BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State tight ends coach Scott Huff's first recruiting trip as a college coach could have turned ugly.
He showed up at a high school in Palm Desert, Calif., to see a wide receiver. The player was meeting with another coach -- and the receptionist interrupted that meeting to introduce Huff.
Interruptions are a no-no in the coaching fraternity.
And when the door swung open, it wasn't another rookie assistant coach on the other side.
It was Fresno State coach Pat Hill.
"And he was great," said Huff, who played center for the Broncos from 1998 to 2002. "He invited me in to sit down with the kid. He was telling stories about our 2001 game, the 2002 game." Huff's anecdote illustrates the respectful -- even friendly -- nature of the WAC's best rivalry.
The Broncos and Bulldogs meet Friday on national TV for the 10th straight year. Boise State has won eight of the previous nine meetings.
The winner gets the Milk Can -- a traveling trophy sponsored by the dairy industries in both communities.
"I just appreciate that they've always been hard-fought games," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "... There's no finger-pointing, excuse-making, name-calling. It's just play hard-nosed, old-school football and whoever wins, wins." Hill often raves about the Broncos -- the players, the program, the schedule, even the fan support.
He also has hired several former Boise State players, including the late Dan Brown, co-defensive coordinator Randy Stewart and strength coach Andy Bennett.
"I've been a fan of what Boise State's not only done as a football team but as an entire program from top to bottom," Hill said. "I was there in 1984 when we beat them on the green field. To see the growth and changes in Boise State over the last 25 years -- over the last five or six years -- is unbelievable." The programs will continue their rivalry for the foreseeable future. They have agreed to play a non-conference game next year in Fresno, bridging the gap until the Bulldogs join the Broncos in the Mountain West in 2012.
In fact, with Idaho off the schedule, Fresno State might be Boise State's chief rival.
Fresno State senior defensive end Chris Carter said he was excited to hear about next year's game even though he'll be gone.
"There's nothing more exciting than a Boise State-Fresno State game," he said.
Players on both sides say they see similarities when they watch the other team. That's another reason for the mutual respect.
"Our coaches mold us in the same way -- to be very tough and physical," Carter said.
Said Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore: "We have similar philosophies. We both kind of emphasize that blue-collar, chip-on-the-shoulder, out-to-prove-some-people wrong (attitude)." Of course, kind words only go so far.
Friday night, the teams expect one of the most intense, physical games of the season. It happens every year.
"No matter what, win or lose, after Friday you're going to feel it," Boise State junior safety George Iloka said.
Hill has faced two No. 1 teams during his Fresno State tenure -- Oklahoma in 2003 and USC in 2005.
"This (Boise State) team is as well-rounded as any team we've played," he said.
Moore helps Boise State make big score
How efficient has Moore been this year? Consider: The Broncos have scored touchdowns on 56.5 percent of his possessions this season (excluding kneel-downs). They have scored points on 68.2 percent.
Moore has produced five touchdowns and two field goals in nine opening drives. A missed field goal and red-zone fumble killed the other two.
He has led the Broncos to five touchdowns and one field goal in eight end-of-half drives, those that ended in the final 2 minutes of a half.
"Those are critical situations that we practice a lot," Moore said. "We emphasize it and we're pretty darn good at it." He has missed 139 minutes, 41 seconds of game time, counting from the time of his last snap, because of blowouts. He has played in the fourth quarter in four of nine games, thrown a pass in the fourth in three games and finished two games.
He has thrown just 16 of his 242 passes in the fourth quarter.
If you pro-rate Moore's performance, the Broncos would average 57.5 points per game (instead of 47.6) and Moore would have 32 touchdown passes (instead of 24) if he played every snap.
"It's obviously unique," Moore said of his playing time. "We're fortunate that we've been able to take care of business before (the fourth quarter). You just have to plan, prepare, practice for it. You're expecting it to be a four-quarter battle. You're going to be playing late in the game and have to make some big-time plays."
Scoring defense a plus for Boise State, but . . .
Boise State's defense has a similar statistical issue.
The Broncos have allowed 27 points in the past six games with all of the starters in the game. They have allowed 28, including a defensive touchdown, after the starters began exiting.
Those points are preventing Boise State from leading the nation in scoring defense. The Broncos are No. 2, behind TCU.
"It does (bother us)," senior nickel Winston Venable said, "but not the fact that the starters are out, but more the fact that they're scoring no matter who's out there. ... You have a sense that maybe we're easing up a little bit or not playing with that urgency."
Tight end replacement
Boise State has gotten creative to replace starting tight end Tommy Gallarda, who has missed the past two games and is out for the rest of the regular season with a broken foot.
Two-time All-WAC defensive end Ryan Winterswyk took five snaps last week at Idaho. Tailback Doug Martin ran behind him on a 39-yard touchdown run.
"When you open that door a little bit with Swyk it's, 'All right, what else can we do?' " offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "We want to utilize him. ... You watch him on defense and he's physically gifted and plays with such great pad level. You put him on our side and it's the same thing. Now it's just maintain the block instead of shed it." Gallarda is the Broncos' best run-blocking tight end. Sophomore Chandler Koch also has missed the past two games with injuries, leaving junior Kyle Efaw and freshman Gabe Linehan to carry the load.
Efaw and Linehan are leaner, more athletic tight ends.
"It just forces a lot of guys to get out of their comfort zones," Huff said. "... We always talk about picking up the flag when someone goes down and really that starts with Kyle Efaw, because he's been awesome. You couldn't ask a guy to rise up to a challenge more than he has."