By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State senior defensive tackle Darren Koontz steps into a starting role Saturday and likely for the rest of the season. He has started once in his career, earlier this season against Miami (Ohio) when Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe was suspended.
Koontz moves into Tjong-A-Tjoe’s tackle spot. Tjong-A-Tjoe slides over to nose tackle to replace injured senior Mike Atkinson (torn ACL).
“It’s hard to see Mike go down like that,” Koontz said. “It’s part of football. We’re always ready to step up and fill the shoes we need to fill. I’m looking to take it as I want to make him proud, I want to fill his shoes.”
Koontz has enjoyed a breakout season. He’s second on the team with 2.5 sacks and has made 20 tackles. He also was involved in the forced fumble that led to Corey Bell’s touchdown at Wyoming.
“It’s been awesome being healthy,” Koontz said. “It’s nice to be out there playing how I should be. … I’ve taken my role and just kind of gone with it.”
His new role comes with some added responsibility.
“Now I’ll be one of the ones out there setting the tone,” he said.
A couple highlights from senior left guard Joe Kellogg:
— On the loss: “It’s tough to move on. Losing at home this late in the season is definitely tough. It’s only the second time in my career.”
— On San Diego State’s defense: “(Offensive line coach Chris Strausser) was saying it’s kind of like when you play Air Force. No one else does it and it’s really tough to get used to it in a week. Our coaches did a great job preparing us. We knew exactly where we needed to be every play. We were definitely prepared. The result of the game just didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, but we played hard and gave it our best effort.”
Senior linebacker J.C. Percy on bouncing back from the loss:
“Everyone’s a little more focused and a little bit more intense out there and … just harping on the fundamentals and trying to improve on what we messed up last week.”
Strausser said senior Michael Ames replaced junior Spencer Gerke at right guard last week because Ames was healthier. Ames has stared five games this season; Gerke has started four at right guard and two at left guard.
“At this point in the season, I’m trying to go with the guys who are the freshest,” Strausser said. “To me, when a guy misses a couple days of practice but is still ready to go and someone else is fresh, that’s the guy I’m going to roll with.”
Strausser on bouncing back:
“Kids are resilient. You think they won’t be, but they’re way better about it than coaches are. That thing lingers in the back of our mind for a long time — it’s very, very painful — but for the kids, they know they only have so many opportunities to play college football, so they’re back out there going full speed and not even thinking twice about last week at this point. Thinking back to last season, probably I was most proud of our group when we played San Diego State because it was the week after TCU, we had to face a very tough scheme and we had some guys that were beat up and we went out there and really competed well. That showed me that our kids are very resilient and they’re not going to let a team beat us twice.”