By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State senior defensive tackle Mike Atkinson is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and redshirt freshman kicker Jake Van Ginkel has been dismissed from the team, coach Chris Petersen said Monday.
Atkinson was injured in the second half Saturday against San Diego State. The starting nose tackle is sixth on the team with 37 tackles. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown.
“He’s one of those guys — he’s been through some hard things, he’s grown a lot, he’s figured some things out and he’s playing some really good football, the best of his career,” Petersen said. “It’s another bump in the road. That’s how he has to approach it.”
Atkinson, who is from Ontario, Canada, has been drafted in the Canadian Football League and had hopes of playing in the NFL. Petersen expects him to get a pro opportunity even with the injury.
“There will be somebody who takes a chance on him,” Petersen said.
Atkinson’s backup, senior Greg Grimes, was injured in the Wyoming game and missed the San Diego State game. Petersen did not rule out him returning this week. The Broncos also have senior Darren Koontz, junior Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and true freshman Armand Nance to fill the two tackle spots. Tjong-A-Tjoe will play nose and Koontz will start at tackle this week, according to the team’s depth chart.
Van Ginkel, a scholarship recruit who never panned out, was suspended for the bowl trip in December, did not make the 105-man roster for fall camp, rejoined the team when school started and was suspended again for Saturday’s game against San Diego State.
Boise State already has recruited his replacement. Tyler Rausa of Riverside (Calif.) City College accepted a scholarship offer last week and joins the team in January.
Petersen did not provide any updates on the other suspended players.
True freshman cornerback Donte Deayon apparently was an easy choice to play when the Broncos decided they needed another defensive back.
“He’s been ready to go for a while,” Petersen said. “We’ve been excited about him. We’d watch him play on scout team and say, ‘Man, this guy is not only going to be a very good player, he’s a good player now.’ We’ve been saying that for a few weeks, that if we had to use him we’d have no problem with that.”
Deayon was excited for the opportunity, Petersen said. He played 10-plus snaps on defense and on three special teams units.
“We really put the ball in his court,” Petersen said. “If a guy is completely opposed to it, we would not do that. I still think it will really help him for next year. It’s a long career here. It goes quickly, but there’s a lot of football, so who knows what happens. You could redshirt down the road. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to him. He’s good enough to not need that year.”
Deayon was the No. 3 cornerback last week and likely will be this week, too.
Other highlights from Petersen (audio here):
— On San Diego State game: “The closest games are going to be decided by the smallest details and that sure showed up. … There were periods where guys played good football. We just couldn’t play enough of it.”
— On the failed two-point play in the fourth quarter: “We had a couple options and the protection broke down. Looked one way and it was covered. Looked the other way and didn’t have a chance to get it off.”
— On special teams against San Diego State: “Sometimes you can become numb to hearing things and how important special teams are, and our guys have been great because most of the time they win those battles. But when you don’t, and you dramatically lose them, you can really see what happens. … I feel like a lot of times in the past we have really played with fire and somehow pulled games out. I think the kids have worked hard, practiced hard. I think they were ready to play. If you just don’t take care of those details that we preach day in, day out, they can add up so quickly.”
— On losing: “If we don’t learn from this for not just the next game but down the line, what are we doing? That’s true pain right there if we’re not learning from that.”
— On the defense: “We missed too many tackles. Part of that goes as credit to San Diego State. They’ve got some very good runners. You’d just like to think we can tackle a little better at this point of the season.”
— On the Mountain West title: “Our goals shouldn’t be altered at all. Our goal should be all about Hawaii, period, and that’s it. And we’ll see. I wish we were staying at home just to stay in our routine. Unfortunately, we have to go on a road trip and it’s probably the hardest road trip we take ever. That’s a tough place to go play. We’ll see if we can be focused. Hopefull we’ll play the best football we’ve played all year.”
— On team’s preparation: “They were ready to play. All the coaches were saying before the game, the guys are ready. Sometimes you can be ready and still get punts blocked and snap balls too hard.”
— On QB Joe Southwick: “He was OK. He made some really tough throws and there are a few plays we’d like to have back.” He said he doesn’t have any plans to play backup quarterback Grant Hedrick, other than in the special packages that he runs.
Boise State senior wide receiver Chris Potter also appeared at the press conference. Some highlights:
— “We don’t lose too much around here. When it does happen, people seem to kind of hang onto it a little longer. In the locker room, especially in the past, we’ve had to learn that next Saturday comes around quick.”
— On the offensive struggles vs. San Diego State: “They hid their defense really well. I thought they played really well in what they were doing for that week. We didn’t play our best game all-around. When that happens, that’s not a good combo for us. … I still think we had a great game plan called. If we had executed correctly, we could have done things a lot better.”
— “One of our big things is protect The Blue. There’s so many guys in the past who have worked so hard to do that and they’ve passed that legacy on. When you have that tradition passed on to you and you’re part of the team that loses, it does sting.”
— On the Hawaii trip: “Everyone’s on vacation but you. It can be distracting at times. Your family doesn’t want to come to a game until they find out Hawaii’s on your schedule. … They’re sitting on the beach and wanting you to come say hi.”