By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
When I asked Boise State defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski if the Broncos needed to address any deficiencies from 2011 this spring, he could only think of one.
“The only thing that stood out was when we got hurt at corner, being able to have some answers to help those guys, being able to put those guys in better positions to be successful,” he said.
This spring, the Broncos have a chance to develop the depth that was lacking last year at cornerback, when injuries to starters Jerrell Gavins, Jamar Taylor and Ebo Makinde forced them to play much of the TCU loss with their Nos. 4 and 5 cornerbacks.
Gavins still is sidelined with his knee injury, giving Makinde a chance to work extensively with the first team. Sophomore Bryan Douglas, who started a game last year, and sophomore Lee Hightower, who started the last three games at corner and is expected to play safety this year, also are getting quality playing time.
“Last year … we were looking for answers,” Makinde, a junior, said. “I feel like this year we’re going to have a lot of guys who are able to step in and play.”
Makinde pulled a hamstring in the TCU game, his third straight start. He never returned that season. He also battled mono last spring.
“It can be frustrating,” he said. “You can’t dwell on that. Injuries happen in football. You see Jerrell — one moment he’s making great plays, the next moment he’s out for the year.”
Makinde hopes to take advantage of this spring to put himself in position to be the answer if anything goes wrong with the two starters this year.
“I want to improve. I want to take the next step as a player,” he said. “Be a better playmaker. Be more dependable.”
Makinde said new defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake has simplified what he’s teaching the group.
“It’s a lot simpler, what we’re doing this year, and a lot of guys are improving really fast,” he said.
Sophomore nickel Corey Bell played as a true freshman last season. He originally was slated to grayshirt, then to redshirt, before getting the green light to play in mid-October.
I’ll have a story on the true freshmen who played last year in Sunday’s paper.
On Tuesday, Bell said it was a big deal for him to start his career the way he did.
“The whole time the plan had been I was going to have to grayshirt,” he said. “I was really excited (to join the team in 2011). That was great news for me. … I wanted to feel like I was part of the team.”
Makinde, Bell, offensive tackle Faraji Wright and safety Dillon Lukehart joined linebackers coach Bob Gregory on a service trip to the Dominican Republic last week. They did a painting project at an orphanage/school and played sports with the children.
The night before the group left, the elementary school-age children taught the players some of their dances, then asked to learn some American dances. Wright and Makinde taught them some.
“You can’t tell enough stories to get the whole feeling of how it actually was there,” said Makinde, who was supposed to go last year but had to cancel because of his mono.
Said Bell: “The thing that stands out is just how loving the kids are. There’s the language barrier, but it doesn’t get in the way at all.”
I’ll have more on the trip in Thursday’s paper. Gregory has taken Boise State football players two years in a row and thinks it could become an annual event.
The Broncos restarted spring ball Tuesday morning at Bronco Stadium, with a workout in helmets. Sophomore middle linebacker Blake Renaud delivered another interception —that’s at least three this spring. Redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu also continued his momentum from before the break, and wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn made several nice plays.
The next practice is Thursday. Coach Chris Petersen talks to the media Wednesday.
The Spring Game is at 5 p.m. April 14.
The Beat Coach Pete Scholarship Run/Walk is April 14, a prelude to the Spring Game that evening. The race begins at 9:30 a.m. and finishes inside Bronco Stadium.
The event has raised $98,000 for student scholarships in its first four years.
Registration for Beat Coach Pete is $15 for Boise State students and kids under 10 years of age; $25 for adults; a family race entry is $60 (up to five people). Petersen also will donate an additional $5 to the scholarship fund for every racer who crosses the finish line ahead of him.
Registration is available at rec.boisestate.edu, or by calling 426-1131.