By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Boise State defensive coordinator and line coach Pete Kwiatkowski has pushed his decorated defensive linemen to find little ways to get better this fall.
“They just need to pick up where they left off last year and come every day with that attitude that I’m here to get better,” Kwiatkowski said.
So far, he has been pleased with their response. The lineman who has had the best camp is senior nose tackle Chase Baker, who has little to prove to his coaches.
“The guy is very unassuming,” Kwiatkowski said. “He plays with emotion but he doesn’t show it. You talk about a stereotypical blue-collar guy. He goes about his business, keeps his mouth quiet and is positive.”
Baker and senior Billy Winn are the starting tackles. Seniors Shea McClellin and Tyrone Crawford are the ends. All but Crawford are returning starters.
Senior Jarrell Root is the third end and is playing so well that coach Chris Petersen considers him a starter. The fourth end right now is grayshirt freshman Tyler Horn, but that job remains up for grabs.
Horn was impressive in spring.
“He wasn’t a fish out of water,” Kwiatkowski said. “As little as he knew about the schemes or techniques or eye progression or whatever, he could play with bad technique and he just didn’t get blown up.”
The backup tackles are junior Mike Atkinson and sophomore Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, which has to be one of the best backup tandems in the nation.
“Three-hundred-and-20 pound monsters — that’s what they are,” Root said.
The Broncos are still searching for their fifth tackle to enhance the depth.
A couple other highlights from Kwiatkowski:
— On the defense: “With as many returning starters as we have, we’ve been able to throw a lot at them and they’ve picked it up well.”
— On Winn: “The big thing we’re working on with him is consistency and little things. He’s so big and so strong and so talented that he can get away with some stuff. We’re trying to refine those (techniques).”
Boise State held a closed scrimmage Friday afternoon. Coach Chris Petersen will be available Saturday to talk about it. (The Kwiatkowski comments are from Thursday).
ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com rank Boise State No. 6 in their preseason power rankings. The top five are Oklahoma, Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Florida State. TCU is No. 16 and Georgia is No. 20.
ESPN.com has named senior offensive tackle Nate Potter a preseason All-American. TCU linebacker Tank Carder also made the team.
Former Boise State safety Jeron Johnson made a couple big plays for the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night. Here is a story about him on the team website.