Stripped of my credentials for budget reasons, I was resolved to leave sports entirely and hang out at the Idaho Veterans Home, build a newsletter, tell old-men lies and deliver flowers on the side. But, as all turbulent stories go, mine is on a rise perhaps greater than my recent falls. I signed on with Rivals and Yahoo! And dare declare myself present again at Boise State practice.
I drove (yes drove, my '78 GMC Sierra Classic) to Dona Larsen Park (formerly East Junior High) this August Saturday, a day late to camp (I am still a florist; had to work Friday). I have more change than the Salvation Army. I'm all full, a Master of Fine Arts in my pocket, a truck in the driveway and a new source to stack my stories upon.
The more things change, the more we change with them. Boise State hasn't changed too much, but its exposure sure has. We see Kellen Moore on the cover of the USA Today and haggle over his Heisman hype, but the junior wants nothing to do with it. He is a little more mature, comfortable in his role as quiet leader, but he's far from arrogant. Some folks get their picture in the paper and it goes to their head. I think it goes to Kellen's heart, or maybe a picture frame back in Prosser, Wash.
Two days ago I thought nothing of football, but, alive and noting, I saw Thomas Byrd breakdance on the grass flats of Dona Larsen Park. I thought to myself, internally battling, 'maybe I am supposed to be here, maybe the ides of August 7, 2010 landed me in sunshine heaven, football heaven hell, it's just heaven.
The BSU quarterbacks may have felt the heat of Dante's seventh level this morning, throwing six interceptions (that equates to three gassers). Winston Venable's snag gets my play of the day, an almost exact reproduction of the one he made against Andy Dalton in the Fiesta Bowl, a tip drill off the closing Brandyn Thompson and Venable gone vertical, left foot right foot launch! The play was so sick he didn't bother returning it to the zone, he flipt the ball back when he reached the 5-yard line.
The Broncos wore only helmets today, but it still got physical. Some pu(sh)oves! Maybe some lover's lane later (fighting players hold hands as they leave the field). The structure that was East Junior High is razed and gone. I thought it was cool they stript away the building, but left the trees. With two full football fields and extra space on the sides, the Park is perfect for practice. It is a shame the team will lose it when the new track facility is built on the site.
I felt this raw energy, barely palpable, in everything I saw today. It felt like the early whirring of a locomotive, the release of steam and a hundred moving parts jolting into action. My saturated reluctance to accept my presence as reality quickly dried up in the sun and that cool, slippery wind brought my focus to the field, where beasts like Chase Baker bat down three passes and screams of 'Red Ball!' make my blood chug like the arms of the great engine, powering the locomotive forward.
"Rabbit Run" is an angle drill, with a speedster in the backfield trying to get the edge. Bigger guys (tackles, ends) have to take wider angles to catch a scat back, but a safety's angle may take him to the line of scrimmage. Mike Atkinson's hustle brought his 'Bacon' right upon the rabbit's run, 23 yards downfield.
That's one of hundreds of drills this squad will have bored into it this fall. There seems to be no urgency to determine starters, or second teamers, or any hierarchy at all. It is just practice, heated and building, an early release of steam for a hundred men, powering a single locomotive. Its destination is determined: Landover, Maryland