By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Boise State senior nickel Hunter White hasn’t received the playing time he’d probably like on defense, but he showed Friday night at Fresno State what a playmaker he can be.
White blocked a punt and forced a fumble in the first half to help the Broncos dominate the Bulldogs 57-7.
“He had a (heck) of a night,” senior linebacker Byron Hout said. “He knows it was a long time coming. … He can play like that every week.”
White, the preseason starter, hasn’t actually started a game yet. The Broncos used five defensive linemen rather than a nickel twice and three cornerbacks rather than a nickel once. In the other two games, sophomore Jonathan Brown started.
White, though, long has been one of the Broncos’ best and most passionate special teams players.
“A lot of people don’t understand how important special teams are,” he said. “To me, it’s being able to be on the field for more plays. I get like 25 to 30 special teams plays a week. That’s a lot. So I love it, absolutely love it.”
White’s blocked punt showed how smart he is on special teams. He and senior linebacker Byron Hout had discussed all week a way they might be able to gain an edge through the middle of the Bulldogs’ punt formation. On the sideline, they adjusted to what they were seeing.
Hout helped open a hole for White, who was lined up behind him. White blasted through the line and stuffed the punt. Five plays later, the Broncos scored to take a 30-0 lead.
“Me and Byron had been watching film all week, trying to time something up,” White said. “It was just perfect timing.”
White also provided a big play in the first quarter. On his first defensive snap of the game, he grabbed wide receiver Devon Wylie’s arm and jerked — prying the ball loose. The Broncos recovered and scored on the next play for a 16-0 lead.
“It kind of fired me up for special teams, too, and fired the defense up,” White said.
White was playing in front of about a dozen friends and family members, including a couple close friends who surprised him by showing up. He is from Huntington Beach, Calif.
Petersen called White, who is the holder for PATs and field goals, a “utility guy.”
“He’s a great team guy, so it’s awesome to see a guy like that have a huge part,” he said.
Boise State’s receivers made some tough catches against Fresno State a week after playing a subpar game against Nevada.
“It’s good to get those guys back on track, playing more consistent,” Petersen said. “We like that crew and I think they’ll continue to get better.”
Said freshman wide receiver Matt Miller: “We kind of took it on ourselves. We had too many drops against Nevada. We had a great week of practice, caught some extra balls after practice. It showed tonight.”
Miller probably had the two most impressive catches, including a one-hander that was erased by penalty.
Miller took a wicked hit on a 17-yard catch over the middle on third-and-10 in the first quarter. He had the wind knocked out of him but held onto the football.
Miller never saw the hit coming.
“I thought it was going to be another touchdown,” he said. “… Sometimes you can feel it (coming), sometimes you can’t. You just have to keep your eyes on the crosshairs and catch the ball.”
Sophomore cornerback Quaylon Ewing-Burton is a quotable guy. A couple highlights:
— “The whole game, we were just hungry. This environment just makes you want to go out there and play a little harder and play a little tougher.”
— On junior Jamar Taylor’s diving interception a week after dropping one: “It was amazing. I think that was his pick he owed us from last week.”
Fresno State’s offense thrives on balance but the run didn’t work against Boise State. Robbie Rouse, who had four straight 100-yard games, finished with 72 yards. He got 40 on one play.
“He had nowhere to run it,” Hout said. “That was a goal of ours coming into the game and we achieved it.”
I crunched some numbers today that show how dominant Boise State has been:
— The Broncos have outscored opponents 175-33 with quarterback Kellen Moore still in the game.
— The Broncos have outscored opponents 169-30 through the first three quarters. Opponents have scored 44 of their 74 points in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.
— The Broncos defense has forced more turnovers (13) than it has allowed touchdowns (nine — a 10th TD came on a punt return). Opponents have reached the red zone just nine times and scored touchdowns there four times.
— The Broncos have scored touchdowns in the red zone on 21 of 27 possessions (78 percent).
Some highlights from the Broncos’ updated season stats:
— Seven players have at least 10 catches, including four wide receivers, two tight ends and a tailback. Matt Miller and Mitch Burroughs are tied for the lead with 25, nine more than anyone else.
— Seven different players have grabbed interceptions this season. Brown got the first of his career and junior cornerback Jamar Taylor got his first in three years Friday night.
— Taylor (23) and fellow cornerback Quaylon Ewing-Burton (22) are leading the team in tackles. That’s strange on a good defense, but two possible explanations — teams have thrown a lot of quick passes to the outside for short gains and the corners play more snaps than most defenders. Taylor and Ewing-Burton did a nice job in coverage against Fresno State, which has impressive speed on the outside. “Those receivers are scary, and they knew it, and they stepped up,” Petersen said.
— Most tackles by someone you wouldn’t expect: kickoff specialist Trevor Harman, with five (four solo).