Getting The Blues In Boise

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 22, 2006
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Some say it’s an abomination and a crime against nature. Others hold that it’s an affront to decency and decorum. Still others believe it’s an unfair advantage, and a hazard to wildlife. All are referring to the blue field at Boise State, site of the Warriors tilt against the Broncos on Saturday.

Designed to distinguish Boise State’s football program, the blue field has been the subject of debate throughout the WAC and the rest of the collegiate football world.

No, there is no rule that prohibits the blue field or mandates a green one.

Yes, it is an eyesore, and looks even worse up close than on television.

And no, mistaking the field for a lake is not killing birds; according to Boise sources, that is merely an urban myth.


The field might be less a bone of contention if the Broncos were not so good when playing on it. They’ve been nearly unbeatable there for years and they don’t just win, they humiliate. The Warriors were steamrolled there two years ago by a score of 69-3. This year the Broncos have outscored their opponents 94-14, and one of them was Oregon State of the prestigious Pac-10.

The source of this havoc had little to do with the blue field, and everything to do with the players wearing the blue uniforms. Under now-departed coach Dan Hawkins, the Broncos had at least a share of the conference title the last four years. Under new coach Chris Peterson, formerly the offensive coordinator under Hawkins, the Broncos have not faltered. The recipe remains the same: Recruit overachieving but less than blue chip players and get them to buy into total commitment to the Broncos football culture. This past summer Boise State again had 100 percent attendance at summer workouts, a number that other programs can only dream about.

Offensively, the Broncos formation their opponents to death, running in new groups of players on almost every series. They always seem to have a talented quarterback. Jared Zebransky is in his third year as the triggerman, and is big, strong and fast. He runs better than he throws; he has a strong arm, but is not always accurate. There is always a talented running back, and this season it is Ian Johnson, a speedster who shredded Oregon State for 240 yards and five touchdowns. As usual, there are a bevy of talented receivers, led by Drisan James, Legedu Nanee and Gerard Rabb.

On defense, Boise State runs a 4-3, and they are particularly strong with the front seven. Up front, Andrew Browning is a playmaker, and Dennis Ellis and Nick Schlekewary are quick and active. The best unit is the linebackers, where Korey Hall is living up to his billing as the pre-season conference defensive player of the year. Colt Brooks and Kyle Gingg also seem to have an uncanny knack to being around the football. The secondary may not be quite as gifted as the front seven, but they don’t make a lot of mistakes. The Broncos special teams always seem to range between above average and excellent.


Ironically this may be the UH team with the best chance of upsetting Boise State at their place. Without question this is the best defense against the run that June Jones has enjoyed. Hawaii has surrendered only 61 yards on the ground in the last three halves of football. If you can force the Broncos to pass, you’ve got a chance.

On offense, Hawaii has gotten excellent line play, which may provide time for Colt Brennan to find his quick receivers. The physicality and size of Nate Ilaoa and Reagan Mauia may be able to match the relentlessly physical linebacking corps of Boise State. The Warriors have looked much better on special teams, and will need to continue that on Saturday. If the Warriors bring their “A” game, they’ll have a chance to leave Boise State and its fans feeling as blue as their field.

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