By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
DEFENSIVE TACKLES STEP UP
Boise State’s four defensive tackles made 14 tackles in the season opener at Washington. They increased their total to 23 in the second game against UT Martin.
Junior Tyler Horn, in fact, is tied for the team lead with 14 tackles going into Friday’s home game against Air Force.
“I’m not sure if that’s going to happen every game, where we get D-tackles making that many plays,” coach Chris Petersen said. “But we have some strong guys in there. It will be important again this week to neutralize some of the things they do inside.”
Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski the tackles responded to a coaching point during practice last week.
“That was the emphasis last week — getting off blocks and taking good angles to the ball,” he said. “We need them to do that again this week. They were a lot better at that (against UT Martin).”
Safety Darian Thompson noticed, too.
“(The tackles) were very active, very hungry, and that’s what we need out of them,” he said. “They did a great job.”
Depth at tackle was a concern coming into the season. The Broncos only have four tackles in the rotation. The backups are true sophomore Armand Nance (10 tackles, tied for third) and junior college transfer Justin Taimatuia (six).
“It’s cool to see them step up,” Horn said. “You know (starter Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe) is going to play well. He’s a great player, but to see them step up, too, is big.”
Horn began his career at end but moved to tackle in November to improve the team’s depth there. He’s prepared to play either spot but the Broncos have more options at end than tackle this year.
“He’s fitting right into that position and he’s playing hard,” Kwiatkowski said. “I’m sure he would like to be a defensive end, but he’s doing a great job. He’s battling in there. He plays with good leverage, uses his hands and strikes. He’s going to be fine.”
Said Horn: “Any time you’re making tackles, being productive, it’s fun. There’s still a ton of things I need to work on.”
ESPN RETURN WAS KEY TO STAYING IN MOUNTAIN WEST
Petersen mostly stayed out of the Big East/Mountain West debate. But he did have one request.
“The only thing that we’ve always been all about is being on ESPN,” he said. “… We didn’t like going to the Mountain West the first time, being off ESPN. That was the big negative — probably the only negative.”
Boise State was able to negotiate a separate TV deal as part of staying in the Mountain West this year. The school and Mountain West partnered on a deal that gave ESPN the rights to all of the Broncos’ home games.
That means the blue turf will be a fixture on ESPN again. The Broncos only played one home game on ESPN over the past two seasons. They will be on ESPN Friday against Air Force and an ESPN entity for games against Southern Miss, Wyoming and New Mexico.
“You just show the field and you know who it is,” Petersen said. “You don’t even have to see the team. I think it’s very good.”
Said quarterback Joe Southwick: “It gets our brand out there. We’re hoping to represent it well and hopefully get a lot of eyes on Boise. … Being a business major, I get it. You want to get your brand out there. You want to get as many eyes as you can on your brand.”
The Broncos also will be on ESPN for next week’s road game against Fresno State.
NOTES & QUOTES
— The NCAA’s new jersey rules were amended to remove the reference to having numbers of “one solid color,” despite press releases that mentioned that rule as recently as last month. So Boise State’s blue jerseys, which have numbers that aren’t solid in color, are still legal.
— Kwiatkowski said Air Force’s “power football” is as much of a concern as its triple option. “You have to practice the triple because it’s so much different and everybody’s got assignments, but at the same time you can’t sell it on that and neglect the other stuff,” he said. “That’s where the challenge is. Because they can be a triple offense, or they can go, ‘We’re just going to go power football.’ ” The biggest lesson he learned two years ago: “As hard as the scout team tries, they cannot simulate the speed that they go at it. You just try to get those scouters to go as fast as they can so those guys can get the look they’re going to see on Saturday.”
— Boise State has distributed about 32,400 tickets for Friday’s game. That’s about 3,000 more than 48 hours before last week’s game, which puts the game on pace to come close to a sellout.
Monday blog: Highlights from coach Chris Petersen’s press conference
Tuesday story: The ‘stache is back — and fans embrace it
Tuesday blog: The Mountain West Football Report
Tuesday blog: Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski staying in the press box
Wednesday story: Air Force offense has many options
Live chat: 11:30 a.m. Thursday
Air Force at Boise State
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Where: Bronco Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN (Carter Blackburn, Danny Kanell, Allison Williams)
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 1-1 overall, 0-0 Mountain West; Air Force is 1-1, 0-1
Series: Boise State leads 1-0 (BSU 37-26, 2011 in Boise)