Boise State football preview: Defensive backs

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2012 Idaho Statesman

Here is the third installment in my position-by-position preview of the Boise State football team. At the bottom, I’ve posted links to the blog and newspaper preview for other positions.

TODAY: DEFENSIVE BACKS

Personnel:

CORNERBACK
19 Josh Borgman, 5-7, 174, R-Sr.
4 Jerrell Gavins, 5-9, 169, R-Sr.
5 Jamar Taylor, 5-11, 196, R-Sr.
37 Ebo Makinde, 5-10, 181, R-Jr.
1 Bryan Douglas, 5-9, 166, R-So.
16 Deon’tae Florence, 5-9, 168, So.
18 Chaz Anderson, 5-10, 175, Fr.
30 Donte Deayon, 5-9, 143, Fr.
21 Trey Corta, 5-10, 182, Fr.

SAFETY
24 Hazen Moss, 6-0, 201, R-Sr.
10 Jeremy Ioane, 5-10, 197, R-So.
29 Lee Hightower, 6-2, 192, So.
23 Eric Agbaroji, 6-1, 203, R-Fr.
34 Taylor Loffler, 6-3, 211, R-Fr.
35 Darian Thompson, 6-1, 197, R-Fr.
28 Dillon Lukehart, 6-0, 199, R-Fr.
22 Chanceller James, 6-1, 194, Fr.

Storyline: The Broncos boast one of the nation’s top tandems at cornerback — Taylor and Gavins — but are otherwise young in the secondary, which is led by new coach Jimmy Lake. The focus of the group: turnovers. “We were probably four to seven turnovers shy of where we’d really like to be (last year),” coach Chris Petersen said. “If we get four to seven more, that’s an elite, elite defense.”

Key to success: The Broncos could play three sophomores in a five-defensive backs look — safeties Hightower and Ioane and cornerback Douglas. That’s a lot of youth on the field at positions where you can’t afford big mistakes (see: TCU game). Those players need to deliver reliable, consistent performances.

Reason for concern: Taylor and Gavins each struggled with leg injuries last season. Coaches have limited Gavins through fall camp to protect him. If either of the stars breaks down, that’s a big dent in the defense.

Star player: Taylor and Gavins are both all-conference talents who could sneak into the All-America conversation if they finish with a bushel of picks. Opponents attacked Gavins early last season because Taylor was more established, and he made them pay with three picks in three games.

Breakout performer: Hightower, the new free safety, started at cornerback late last season and is a versatile player. He has a physical edge to him that should show up at safety and his smarts — he turned down the Ivy League to come to Boise State — should be an asset.

Newcomer to watch: Redshirt freshman safety Darian Thompson made two interceptions and a team-high seven tackles in the scrimmage Saturday. He showed up as a playmaker in camp as a true freshman last year, too.

Quotes/notes:

— Moss surprisingly has made a run at the starting job at strong safety. Ioane remains the favorite there, but Moss has done a nice job in fall camp.

— Petersen: “Some of these young DBs, they have a natural edge to them, a natural chip on their shoulder that they want to compete, so we have to continue to foster that.”

— Lake: “I tell this whole group all the time that we’re going to be defined by how many times we get the ball back for the offense, whether that’s a fumble recovery or an interception.”

— Lake: “The way I’ve always coached, we always have eyes on the quarterback. We say he’s the dealer and he’s dealing the cards. We want to see that ball come out in a lot of coverages. If we can see the ball come out, now we have a better chance for tip interceptions, we have a better chance to react to the football in underneath zone coverages and the guys love it because we’re ultimately getting after that football.”

— Lake on Taylor: “He can play every position in the secondary. He could probably play nickel linebacker. He’s going to be a good professional player because he knows what it takes to be in his playbook, study film and then bring that onto the football field. We want to see him get more turnovers this year. He doesn’t have enough interceptions.”

— Hightower on playing as a true freshman: “It was new. It was something I probably could have been more prepared for if I had a better mindset going into it, but I’m appreciative for it. I like the learning experience I had.”

— Gavins: “Me and Jamar are the cornerstones, not just for the secondary, but for the whole defense. When they’re down, we’ve got to motivate them, bring everybody up. We’ve got a little more wisdom than everyone else.”

— Gavins, on the pairing with Taylor: “We plan on being the best, and that’s what we’re going to be — the best in the Mountain West, the best in college football. It is what it is. Anybody got a problem with it, any receiver, just come see us.”

Projected depth chart:

Cornerback: Gavins*, Douglas
Cornerback: Taylor*, Makinde
Free safety: Hightower, Thompson
Strong safety: Ioane, Moss
(* indicates returning starters)

In Monday’s paper: Lake says his defensive backs will be defined by one stat: turnovers.

PREVIOUS PREVIEWS

Defensive line: Blog, Mike Atkinson story

Linebackers: Blog, J.C. Percy story

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cripe....fine report on the

defensive backs....

No doubt, Boise States defense is going to have to 'step-up' and carry the team....The offense is very good, but going to be lacking due to Kellen's absense....

Good luc Broncos at Michigan State....

I see

Douglas moved up the depth chart.

Nice.

§ Douglas

did have a very good performance last night. He's going to get PT.

Defense wins championships

There were lots of opportunities last year for many of these young db's with the injuries and suspension. Hightower was a great addition as a freshman and I think this will be a real solid group this year. I believe the defense will keep games close and perhaps put some points on the board.

The last 4 years may have been the Kellen Moore era, but the defense improved dramatically over that time period. I don't see any reason their excellence won't continue.

In the event that BSU beats Michigan St next week, pick your top excuse:
A. Boise State had all year to prepare for the game.
B. Michigan State overlooked BSU because of their Big 10 conference schedule.
C. Boise State's 2 star receivers are too slow to be covered closely by MSU's 4 star db's.
D. A lack of game film of current BSU players made it impossible for MSU to prepare for the game.
E. Michigan St. was too concerned with playing BSU in Boise in 2022 to focus on this game.
F. Trickery!

Based on what was seen on Saturday night

There is no need to worry about Michigan State making excuses for a loss to Boise State. Based on what I saw last Saturday night Boise State has exactly two chances of beating Michigan State.............SLIM............and NONE.

Isn't Ioane a returning

Isn't Ioane a returning starter? I thought he started the Goeorgia game.

He did

but he was replaced part way into the game and didn't start again. When Febis returned from his suspension he started at safety the rest of the season. Hopefully another year of experience will help Ioane take a better angle towards the ball carrier. I think he underestimated the speed of some of the rb's and wr's last year.

Ioane

Returning starters are the guys who were primary starters the season before.