Boise State football’s Ajayi, Williams-Rhodes, Miller, Lawrence on pace for historic numbers

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

AJAYI ON PACE TO JOIN ELITE COMPANY

The Broncos keep looking, but they have yet to find a reliable alternative to sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi in the run game — at least since the injury to backup tailback Aaron Baltazar.

Ajayi averages 18.2 carries per game and has rushed for 1,078 yards — half of the team’s rushing total. No one else has rushed for 300 yards.

“I like to believe I can carry that weight and carry that pressure,” Ajayi said. “I come out each game and try to do whatever I can to help the team win. Still, I’ve got a good ways to go.”

Ajayi already ranks 15th in Boise State history for single-season rushing yards. If he hits his average for three more games, he’ll finish among the top four. He also has 15 rushing touchdowns and needs just two to move into third, behind Brock Forsey (26, 2002) and Ian Johnson (25, 2006).

Ajayi’s weakness has been fumbles, but he says he’s addressed that issue by working on his ball security in traffic.

“I haven’t changed my running style,” he said. “It was second-effort ball security. A lot of times when I was breaking the first tackle and trying to break the second tackle the ball was coming away from my body.”

TWO RECORD-BREAKING RECEIVERS?

Shane Williams-Rhodes, a sophomore, and Matt Miller, a junior, might both break the school record for receptions in a season.

Williams-Rhodes has 71 catches — many of them screen passes — and is just 11 short of the record Jeremy Childs set in 2007.

Miller has 60 — his third straight season with at least that many — and is on a tear. In the past two games, he has 13 catches for 239 yards and five touchdowns.

Miller ranks fourth in school history with 188 career catches and needs 41 to match the record held by Austin Pettis.

“Matt’s a playmaker,” coach Chris Petersen said. “Just get the ball around him and he makes a lot of people right.”

NOTES & QUOTES

— Junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is making a strong push for the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year award. He leads the Mountain West and is tied for second nationally with 10.5 sacks (most by a Bronco in the FBS era) and leads the Mountain West and is fourth nationally with 15 tackles for loss. He also is second in the Mountain West with three forced fumbles. He has 20 career sacks in just 20 games. The school record in the FBS era is 21.5, set by Ryan Winterswyk (2007-10).

— San Diego is 6-1 since an 0-3 start this year. The 11 other FBS teams that started 0-3 are a combined 8-101 this season. “Well it could have gone one of two ways,” coach Rocky Long said. “Obviously, we were 0-3 and were down quite a few points against New Mexico State, but found a way to come back. I don’t think the players ever stopped believing. They continued to work hard. We’ve got a great group. They just continue to believe in themselves more so than anything else to find a way to win football games. It’s really been incredible. We’ve had three overtime games, and eight out of the 10 games have all been decided in the fourth quarter. A lot (of close games) have gone our way, and some haven’t. But it’s really a tribute to the players.”

— Petersen said the hook-and-lateral to left tackle Charles Leno Jr. that failed against Wyoming looked good in practice. “The first time we ran it on our defense we got some things done,” he said. “Probably because they were laughing so hard.”

— San Diego State has been outscored 159-114 in the first half this season. It has outscored opponents 171-153 in the second half. The Aztecs have scored 78 fourth-quarter points in the past five games, a key reason they keep winning close games. “They come out way better in the second half,” Boise State wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn said. “They keep swinging at their opponent. It’s a good thing to keep in mind. You can’t get comfortable with those guys.”

•••

OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Southwick practices — and press conference videos
Tuesday story: Weekly Boise State football notes
Tuesday blog: How the MW championship game works
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Walk-on QB sparks San Diego State
Wednesday story: Scouting San Diego State
Wednesday blog: Two rules that irk Petersen
Thursday story: LB Tanner Vallejo’s historic true freshman season
Thursday blog: Q&A with San Diego State beat writer Stefanie Loh
Friday story: Devan Demas provides a spark, breaking down the slow starts, and more notes
Name the Score Contest

Live chat: You can read a replay of our live chat below.

•••

GAME NOTES

Boise State game notes
Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Mountain West weekly release

•••

SAN DIEGO STATE COVERAGE

U-T San Diego coverage can be found here.

You can follow beat writer Stefanie Loh on Twitter at @StefanieLoh.

•••

GAME FACTS

Boise State at San Diego State

When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Qualcomm Stadium (54,000, grass), San Diego

TV: CBS Sports Network (Andrew Catalon, Aaron Taylor, Lauren Gardner)

Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender

Records: Boise State is 7-3 overall, 5-1 Mountain West; San Diego State is 6-4, 5-1

Series: Tied 1-1 (last meeting: SDSU 21-19, 2012, in Boise)


Read our coverage on your iPhone or Android phone.

Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

Tagged with:
Posted in Bronco Beat