Injuries provide opportunity for Boise State football’s Jack Fields, Troy Ware

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

IS IT FIELDS’ TIME?

Coach Chris Petersen has raved about sophomore tailback Jack Fields since he arrived in the summer of 2012, but the emergence of Jay Ajayi last year and Aaron Baltazar this year prevented Fields from getting much of a chance in the backfield.

That could change Saturday at Utah State, with Baltazar sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

Fields has 27 carries for 91 yards this season — mostly in a mop-up role. Baltazar was the No. 2 tailback behind Ajayi.

“All the guys in our running back room are capable of playing,” Fields said. “Everyone is prepared very well by coach (Keith) Bhonapha. Whoever that guy is, they’re going to do the best. … I feel really good about the offense and where I fit. I understand the concepts and what we’re trying to get done.”

Baltazar’s injury was a difficult blow for the team, Fields said.

“It’s a hard pill to swallow,” he said. “He’s a high-character guy. He’s a hard worker. To come in as a freshman and show the composure and skills that he has, so young, it’s hard to see him have an injury like that. But we’re definitely going to carry the flag for him and keep the ball rolling.”

WARE GETS HIS TURN

Sophomore wide receiver Troy Ware grayshirted in 2010, redshirted in 2011 and didn’t have a catch in 2012. So his touchdown catch against Fresno State was not only his first college catch — it was his first catch in a game in four years.

“I feel like I didn’t play football for a long time,” he said. “Getting on the field, that was good, that was a rush. It was fun. It brought back a lot of memories from high school.”

After the touchdown catch, he said, “I didn’t really know what to do.”

Ware has seen a significant increase in playing time the past two games because of injuries to wide receivers Aaron Burks and Kirby Moore and tight ends Gabe Linehan and Holden Huff.

To earn more time, he said, he needs to play faster.

“I know I’m fast enough to make a difference, but playing fast,” he said. “… It’s really just knowing the playbook. If you know everything, you’re going to get in there. They’re going to play our smartest guys.”

SACK TOTAL ISN’T CAUSING CONCERN

Boise State has finished in the top 10 in the nation in sacks allowed each of the past five years. That streak likely will end this year as the Broncos have allowed nine through five games — including seven in the past two games. They rank 62nd.

“Our O-line’s played really well,” coach Chris Petersen said. “With that being said, we’ve given up a few more sacks than we normally do. A couple of those are on the QB, a couple of those are on the O-line. (Quarterback Joe Southwick) is going to have to get rid of it. We’d like to tighten that up for sure.”

Offensive line coach Chris Strausser said he hasn’t noticed anything different in the Broncos’ protection this season that would lead to more sacks.

Still, it’s a stat the Broncos don’t like.

“We’re just trying to get 0-fers for the next few games,” left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. “If we give up nine (all year), that’s better than last year.”

IMPRESSIVE D FOR AGGIES

Boise State coaches have compared Utah State’s defense this season to recent versions of the Broncos’.

Utah State leads the Mountain West in total defense, scoring defense and rushing defense. All but one starter and three primary backups are juniors or seniors.

“They’ve been doing a great job with their offense but very much overshadowed was their defense,” Petersen said.

Added Strausser: “We haven’t seen them in a few years so this is the first chance to get back and see how much improvement they’ve made on defense and it really reminds me of the situation we’ve been in around here for a long time where everyone wants to talk about our offense but our defense is really, really good. I think their offense is darn good but obviously they’re leading the conference in defense. They’ve got experienced players. They’ve got strong, physical players. Their scheme, there’s some good challenges to it. So it’s a good package.”

QUOTES & NOTES

— Petersen on the Aggies: “They’re a lot better than when we played them last time (in 2010). … They do a lot of stuff on both sides of the ball. They have a lot to their schemes. It’s impressive how much they get done.”

— Southwick on watching the Aggies play live on TV last week: “It’s, ‘Ooh, I want to see that on tape. I think I know what that was, but I want to see that on tape because it’s interesting.’ ”

— Boise State redshirt freshman linebacker Ben Weaver on where the defense needs to improve: “We need to keep forcing turnovers. We had one big game against Tennessee Martin, where we got (six). But besides that, we’ve only gotten one or two. Most games, we’ve almost lost (the turnover battle). We need to get back to creating turnovers. The good teams aren’t going to give them to you. So I think that’s a big key. And then third-down stops is another thing. That’s hurt us quite a bit.”

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OUR COVERAGE

Monday blog: Highlights from coach Chris Petersen’s press conference, with video
Tuesday story: Tailback Aaron Baltazar will miss the rest of the season
Tuesday blog: Mountain West Football Report
Wednesday story: Utah State tries to replace QB Chuckie Keeton
Wednesday blog: Safety Taylor Loffler thrives in first playing time
Thursday story: Linebacker Ben Weaver’s preparation leads to breakout season
Thursday blog: Washington game becomes 2015 opener and live chat replay
Friday story: The budding relationship between Boise State and Utah State
Name the Score Contest

•••

GAME NOTES

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

•••

UTAH STATE COVERAGE

Salt Lake Tribune

Deseret News

You can follow beat writer Kyle Goon on Twitter, @kylegoon.

•••

GAME FACTS

Boise State at Utah State

When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday

Where: Romney Stadium (25,513, AstroTurf GameDay Grass)

TV: CBS Sports Network (Andrew Catalon, Aaron Taylor, Lauren Gardner); channel 332/410 (HD) on Cable One, 221 on DirecTV and 158 on Dish Network

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

Records: Boise State is 3-2 overall, 1-1 Mountain West; Utah State is 3-3, 2-0

Series: Boise State leads 13-4 (BSU 50-14, 2010 in Boise)


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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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