Boise State football team changes off day: ‘We hated Sundays’

September 6, 2013 

You know about Monday morning — the dreaded start of a new workweek.

That’s how Boise State football coaches felt about Sunday morning.

They, probably unlike you, could do something about it. The Broncos changed their practice schedule this year to give players Sunday off and coaches a day of prep work before meeting with players Monday.

“We’ve hated Sundays,” coach Chris Petersen said. “They just are on us so fast. You’re scrambling the whole time. So we’ve just kind of pushed it back.”

The NCAA requires schools to give players one day off per week. Boise State for years had done that on Mondays, practiced Tuesday through Thursday, held a walk-through practice Friday, played on Saturday and reviewed the game Sunday. At the Sunday practice, players reviewed their mistakes without pads or helmets and ran sprints. The guys who didn’t play in the game scrimmaged.

Now players get Sunday off and the team practices Monday morning in helmets and shoulder pads. It’s a fourth practice, though not as intense as the other three. The scrimmage for guys who don’t play has been moved to Friday.

The coaches researched the change heavily, and so far the players seem to like it.

“It’s a grind early in the week,” senior center Matt Paradis said. “You’re still recovering a bit from the game. But by game time, I think last week is the best I’ve ever felt at game time.”

Said senior wide receiver Kirby Moore: “I really like it just because (Sunday) is fully a day off. You don’t have school. You can sleep a little bit more, just watch NFL games.”

Still, players will get some work in on Sundays. The strength and conditioning staff put together an optional recovery workout that Paradis tried last weekend. Players also like to watch video of their performance or get treatment for aches and injuries. “Most everyone still comes in on Sunday,” Paradis said.

A move for Coach K?

Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski might call Saturday’s home opener against UT Martin (1:04 p.m.) from the Stueckle Sky Center for the first time in his four seasons as coordinator. He also was on the sideline for four years as the defensive line coach.

His potential move is a response to the biggest issue the Broncos faced in their 38-6 loss to Washington: misaligned defenders.

“When you’re slightly misaligned here or there, you lose leverage,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s always after the game when you notice it.”

By moving upstairs, Kwiatkowski might be able to identify and correct alignment errors.

The Broncos allowed 592 yards to the Huskies, the eighth-most they’ve surrendered in school history.

Some of the Huskies’ schemes were new, Kwiatkowski said, but for the most part the players knew where they were supposed to line up. “The stage,” he said, might have rattled a defense that expects to use about a dozen major college football rookies this season.

“They can’t let the tempo get them flustered,” Kwiatkowski said. “… They can’t be two yards inside (of the proper spot) because that’s a big difference when you’re talking about the (pass) coming out quick.”

The Broncos will see many more spread-offense teams this season, including UT Martin. Junior linebacker Corey Bell said the alignment errors should be easy to correct.

“You don’t ever want to give up that many yards,” he said. “That’s not at all what we’re trying to be about here at Boise State. We’re trying to make our name known as a sort of defensive quad. We’re motivated to come back out and really just do our best this week and trust our coaching staff and trust that the changes we’ve made are going to make a big difference.”

The Broncos’ lack of experienced depth can be traced to the 2011 recruiting class. Eight players in that class have washed out of the program, including two starters — safety Lee Hightower and defensive end Sam Ukwuachu. That also was the first year of Boise State’s three-scholarship penalty as a result of NCAA violations.

Combined, that’s 11 experienced players the Broncos could have but don’t.

“You’re always going to lose a guy or two,” Petersen said. “You lose a handful of guys, especially if you think that they could have been players for you, there’s no question that takes a toll.”

Boise State will return to the 85-scholarship limit in 2014 after serving the three-year penalty. It took a couple years for the penalty to impact the program and Petersen expects it will take a couple years to erase that impact because the additional scholarships likely will go to newcomers.

“There’s always a lag period,” he said. “You might see a team that’s really good and you don’t know what’s behind them coming — if they’ve had good recruiting classes or haven’t. And vice versa, somebody might not be good but you’ve really built a foundation and it’s just a matter of time and the next year or the year after they’re going to be very strong. So a lot of times what you see is not what you’re getting here eventually.”

A new tradition

The four player banners on the east side of Bronco Stadium started out as window dressing.

They’ve become a tradition.

Since 2009, the athletic department has hung banners featuring seniors on the current team and words that are important to the program.

“It originally started to dress up the east side of the stadium facing Broadway because that’s such a high visibility area,” said Brad Larrondo, the assistant athletic director for football. “It adds a little more color and presence to the stadium, as well as promoting football season starting. It’s kind of developed into almost a badge of honor, to get up there as a senior and reflect the standards that we have.”

Petersen is the primary selector of words and players. The process starts with the words — this year, they’re the “Bronco behaviors” that form the base of the program’s pyramid of success: intelligence (quarterback Joe Southwick), effort (left tackle Charles Leno Jr.), toughness (Paradis) and attitude (defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe).

Players are selected to match the words, usually split between offense and defense.

The four words the past two years were toughness, passion, excellence and relentless.

“It gives us a chance to define the standards of the program with the players that go up there and the words that go up there,” Larrondo said.

Chadd Cripe is in his 12th year as the Idaho Statesman beat writer for Boise State football. He also is a voter for The Associated Press Top 25. You can contact him at ccripe@idahostatesman.com, follow him on Twitter at @IDS_BroncoBeat and read his blog at blogs.idahostatesman.com/broncobeat.

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