By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
The Boise State football program has lost another promising young player.
True freshman tailback Aaron Baltazar left the program around the time coach Chris Petersen took the Washington job and before Bryan Harsin was hired as a replacement, the school confirmed Monday.
Baltazar was the Broncos’ No. 2 tailback early this season. He rushed 50 times for 234 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. He even was the lead tailback Sept. 28 against Southern Miss after starter Jay Ajayi’s fumble troubles, but Baltazar tore an anterior cruciate ligament that day.
Baltazar, who is from Chula Vista, Calif., could transfer, redshirt in 2014 to fulfill the NCAA transfer requirement and play from 2015 to 2017. He originally committed to Washington but Petersen has said he won’t welcome Boise State transfers there.
Baltazar’s departure leaves the Broncos with only four scholarship tailbacks. One of those, Derrick Thomas, will be a senior in 2014.
The Broncos do not have a running back committed for the 2014 class.
Baltazar joins a lengthy list of players who have left or been dismissed from the program in the last couple years.
Boise State quarterback commitment Jalen Greene has changed his commitment to Washington, following Petersen.
Given the chaos of the past two weeks, it’s easy to forget — the Boise State football team plays a bowl game in eight days.
Boise State will clash with Oregon State at 6 p.m. MT Dec. 24 in the Hawaii Bowl (ESPN).
Both teams are in need of a feel-good win. The Broncos are 8-4 — their worst regular-season record since 2001. The Beavers are 6-6 and in danger of a losing season.
“Everyone is real excited for a chance to play one more game and finish this year on a better note than we had before (against Oregon),” Oregon State junior quarterback Sean Mannion said. “Everyone in the country knows about Boise State and how tough they are. … We know they’re one of the toughest teams for anybody to beat in the country.”
Added defensive end Scott Crichton: “They’re kind of like Stanford — fundamentally sound. They’re good in every aspect.”
Some notes on the Beavers:
— They’ve lost five in a row for the first time since 1997, when they lost six in a row to end the season.
— The Beavers score 34.5 points per game. They scored at least 30 points in each of their first seven games before hitting a funk. They also have thrown for more yards this season than any team in Pac-12 history.
— The two Beavers to know are Mannion and junior wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wide receiver. Mannion has broken single-season school records for completions (376), attempts (570), yards (4,403) and touchdowns (36). Cooks broke the Pac-12 record for single-season receptions (120). He needs 52 yards to break the yardage record (he has 1,670) and three scores to tie the touchdowns record (he has 15).
— Mannion has been mistake-prone. He has 14 interceptions and the team has allowed 25 sacks.
— Oregon State’s Mike Hass won the Biletnikoff in 2005. He made 12 catches for 293 yards and three touchdowns against Boise State in 2004. He had 11 for 178 and a TD in 2005.
— Starting linebacker D.J. Alexander won’t play because of neck surgery to fix a stinger problem.
— The Beavers rank 94th in total defense, 95th in scoring defense and 91st in rushing defense. They’re also 120th in red zone defense.
— The Beavers’ strong suit on defense: interceptions. They have 19, including three for touchdowns.
— The defense struggles are strange because the Beavers have one of the most experienced units you could hope for. Seven guys have started at least 24 games.
I’ll have more on the Beavers in Tuesday’s newspaper.