By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said Thursday that he will visit Oregon and Oklahoma for professional development during spring break, which is March 27-April 4.
Both teams are practicing during Petersen’s visits. Boise State has picked up three of the biggest wins in school history during Petersen’s tenure against those two teams. The Ducks are known for their uptempo practices and the Sooners have one of the top programs in the nation.
“I’m really interested in how Oregon practices,” Petersen said. “And I just think Bob Stoops has done such a great job at Oklahoma over the years — he’s got his formula on success. I just have a bunch of questions. And I want to watch how they practice.”
Petersen is taking his younger son, Sam, on the trip while his older son and wife go to Europe on a school trip. Sam is a football junkie.
“I think he’s more excited about it than I am,” Petersen said.
Part of Petersen’s professional-development time this year will be spent on researching how to hire the right coaches. He has filled the two openings that have come up on his staff with friends Chris Strausser and Bob Gregory.
Eventually, Petersen figures, he’s going to have to branch out. He says he got “lucky” when he hired his original staff and wants more skill to go into future decisions.
“I just know the reality of the world we live in,” he said. “One of the things I’m really trying to research is how to continually hire the right guy when maybe you haven’t worked with them before. … I’m continually looking at it and reading and talking to guys.”
Petersen also addressed the status of senior safety Jason Robinson, who was suspended indefinitely from the team even before he was arrested Monday on a charge of felony aggravated battery.
Robinson, a key special-teamer, remains in school but is not participating in team activities, Petersen said.
“We’ve already taken action,” Petersen said. “It’s a really disappointing situation for all of us — for him as well. And we’ll just let the legal system play out and then go from there.”
Petersen expects junior tailback D.J. Harper to be at full strength this season. He led the team in rushing before an anterior cruciate ligament tear against Fresno State ended his 2009 season.
Harper isn’t practicing this spring, but the training staff has had him running gassers at practice.
“We’re expecting him to pick up where he left off,” Petersen said. “The only reason I say that is because of how far along he is in his rehab and how he looks right now. … D.J. has worked his tail off. He’s ahead of schedule. We watch him out there running around and he looks like he can put pads on right now.”
Harper is scheduled to talk to the media Friday for the first time since he was injured.
He could give the Broncos a loaded — perhaps overloaded — backfield with senior Jeremy Avery and junior Doug Martin, who excelled last year without Harper. Martin moved over from defense after Harper was injured.
“We’ll deal with that problem if we have it,” Petersen said. “It seems like things always change and it kind of works itself out — and the guys have been so good in the past about sharing the ball.”
One-quarter of the Boise State football team’s touchdown catches last season (10 of 40) came from the tight ends/fullbacks group — success on which coach Scott Huff hopes to build this year.
Huff moved back to the tight ends job this year after three years as the offensive line coach. In 2006, his other year with the tight ends, Huff helped Derek Schouman become a dominant tight end.
“We want to keep competing in the pass game and show our worth out there,” Huff said. “It’s not a run set all the time — we’re a pass threat.”
Here’s a quick look at the Broncos’ tight end/fullback situation:
Priorities — Produce as run blockers and receivers; develop young tight ends Chandler Koch and Gabe Linehan.
Returning starters — Senior Tommy Gallarda (nine catches, four TDs) is the returning starter at tight end but junior Kyle Efaw was third on the team in receptions (31 catches, 444 yards, one TD) and the offensive MVP of the Fiesta Bowl. Junior Dan Paul replaced injured starter Richie Brockel late last season as the fullback but probably won’t be counted as a returning starter by some preseason publications.
Other potential contributors — Koch, a sophomore, and Linehan, a freshman, have shown the potential to become dual-threat tight ends. Linehan, a high school quarterback, could provide another downfield threat like Efaw.
Also on the roster — Senior tight end Sean King, freshman fullback Joey Paul (Dan’s brother), sophomore fullback Jake Hess and junior fullback Dave Wilson (moved over from defense). All are walk-ons.
Boise State strength coach Tim Socha was pleased with the Broncos’ performance during winter conditioning. The session was a little shorter than usual because coaches didn’t want to burn out the players with the short turnaround from the Fiesta Bowl to spring ball.
The players tested in the weight room just before spring ball started. They’ll do their running tests after spring ball.
Socha didn’t see signs of complacency in the Broncos.
“They’ve done a really good job with that — unless they’re not letting me see it,” he said. “For the most part, they seem focused.”
Among the players who put up impressive numbers in the weight room were defensive tackles J.P. Nisby and Chuck Hayes, tailback Doug Martin, fullback Dan Paul and freshmen Malcolm Johnson (tailback), Charles Leno Jr. (offensive tackle), Ebo Makinde (cornerback) and Joe Southwick (quarterback).
Not surprisingly, the top freshmen in the weight room also were among the players who most impressed the coaches during fall practice.
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