2008 Boise State Preview - Defense
Boise State CB Kyle Wilson
Boise State CB Kyle Wilson
Posted Apr 18, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Boise State Bronco Defense

Boise State Broncos

Preview 2008 - Defense

2008 CFN Boise State Preview | 2008 Boise State Offense
2008 Boise State Defense | 2008 Boise State Depth Chart
2007 CFN Boise State Preview | 2006 CFN Boise State Preview

What you need to know:
The defense will keep on rolling with a good, sound group from front to back led by a strong front four. Ryan Winterswyck is the new star of the show after turning in a fantastic first season as a pass rusher, while Mike T. Williams is a good veteran tackle to build around. The run defense, overall, has to be better, but the pass rush should be great and the linebackers are experienced enough to get to everything. Now the linebackers have to be tougher against the run, while there will be a step back in overall pass defense production after losing Marty Tadman and Orlando Scandrick. Even so, in a mediocre year for WAC defenses, this one will be more than fine.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Kyle Gingg, 94
Sacks: Mike Williams, 6
Interceptions: Dallas Dobbs, 3

Star of the defense: Sophomore DE Ryan Winterswyck
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman DT J.P. Nisby
Unsung star on the rise:
Best pro prospect:
Top three all-star candidates: 1)
Winterswyck, 2) CB Kyle Wilson, 3) DE Mike T. Williams
Strength of the defense: Pass rush, linebacker experience
Weakness of the defense:
Tackle, run defense against the top ground games

Defensive Line

Projected Starters
Get ready to learn how to spell his name. 6-4, 259-pound sophomore Ryan Winterswyck is expected to be a superstar. After making 43 tackles and 5.5 sacks last year, he showed great promise as a pass rushing specialist. He was absolutely unstoppable in spring ball and has the look of a player with eyes on soon becoming a WAC Defensive Player of the Year. Of course, he was going against the green Boise State O line this off-season, but he really does appear to be next big thing. A great athlete, he bulked up over the last two years adding around 40 pounds to his frame, but he didn't lose his quickness.

With the emergence of Winterswyck, veteran Mike T. Williams might get lost in the limelight. The team's leading sacker last year with six, to go along with 28 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss, the 6-4, 245-pound senior has been a great specialist who now appears ready to make a jump up and become the type of all-star to build a line around.

6-1, 279-pound senior Joe Bozikovich is a good inside presence and a nice tackle to work around coming off an 18-tackle season with a sack. While not much of an interior pass rusher, he has good quickness. The big issue is his health. Able to stay on the field last season, he was out all of 2005 with a knee injury and was dinged up for almost all of 2006. He needs to be on the field for the run defense to be a rock again.

Taking over one of starting tackle jobs is 6-2, 308-pound redshirt freshman J.P. Nisby, a scary-strong weight room star who benches over 400 pounds and has registered a squat of 620 pounds. He got heavier over the last year and won't be moved around by anyone on the inside. Now he has to use his strength to show he can be a factor in the backfield.

Projected Top Reserves: Working somewhere on the line will be 6-4, 283-poound senior Phil Edwards. An end by trade, he'll start out at tackle behind Nisby and he should create a little bit of a pass rush. A good athlete, he made 4.5 tackles for loss last year along with 11 tackles.

6-3, 233-pound redshirt freshman Jarrell Root is one of the team's most promising young pass rushers, but he suffered a knee injury and could be out. The scout team defensive player of the year, he's a pass rushing specialist who should be a major factor next year.

One of the more interesting prospects working either inside or out is 6-4, 260-pound redshirt freshman Billy Wynn, a high school sprinter and star wrestler who'll use his tremendous strength on the inside behind Bosikovich. A promising pass rusher, he has all the tools to be special. Now he needs the experience.

Watch Out For ... Winterswyck. How much of his great spring was because he's fantastic and how much of it was going against a group of linemen trying to get their feet wet? It was a little of both, but pencil him in for all-star honors and double digit sacks. He's going to be a force.
Strength: Pass rush. The combination of Winterswyck and Williams should combine for at least 15 sacks. While the starting tackles might not get to the quarterback, the backups can.
Weakness: Backup end and tackle. If Winn and Edwards stay inside, and assuming Root will need a little while before he's 100%, there isn't much to count on unless sophomore Kapono Rawlins-Crivello becomes more of a factor behind Winterswyck. The tackles are fine, but nothing special.
Outlook: The line should be solid as long as Bozikovich holds up for the entire season and Nisby plays up to his weight room strength. If Winterswyck is the player he was this off-season, and if Williams is a little bit better, there won't be any stopping those two from getting to the quarterback.
Rating: 6.5


Projected Starters
Senior Kyle Gingg had a strong statistical season in the middle, leading the team with 94 stops to go along with 2.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, but he was out of position and wasn't as effective as the numbers might indicate. The 5-11, 216-pounder is a tough tackler, but he's an outside linebacker and will move to a far more natural weakside spot where he'll have more room to roam, more space to run free into the backfield, and more chances to use his good abilities as a pass defender.

Moving to the middle will be 6-2, 232-pound sophomore Derrell Acrey after making 17 tackles and a tackle for loss as a key reserve. The biggest linebacker in the rotation and with the best combination of skills and athleticism to go along with his size, he has all the potential to be the team's next great defensive playmaker.

The strongside job is up for grabs, but 6-2, 220-pound senior Dallas Dobbs, who made 71 tackles last season with two sacks, three interceptions and six tackles for loss, will likely get the starting nod if he can work his way out of a backup spot in the middle behind Acrey. A great athlete who started out as a defensive back, he has fantastic range and a good ability to get in on seemingly every tackle.

Projected Top Reserves
Getting a job somewhere will be 6-1, 205-pound senior Tim Brady, a weakside linebacker who could start if Gingg ends up playing in the middle at some point or on the strongside if Dobbs really does turn into a backup. The team's fourth leading tackler with 57 stops and 2.5 sacks, he came through with good production after spending his career as a special teamer.

A pair of newcomers will likely see key minutes as backups early on. 6-1, 225-pound freshman Byron Hout was the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year making 80 tackles, three sacks and 20 tackles for loss. A big hitting pass rusher with great range, he'll be ideal for the weakside if he ends up not taking a redshirt season.

6-0, 230-pound JUCO transfer Daron Mackey made 191 tackles in two years for Bakersfield College. A tackling machine, he made 271 stops in his last two years in high school and now will work in the middle along with Acrey.

Watch Out For ... Acrey. He's being mentioned in the same breath with former Bronco star Korey Hall, and not just because they're both middle linebackers. That was the belief going into last year, too, and it didn't really happen. Now Acrey should become a star.
Strength: Experience. After making plenty of stops, but not being as tough against the run, the veterans should come through and good reserves, like Acrey, should make the big jump into being major producers.
Weakness: Run defense. The Broncos might have led the WAC in run defense, but those teams that could run the ball, could. East Carolina tore off 322 yards and four touchdowns, Nevada, in the bazillion overtime game, ran for 396 yards and six touchdowns, and Louisiana Tech ran for 208 yards and three scores. The linebackers were the main problem.
Outlook: The call has gone out for the linebacking corps to be far tougher and far better against the run, and the move of Acrey to a starting role should help. There's plenty of experience and plenty of versatility to play around with, but even though the stats were fine, and should be again, the  coaching staff wants more production.
Rating: 6.5

Defensive Backs

Projected Starters
Replacing second leading tackler and heart-and-soul type defender Marty Tadman will be job one, and sophomore Jason Robinson will get the first look at the strong safety job. The former wide receiver came up with 39 tackles and two tackles for loss with two interceptions and three broken up passes, and now he should come up with a big year. A talented 6-0, 190-pound prospect, he's a great athlete who should be all over the field.

An even bigger loss was Orlando Scandrick leaving early for the NFL and became a Dallas Cowboy. 5-10, 166-pound sophomore Brandyn Thompson was a great high school wide receiver and saw a little bit of time last year making 16 tackles on defense and special teams. A great athlete, he'll have to use all his skills when getting picked on until he can prove he can make big plays when the ball is in the air.

Junior Kyle Wilson stepped in as a freshman and emerged as a shut-down defender and continued to produce with 41 tackles and eight broken up passes with two interceptions, A strong open field tackler, the 5-10, 190-pounder is a good number one corner who can hold his own against most top receivers. Is he going to be Scandrick? No, but he's a good veteran to count on.

Sophomore Jeron Johnson came through with a nice season at free safety making 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and six broken up passes in nine games. He missed a little bit of time with a hip problem, but he's fine going into the season and he should be one of the team's top playmakers against the pass.

Projected Top Reserves
Two redshirt freshmen, Shaun Jordan and Cedric Febis, will be the main backups at safety. The 6-3, 208-pound Jordan is an athlete strong safety who provides a big pop, while the 6-3, 190-pound Febis, who's from the Netherlands, is a fast defender and a strong tackler. While still raw, Febis is very promising.

Working behind Wilson will be 5-10, 177-pound sophomore Keith McGowen after making four tackles in a limited role. Mostly a special teamer so far, he's one of the team's faster players and could be used in nickel situations.

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.

6-2, 196-pound junior Garcia Day is the biggest corner option. The former JUCO transfer tackles like a safety, but he has to prove he doesn't cover like one. He needs to show early on that he can make the big play and pick off a pass or two to earn playing time.

Watch Out For ... Wilson to get a little more attention. In a defensive backfield with Scandrick and Tadman, it was hard to get too much pub. Even so, Wilson earned second-team All-WAC honors. Now he should be recognized more as one of the WAC's best corners.
Strength: Speed. You don't get faster by losing Scandrick, but the Broncos have good wheels at all four spots and they should continue to be among the league's most productive secondaries.
Weakness: Sure-thing second corner. While Thompson should be fine, and McGowen and Day are promising, Scandrick was a next-level corner who won't easily be replaced. Teams will pick on anyone but Wilson until someone proves able to come up with the big play.
Outlook: You can't win big in the WAC without being able to slow down the pass, and no one did that better than the Broncos. While there will be a step back in overall production after losing Tadman and Scandrick, the numbers won't go up too much. If the pass rush improves, like it should, that could make up for the inexperience in the secondary.
Rating: 6.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters
The kicking game was supposed to be a concern, and then Kyle Brotzman made the situation at both punter and placekicker better. The sophomore nailed 16 of 18 field goals with one getting clocked and a miss from 51 yards. He has an excellent midrange leg and he should come up with a bigger year after earning second-team All-WAC honors.

Brotzman led the WAC's best punting game averaging 44.5 yards per kick, but now he'll turn the reins over to sophomore Brad Elkin, who averaged 37.5 yards per boot but put eight of his 27 kicks inside the 20. Brotzman can certainly take back the job when needed.

Replacing solid punt returner Marty Tadman, who averaged 11.4 yards per kick, might not be that hard considering Kyle Wilson averaged 14 yards on his five returns. Speedy WR Titus Young and running backs D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery will get the first look at the kick return duties.

Watch Out For ... Brotzman to not give up all his punting duties. He's too good. Elkin is more than fine, but Brotzman has a big leg and was strong enough last year to just be a punter if needed.
Strength: The kicking game. Brotzman was an all-star and the punting game led the WAC. Boise State always gets the most out of its kickers, and it will do so again.
Weakness: Kick coverage. Looking for a problem that isn't there, the Broncos allowed 20.3 yards per kickoff return and 9.8 yards per punt return. Hardly bad numbers, but they're not terrific.
Outlook: If Brotzman can be the star he was last year and if Elkin is consistent, the kicking game will be rock-solid. There are more than enough speedy options to handle the return duties and thrive.
Rating: 8


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