Emotions run high for Boise State football team’s senior-laden offensive line

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

A SENIOR-LADEN LINE

Boise State’s Charles Leno Jr. (left tackle), Spencer Gerke (left guard) and Matt Paradis (center) will celebrate senior day together Saturday against New Mexico and then line up side-by-side on the Blue for the last time. None of them has missed a practice all season.

“We knew the team needed us, so there was no way we could afford to miss a practice, a game or anything like that,” Paradis said.

Said offensive line coach Chris Strausser: “And their bodies hurt. They’ve played a lot of football. They’re what you would call old dogs.”

Leno has started 37 games in his career, Gerke has started 19 and Paradis has started 25. Combined, they’ve appeared in 120 games.

“I have one game left here on the Blue — I don’t like thinking about it,” Paradis said. “It’s going to be rough.”

The offensive line accounts for five of the 16 seniors on the team. Chris Tozer, a walk-on, could get a senior day start at right guard. Jake Broyles is injured.

“We’re really close, all of us,” Leno said. “… We’re trying to keep the young guys on the offensive line the same way.”

Strausser has appreciated the leadership the group has shown. He doesn’t have any juniors, so it’s a young position after the five seniors.

“They’ve been awesome,” Strausser said. “The type of kids they are — the first-class type of kids we want in this program. That’s been big this year. (The young linemen) have had a chance to watch and learn from the guys who know how to do it the best.”

SENIOR GRADUATES

Of the Broncos’ 16 seniors, 15 will have their degrees by the end of this season. The only exception is studying electrical engineering. Here’s a look at the degree status for each guy:

WR Geraldo Boldewijn – Dec. 2013 – Business
LB Jonathan Brown – May 2013 – Business
OL Jake Broyles – May 2014 – Electrical Engineering
WR Aaron Burks – Dec. 2012 – Communication
OL Spencer Gerke – Dec. 2012 – Criminal Justice – In Grad School
P Trevor Harman – Dec. 2013 – Communication
LB Dustin Kamper – Dec. 2013 – Communication
OT Charles Leno, Jr. – Dec. 2013 – Criminal Justice
TE Gabe Linehan – May 2013 – Marketing
S Ebo Makinde – May 2013 – Media Production
DE Kharyee Marshall – Dec. 2013 – Psychology
WR Kirby Moore – Dec. 2012 – Communication
OL Matt Paradis – Dec. 2013 – Business & Economics
QB Joe Southwick – Dec. 2013 – Business
DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe – Dec. 2013 – Communication
OL Chris Tozer – Dec. 2013 – Communication

TOP SENIOR CONTRIBUTORS

There aren’t any seniors who have played in every game during their careers. Here are the top games played and starts:

Games played:

1 (tie). OT Charles Leno Jr. 47
1 (tie). P Trevor Harman 47
3. WR Aaron Burks 45
4. WR Kirby Moore 44
5. WR Geraldo Boldewijn 42

Starts:

1. Leno 37
2. OL Matt Paradis 25
3. DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe 21
4. QB Joe Southwick 20
5 (tie). Boldewijn 19
5. (tie) OL Spencer Gerke 19

SENIOR DAY QUOTES

—Marshall: “It’s a little mixed emotions. You’re happy, but at the same time you’re sad when it’s over.”

— Burks: “I’m proud of those guys, those brothers that are leaving with me here in about a month or so. There were a lot of us at first and it kind of got narrowed down to a few.” Among those who signed in 2009 but did not finish their Boise State careers — DE Nick Alexander, LB John Michael Davis, CB Quaylon Ewing-Burton, RB Malcolm Johnson, DL Justin Jungblut, LB Allen Mooney, TE Trevor Peterson, QB Mike Tamburo and OL Bryant Thomas. The original signing class included 22 players — the nine who didn’t survive, junior college transfer Winston Venable and 12 of the players in this senior class.

— Burks on Southwick: “I’m sure he’s in pain, but he’s fighting through. I kind of can’t see it. He’s throwing the ball fine. If his ankle wasn’t good, I’m sure he still would have stepped out there (on senior day).”

— Leno: “The emotions are running high. This week, I’m trying to stay calm, to try to make it seem like it’s a regular game week, but it’s really not. It’s the last one on the blue. I’m telling the young guys, just play hard for us. We did it for the seniors in the past, so just keep the tradition going.”

— Leno: “I came here, I was always working hard in high school, but I never worked as hard as I thought I could. Coming here made you push yourself to another level. Hopefully I’ll take that with me, I hope the other guys take that with them, wherever it may be, going to the NFL or their day job, whatever it is — make sure you push yourself as hard as you can, and bring a lot of energy to it, because that will help.”

MASTON LIKELY TO START AGAIN

Junior cornerback Mercy Maston made his second start last week, but his first in a two-cornerback alignment. He replaced Bryan Douglas and is expected to start again Saturday.

Maston made seven tackles and recovered a fumble against San Diego State but also allowed the game-winning touchdown when he played off the receiver — thinking the Aztecs would throw a fade — instead of in the planned press coverage.

Maston joined the Broncos in the summer out of Bakersfield College.

“Mercy’s battling. Mercy’s competing. That’s the thing that we really like about Mercy,” coach Chris Petersen said.

Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said he expects Maston to start again this week.

“He’s just playing really well,” Kwiatkowski said. “He’s playing real physical, gaining confidence.”

Maston’s physicality has stood out to coaches all season.

“(Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake) and Coach Pete always say, ‘Force your will on the opponent,’ ” Maston said. “… That’s what I’m trying to do.”

•••

OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Southwick likely to start; Petersen press conference video
Tuesday story: Weekly notes
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Scouting New Mexico
Wednesday blog: Improved run defense will be tested
Thursday story: Gabe Linehan completes family’s college football odyssey
Thursday blog: Breaking down the bowl possibilities
Friday story: Kirby Moore, like Kellen, hopes to coach

•••

GAME NOTES

Boise State game notes
Boise State depth chart
Boise State stats
Mountain West notes
New Mexico game notes

•••

NEW MEXICO COVERAGE

Albuquerque Journal coverage can be found here.

You can follow beat writer Rick Wright on Twitter at @burquerick.


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

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