2013 Boise State Preview – Defense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Boise State Bronco Defense
Preview 2013 - Defense
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What You Need To Know: The whole is going to be better than the sum – again. The Boise State D always seems to find production from several surprising areas, and it always reloads in a big hurry. The pass rush should be fantastic again with Demarcus Lawrence leading the way on the outside, but there's a big, gaping hole at linebacker where options need to step up in the 4-2-5 attack. The secondary loses star corner Jamar Taylor, but Jeremy Ioane and the safeties are going to be terrific. The D had to replace nine starters last season and finished 12th in the nation in total defense, eight in scoring defense and fifth against the pass. This year's defense doesn't have nearly as much work to do.
Star of the defense: Junior DE Demarcus Lawrence
Tackles: Jeremy Ioane, 70
Sacks: Demarcus Lawrence, 9.5
Interceptions: Jeremy Ioane, Darian Thompson, 3
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior LB Blake Renaud
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore CB Donte Deayon
Best pro prospect: Lawrence
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Lawrence, 2) S Jeremy Ioane, 3) NT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe
Strength of the defense: Pass Rush, Pass Defense
Weakness of the defense: Linebacker, Corner Depth
The defensive front starts with the return of Demarcus Lawrence, a former JUCO transfer who stepped in right away for Chicago Bear Shea McClellin and did everything the D needed with a team-leading 9.5 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and 48 tackles. The 6-3, 244-pound junior is a blur off the ball and has all the skills and moves to do even more. He'll be backed up by Beau Martin, another pass rushing specialist who stepped in and made 2.5 sacks with 15 tackles in his limited role. At 6-2 and 258 pounds he's built like a big interior linebacker, but he has the motor and ability to be a dangerous playmaker in the backfield on a regular basis.
Needing to take advantage of all the attention paid to Lawrence is senior Khayree Marshall, who has to step up his game with the loss of Sam Ukwuachu, who was suspended from the team. The 6-2, 240-pound Marshall made 18 tackles with half a sack, but he has the quickness and abilities to fly into the backfield when asked to pin his ears back and move.
6-3, 303-pound senior Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe turned into a force on the nose making 37 tackles with 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. Very big and very quick off the ball, the Amsterdam native is good at getting into the backfield and extremely active against the run. He's exactly what the interior of the line needs, while 6-0, 290-pound Armad Nance is built like a smallish nose who can get great leverage by getting under the pads in a hurry. He made nine tackles and a sack as part of a rotation, but he's being groomed to eventually become the anchor.
At 6-5 and 264 pounds, junior Tyler Horn is undersized for a true tackle, but he showed he could hold up in his limited time, starting two games including the bowl win over Washington making 23 tackles on the year with five sack and 8.5 tackles for loss. With a non-stop motor and good hustle, he wills his way into the backfield no matter where he plays up front. Adding more size at the spot is 6-3, 280-pound Tutulupeatau Mataele, also known as Deuce, who comes in from the Mt. San Antonio College where he was a dominant force in the backfield. He's another high-octane, quick interior presence for the Broncos who'll always be around the ball.
Watch Out For … Justin Taimatuia, a short-but-thick 5-11, 295-pound tackle from Fort Scott CC making 29 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss. He's not going to be an anchor to work around in the interior, but he'll quickly become a key part of the rotation.
Strength: Pass rush. The Broncos had to do some rebuilding up front, but it all worked out with Ukwuachu and Lawrence coming through as expected. Ukwuachu is gone, but Lawrence should be an all-star, Horn is devastating in the backfield, and Marshall has terrific upside.
Weakness: Tough running teams. Overall the Broncos did a nice job against the run, but they struggled against the power teams including New Mexico and Nevada along with Michigan State and Washington. The line dominated the weak and the sad, but it has to be stronger against the stars.
Outlook: It might not be a consistent front four, but it'll be solid. Lawrence is fantastic and the pass rush will come from all sides, but it's not a massive line and it's going to have problems against the tougher, powerful ground games. There will be times when the run defense destroys a lumbering line, but a good rotation has to form quickly to keep everyone fresh inside.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The Bronco linebacking corps is a work in progress, and it needs junior Blake Renaud to be a force after coming up with 45 tackles. Mostly a special teamer, he also showed he could hold up against the run. The star recruit of a few years ago, he's 6-3 and 249 pounds with nice athleticism, but he hasn't done anything to get into the backfield. The California native from the famed De La Salle program could've been a starter for a Pac-12 school, but the talent hasn't come through yet. He'll work on the outside with Dustin Kamper, a special teamer who needs to show he can produce for the defense after making just three tackles. At 6-1 and 232 pounds he's built for the position, but he has yet to do much for the D.
6-4, 223-pound sophomore Tyler Gray got on the field on a regular basis in his true freshman season, and now he's going to be the main man in the middle for the next three seasons after coming up with 27 tackles. A former star running back, he has good quickness and great range, but more than anything else he's a tackling machine who should be one of the team's top tacklers. Likely to back him up is junior Tyler Saxton, a smallish 6-1, 220-pound special teamer who made just three tackles, but needs to find a role in the rotation both in the middle and the strongside.
Watch Out For … Tanner Vallejo, a 6-1, 230-pound option for the middle with perfect size and excellent hitting ability. A huge playmaker, he came up with 261 tackles over the last two seasons and showed he could get into the backfield from time to time.
Strength: Motors. There's lots of speed and quickness, but the key to the linebackers in the 4-2-5 is want-to. Boise State linebackers always find a way to get around the ball and always seem to be in the right place at the right times. They work for it.
Weakness: Proven playmakers. Losing the 118 tackles and leadership of J.C. Percy is a problem. Renaud has the ability, upside and potential to be great, but it hasn't happened yet. Gray, Saxton and Kamper have to be more than just active, they have to shine.
Outlook: There aren't any big stars, but the top players are up front and in the secondary. The linebackers simply have to fill in the gaps against the run and hold up well against the decent ground games, and while it might take a bit of a fight at times to battle the power teams, the Bronco twosome – in whatever form it might be – should be fine.
Unit Rating: 6
The terrific secondary has some huge holes to fill at corner, hurt most by the loss of Jamar Taylor. 5-9, 151-pound sophomore Donte Deayon is smallish and won't hit anyone, but he came up with 17 tackles and an interception in his limited role. He got a little bit of starting time in, and while he's very smart and very quick, he'll have problems with the bigger receiver. Fighting for time at the spot is junior Deon'tae Florence, a 5-9, 171-pound former JUCO transfer from College of the Desert who spent last season on special teams finishing with eight tackles. He has better size than Deayon and a good nose for the ball.
Looking to take over on the other side is junior Bryan Douglas, a good prospect who saw a little time throughout the first eight games before getting knocked out hurt. The 5-9, 170-pounder made 19 tackles, but he didn't do anything against the pass. Lightning fast, he tore off a 10.68 in the 100 and won't get beaten deep by the Mountain West receivers. Also looking for time in the rotation is JUCO transfer Cleshawn Page, a 5-8, 173-pounder from Los Angeles Harbor College with good hitting ability. He made 44 stops last season on the lower level and could be moved to a nickel or dime role if needed.
Back as one of the stars of the secondary is junior Jeremy Ioane, the team's second-leading tackler who made 70 stops with two broken up passes and three picks. While he isn't huge at just 5-10 and 189 pounds, he brings a big pop and plays like a third linebacker at times. The Hawaii native who graduated from Barack Obama's high school is very athletic, very tough and fearless when it comes to making the big pop – he plays much bigger than his size.
Back at the other safety spot is 6-1, 201-pound sophomore Darian Thompson, a great-sized hitter who took over a starting job midway through the season finishing with 43 tackles and three broken up passes. Quick for this size, now that he has a year or experience under his belt he should do even more when the ball is in the air after coming up with three interceptions.
Junior Corey Bell spent last season as a spot starter and now should be one of the team's top statistical stars at the nickel making 45 tackles. While the 5-11, 208-pounder is a good hitter, he has to prove he can do more against the pass and start coming up with a few picks here and there. He'll play like a linebacker, but he won't cover like one. Senior Jonathan Brown will also be in the equation despite a disappointing 2012. Expected to take over one of the starting safety spots, the 5-10, 215-pounder only came up with ten tackles with a sack. Extremely smart and very quick, he'll always be in the right spot.
Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Mercy Maston, a ready-made corner from Bakersfield College with 5-10, 190-pound size and terrific tackling skills making 110 stops in two seasons at the lower level. While he's good at attacking the ball, he's at his best when he's getting physical.
Strength: Safety. Ioane is destined for All-Mountain West honors, and Thompson isn't far behind. These two can do it all, and they should be even more dangerous against the pass this year.
Weakness: Taylor. It's never a positive to lose an NFL-caliber corner, especially one with prototype tools like Taylor. He erased one half of the field and did a little or everything right with 51 tackles with four picks and nine broken up passes. Deayon and Douglas are very promising, but very, very small.
Outlook: As long as the pass rush is solid again, the secondary will be terrific. The Broncos finished fifth in the nation in both pass defense and pass efficiency defense, and while it'll take a step back after losing both corners, it'll still be excellent thanks to the safeties.
Unit Rating: 7
Junior Dan Goodale took over the kickoff duties late in the season, and now he'll get every shot to become the placekicker with Michael Frisina gone. Frisina nailed 15-of-20 kicks and showed no range whatsoever, Goodale has a bigger leg, but he'll have to hold off JUCO transfer Tyler Rausa, a blaster from Riverside CC who hit 15-of-20 field goals last year and showed range of just inside 50 yards.
Senior punter Trevor Harman has a huge leg, but he was just okay averaging 41.2 yards per kick pitting a mere 8 inside the 20. Quarterback Joe Southwick was tremendously effective as a pooch punter putting five of his seven short-range kicks inside the 20.
Back as the main kickoff return option is sophomore Shane Williams-Rhodes, a smallish 5-6 receiver who can scoot, averaging 24.9 yards per try last season doing all his work over the final five games, highlighted by his 27-yard average in the bowl win over Washington. He'll also get a long look as the main punt return option after the graduation of Chris Potter, who averaged 11.8 yards per try.
Watch Out For … Rausa. One of the better JUCO transfer kickers in America, he was brought in to make a big impact right away. He'll have to earn the job, but he'll get every shot.
Strength: Williams-Rhodes. The Broncos had a huge advantage on kickoff returns, finishing fifth in the nation averaging 26 yards per pop. Williams-Rhodes is a threat every time he has the ball in his hands.
Weakness: Kicking. The placekicking has always been iffy for the Broncos and now it's a big question mark. Harman wasn't awful, but the punting game was hardly special.
Outlook: The coverage teams will be solid as always and the returners will be fantastic, but considering the two Bronco losses came by a grand total of seven points, and it took three made field goals to get by Washington, the kicking game has to come through.
Unit Rating: 6
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2013 Boise State Defense |
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