By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State sophomore defensive end Tyler Horn will play tackle the rest of the season, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said Tuesday.
Horn (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) made a career-high two sacks Saturday at Hawaii in his first action at tackle. He had not practiced there until last week, when coaches needed another body to fill out a rotation that lost senior star Mike Atkinson to injury.
Horn recorded two sacks in nine games at end, where he was blossoming in recent weeks.
Horn was the team’s co-lineman of the week for his performance against Hawaii.
“Tyler did great,” Kwiatkowski said. “He had a really good game. He was physical. He played with good pad level. I was extremely pleased with how he played in there.”
Horn joined junior Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, senior Darren Koontz and senior Greg Grimes in the tackle rotation. The Broncos had five ends in the rotation, which made it easier to move Horn.
“He’s done a good job at end and maturity wise he can handle learning two different positions,” Kwiatkowski said. “If something were to happen, he could go back to end but right now we’re going to keep him at tackle.”
As for the future: “I haven’t thought about that,” Kwiatkowski said. “We’re just trying to get through this year.”
Coach Chris Petersen, though, hinted that Horn could be a tackle next year, too. The Broncos lose three of their top four tackles going into 2013.
“If you can move him inside down the road, to have that frame inside, that’s impressive stuff,” Petersen said. “He’s going to give us another dimension of flexibility and down the road we’ll figure out truly where he fits.”
None of the Broncos’ defensive linemen have started every game this year. Horn, Koontz and freshman end Sam Ukwuachu are the only players who have been part of the line rotation in every game.
Still, the results haven’t changed from week to week.
“That’s a credit to those kids who are getting an opportunity that they’re having a good week of practice and showing up and producing,” Kwiatkowski said. “It’s something that gets preached around here quite a bit.”
Injury-ravaged Colorado State is expected to start third-string quarterback Conner Smith on Saturday at Bronco Stadium (1:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network). He’ll face one of the nation’s best pass defenses.
Smith, a redshirt freshman, has started the past three games. He has three touchdown passes and five interceptions. He was pushed into the lineup by injuries to Garrett Grayson (broken collarbone) and M.J. McPeek (shoulder).
“Conner’s a gifted guy. He can throw the ball. He can stretch the field with his arm,” Colorado State coach Jim McElwain said. “And yet, that is really probably the smallest part of being a great quarterback and my belief is you’ve got to understand situational football and he’s gotten better. We’ve had a couple interceptions in the red area. … I’m really happy with how he has stepped in and some of the good things he’s done. He’s really helped our production.”
The Rams are 2-1 in Smith’s starts — beating Hawaii and UNLV and losing to Wyoming.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said he can see the improvement in Colorado State on video. McElwain has talked all season about changing the culture of a downtrodden program.
“They played (last week) in half a snowstorm,” Petersen said. “You could see the passion, the energy. You can see how these guys are getting better. There is no doubt about that.”