Boise State picked to win title
RENO – Boise State barely beat out Fresno State as the media’s preseason choice to win the Western Athletic Conference football title.
The Broncos received 23 of a possible 47 first-place votes en route to garnering 434 points. Fresno State had 20 first-place votes for 427 votes.
“It’s well deserved,” Boise State safety Chris Carr said. “It shows the great respect for what’s happened the last two years. People are starting to recognize us as a very stable program.”
The Broncos, led by quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie, have gone 25-2 the last two seasons under third-year head coach Dan Hawkins, and have won two straight bowl games (Humanitarian in 2002 and Plains Capital Forth Worth in 2003).
Also, Boise State has won 18 straight conference games.
Fresno State returns 52 players, and is coming off a 6-1 record in its last seven games, including a 17-9 win over UCLA in the Silicon Valley Football Classic. Make no mistake, the Bulldogs are a good pick to dethrone the Broncos.
Hawai’i, led by quarterback Timmy Chang, received three first-place votes and finished with 384 points, and Tulsa was fourth with a lone first-place vote and 312 points. Tulsa is coming off an eight-win season and the school’s first bowl game in 12 seasons.
Nevada was picked to finish fifth under new head coach Chris Ault. The Wolf Pack finished 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the WAC under ex-head coach Chris Tormey, who was fired at the end of the season.
“It’s probably just about right,” Nevada offensive tackle Harvey Dahl said. “I don’t pay much attention to that, though. Boise State definitely deserves it being that they were champions last year.
“We had a roller coaster season last year. Maybe we overlooked people and weren’t prepared. One of the strengths of this coaching staff is that they will get you ready, and they will demand your best.”
Rice (212), Louisiana Tech (199), UTEP (179), Southern Methodist University (95) and San Jose State (87) round out the bottom five teams.
CHANG, AVALOS HONORED
Chang and Boise State linebacker Andy Avalos, both seniors, were voted the top offensive and defensive player by the media.
“It’s a preseason award,” Chang said. “It really doesn’t mean anything.”
Chang, a senior, is already the school’s all-time leader in total offense and passing yards. He is second on the WAC’s all-time passing list and needs just 2,218 yards to surpass NCAA record holder Ty Detmer, formerly of BYU. Chang was sixth in the nation in total offense with 318.4 yards per game and finished with 4,199 yards on the season.
“I can’t be worried about yards,” Chang said. “My job is to lead the team.”
Avalos isn’t in town for the event, but Carr, his teammate of four years, said the honor was well deserved.
“He’s just tough and a really smart player,” said Carr, who played high school at McQueen. “He knows how to use his body. He’s not the biggest linebacker in the world (5-10, 220), but he’s a determined football player.”
ALL IS WELL AT UTEP
It appears that new head coach Mike Price, who was fired before ever coaching a game at Alabama, has made a great first impression at his new school.
“I didn’t know him before he got here, but you can see how happy he is to be at UTEP,” senior linebacker Robert Rodriguez said. “He works tremendously hard. He’s here until 10:30 every night.
“No and I don’t want to know (what happened at Alabama). His record should speak for itself. He’s done a lot for the program (already), and he has tremendous work ethic. That speaks more than what people can write about.”
Just the presence of Price should mean a couple of wins for UTEP, which went 2-11 last season.
HAPPY TO BE HOME
Carr was obviously happy to be in familiar surroundings. He spent the night with his parents in Reno, and he’ll come back on Friday for about a 10-day visit.
“I usually come back every break (from school),” he said. “It will be nice to hang out with family and friends.”
Carr, a four-year player for the defending champion Bronocs, is starting at rover (free safety) for the third straight season after playing cornerback as a freshman. Carr was fourth on the team last year with 81 tackles.
WAC commissioner Carl Benson, Gazette-Journal writer Chad Hartley and Dan Checketts from SportsWest won the golf tourney with a 5-under par 139. Checketts holed out from approximately 150 yards for an eagle on the fifth hole.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281.
Team Points 2003 record
Boise State 434 13-1
Fresno State 427 9-5
Hawai’i 384 9-5
Tulsa 312 8-5
Nevada 256 6-6
Rice 212 5-7
La. Tech 199 5-7
UTEP 179 2-11
SMU 95 0-12
SJ State 87 3-8