San Diego State's funky defense presents challenges; Petersen hopes Kellen Moore, Dallas Burroughs develop rhythm on deep ball

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2011 Idaho Statesman

San Diego State coach Rocky Long is known for his funky defensive scheme, which is labeled a 3-3-5 but can look like almost anything.

In fact, Boise State coach Chris Petersen called it a 3-5-3 — three linemen, five linebackers and three defensive backs. The players inside the tackle box move around a lot and change roles, while the cornerbacks often play aggressive, press coverage to take receivers out of their routes.

The Broncos and Aztecs meet at 6:02 p.m. MST Saturday (CBS Sports Network).

“No one else runs it,” Petersen said. “They don’t line up in standard positions. They get to their standard positions, but it happens at the snap of the ball.”

The defense will challenge the Broncos’ offensive linemen, who need to identify the rushers before they can block them, and the receivers, who will need to win some 1-on-1 battles with the cornerbacks, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.

“Sometimes the safeties are linebackers,” Pease said. “Sometimes the linebackers are safeties. They’re just all interchangeable. You can’t ID the players by position. You’ve just got to go off of looks. They’re just all over the place within the box of the tackles.”

Senior linebacker Miles Burris has benefited as much as anyone from the scheme. He is fourth in the Mountain West with six sacks and first with 15.5 tackles for loss.

“From a player’s perspective, it wasn’t too hard to learn,” Burris said. “That’s great that it’s confusing for offenses and not too confusing for us.”

The Aztecs have allowed just nine touchdown passes this season and have 11 interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 118.16, which is better than the number posted by the Broncos’ defense.

However, those stats could be misleading — San Diego State has played run-oriented teams Cal Poly, Army, Michigan and Air Force.

•••

Quarterback Kellen Moore and wide receiver Titus Young made the deep ball look so easy last season that it’s been strange to watch the Broncos struggle to incorporate the bomb into the offense this season.

True freshman Dallas Burroughs finally broke the drought last week with a 54-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. It was the Broncos’ first completion this season on a ball that traveled more than 40 yards in the air from the line of scrimmage. Moore threw that pass about 60 yards in total.

“It’s good to get that first deep ball under his belt,” Petersen said of Burroughs, “especially at a crucial situation. Maybe that will give him a little more confidence. Those deep balls are low percentage. They’re not easy — and you bring a new guy to the table there. Hopefully they get a little rhythm going.”

•••

At one point in the TCU game, Boise State was missing three cornerbacks and four tailbacks because of injuries — forcing coaches to go deeper onto the roster than they’d ever like in key situations.

At cornerback, the Broncos have lost starters Jerrell Gavins (played three games, out for the year) and Jamar Taylor (missed most of the last two games, doubtful this week) and top backup Ebo Makinde (pulled a hamstring in last week’s game, out this week).

At tailback, they’d lost starter Doug Martin (missed most of the past two games; likely to play this week), backup D.J. Harper (left in the closing minutes against TCU; likely to play this week), third-stringer Malcolm Johnson (torn ACL in practice before the season) and true freshman Jay Ajayi (torn ACL in practice while redshirting).

They also have been forced to go three deep at center.

“You know you’re going to lose guys during the year — you just hope it’s not at one position,” Petersen said. “If you get a guy here and a guy there, even if it’s one of your top players at a position, you usually feel like you’ve got some guys who can step in and battle pretty well. When you start to get down there pretty deep (on the depth chart), it makes it a little more difficult.”

•••

Petersen on sophomore cornerback Quaylon Ewing-Burton, who slipped from the Broncos’ No. 2 corner after Gavins’ injury to No. 4 and now is back in the starting lineup because of injuries:

“He’s got to be more consistent. That’s the best thing I can say about Kellen (that he’s consistent), so you work backward.”

•••

Burris on playing the Broncos, who are expected to draw close to 50,000 people to Qualcomm Stadium.

“It’s going to be a real fun deal. Everybody knows about Boise State. It will be an honor to have them come play at Qualcomm Stadium. Playing any great team makes you a better team, it ups the competition level. We’re looking forward to it and we’re having fun preparing.”

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Quit making excuses....SDSU

has injuries too....

The Broncos need to get back to Georgia mentality and win convincingly for the AP and Coaches polls....

if not, it is Vegas or Poinsetta....the BCS is not out yet....

Go Broncos....

Who's making excuses?

The coaches just respond to the questions that are asked when people are asking for reasons why. Would you rather have your injuries spread around the team or all at one position? I know what my answer would be. Boise was lucky it was so close with all those injuries. Its really too bad the injury bug bit so hard this year.

Ugly;

Don't really understand where you get excuses out of those quotes. Seems to be a serious hard fact, coupled with the lack of deep ball, missed field goal, and of course the intense play from TCU and their emerging powerhouse quarterback.

To save face

this will have to be another blowout like Fresno. Doubt it will be though with all the injuries and BSU's inability to defend against the option offense. Good luck.

I don't know much about football, so someone help me......

Burroughs is the state high school 100m champ. Why not just have him run down field flat out and see if he can get open? Even if you never throw him the ball - wouldn't he get the attention of at least 2 DB's? If he ran past a couple of DB's, they may play deaper than usual - that may help on a given play. Seems like running him deep might open up a short or intermediate route for another receiver? Just sayin'.

totally agree. first of all

totally agree. first of all the kid should have chosen track over BSU football. and since they wasted a redshirt year on him you would think they would at least use him as a decoy a little more often. I know the coaches know best, but i've been wondering this all year as well.

I don't know much! Socrates

Why is it that football players tire out so easily after running down the field once or twice and soccer players do it for 60 minutes and ultra-runners, like myself, do it for 30 hours?

It's all those

acting lessons soccer players take,,,,,

Ugly-never- gives-up.

Ugly-Chris PETERSEN'S Broncos-will not go to a BCS Bowl game.Chris Petersen's Broncos-in my opinion(educated guess)will play in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl vs.UCLA-Pacific 12 vs.Mountain West.

Boise v UCLA

would be a lousy Bowl game....

UCLA shouldnt be in it anyway....they will be lucky to be 6-6....

Vegas

is usually a lousy bowl game. Generally it's the 1 or 2 MWC team against a bad Pac 10 (now 12) team that had a disappointing year and doesn't even want to be there.

UCLA seems to be in most of the projections I've seen, but I've also seen Utah and Cal mentioned. Utah strikes me as unlikely because it would be a rematch of last year.

Regardless, it probably won't be a real appealing bowl.

Boise vs. UCLA

Ugly.

Ugly not lucky-fortunate. Chris Petersen's Broncos vs. a Pacific 12 team. The Pundits are always critical of Boise's schedule rightfully so and also the conferences they have been in. UCLA underachievers- with great talent-so Chris Petersen's Broncos play the Bruins and win- a coup for Chris Petersen and the Broncos-looks good on the resume-the Broncos beat a team from a BCS conference.Isn't that what folks want? As far as a game between the two teams I would cheer for my team to win-should UCLA win-who knows-the Bruins have better talent-horrible coaching-I am being kind .

Rip it: That might be all

Rip it: That might be all BSU can handle. Maybe BSU needs a jr hi team to test their mettle!

Chris Petersen's Broncos- Will win if the following occurs.

1.Secondary needs to play much better.

2.Doug Martin healthy-and start.

Offensive line continues -to play well-
Rocky Long's defensive schemes-very tricky-a lot of stunts.

3.Good kicking game.

4.Chris Petersen's Broncos by accomplishing the above will win in a close game.

Weisberg is wise.

You would do well to listen to him.

Yep

He fooled us for awhile, but he's been making some real good blogs lately--a good contribution. I'm afraid he's right about the MAACO bowl, TCU wins the conference now and gets the BCS invite.

stevelane

You are an offensive little maggot. There is no way in h-e-l-l Steve called you a friend otherwise you would know how disgusted he would be over some idiot using his name as a joke on these boards. You are s-c-u-m, and in the end I hope you get what you richly deserve.

I cannot stop you, but I will continue to remind everyone that you are certainly NOT a friend of Steve's in any way.

I am not sure where your anger comes from.

But honestly man, you should really decide if this is a blog or a reality for you. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Hopefully you will calm down before the board meeting where all will be revealed! The light will be shown to you and the masks will come off! An elightenment is approaching, a revelation. Join me, and together we can rule the darkside! Search your feelings, young padawan, and you will know it to be true. I am your father. Perhaps daddy would be more suitable.

Rack me!!! UCLA will destroy BSU in Vegas! Vegas is all you will have! Thanks to Dan Good(forTCU)dale! All the loot feels froggy good! Geeks and Nerds will be forgiven the sins of the father. Only Vandals can save BSU now! Donate!

Any

maggot that would make a joke of a dead man's name deserves my anger. You're offensive, not funny.

You're a freak, who thinks it's funny to make a joke of a dead man's name.

PS (get it) You better hope I never find out who your sorry little a-s-s really is. There's more than just a few of us who know how Wiz would want this handled.

Using a dead man's name?

You have officially lost it. Are you asserting that no one could use a handle of a former person? No Bob Marleys, No Elvis impersonators? Listen, I knew Steve very well. Your best course of action is to ignore it and talk football. Making threats is not how Steve would have handled it. Steve would have laughed and bought a round at the Firewater Saloon. "Ski em steep and six feet deep!" You are showing the exact response that will continue my amusement!

Rack me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Frogzzzz Forever!!!!!!!

Any

maggot that would make a joke of a dead man's name deserves my anger. You're offensive, not funny.

You're a freak, who thinks it's funny to make a joke of a dead man's name.

PS (get it) You better hope I never find out who your sorry little a-s-s really is. There's more than just a few of us who know how Wiz would want this handled.

stevelane

You are an offensive little maggot. There is no way in h-e-l-l Steve called you a friend otherwise you would know how disgusted he would be over some idiot using his name as a joke on these boards. You are s-c-u-m, and in the end I hope you get what you richly deserve.

I cannot stop you, but I will continue to remind everyone that you are certainly NOT a friend of Steve's in any way

Flag away

Broncos fans please vote

BSU fans Vote once a day everyday

http://promo.espn.go.com/espn/contests/nissan/heisman/

http://www.voteobrien.org/

http://www.coachoftheyear.com/default.aspx#fbid=tGZTZqaQcI3

Kellen is in first place with fan votes in the O'Brien. Please vote all three everyday

Thank you
Bashful

GO Bronco

All that matters this

week is a win! If that happens then let the chips fall where they may. Would be nice to win big but a win is a win. So lets do this and see what happens at the end of the season..

Just remember, Deigo;

We've been hoping and speculating since last years defeat so I don't think it's going to stop now. I for one, am hoping for a huge win (as I know your are too), and a complete upheaval in this weekends play. No matter how unlikely, it's still a remote possibility we could make a BCS. And if not, let's hope for an incredible bowl game with an impressive opponent.

Yeah Like

Boise v UCLA....

Time to turn the channel and watch the Rock N Roll Marathon....

Pretty good job

by BSU fan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDAhXmzowGU