU. Kelvin also notes that after a spring in which Benny Laporta was the only running back, there is a little more competition there in the fall, including this guy, but not this guy. Also, Tim Flagstad reported on the volleyball teams' return to practice, and yes, there are 18 of them. Go Bengals...and Bill!
Monday, August 10, 2009
"Getting a chance to do this really lets our guys know that they are looked up to in this community," said head coach John Zamberlin. "It was great to see our guys not just participating but interacting with the kids, and really taking an interest. Something I think they will never forget."
Jason Jones (99) and Brennan Ghassemiah (29) get ready to sign some autographs
AJ Storms (30) talks with a youngster.
Offensive coordinator Brian Jensen and quarterback Evan Mozzochi (10) talk with kids about life and ISU football.
Erik Jacobson (74), Jake Rouser (45), Nic Edgson (in back), and Braeden Clayson (76) talk to kids.
AJ Storms sings a bunch of autographs.
I think just based on the smile of this little guy that the entire trip out to the Diabetes Camp was a total success.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
One of the more common questions I hear as I travel around the Big Sky Conference is, "Why has Montana become so dominant in football?" Here's my theory: the Grizzlies were just another competitive program until Nevada, Boise State and Idaho, the three best programs in the league, all moved up to Division-I (now FBS). Montana was the best positioned program to take advantage of their departures, and they have done so with gusto.
The Griz, as anyone who has followed the Big Sky for any length of time knows, have won or tied for 11 straight BSC titles. They've been in the FCS playoffs for 16 consecutive seasons, and they've had a winning record 23 straight seasons. But the Montana dominance really began in 1996, the year after BSU and Idaho left the league, and three years after Nevada departed. The numbers tell a pretty simple story:
Until last season, Nevada (71 percent), Boise State (65 percent) and Idaho (63 percent) had the all-time winningest records in Big Sky Conference football competition. Montana edged past the Vandals last season, on the basis of a 7-1 record, which gave the Griz a 64 percent winning percentage all-time in league play. Before 1996, when BSU and Idaho left the league, Montana had just a 52 percent winning percentage. Since 1996, Montana has gone 86-13 -- 87 percent.
Montana already had a number of advantages in place when that triumverate left the league -- a new stadium, an excellent coach in Don Read with an exciting system, a good recruiting platform and an emerging fan base. When the opportunity to dominate the league arrived, then, the Griz were more than poised to pounce.
Even though the Griz have had some of the best offensive teams in Big Sky history during that run, it's always been my contention that their dominance has been based on solid defense more than anything. In a league where there are always two or three teams that put a lot of points on the board, consistent defense has been a discriminator for Montana. Again, that distinction has been much more pointed in the post-1996 period. To wit: In the first 32 years of Big Sky play, the Grizzlies led the league in scoring defense five times. Not bad, but certainly not distinctive. Since 1996, however, UM has led the BSC in scoring defense nine out of 13 seasons. No other school has held that honor more than once.
So in a year when Weber State, the other defending co-champion, returns a ton of offensive weapons, the Griz will once again rely on their five returning all-league defenders -- and the home field advantage when the Cats and Montana meet on Halloween in Missoula -- as the difference-makers.
That's not to say Montana doesn't have some offensive playmakers of their own. Running back Chase Reynolds (above) emerged last year to rush for 1,583 yards and a school record 22 touchdowns as just a sophomore. Wide receiver-kick returner Marc Mariani, meanwhile, caught 69 passes for 1,308 yards and 15 touchdowns, and also returned two punts (including a back-breaker against Idaho State) for scores. Reynolds and Mariani are poster boys for home-grown, small-town Montana talent. Reynolds is from the tiny town of Drummond (population 318), and got only a partial scholarship when he first signed with the Griz; Mariani, from Havre (pop. 9,621) walked on initially.
To make best use of those playmakers, however, the Griz are going to have to identify a new starting quarterback and shore up an offensive line that gave up a whopping 55 sacks in 16 games last year. The Griz return three offensive linemen who earned at least honorable mention all-league notice last year, and tackle Levi Horn is a pre-season all-Big Sky selection this year. But it seems like some of the Grizzlies' honor winners may have been riding the coattails of the program's success. Even Idaho State, which had trouble generating any kind of pass rush all season, sacked Grizzly quarterback Cole Berquist four times in Montana's 29-10 win in Missoula last year.
Replacing Berquist is not going to be an any easy job. Even though he played poorly against ISU last year, he was exceedingly efficient throughout most of the season, completing almost 61 percent of his passes and throwing 28 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. In fact, when you look at Montana's 2008 season, when they finished second to Richmond for the national championship, "efficiency" is the word that really stands out. The Griz were second in the league in scoring, first in scoring defense, first in net punting, second in pass efficiency, second in pass defense efficiency, and second in total defense. And in the stat that literally defines efficiency, the Griz were first in turnover margin, with a plus-16 mark -- more than doubling No. 2-ranked Weber State (plus 7).
Finding a new quarterback who can match Berquist's execution, then, becomes the top priority for UM Coach Bobby Hauck. Andrew Selle, who played in seven games last year, emerged from spring ball as the heir apparent, but the Griz took a flyer on Oregon transfer Justin Roper this summer, which tells you they may not be entirely sold on Selle. Neither Selle nor Roper's limited experiences so far indicate they are ready to operate at the same high level as Berquist did last year. Selle completed only 51 percent of his throws last year, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Roper, meanwhile, has completed only 53 percent of his tosses in 11 games at Oregon, with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Those aren't bad numbers against PAC-10 competition, but I don't think anybody in Missoula is ready to cede the starting job to Roper just yet.
As I noted above, the Griz return five all-league players on the defensive side of the ball, including end Jace Palmer, who led the team with 8.5 sacks; second-leading tackler Shane Schillinger, who had four picks from his safety position; linebackers Shawn Lebsock and Brandon Fisher; and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who earned all-league recognition as a freshman. The Griz will have to find a secondary pass rusher or two, having lost second-leading sack man Mike Stadnyk to graduation. The Griz really did not excel at pressuring the quarterback last year, registering only 32 sacks in 16 games.
Last year's loss in Missoula was the coming out party for Bengal quarterback Kyle Blum, who thew for 246 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions in his first starting assignment. He showed good mobility and a penchant for making plays against the Griz, but his decision-making also demonstrated his inexperience. Now that Idaho State head coach John Zamberlin has named Blum as his starter going into the season, the ISU-Montana game scheduled for Nov. 7 in Holt Arena should provide a good benchmark on how much Blum's grown in a year's time in that position.
And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.