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2007 Boise State Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 3, 2007


Preview 2007 Boise State Bronco Defense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2007 - Defense

- 2007 Boise State Preview | 2007 Boise State Offense Preview
- 2007 Boise State Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Boise State Preview

What you need to know:
As expected, the defense was the best in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark outside of the quarterback situation.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Marty Tadman, 67
Sacks: Mike T. Williams, 4
Interceptions: Marty Tadman, 6

Star of the defense: Senior S Marty Tadman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior DT Joe Bozikovich
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman LB Derrell Acrey
Best pro prospect: Junior CB Orlando Scandrick
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Tadman, 2) Scandrick, 3) CB Kyle Wilson
Strength of the defense: Secondary, ends
Weakness of the defense:
Tackle

Defensive Line

Projected Starters
:
The two starting tackles need to be replaced, but the two ends are back. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with senior Nick Schlekeway on one side and junior Mike T. Williams on the other. The 6-4, 238-pound Williams was art of a rotation making 22 tackles, four sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Now he has the full-time job and should flourish with excellent athleticism. While he's been pegged as a bit of a pass rushing specialist, he can do more.

The 6-4, 262-pound Schlekeway is big enough to see time at tackle earlier in his career, and just athletic enough to be a solid end. The problem is he's a quick tackle and a slow end, but he still came up with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss with 45 stops.

6-1, 294-pound junior Joe Bozikovich has talent, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy. He was dinged up almost all of last year, seeing time in just three games, and was out all of 2005 with a knee injury. As the biggest player on the line, his health is a major issue for a line that needs as much beef as possible against the run.

6-3, 278-pound senior Ian Smart will rotate in at the other tackle spot coming off a three tackle season. A career backup, he's been given every chance to become a major factor, but hasn't yet done it. Now he's a much-needed veteran on the inside.

Projected Top Reserves: Battling with Smart for one of the tackle jobs will be 6-4, 277-pound junior Phil Edwards, a spot starter last year who was decent early on. He's one of the team's most athletic interior defenders and should be a decent pass rusher.

One of the rising stars of the line is 6-4, 230-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Winterswyk, who'll play behind Williams on the right side. He's a tough tackler who has the type of quickness and athleticism to grow into a terror of a pass rusher.


Watch Out For ... Williams. He's always had the talent, the quickness and the potential, and now he'll get the time to flourish with the job all to himself. Watch out for him to grow into an elite pass rusher with tremendous numbers.
Strength: Quickness. All four spots can get into the backfield and swarm to the ball. Boise State's lines always are overactive, making up for a general lack of size with aggressiveness.
Weakness: Tackle. This might be the team's biggest question mark after losing Andrew Browning, who meant everything to the front four. The Broncos always seem to unearth productive players from out of nowhere, but there's no appreciable experience to count on right away.
Outlook: Getting into the backfield won't be an issue, but holding up against the run early in the season might be. Williams needs to grow into a star on the end, and figuring out who can hold up at tackle early on will be vital. Coming up with a good rotation is everything to the BSU line.
Rating: 6


Linebackers

Projected Starters
:
Junior Kyle Gingg was one of the team's top tacklers in the rotation on the weakside last year making 50 tackles, 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss. He's only 5-11 and 215 pounds, but he's quick enough to be a decent pass defender and tough enough to hold is own against the run. Even so, at his size, he'll be better if he gets a little bit of help while trying to do the impossible and take over for Korey Hall in the middle.

6-1, 225-pound David Shields split time with Gingg on the weakside making 44 tackles and five tackles for loss, and now he'll be in the mix again for the outside spot. Even though he has tremendous speed, he's not great against the pass and is better suited for the inside.

The newcomer to the starting mix will be 6-1, 221-pound junior Tim Brady after making ten tackles as a special teamer and a backup. The former JUCO transfer wasn't able to push his way in to see a lot of time last year, but he has great potential on the strongside with good athleticism.

Projected Top Reserves
:
If Shields plays on the outside, redshirt freshman Derrell Acrey will take over in the middle. At the very least, he'll see plenty of action with as much talent as anyone in the corps. He's the biggest linebacker in the mix, at 6-2 and 235 pounds, and is expected to become the team's next great defender.

Pushing Brady for time on the outside will be 6-1, 225 pound junior Garrett Tuggle after making seven tackles in a limited role. The former JUCO transfer is a good tackler with the potential to be a good pass rusher with good quickness.

Watch Out For ... Acrey. He's being mentioned in the same breath with Korey Hall, and not just because they're both middle linebackers. If Acrey turns into the star he's supposed to be right off the bat, that'll allow both Gingg and Shields to play on the outside.
Strength: Depth. There might not be a whole bunch of experience compared to last year, but there are several good prospects to build on. This could, in time, end up being a better overall corps than last year's killer crew.
Weakness: Size. Boise State always has smaller, quicker linebackers who play bigger than they are. This group is no exception, but considering everyone is built like a big safety, if there's not a good rotation, there will be problems.
Outlook: Don't expect much of a drop-off in production despite losing a player of the year defender like Hall. Acrey will become a star, while Gingg and Shields, underrated throughout last year, will shine with even more responsibility.
Rating: 7


Defensive Backs

Projected Starters
:
The veteran secondary will revolve around veteran safety Marty Tadman, the team's second leading returning tackler with 67 stops. He's one of the nation's best ball-hawkers with 12 career interceptions including three for scores. While he's not all that big at 5-11 and 182 pounds and isn't all that fast, he's always around the ball and he's a huge hitter. He'll be in the mix for WAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

The other safety spot might be getting a new starter, but 5-9, 173-pound senior Austin Smith is hardly a newcomer. He spent last season making 13 tackles with a broken up pass as a backup corner after making 51 stops as a safety in 2005. One of the team's fastest players, he can make plays all over the field and should be one of the team's leading tacklers now that he's back at a more suitable spot.

The corner tandem might be the best in the league with the return of junior Orlando Scandrick and sophomore Kyle Wilson after great all-around seasons. Scandrick was the team's fourth leading tackler with 52 stops to go along with an interception and six broken up passes. A top starter from day one, he has the potential to grow into even more of a defensive leader after two years of starting experience. He's already one of the team's top all-around playmakers.

While Scandrick is on the verge of becoming an all-star, Wilson is already there. One of the pleasant surprises of last season, he stepped in and emerged as a shut-down defender over the second half of the season making 41 tackles with an interception and five broken up passes. He's great in the open field and can take away most number one receivers.

Projected Top Reserves
:
Ready to emerge as a top backup will be 6-0, 185-pound redshirt freshman Jason Robinson behind Smith at one of the safety spots. A big, talented prospect, he's a top athlete and a smart defender who should quickly find his way on the field.

Senior corner Rashaun Scott has made more noise as a kick returner than a defender, but he'll see more time on the defensive side behind Wilson after making eight tackles. He's been a part of the rotation for a few years, and now he has to use his tremendous speed, along with his experience, to grow into a key reserve.

Scott might be fast, but redshirt freshman corner Cade Hulbert can really move. While he needs to bulk up, with only 165 pounds on his 5-10 frame, he was a Idaho high school state champion sprinter. Originally a BYU Cougar, he left school right away and has four years with the Broncos.

Watch Out For ... Smith to shine at safety. While not bad at corner, his speed and toughness will make him a star at safety. With more experience than he had two years ago, he'll be in on every play.
Strength: Experience. The starting foursome has seen everything and done it all. It's faced high-powered passing games, and, of course, the BCS pressure. It'll handle itself well.
Weakness: Actual production against the top passing game. While the pass defense was the best in the WAC and put up good overall numbers, it got torched by almost everyone who could throw. For every jaw-dropping shut-down performance against a Nevada or Utah, there were performances like the one against Idaho (allowing 328 yards and three touchdowns). Forget about slowing down the high-octane attacks like Hawaii or New Mexico State. However ...
Outlook: Hawaii and New Mexico State will throw for a ton of yards on everyone. This is the WAC's best secondary, and there's not even a close second. Tadman is a lock for All-WAC honors, while Scandrick and Wilson both have all-star potential. Smith is the sleeper star of the bunch; he'll have a huge season.
Rating: 7.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters
:
All freshman Kyle Brotzman has to do is replace plackicker Anthony Montgomery, who nailed 13 of 14 field goals, and punter Kyle Stringer, who averaged 44.6 yards per kick. It's possible fellow freshman Brad Elkin will step in to handle the punting job, and challenge for the placekicking duties, but it's Brotzman's show for now.

Watch Out For ... Brotzman to be pushed for one of his jobs. In a perfect world, he turns into a reliable placekicker and a solid punter is found.
Strength: Potential in the return game. Rashaun Scott is a speedster who should tear off some big plays on kickoffs, while Marty Tadman is a veteran punt returner.
Weakness: Can Brotzman kick? He doesn't have a huge punting leg, but he has good range on field goals. The Broncos are relying on true freshmen to carry the special teams. That's never a positive.
Outlook: Give Boise State the benefit of the doubt after years of good special teams, but this could be a sore spot until the overall kicking game is settled. Consistency will be a big problem.
Rating: 6

 

Related Stories
2007 Boise State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 3, 2007
2007 Boise State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 3, 2007
2007 Boise State Preview
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