Thursday, September 24, 2009

Idaho State's new Football Locker Room

On Thursday morning at 11:00 am, the ISU football team had their ribbon-cutting for the new ISU football locker room, sponsored by the Pocatello Chiefs, and Chief of Chiefs Ruth Jackson. Enjoy the pictures of the new locker room and the ceremony, including the photo on the right in which John Zamberlin thanked many of the people in attendance for their hard work. Click on the photos to enlarge

Coach Zamberlin cuts the ceremonial ribbon with the world's largest scissors, or so they seemed. (Sorry this one is a little blurry...I got bumped right as I took the picture).

Coach Z. addresses the invited guests and talks about the different transformations that took place from the old locker room to the new one.

When Mike Calley played for Idaho state, he carried this poem in his helmet. that poem now sits by the entrance the team goes out when heading to the field, and they will touch this and the Bengal paw underneath it for luck on the way to the field.

Donors could purchase lockers for either $500 or $1,000. This is the locker donated by ISU President Dr. Arthur C. Vailas, who put his college position on his locker with the slogan "Anything is Possible". Dr. Vailas' locker is located on the senior wall.

This is a look from the east side of the locker room. The lockers in the middle of the picture are the senior lockers, and the engraved Bengal head on the side of the new island was done with a wood-carving laser. A look at Russel Hill's locker on the left shows how much room each player has for their gear.

Jared Allen's limitless generosity to his alma mater extended to his purchase of a locker for one of the seniors.

A better look at the laser-etched engraving on the end of the lockers. All the ends have either the Bengal head logo or the interlocking IS.

The new custom nameplates for the players that adorn each locker. Instead of the player number is an interlocking IS, as player numbers change frequently, especially in a players freshman and sophomore years.

A better look at the east side of the locker room. In all there are 96 lockers. In this shot you can see the interlocking IS as well as the islands which were installed about two weeks ago. There are two islands holding eight lockers each. Also, the bottom part of each locker flips open and players can store pads and shoes, and they have air holes so everything can breathe.

What's a grand opening without a little bit of cake?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bengals Need a "Sudden Change" When it Comes to TOs

Every year, somebody in charge of all the football coaching clinics around the country gives out a sheet with new "catch phrases" that all the coaches are supposed to use during this particular season. (Okay, not really, but it seems that way.) A couple of years ago, one of the phrases on the sheet was "sudden change," as in, "we need our football team to respond better to sudden changes in momentum." In other words, when we turn the football over, we can't hang our heads and give up points.

As cliche as it might sound, then, Idaho State needs to do a much better job when it comes to responding to "sudden change." More to the point, the Bengals simply need to stop turning over the football. Idaho State, who was last in the Big Sky with a minus-12 turnover margin in 2008, is already minus-8 in that category after just three games this season. To make matters worse, the Bengals haven't responded very well after "sudden changes" -- ISU has not scored a point after the two turnovers they have created (both against Oklahoma), while the Bengals have given up 52 points after TOs to their opponents. Minus-52 on points after turnovers is a good way to get off to an 0-3 start.

I bring all of this up not so I can steal Frank's idea of using a cherry turnover photo reference (although I did), but because Central Washington is coming to town on Saturday and the Wildcats are terrific at creating "sudden change." More specifically, CWU makes plays on defense. Last year, the Wildcats finished plus-15 in the turnover category and their defense sacked the quarterback 38 times (compared to just 18 by their opponents -- and just 18 by Idaho State's defense.) The Wildcats, under former Bengal defensive coordinator Joe Lorig, are continuing to make big plays this year, with a plus-5 turnover ratio and 8 sacks in their 4-0 start.

Turnovers killed Idaho State's chances to upset Weber State in Ogden Saturday. After ISU jumped off to a 14-7 lead, an interception by QB Kyle Blum led to one Wildcat score, and Stew Tracy's fumble in the second half led to another. The Bengals, meanwhile, failed to recover WSU quarterback Cameron Higgins' fumble when he was sacked, and that was as close as they could come to generating some "sudden change."

I've long maintained that the key to winning in the Big Sky Conference is making big plays on defense. Other than Montana, nobody's defense in this league has consistently shut down their opponents. So to survive in a high-scoring league, you have to make enough big plays on defense (defined as sacks and turnovers) to get your D off the field on occasion. Idaho State's defense -- with just 3 sacks and 2 turnovers so far -- is simply not getting it done.

CWU, who lost a lot of offensive firepower when quarterback Mike Reilly graduated and signed a free agent deal with Pittsburgh after last season, is living and dying right now off its defense. The Wildcat defense added D-1 drop-downs Prince Hall, a 260-pound linebacker who played at Alabama for three years, and linebacker Matt Ah You, a BYU veteran, to returning playmakers Jerome Woods, a safety, and leading tackler Buddy Wood, a linebacker. The Wildcats have held their first four opponents to an average of 7.5 points a game, 3.4 yards a rush and just 1 touchdown pass so far this season.

Offensively CWU is relying on all-American receiver and kick returner Johnny Spevak to continue to make plays. Spevak, who caught 91 passes and scored 20 touchdowns last season, has caught 25 balls for 5 TDS from redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Robertson. Robertson has thrown 9 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions so far. He's joined in the backfield by another transfer, running back Randall Eldredge, who has averaged almost 5 yards a carry after coming over when Western Washington dropped its program this year.

I said it this summer when I first previewed this game, and I'll say it again: this is the biggest game in the John Zamberlin coaching era at Idaho State. It's the home opener after three predictable losses on the road. It's against a D-II team, and yes, a very good D-II team, but nobody is going to give the Bengals style points for a close loss to CWU. And finally, it's the first game in a series of "winnable" games for Idaho State after a very difficult opening schedule. A win Saturday could finally gain some traction for a program badly in need of -- yes, "a sudden change."

Seen on E-Bay: One Cracked Crystal Ball

When I saw Portland State jump out to a 14-0 lead over Montana on Saturday, I thought to myself, "Crap, I should have followed my initial instinct and picked PSU for the upset." Thank heavens I didn't, or I would have been 0-3 on an abbreviated Big Sky slate last week. The Griz came back big, of course, to beat PSU in Missoula, while Northern Arizona barely held off Southern Utah in Flagstaff and Eastern Washington shut out Northern Colorado in Cheney. I picked two road dogs in the T-Birds and Bears, and they turned out to be dogs, all right.

So on to this week's misadventures in prognostication, or, as I like to call 'em, shots in the dark:
Weber State at Portland State: No easy pick, this one. Injuries keep piling up on the Wildcats, who lost all-Big Sky players Kevin Linehan and Cody Nakamura in the first half against Idaho State Saturday, after having to go to backups at both DTs and center to start the game. I don't know the availability of all those guys for PSU on Saturday, but the Vikings have competed well against WSU in Portland over the years, with an 8-6 mark. (Update: Weber State announced this week that Nakamura is out for the season with a knee injury, but Linehan (shoulder) is expected to play Saturday.) Still, I love the chemistry on this Weber State team and I'm going with the Wildcats in a shootout.
Montana State at Northern Colorado: The Bears have a history here, too, and shocked the Bobcats in Greeley in 2007. MSU is coming off a bye week after edging D-II Dixie at home, and getting shellacked by Michigan State. Northern Colorado, meanwhile, created a lot of doubt about their "improvement" after getting blanked in Cheney. Still, I like the combination of new Bears power runner Andre Harris and capable QB Bryan Waggener. Montana State certainly hasn't done much offensively to convince me they'll put up big numbers Saturday. I'll say Northern Colorado in a low-scoring affair.
Montana at Northern Arizona: NAU, which had the best running defense in Big Sky Conference history last year, has given up almost as many rushing yards in its first two games (625) this year as it did all last season (658). Interestingly, Montana star RB Chase Reynolds is coming off one of his least productive games in his career after gaining only 32 yards against PSU last week. Do you think he'll be fired up to see the Lumberjack run D? The Griz should make NAU Head Coach Jerome Souers 0-12 against his former employer.
Eastern Washington at Sacramento State: Was that suffocating defense by EWU on Saturday, or just Bad News Bears offense by Northern Colorado? I imagine it was a little of both, but you can't help but be impressed by the Eagles' shutout, nonetheless. Sac State is second to the last in the league in scoring and total offense, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence against that EWU defense. The Hornets have one positive confidence factor in their favor: they beat the Eagles in Cheney last year. But I don't think they'll follow that up with a home win this year.
--Brad B.
And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Power of the Web? Running Men Unite

So Kenyon Blue sent me the about video and put it on my facebook page, and I thought it was cool. Kinda reminded me of old times. Then I watched the clip at the 2:40 mark and saw the following: Wide receiver Eddie Thompson in shotgun at quarterback, quarterback Kyle Blum in the slot go in motion, Thompson get the snap and fake an inside handoff to Kenyon Blue, Blue go up the sideline, Thompson flip the ball to Bum, and Blum hit Blue for a long touchdown. I saw that live. I watched it on film, but then I noticed Isaiah Burel at teh bottom of the screen. Isaiah on the play does not run a route but does a BACKWARDS RUNNING MAN for a few yards, totally confusing the corner on the play. This is the funniest thing I've ever seen on a football field. Kenyon had about 150 views as of this morning. Let's see what happens after the world catches it on Jimmy Traina's page. Jimmy writes the popular college blog Hot Clicks for, and Blue's video is the featured video of the day. Yes, I'm over geeked!


Monday, September 21, 2009

This week's two-deep

Really, read Brad's post first, but he asked about the offensive line....well, sounds like he's not the only one asking, because ISU is switching three spots around. Lance Cartwright is out for this week, and Braeden Clayson is moving to his guard spot, and Travis Nua will start for Brad Shedd. Also, Demetrius Grant will start at left tackle.

Also a part of the running game, Clint Knickrehm is out with an injury, and possibly Ben Laporta as well. The two deep right now shows the running backs as Laporta OR Jordan Scott OR Skylar Morgan. This reminds me of 2004 when ISU struggled running the ball a bit, and Josh Barnett was pulled off his redshirt after four games and led the team in rushing. Might Morgan get pulled as well? It's gonna depend on the health of the other guys.

Also, the punt return slot has three listed....Stew Tracy, JD Ponciano, or Andrew Benavides. Practice should be interesting this week, but folks sort of need to remember who we've played. Also, um....Central is no slouch...they are ranked #5 in Division II.

Pos. # Player Ht Wt. Cl.
QB 8 Kyle Blum 6-2 197 Jr
17 Russel Hill 5-11 192 Jr
10 Evan Mozzochi 6-4 230 So
WR 1 Jaron Taylor 5-11 178 Sr
84 Roderick Rumble 6-2 193 Fr
WR 18 Kelvin Krosch 6-5 221 So
-or- 6 Isaiah Burel 6-2 183 Jr
WR 9 JD Ponciano 5-9 183 Sr
82 Andrew Benavides 5-7 167 Fr
TE 88 Josh Hill 6-5 227 Fr
83 Bryant Ward 6-2 228 Fr
RB 31 Ben Laporta 5-7 195 Fr
-or- 4 Jordan Scott 5-10 199 Jr
-or- 37 Skylar Morgan 5-8 185 Fr
FB 83 Bryant Ward 6-2 228 Fr
54 Jarrid Nash 5-11 242 Jr
LT 70 Travis Nua 6-2 300 Jr
56 Mark Clampitt 6-2 261 Fr
LG 76 Braeden Clayson 6-6 301 So
64 Brad Curtis 6-5 272 Fr
C 75 Ryan Henry 6-2 283 Sr
67 Nick Tranmer 6-0 267 Jr
RG 66 Mitch Rudder 6-3 300 Jr
76 Braeden Clayson 6-6 301 So
RT 77 Demetrius Grant 6-4 285 Jr
79 Brad Shedd 6-7 274 So
Pos. # Player Ht Wt. Cl.
DE 48 Jeff Tuua 6-2 250 Jr
97 Rustin Phillips 6-2 237 Jr
NT 98 Demetrius Amos 6-1 317 Sr
93 David Tyler 6-2 275 So
DT 95 Chad O’Donnell 6-2 260 Jr
99 Jason Jones 6-0 290 Sr
DE 50 Sean Rutten 6-2 238 Jr
45 Jake Rouser 6-4 233 Fr
SLB 20 Daniel Urias 6-1 224 Sr
54 Jarrid Nash 5-11 242 Jr
MLB 52 Phillip Arias 6-1 213 Jr
36 Nic Edgson 6-0 224 Sr
WLB 30 A.J. Storms 6-0 215 So
35 J.T. Albers 5-11 225 So
CB 2 Keith McGowan 5-9 185 Jr
23 George Ortiz 5-10 178 Sr
FS 21 Chris Holmesly 5-9 193 Jr
24 Phillip Pleasant 5-11 193 Fr
SS 27 Dustin Tew 6-1 196 Jr
25 Amir Owens 5-9 204 Sr
CB 7 Michael Wright 5-10 179 Sr
34 Cameron Gupton 5-8 175 Fr
Special Teams
Pos. # Player Ht Wt. Cl.
PK 16 Jarrett Huk 6-1 177 Sr
39 Brendon Garcia 5-9 144 Fr
KO 16 Jarrett Huk 6-1 177 Sr
39 Brendon Garcia 5-9 144 Fr
43 Jon Vanderwielen 6-3 220 Sr
P 43 Jon Vanderwielen 6-3 220 Sr
16 Jarrett Huk 6-1 177 Sr
H 8 Kyle Blum 6-2 197 Jr
17 Russel Hill 5-11 192 Jr
KR 9 JD Ponciano 5-9 183 Sr
2 Keith McGowan 5-9 185 Jr
82 Andrew Benavides 5-7 167 Fr
PR 46 Stew Tracy 5-10 185 So
-or- 9 JD Ponciano 5-9 183 Sr
-or- 82 Andrew Benavides 5-7 167 Fr
SN-FG 79 Brad Shedd 6-7 275 Fr
71 Lance Cartwright 6-6 295 Sr
SN-P 85 Clint Brock 6-3 245 Fr
20 Daniel Urias 6-1 224 Sr
74 Erik Jacobson 6-5 247 Fr


Another Local Icon Passes On

Before we get to Saturday night's ISU football game with Weber State, I have to pass on my thoughts and prayers to the family of Jim Garchow (right), the Idaho Falls radio broadcaster who passed away Sunday morning after a battle with leukemia. Jim was one of the truly professional sports announcers I have met on any level. He broadcast minor league baseball and high school football and basketball in this area for 38 years, and was the general manager at KUPI radio station for 37 years. He was also a great friend.

I got to know Jim through his friendship with my former broadcast partner, Jim Fox. Fox and Garchow were good friends in Flagstaff, where Fox succeeded Garchow as the voice of the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Those two had some great stories to tell about those days together, and Fox later followed his good friend to Idaho when he purchased KWIK in Pocatello.

Garchow's daughter, Gina, was later my next door neighbor in Pocatello, after she married former Bengal linebacker Scott Berger. Berger, now the head football coach at Skyline High School, played on the Bengals' 1981 national championship team, and had a big interception against South Carolina State in the playoffs. Berger was an assistant coach at Poky when Fox and I broadcast the Indians' games in the 1980s, while Gina worked for Fox as traffic manager at his radio stations. Athletics frequently creates close-knit groups of friends, and we all enjoyed watching the Indians' play, then gathering together at a local watering hole to rehash the action. When the Indians were playing Skyline, Garchow was typically part of the conversation.

Garchow was also a close friend of country-western legend Waylon Jennings from their days working together in Arizona radio. It was not uncommon for Jennings to do a show in Jackson or Sun Valley, and then spend the weekend at the Garchow home in Idaho Falls. Finally, Garchow was also one of the longest surviving heart transplant patients in the country, having received a new heart back in the 1980s.

Despite losing a leg to the leukemia and seeing his health degenerate over the past several months, Garchow had a blessed ending to his life. He was able to complete broadcasting his last minor league season with the Idaho Falls Chukars on Labor Day, then listened as his grandson, quarterback Michael Berger, led the Grizzlies to a big win over Hillcrest Friday night before he passed away early Sunday morning. We'll miss you, Jim, the eastern Idaho sports scene won't be the same without you.

The Big Disappointment

For a game that started out so promising, there were so many disappointments in Idaho State's loss to Weber State in Ogden Saturday night: the lack of discipline that led to 15 Bengal penalties; the terrible special teams play that included another blocked punt, two long Weber State punt returns and no blocking to speak of for Bengal returners; and the key turnovers, especially Kyle Blum's interception and Stew Tracy's fumble, which led to key Wildcat scores.

Probably the biggest concern I left with Saturday night, however, was the continuing poor play of the Bengal offensive line, particularly in the running game. ISU came into the game averaging -13.5 yards per game in rushing, but we all knew a lot of that could be attributed to the competition in the first two games of the season: Arizona State and Oklahoma. Saturday night, however, ISU was lining up against a Weber State team that started two true freshmen at defensive tackle, then lost its best defensive end, Kevin Linehan, to injury in the second quarter. Ben Laporta was finally able to break off a couple of big runs during "garbage time" at the end of the game, but when Idaho State really needed to make Weber State honor the running game, they were unable to make it happen. ISU had just 29 yards rushing on 13 carries in the first half.

I'm frankly surprised by ISU's lack of production up front, because the Bengals return four starters from what was a serviceable offensive line last season. A lot of folks blamed ISU's poor run production last season on play calling or the lack of great speed in the backfield, and those certainly have to be considered factors. But the offensive coordinator is gone and the Bengals have added some weapons in the backfield, so those factors have been minimized. The offensive line is definitely going to have to pick up its play if Idaho State is going to be able to mount a consistent running threat.

Coaches Show Tonight

Jerry Miller and I will discuss the Weber game and the upcoming contest with Central Washington with ISU head coach John Zamberlin tonight at 6 p.m. on AM 930. Bengal kick returner JD Ponciano will also be our guest, and, as always, you can call in your questions to the coach during the show, or e-mail them to Jerry at Hope to hear from you all tonight.

--Brad B.

And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.