By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Boise State senior safety Travis Stanaway’s play Saturday against Wyoming might have been the biggest reason that the experiment of putting four-year starting free safety George Iloka at cornerback paid off.
Stanaway, in his second start, made a career-high nine tackles, intercepted a pass for the first time and forced a fumble in the Broncos’ 36-12 win. He was named the Mountain West co-defensive player of the week.
“He played tremendously well,” Iloka said. “We didn’t miss a beat.”
Meanwhile, Iloka said he had three balls thrown his way in the game. One was caught on the sideline on a pass that was initially ruled incomplete but correctly overturned on review.
“I’m just trying to help out the team,” Iloka said. “We’ve been struggling in the secondary the last few games. (Defensive backs coach Marcel Yates) is a tremendous coach and he wouldn’t put me out there if he didn’t think I was capable or ready.”
The Broncos are listing Iloka at cornerback again for Saturday’s game against New Mexico (4 p.m., The Mtn.). Senior Antwon Murray is listed as the other starting cornerback, getting the nod on Senior Day over true freshman Lee Hightower.
Also on the depth chart, senior Thomas Byrd is listed as the starter at center. He hasn’t started since Nov. 5 at UNLV.
Coach Chris Petersen on Monday called senior quarterback Kellen Moore “the best pocket passer certainly I’ve ever seen in college football.”
The Broncos will honor 21 seniors before Saturday’s game. Nineteen of them have started at least one game this season.
Four seniors will not be part of the Senior Day activities because they’re returning next year — tailback D.J. Harper and center Cory Yriarte are expected to receive sixth years of eligibility after the season and fullback Dan Paul and cornerback Jerrell Gavins are redshirting because of injuries.
The Broncos’ internal players of the week were tight end Kyle Efaw (offense), Stanaway (defense), defensive tackle Mike Atkinson (lineman), cornerback Josh Borgman (Hammer), running back Phil Hogan (scout offense), linebacker Dillon Lukehart (scout defense) and linebacker Matt Wilson (scout special teams). There wasn’t a special teams player of the week because the Broncos weren’t happy with the overall performance in the kicking game.
Junior Michael Frisina remains the starting kicker. His blocked PAT on Saturday was a protection problem, not a kick problem.
Special teams coach Jeff Choate said Frisina has improved greatly in the past few weeks.
“There was a long time where we really wanted him to try to take that step because Dan (Goodale) was struggling, but in practice there was a clear separation between Dan and him.”