Here’s the protocol if lightning strikes during Boise State’s football game Friday night

WR Shane Williams-Rhodes highlights vs. UT Martin

By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman


Weather delays have been all the rage: At least seven Football Bowl Subdivision games have been delayed by lightning this season, including Idaho’s game at Wyoming on Saturday. BYU’s games at Virginia and home against Texas were both delayed several hours by lightning.

Not taking any chances: If lightning threatened to hit in the vicinity of the blue turf, here’s the policy set by the Mountain West: “We track the weather in the command post of the stadium throughout the day. We can check in a 30-, 13- and 6.5-mile radius. If there is a lightning strike within the 6.5-mile radius, we notify the game officials and stop the game. We cannot resume play until 30 minutes following the last strike in the 6.5-mile radius. If need be, we have an evacuation plan in place that would be implemented and announced over the PA system.”

Lightning for Air Force? Not likely. Wasyl Hewko, hydrometeorological technician for the National Weather Service in Boise, called the risk of a thunderstorm at game time for Boise State vs. Air Force “remote.” The only factors keeping him from completely ruling out the possibility were storms developing over the mountains. However, he still put odds on a 30 percent chance of light rain, with winds of 5-8 mph and peak gusts of 10-12 mph. The temperature at kickoff should be around 83 to 84 degrees — above the Sept. 13 average high of 80.

So, is lightning striking more often these days? Not according to Dave Oosting of Vaisala, which provides lightning data to the National weather service. He said strikes have been average nationally and worldwide.



It’s easy to look at what Boise State sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes did last week against UT Martin and think about what could be over the next three seasons.

Williams-Rhodes made a team-high seven catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns (12.7-yard average), carried twice for 26 yards (13.0 average) and returned three punts for 71 yards (23.7 average). He leads the team in receiving yards, punt-return yards and kickoff-return yards and has the longest run from scrimmage with the starters in the game.

But now that he’s done all that, opponents get their chance to adjust.

“When you have three really nice (punt) returns, it changes dramatically the next game,” coach Chris Petersen said. “They’re not going to continue to kick to you like that. He’ll have to be patient and smart and take opportunities when he gets them.”

Said Williams-Rhodes: “If they’re kicking it out of bounds, then our offense has shorter fields, so I guess it’s a win-win situation. Coach Pete has us back there and says try to be counter punchers. We might not get it every time, but that one time, if he mishits it, we’ve got to take it the distance every time.”

As for offense, Williams-Rhodes said his focus is on developing his traditional receiver game. The Broncos like to throw quick passes to him to give him a chance to make defenders miss in space, but as he points out, “already being 20 yards downfield, there’s less people to have to make miss.”

One key to that pursuit — improving his releases at the line of scrimmage. At 5-foot-6 and 157 pounds, he’s at a disadvantage when battling a defensive back.

“The way I look at it is if I become a factor in the passing game, then they’ll definitely start pressing, so I’ve got to start figuring out ways to get off the line,” he said.

He showed good hands in fall camp and said those have gotten better since he fractured a hand in August. He ran routes without catching passes for a while and started catching balls a week before the Washington game. He didn’t remove the cast until after the Washington game, when he played little on offense.

“It helped me a lot with focusing on the ball,” he said of the injury. “Now with my hand being fractured where it was, I had to catch the ball with my fingertips. That was the best thing that could have happened to me. I don’t believe I dropped a ball after I broke it when I came back just because I was focusing so much on the ball and looking it in.”

Williams-Rhodes talks to media


Boise State senior wide receiver Aaron Burks made a 54-yard touchdown catch and drew a pass-interference penalty on another deep ball last week against UT Martin. He also was featured in the deep passing game in the opener.

Burks was expected to have a big season this year. He’s everything you’d want in a deep threat — 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with a 4.28-second time in the 40-yard dash and a 43-inch vertical.

“It felt good,” Burks said of the TD. “It was a little bit of a monkey off the back. I felt like all camp, through our practices, we were connecting on that deep ball. So, to finally do that in the game, put points on the board, was a good thing. I feel like (quarterback Joe Southwick) and I have been having a connection for a while now. Watching the film, seeing him take that shot in the mouth and making that throw, I definitely appreciate it, pat him on the back a little.”

Aaron Burks’ TD catch

The lack of explosive passing plays was one of the keys to the Broncos’ season-opening loss to Washington. They corrected that against UT Martin — hitting a couple long throws, drawing PI penalties and nearly connecting on at least two more deep balls.

“It’s really important,” Burks said. “You saw at Washington, they’d load the box, man to man, and if we’re not going deep, all teams are going to do that against us. It opens everything else up, medium routes, the run game especially. When you have more than seven guys in the box, it’s kind of hard for Jay (Ajayi) to run, even though he still does it, I mean the guy’s a beast. He still can get it done, but he can get way more yards if there aren’t as many people in the box. If we’re able to throw the ball deep and make those guys back up, they start questioning what we’re actually going to do.”

Southwick said Burks’ acceleration sets him apart.

“He’s really fast,” Southwick said. “He gets into gear faster than a lot of people. But that’s not just the only thing that defines his game. He’s good at a lot of other things, too. Just that game, he had some good opportunities and made the most of them.”



— Burks on Southwick’s mustache: “If he thinks it helps him throw the ball, then let him keep it for the rest of the year.”

— Burks and Air Force safety Christian Spears played together at Timberview High in Grand Prairie, Texas. They work out together when they’re home for breaks.


Here is the Chris Santini Hammer hit. Link to my story about the Hammer below.


Monday blog: Highlights from coach Chris Petersen’s press conference
Tuesday story: The ‘stache is back — and fans embrace it
Tuesday blog: The Mountain West Football Report
Tuesday blog: Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski staying in the press box
Wednesday story: Air Force offense has many options
Wednesday blog: Defensive tackles making an impact
Wednesday blog: Brian Murphy’s Name the Score contest
Thursday story: The importance of the Hammer to the Broncos



The Gazette coverage is here.

Follow beat writer Brent Briggeman at @BrentBriggeman.



Boise State game notes
Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Air Force release
Air Force depth chart
Mountain West release



Air Force at Boise State

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Where: Bronco Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)

TV: ESPN (Carter Blackburn, Danny Kanell, Allison Williams)

Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender

Records: Boise State is 1-1 overall, 0-0 Mountain West; Air Force is 1-1, 0-1

Series: Boise State leads 1-0 (BSU 37-26, 2011 in Boise)

Read our coverage on your iPhone or Android phone.

Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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