By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Here is the final installment in my spring position preview.
Today: Defensive backs
Returning starters (2 of 4): Senior Jamar Taylor enters his third year as a starter, off his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. He has been terrific this spring. Senior Jerrell Gavins played like an All-American for three weeks last season and then sustained a serious knee injury in practice and missed the rest of the season. He was able to get a medical redshirt. He wasn’t ready for spring ball but should be fine this summer.
Key losses: The Broncos lost both starting safeties — four-year starter George Iloka and one-year starter Cedric Febis. Iloka finished second on the team with 58 tackles. Febis was fourth with 49 tackles.
Other key returners: Sophomore Lee Hightower started the final four games last season at cornerback but is likely the starting free safety now. Junior Ebo Makinde and sophomore Bryan Douglas also have starting experience at cornerback, and sophomore safety Jeremy Ioane started the season opener last year against Georgia. All three have done a nice job this spring, with Ioane emerging as the leading candidate at strong safety.
Other defensive backs: CB Josh Borgman (sr.), S Eric Agbaroji (fr.), S Hazen Moss (sr.), CB/S Darian Thompson (fr.), S Taylor Loffler (fr.), S Dillon Lukehart (fr.)
Projected starters: CB Taylor, CB Gavins, S Hightower, S Ioane
Joining in August: Safety Chanceller James and cornerbacks Chaz Anderson and Donte Deayon.
— Coach Chris Petersen singled out the secondary as having made significant improvement this spring. “These guys are growing,” defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. “It’s fun to watch.”
— Lake, who is in his first year, places a premium on turnovers. “I really train these guys to be ball-aware,” he said. “I want them to see the ball come out of the quarterback’s hand. Sometimes coaches will coach DBs where they’re always locked on the receiver. And in some coverages we have to do that, but a lot of our coverages we’re going to be eyes on the quarterback and when that ball comes out we’re breaking to go get it. … Every single drill I do, I try to throw a ball at them.” Lake said Hightower should have seven interceptions but only has one because he’s struggling with his hands.
— Ioane has stepped up this spring. “What I really like about him is his toughness,” Lake said. “He’s one of our better tackling safeties. … With safeties, if they take the proper angles to the football, they’re going to get good tackles and they’re not going to get any breakout runs. Right now, Jeremy is taking great angles to the football.”
— Lake on the backup corners: “Ebo’s making some strides. Also, I’m really impressed with Bryan Douglas right now. He’s really taking the ball awareness to heart. He’s really going after the football.”
— Taylor also has impressed coaches this spring. “He’s a gym rat,” Lake said. “He wants to rewatch himself over and over with me. He always asks intelligent questions. As soon as we coach it, we install a defense, he knows exactly what we’re asking him to do. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s inquisitive. He reminds me a lot of Ronde Barber (of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Ronde Barber is a thinker and he wants to know the coverages inside and out.” Lake coached Barber in the NFL.
— Lake said Boise State runs an NFL offense. “There’s tons of NFL plays. I bet 80 percent of our offense is an NFL offense. What really makes it complicated, like coach (Jon) Gruden is saying, is they also have the read zone, the option and bring in the wildcat. … Eighty percent of the high-octane NFL offense with the college stuff mixed in is tough. … It’s very difficult to defend. That’s what I love. We are training on basically everything we’re going to see next season. I don’t know if there’s a play that isn’t being run out here. Any offense that we play from here out won’t be as difficult as this offense.”
Here is the Spring Game scoring system:
Touchdown - 6 Points
Field Goal - 3 Points
PAT - 1 Point
Touchdown - 6 Points
Turnover (Unless TD) - 3 Points
4th Down Stop - 3 Points
Quarterback Sack - 2 Points
3 and Out - 1 Point
Holding Offense to FG in Red Zone (+25) - 1 Point
The winning side gets teriyaki bowls and shower privileges.
Kellen Moore will sign autographs at The Blue & Orange Store from 9 a.m. to noon April 21. Jeron Johnson, who is with the Seattle Seahawks, will be there from noon to 2 p.m. this Saturday.