By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State nickel Dextrell Simmons watched the senior class exit after the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas in December and it clicked.
He only had one remaining chance to make a difference with the Broncos. That realization changed his mindset going into his season year, he said.
Coaches and teammates noticed a difference this fall, when Simmons won the starting job. He transferred to Boise State in January 2011 from Blinn Junior College.
“I didn’t want to leave it as I didn’t contribute,” he said Tuesday. “The way I figured that I could contribute was to start.”
Simmons improved his focus and dedicated himself to learning the defensive playbook, which was his weakness last year.
“That made me react faster,” he said. “In fall camp, I knew what I was doing … where last year I didn’t. That slowed me down a little bit and I couldn’t show my true abilities.”
Simmons made 16 tackles last season in a limited role. This year, he’ll lead the way at nickel with sophomore Corey Bell and junior Jonathan Brown getting into the rotation.
Simmons also has taken snaps at weak-side linebacker.
He expects to bring an edge to the nickel position, which wasn’t the same last year without the ferocious play of Winston Venable.
Simmons’ description of his own style: “Nasty. Just nasty. Because at any given moment I can get this supercharged feeling and just go and do whatever. I felt like I’ve been playing like that lately.”
Said defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski: “He’s just been really energetic, upbeat. It seems like he’s enjoying it a lot better. He’s got a great attitude — very encouraging to the other guys. It’s awesome. It’s very noticeable. The guy has brought a lot more energy and passion to his every day work ethic.”
Boise State redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petit theft in December and was suspended for the MAACO Bowl trip. He would not have played in that game because he was redshirting and injured.
Coach Chris Petersen declined to comment on whether Ajayi will miss a game this season. The school generally does not address player availability for games until about an hour before kickoff.
Ajayi is competing with true freshman Jack Fields for the No. 3 tailback spot this year.
Boise State and Michigan State studied video of each other’s quarterbacks, even though neither has played meaningful time.
What did they learn?
“When you’re handing the ball off, not much,” Kwiatkowski said.
Kwiatkowski said he’ll rotate the top four ends fairly equally and junior Kharyee Marshall will play, too. At tackle, he’ll play backups Greg Grimes and Darren Koontz but hasn’t decided how much.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen on quarterback Joe Southwick: “Everybody loves to make a huge deal about a new quarterback. Hopefully it’s not a huge deal and he goes out and operates like he’s capable of operating.”
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell on Boise State: “It’s going to be interesting to see with the new guys if they can be as multiple, and I have confidence the coaching staff over there will have them ready. It will be a challenge for us. … Any time you play a team that loses a lot of starters, it’s always kind of the unknown of who’s going to be in there, what kind of players they’ll be. Boise has shown over and over again that they lose a crop of seniors and they just reload and reload. We don’t know who the guys are, but we know they’re going to be tough football players and be disciplined and we know they’re going to come at us hard, so we’ve got to be ready for that.”
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he has told his team about Boise State “from A to Z,” including the Broncos’ recent track record of winning big season openers.
“We’ve hit every different aspect of them as a program and them collectively as a group right now and who they are,” he said. “All these plans, they seem to change when you get to game time. Game time, the players take over a lot of times, so we’ve got to be ready to play and perform. … They play extremely hard and they play with a lot of aggression.”
Michigan State released its depth chart today. Here are some notes on it.
Former Boise State tailback Doug Martin has won the starting job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Greg Schiano announced Tuesday. Martin was a first-round draft pick this year. He beat out LeGarrette Blount.
Former Boise State wide receiver Titus Young told The Detroit News that the Broncos will beat Michigan State on Friday.
"I expect a good game, but Boise is going to win," Young said. "I know that for a fact. Quote me."
The article also quotes the more diplomatic Kellen Moore.
“It will be a fun game, a great game," Moore said. "Michigan State has had a lot of success. They had a great season and finished it off the right way and have a lot of momentum."
Young and Moore play for the Detroit Lions and are expected to attend Friday’s game.