By Chadd Cripe
Boise State linebackers coach Jeff Choate, who is in his first season coaching that position, has made it clear what he expects from his group.
He pushes the linebackers throughout practice — whether it’s drills with each other or team scrimmage sessions — to bring a nasty attitude to the field.
“The biggest thing we’ve got to do is develop an identity,” said Choate, the special teams coach and former running backs coach. “I told the guys when I first got the job, ‘Who were the enforcers on our defense last year? Well, it was (safeties) Ellis Powers and Jeron Johnson. I think we’d all agree with that. My goal is for us to become the enforcers and the playmakers.’ ”
Said junior linebacker Derrell Acrey: “It’s not about going around. He wants you to go through people.”
Choate certainly appears to be making progress. In a span of three practices Sunday and Monday, four linebackers combined to produce six turnovers — four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
The Broncos have six players competing for two starting jobs — juniors Acrey and Daron Mackey, sophomores Hunter White and Aaron Tevis and freshmen J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith.
“They’re making progress,” Choate said. “… That’s what it’s about is production, ultimately.”
And that production, Choate believes, starts with a physical approach.
“In football, the most physical team’s always going to win,” he said. “We love playing finesse teams. We want to be the guys that hit you in the teeth. They all have the tools to do it. And the other thing is they’ll all carry a bit more swagger when they get that down.”
Maybe the most intriguing of the top six linebackers is Mackey, the junior-college transfer who missed all of last season with a knee injury. I’ll have a feature on him in tomorrow’s newspaper.
It was an uneventful practice Tuesday, with good back and forth between the offense and defense. The only turnover was a fumble forced by nickel Winston Venable. Doug Martin, who is battling Venable for that job, made a couple plays in pass coverage.
Sports Illustrated’s Boise State preview focuses on quarterback Kellen Moore and the decision to recruit a 6-foot lefty from Prosser, Wash. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who recruited Moore, apparently needed to convince coach Chris Petersen to offer him a scholarship.
“ ‘If Kellen doesn’t pan out for us, I’ll give up one scholarship on defense,’ ” Wilcox told Petersen, according to the article. “ ‘That’s how strongly I feel about him.’ ”
Here's a link to the article.