Boise State Broncos football
Photo via Pam Davis

Boise State Broncos: Promising start for energetic defense

Untested coming into 2017, the young defense of the Boise State Broncos has been more than respectable in the season’s first three games.

One of the great mysteries over the years for the Boise State Broncos has been consistently defending the triple option.

The answers may not have been definitively solved in the Broncos victory over New Mexico. There is still room for improvement–as with any team–but for the Boise State defense their performance helped solidify their current state of things.



The defense is wrapping up on tackles (most of the time), combining a mix of pressure and maintaining lanes to keep ball carriers in front of them. The Broncos have even found an early penchant for creating turnovers.

All key ingredients for a successful season.

Led by safety DeAndre Pierce and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, the Broncos held New Mexico to 198 yards rushing on 51 attempts.

Pierce was all over the field in the first-half, racking up the majority of his 12 tackles in the game’s first 30 minutes.

Vander Esch picked up right where he left off the prior week. Against the Cougars, Vander Esch had a team-high 16 tackles and followed that up with 13 against the Lobos. Vander Esch also contributed a huge interception in the fourth quarter and a forced fumble in the first.

The defense has been a force while the offense works through injuries, offensive line issues, and a yet-to-truly-shine ground game. The play of the defense is a main reason the Broncos are 2-1 on the season and hopefully a unit that will only continue to get better.

A top-tier unit

Boise State’s defense has seen a return to form in September, getting back to pressuring the quarterback (ten sacks) and forcing turnovers (eight, compared to nine in all of 2016).

Vander Esch and his three sacks are tied with a handful of players for 12th nationally.

To not sell this team short, it has been much more than just Vander Esch and Pierce. Gabe Perez is healthy and once again wreaking havoc. Durrant Miles had a huge fourth-down stop and a batted pass in the victory last week.

The secondary has played well, even with the inflated numbers of the 433 passing yards by Washington State. Tyler Horton has set the tone and–despite a few bad luck bounces–Reid Harrison-Ducros is playing well opposite of Horton.

Kekoa Nawahine at the other safety position has also contributed to the rise of the defense.

A highlight has been the team’s rush defense. Opponents have totaled 296 rushing yards against the Broncos, averaging 2.8 yards per carry. This number might be even better if not for the 111 rushing in the first quarter by the Lobos. An injury to New Mexico quarterback Lamar Jordan likely slowed the offense, but to even allow only 87 yards over the next three quarters is impressive.

Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier are only two of a eight-deep line that has helped Boise early on.



After this week’s home game against Virginia and a bye week, Boise State enters the meat of the schedule. Opposing them will be a passing team (Wyoming), a running team (San Diego State), and a currently offensively challenged team (BYU).

Experience with a variety of style of playbooks will only help the Boise State defense during this stretch. More importantly, the Broncos got off on the right foot and are 1-0 in conference.

A young, hard-hitting defense back on the blue?

Definitely something to be excited for.

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About Jason Haskins

Jason Haskins

Jason is a 2001 graduate of Boise State and has been an avid fan of Boise State Athletics since the late 90’s. Originally from Spring Creek, Nv, Jason grew up a fan of the Fred Gatlin era Nevada Wolf Pack, but immediately switched his allegiances after attending school at Boise State. He hasn’t looked back since and remains a loyal supporter of Boise State.

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