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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boise State's Ian Johnson Hospitalized

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State's rise to No. 12 in the BCS standings was overshadowed Monday as star running back Ian Johnson remained hospitalized for treatment of a partially collapsed left lung.

Ian Johnson leads the nation with 21 touchdowns for the undefeated Broncos.
Johnson, the nation's leader in touchdowns with 21, isn't expected to leave O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., until Tuesday, the school said. His status for Saturday's home finale against Utah State is uncertain.

"It's still up in the air, but we're not going to rush him," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.

Johnson was hurt sometime during Saturday's 23-20 win at San Jose State, where he carried 29 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. Petersen said Johnson wasn't feeling well in the locker room after the game and was taken to the hospital.

"I think in a lot of ways that's why it was so perplexing," Petersen said. "Usually a guy gets popped, gets drilled, and he goes down and you know exactly to check him out. It just kind of came on him."

San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said he wasn't sure when the 5-foot-11, 194-pound sophomore was injured.

"I can't find it on the tape, so I don't know," he said. "It's not recognizable on the tape."

Boise State (10-0 overall, 6-0 Western Athletic Conference) moved up to No. 13 in The Associated Press poll and was No. 12 in the BCS standings released Sunday. If the Broncos finish in the top 12 of the final BCS poll, they would automatically qualify for one of the big-money bowl games, becoming the second team from a non-BCS conference to earn a berth. Utah played in the Fiesta Bowl in 2004.

Johnson has been a key part of the Broncos' climb. He is fourth in the nation in rushing with 146 yards per game. The numbers he's put up have also helped give the non-BCS conference added credibility, WAC Commissioner Karl Benson said, and boosted Boise State's stature.

Against the one BCS team Boise State played this year -- Oregon State -- Johnson rushed for 240 yards and five touchdowns in the 42-14 win.

"Johnson is as good as there is, and I've seen a lot of them," said Idaho coach Dennis Erickson, who watched Johnson rush for 183 yards and four touchdowns against his Vandals earlier this season.

Dr. Neeraj Soni, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise, said that keeping Johnson in the hospital for several days likely meant he required more care than just observation.

"What I would guess is that it's related to a broken rib, given the nature of what he was doing," Soni said.

While Petersen said Johnson hasn't been scratched from Saturday's game for sure, Soni said it seemed unlikely Johnson could return to the football field a week after the injury.

"It helps him in terms of recovery," said Soni. "But at the same time the level he needs to attain to get back to his activity is that much higher. If he's wondering when he can get back to a desk job, that's going to happen sooner than when he can get back to playing football."

The Broncos play Utah State (1-9, 1-5) Saturday on their home blue turf, where they've won 50 of their last 52 games. They face a bigger test Nov. 25 when they travel to Nevada (7-3, 4-2).


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