These summer storms offer fall camp some convenient shade, especially Monday morning, dropping the temperature, but mugging the field. Rain is a dream, but all we get is virga and rare Idaho humidity.
I want to say the Boise State secondary shrouded the offense like those morning cumuli, but each time I thought it covered, Geraldo Hiwat emerged as a beam of sunlight to blast onto the field.
The redshirt freshman receiver (6-4, 195) from the Netherlands, via Capital High in Boise, caught four touchdowns in practice Monday. Three of the hauls were made on dramatic leaps above defenders. We discussed last spring his need to hold onto the ball. I mean, Hiwat may be a top-5 athlete on the current roster, but he hasn't played a lot of football. He was about as raw as a wolf-taken elk. But look now and there's a different player, literally catching his stride.
Last fall and this spring, Hiwat looked uncomfortable on the field, as if he was holding back some speed or never quite knew when to hit the brakes and make a cut inside. That is regular route-running fundamentals that most receivers start working on in elementary school. Hiwat is only in his third year of football. Luckily for him, he came to a pretty good program with some alright coaches [sic].
This fall (and Monday in particular) he no longer looks like a 'B' receiver, let alone the 'C' or 'D' I could have given him last season. Today he was A-plus. Of course, it's still a tough sell. All of his scores were either on posts or fly routes (no cuts) where all he had to do was run down the field, leap (what a vertical!) and come down with the ball against a corner. Let's get some things straight. His routes are nowhere near the surgeon-like lacerations made by Titus Young or the buttery smooth applications of Austin Pettis. But, Hiwat has unbound athleticism. If you need a guy to just go up and get it, he is your man.
Aaron Burks is more of the route-runner, the cut and spill guy, the one you never have to question: Will he catch the ball? I still ask that of Hiwat, for now. Next week? Maybe my mind changes. So seldom does the ball touch the ground at practice, that I take notice when it does. A dropped ball gets a cringe on my grill and a note in my book. A fumble is nigh a sin 'round these parts. Since the 6-interception landslide Saturday, BSU quarterbacks have only thrown one, today by Jerrell Gavins (he cut off a route and made an easy play). Since the defense only forced the one turnover today, it ran gassers to finish.
Much is made of football depth charts. We pick and prod and critique the listings and try to explain why one guy is a 3 and another is a 2. We make a big deal of it when a longtime 2 becomes a No. 1. Today, the BSU staff stirred our pot, splitting the team into four groups in haphazard order. All hierarchy was abolished. Kellen Moore shared a backfield with Carlo Audagnotti and Joe Southwick was hurling strikes to Austin Pettis. The offensive and defensive lines were a mix of veteran and first-year players. It was quite a sight for me, a fan of change, to see these young men removed from their comfort zones. Players rely on one another play-to-play. When the depth chart is made into a beef stew and sometimes the "meaty" players are in the spoon with the "celery sticks" it becomes more about the composition than the individual parts, more about the gameplan, the responsibilities than the players who perform them.
Man I love that stuff, because there was no hitch to these Broncos' giddy-up. Other than a few procedure calls, only the numbers on jerseys seemed different.
Real quick: Joe Southwick threw three of those TD's to Hiwat; two came on play-action passes Southwick rolls out superb. He spent much of the day with the second team. Michael Coughlin threw a sweet strike to Burks for a score.
J.C. Percy knocked down a Kellen Moore pass at the line, something simple, but it upset the perfection-seeking junior All-American.
Moore hit Hiwat for his other score, a bomb fade over true freshman Bryan Douglas (CB, 5-9, 157).
D.J. Harper had play of the day on the ground (I give the gold standard to Hiwat's skywalks) on a 43-yard scamper, untouched until Brandyn Thompson caught him with a good angle.
Shea McClellin and J.P. Nisby both made would-be sacks. The quarterbacks are again wearing red uniforms rather than the fashion-trending black.
No one wants to be the last guy to a station, or to cross a line in sprints. There is no walking around, no lollygagging.
Tuesday the team goes to full pads on the Blue.
Like the clouds in the sky, we'll have it covered.