As a football coach, Northern Arizona’s Steve Axman makes a terrible prognosticator.
Or maybe not.
Back in July, Axman told the assembled media at the Big Sky Kickoff meetings in Sun Valley that Idaho was his pick to win the conference.
“They’re coming back with a great defense, great offensive line, experienced quarterbacks,” Axman raved.
He was wrong. Idaho, which visits NAU on Saturday, is just 2-3 in the Big Sky and 3-4 overall.
Meanwhile, Axman said his Lumberjacks “are the best football team we’ve had in the past six years.”
He was right. NAU is 7-2 and leading the conference at 4-1.
It’s up, and it’s good
Boise State kicker Greg Erickson has been named the Big Sky’s best special-teams player each of the last two weeks, and has made 13 of 16 field goals on the season.
“I’ll take our kicker against anyone,” BSU coach Pokey Allen said. “He’s been on fire lately, there’s no question.”
Added an envious Mike Kramer, coach of an Eastern Washington team that visits BSU on Saturday: “I noticed when he kicks a field goal, no one does anything - they don’t even pat him on the head. He just goes over and gets the kickoff tee. For a guy whose kicker has struggled, it’s obscene. I mean, jump up and down or something.”
If the BSU-EWU game is competitive, field-goal kicking could be the difference. Two of the last four games between the teams have been decided by missed field goals.
In 1992, EWU prevailed 14-13 and earned a trip to the Division I-AA playoffs when Mike Dodd missed a 40-yarder in the final seconds. Last season, BSU held on for a 16-13 victory when Chris Shepherd trudged through the mud at Woodward Stadium to block Tom Zurfluh’s 27-yard try on the game’s final play.
Zurfluh hit 7 of 14 field goals in 1994 and has made 2 of 9 this season, with three of this year’s tries blocked.
Lockette, Marshall out
The half-game suspension of Idaho State linebacker Telly Lockette has been upheld by Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton, who also suspended Rod Marshall for one half after determining the NAU receiver provoked Lockette.
Fullerton said there was sufficient evidence to support the action under NCAA rules, which state that if a player is ejected in the second half of a game for fighting, he is disqualified for the remainder of that game and the first half of his team’s next competition.
Lockette will be ineligible to play in the first half of the Bengals’ game at Montana on Saturday.
Prior to Lockette attacking Marshall, Marshall delivered a late high hit with his forearms as Lockette knelt.
Marshall will not be allowed to compete in the first half of Northern Arizona’s game against Idaho.
Shane Hill, Idaho State’s 34-yea-rold defensive lineman, will be the subject of an article in Sports Illustrated. … Idaho safety Montrell Williams had surgery on Tuesday and the ligament damage in his left knee was extensive. He will miss the rest of the football season and probably the outdoor track season.