By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen on Wednesday expressed confidence in two of the positions that are the biggest question marks going into this season — defensive line and cornerback.
The Broncos return both starting defensive ends and some depth there, but are short at tackle. They lost both starting cornerbacks.
Petersen singled out the defensive line when asked who had impressed him in the first six practices of spring ball.
“Those guys are going to play at a high level,” he said. “Those are probably the main guys that have caught my eye.”
As for cornerback, where the Broncos will add four recruits and injured veteran Bryan Douglas to the mix in fall camp: “I have tremendous confidence in our defensive coaching staff and (defensive backs coach) Jimmy Lake with the talent that we have here now and the talent we have coming that we’re going to play at a high level. I really feel like that. They’re well coached, we have good athletes there. Jamar (Taylor), Jerrell (Gavins) — hard guys to replace. But it happens every year. It’s just what position is it going to be at. I know when we play in the fall, we’ll be playing at a high level at the corner position.”
Here is the audio I recorded. I missed the first few questions while talking to tight end Gabe Linehan (more on him later this week). Also, a video snippet from the press conference is above.
Here are some other highlights from Petersen:
— The team will hold a closed (to the public and media) scrimmage Friday before leaving for spring break. “I’m hoping we get some execution done,” Petersen said. “Always that first scrimmage you worry about the offense being sloppy and turnovers and those things. Hopefully we get a few things done on offense and you get some individuals showing up that maybe haven’t shown up in the past.”
— On Taylor’s rapid rise in draft rankings: “It seems like that’s the same thing every year that our guys are under the radar and then they come take a good, hard look at them — ‘Oh, hey, this guy’s pretty good.’ We’ve been knowing that for four or five years. It’s kind of par for the course. We’re excited for Jamar. I think that he’s going to be drafted high.”
— On the first two weeks of practice: “It’s gone well. I think so much is determined by just how hard they’re working and the focus that you can see. And I think it’s pretty good. I thought today was OK. Sometimes when we’re outside you don’t feel quite the energy. A little bit of weather (it was raining) kind of tones things down a little bit. But I think for the most part we’ve been making pretty good progress.”
— On senior wide receivers Geraldo Boldewijn and Aaron Burks: “You can kind of feel them making a move, but again it really comes down to consistency. That’s what we need out of those seniors. The younger guys, you see flashes. OK, we can live with that. Older guys, no flashes. Consistency. Every down. And we’re getting there. We’re not there but we’re getting there with those guys.”
The Mountain West announced its TV deal with ESPN on Wednesday. Here is Brian Murphy’s report.
PRACTICE NO. 6
Type: Helmets and shoulder pads
Player spotlight: It can be difficult to get a read on the Broncos’ run game in practice — they have not worn full pads for a practice open to the media yet — but sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi has looked explosive. Ajayi led the team with 6.7 yards per carry last season and was second with 548 yards. He’s the only tailback with significant experience and the likely starter.
Play of the day: Sophomore defensive end Sam Ukwuachu nearly got the pass rusher’s hat trick. He came from behind to strip the ball from quarterback Grant Hedrick — a sack and forced fumble — but Hedrick pounced on the ball before Ukwuachu could get the recovery.
Notes: Sophomore quarterback Jimmy Laughrea led a nice hurry-up drive with the second-team offense. It stalled just outside the red zone. Laughrea made a key run and sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes made a sliding catch over the middle. … Petersen said before spring ball that the emphasis would be on fundamentals over scheme this spring. He wasn’t kidding. The 11-on-11 sessions have been sparse.
Next practice: Friday (closed scrimmage)
The Broncos will hold their pro day Thursday, with last year’s seniors working out for NFL scouts. Taylor and tailback D.J. Harper will get most of the attention, but a few others have a chance to land in NFL camps. That group includes Gavins, fullback Dan Paul and defensive tackle Mike Atkinson. I spoke to Gavins and Paul today. Here are a couple things they said (more in tomorrow’s paper):
Gavins: “I’ve been sitting down too long … so I’m ready to display all the things I can do. … I have no clue (what I’ll run in the 40). All I know is I can play football and shut down receivers. I’ve got film on that.”
Paul: “It’s been really relieving not having the pounding of practice and to just really get a focus on training and working towards what we’ve always dreamed of.”
Among the other players who have been training: linebackers J.C. Percy, Tommy Smith and Dextrell Simmons, offensive lineman Brenel Myers and defensive lineman Darren Koontz.