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Boise State football fall scrimmage #1 recap: Local kids have their day

An opening kickoff TD return by D.J. Harper. Trick plays out the wazzoo. A dominating run defense. The first Boise State scrimmage of the fall had a little bit of everything. Read after the jump for more details on the public's first look at the 2009 Broncos.


Passing: 552 yards

Rushing: -4 yards, 46 carries

Rushing, not counting QBs: 31 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD

The rest from Dave Southorn:

Kellen Moore was 16-of-21 for 190 yards, while Mike Coughlin threw for 101 yards and Mike Tamburo had 102. DJ Harper and Drew Wright led with 13 yards apiece.

The receivers had big games: Tyler Shoemaker had 116 receiving yards and had a 34-yard pass to Austin Pettis. Aaron Burks had seven catches for 90 yards, including a screen that went for 58.

The TDs were a 7-yard pass from Mike Coughlin to Pettis, a 2-yard Harper run and a 1-yard Moore run. Kyle Brotzman hit field goals of 42, 32, 56 and 44 yards.

Out with whatever

Jeremy Avery, Shea McClellin

Avery was sans pads on the sidelines, and I can confidently report that his calves have not grown any over the summer. McClellin's MIA was a little less noticeable but still quite serious. Boise State is not blessed with terrific experience and depth on its ends, so a lengthy absence by McClellin would not be good times.

Dropping depth chart hints

Starting offense

Starting defense

Disclaimer: the hundreds of words I am about to write may mean nothing as the starting units in a fall scrimmage could matter little on the outcome of the final depth chart. Still, I am a diehard Boise State fan with a penchant for wordiness, so buckle in.

Michael Ames

It would appear that I owe Bruce Feldman an apology.

It was Feldman who pegged Ames as a spring breakout player, long before Bronco fans could even remember what the kid looked like. I thought Feldman was playing a cruel trick on all of us. But today, there was Ames, entrenched at right tackle (Kellen Moore's blindside, mind you) with the first team offense. Amazing.

The redshirt freshman Ames is a local product from Centennial High School who walked-on at BSU after a two-year church mission. Now he is holding down one of the most important roles on the Bronco offense. Kudos to you, Michael Ames. And a thousand apologies, Bruce Feldman.

Will Lawrence

Lawrence was another big surprise to me (although, apparently, not to my co-blogger). The former defensive lineman switched sides last year and promptly proceeded to fill the bench while he learned the ropes.

Well, consider the ropes learned. Lawrence followed up a good spring with what I can only assume has been a good fall, and wouldn't you know it, he's in the starting lineup. If Ryan Winterswyk used to be a safety, I guess anything is possible.

Wither Nate Potter and Cory Yriarte?

Remember last season? Remember going through endless combinations of offensive lines, all of which never seemed to pan out? Remember telling yourself, "It's okay; we're building experience for next year"?

Well, what now? Two of the pieces of 2008 O-line roulette were nowhere to be seen among the starting five in the first fall scrimmage. It would appear that Will Lawrence has gotten the better of Yriarte and Michael Ames has gotten the better of Potter. Of course, a lot can change during the course of the season, and we could be back to the hodgepodge platoon of a year ago.

But I really hope not.

Still, I felt a little nostalgia sweep over me when the 2008 line I pictured dominating in 2009 was nowhere to be seen. It was almost as if I could still hear coaches yelling at Potter for jumping offsides. Oh. Never mind. That was from today.

Jarrell Root

Today, Tom Scott described Jarrell Root thusly:

And Jarell Root, well, he provides a little levity.

Who's laughing now? Actually, it's probably Root. He's quite the character.

Root's rise to a role with the starting unit sent Byron Hout to the B team. Root, another local kid, has been smitten with injuries the past few years, so it would be interesting to see what a healthy Root is capable of. Also, for those of you with slightly creepy man crushes on Byron Hout, no need to worry. The defensive ends will rotate just as much as always once the season starts. I think.

J.C. Percy

Percy is a redshirt freshman from Blackfoot, Idaho, so you're forgiven for thinking I completely made him up. In fact, to have run the depth chart gauntlet of Tommy Smith, Daron Mackey, Aaron Tevis, and Hunter White is quite the accomplishment.

What's more is that Percy looked downright good on the first team. He definitely belonged. I witnessed one play where he sniffed out a wide receiver screen and made a solid open-field tackle to hold the O to zero yardage. Assuming the linebackers will rotate as well as the D-linemen, White, Tevis, Mackey and others might see the field, but at the very least, I think we're going to be in store for a lot more J.C. Percy than anyone realized.

ed's note: anyone other than JHaberman

Winston Venable

The fight for the starting nickel/safety/linebacker appears to be going Winston Venable's way. He looked solid in the starting role. Doug Martin was good, too, although I can't help but continue to daydream about his running mad out of the backfield. Jason Robinson was in on some plays, too, but Venable really stood out at the position. I saw him blitz at full force and send a Bronco offensive linemen back several yards.

I gasped out loud.

Contrary to popular belief, Kellen Moore is not infallible

Immediately after the scrimmage, Chadd Cripe posted this:

Quarterback Kellen Moore looked sharp. He rarely missed a throw, didn't have a turnover and led a long march for a touchdown.

It's hard for me to say this, but Cripe is not 100 percent accurate in his statement. Moore did indeed have no turnovers and lead a long march for a touchdown, but at the start of the scrimmage, I wouldn't have described him as "sharp."

He was short on a long bomb on the opening series. He threw behind Austin Pettis for what would have been an easy touchdown over the middle. In fact, he was behind on a couple occasions. I attribute the spotty inaccuracy to inconsistent blocking up front and making a lot of throws on the run. Still, I feel like you dear readers should have all the facts.

Hey, speaking of the offensive line...

I must have been at the no-running-game scrimmage

Sure, Jeremy Avery's absence didn't help. And yes, early scrimmages almost always go the way of the defense. But seriously, there was not much to like about the Broncos' running game.

A lot of credit should go to the defensive line for clogging up the running lanes and causing absolute chaos in the offense's backfield on almost every snap. My hat goes off to Chase Baker, Ryan Wintersyk, and Co. They were awesome.

Yet it's hard to be too stoked about the defense's performance when there was so little to tell your friends about the running game. The Broncos went through the same frustrations last fall camp, and those frustrations carried through the entire year. Maybe they need to make Billy Winn an offensive guard or something.

The one where Jeron Johnson scares me to death

Toward the end of today's scrimmage, Jeron Johnson fell to the turf after a wicked collision with Tyler Shoemaker. While he was on the ground in obvious discomfort, my mind raced to figure out who would replace Johnson on the depth chart. My conclusion ...


Seriously, who would it be? Jason Robinson? Garcia Day? No one has the same skillset as Johnson does, the same intensity that he brings, or the same overall talent from the safety position. I saw a glimpse of a future Bronco defense without Johnson in it.

And then I cried a little.

(Note: Johnson appeared to be fine. I, on the other hand, will need a few days to get over that one.)

Tyler Shoemaker will make fans forget Julian Hawkins

Perhaps the biggest notable WIN from the first fall scrimmage was Shoemaker. The local boy made good on a number of occasions, tossing passes, snagging deflections, and making a name for himself as the slot receiver.

What I was most impressed with was how Shoemaker was able to shield his body to make tough catches on curls and outs. Those are the patterns that often go overlooked on long Bronco marches down the field. Kellen Moore appreciates that kind of stuff, and anything that Kellen Moore appreciates, I happily appreciate also.

The special teams derby, if anyone cares

Kyle Brotzman nailed a 56-yard field goal. I think he's in good shape to remain the starter.

The big surprise was the punting of Jimmy Pavel. I say he has an edge on Brad Elkin, as Pavel's punts had some serious distance and hang time.

Again, if anyone cares.