The old adage states “Defense wins Championships”. Well, the Boise State football team may not be winning a championship this season, but it won’t be for the lack of defensive effort displayed by the Broncos thus far this season.
Heading into the Nevada game this week, the Boise State Broncos defense is ranked #42 in the nation in yards allowed per game. That is in the upper third of the country. The team is also in the top twenty in rushing yards allowed per game, currently sitting at #19 with an average of 100.2 ypg. This number, of course, is due to the most recent loss to Air Force in which the Falcons carried the ball sixty times for 287 yards. (It should be noted this was nearly fifty yards less than Falcons average heading into the game.)
When the Broncos broke fall camp, it was the secondary that appeared to be the strength of the unit. With three starters returning and a least four more players that earned significant playing time last year, the secondary looked to be one of the top units in the country. While the interceptions have been there, injuries have decimated the core group of players and not one of the returning starters played in the Air Force game.
Injuries and other undisclosed reasons have the passing defense sitting at #93 in the nation. (257 ypg). Now, this can’t all be blamed on the secondary, but many of the passes have come against inexperienced members of the secondary, some who have at times played out of position. The passing defense rank has risen over the past weeks, but it does help when a team only passes 11 times against you.
The bright spot, a huge unknown coming into the season, has been the play of the defensive line. Led by Armand Nance, Beau Martin, and Kamalei Correa (among others) stopping the running game, opponents have often been forced to take to the air. As witnessed in the Connecticut game, the defensive line can create havoc in the passing game. When this sort of pressure is applied, the defense thrives.
The Nevada Wolf Pack, with dual threat quarterback Cody Fajardo, is up next for Boise State’s ever improving defense. Fajardo struggled against San Jose State last week, but the senior quarterback has proven in the past he’s fully capable of hurting a team with his legs and arm. The defense has proven this year that they contain dual threat quarterbacks and Saturday will be another stepping stone in their growth.
Looming in the distance is dark horse Heisman candidate Taysom Hill of BYU. These are two major opportunities for the Boise defense to continue to improve, dominate, and announce to the nation they are a ‘D’ to be reckoned with. Add in a strong group of linebackers and a bye week to get healthy after the Nevada game, there’s a chance for the Broncos to finish strong and possibly play for the Mountain West Championship. One question remains. Can the offense play up to its potential and live up to that age old mantra? It certainly needs to or they’ll be a lot more 28-14 losses on the horizon.