By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State linebackers coach Bob Gregory on Tuesday compared the showdown between Boise State’s highly ranked defense and Nevada’s overpowering offense to a boxing match.
“I told our guys it’s like a heavyweight fight — it’s the old days, it’s 15 rounds,” Gregory said. “They don’t know who Muhammad Ali is, but that’s what it is.”
Nevada ranks 10th in the nation in yards (509.5 per game), 16th in points (38.5 per game) and seventh in rushing yards (263.0). The Pack have scored at least 30 points in every game and gained at least 400 yards in all but one.
Boise State ranks eighth in yards allowed (293.3), fifth in points allowed (14.4) and 29th in rushing defense (133.5). The Broncos have not allowed 30 points in any game and have held all but Michigan State and Southern Miss to less than 400 yards.
The Broncos held the Wolf Pack to 10 points last season, but that was with a star-filled, veteran defensive line and without Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo, who was injured.
“We know they’re going to make plays,” Gregory said. “We just can’t give up big plays. We have to play fast and we have to tackle in space.”
Said senior linebacker Tommy Smith: “We have to stop the run. … That’s what their offense is based off of. They set the pass up off the run.”
Fajardo on this week: “The atmosphere is going to be great. The seniors are pumped to play a ranked opponent in their last game in Mackay.”
Boise State coach Chris Petersen said he doesn’t lack confidence in his kickoff team, which has resorted to specialty kicks in the past two games after allowing two kickoff returns for touchdowns.
That doesn’t mean the Broncos will kick deep every time.
“We’re trying not to be as predictable is really the big thing,” special teams coach Scott Huff said.
Coaches put signs of the players’ lockers this week that say “championship week.”
Boise State redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, on the rivalry with Nevada: “It’s kind of a rivalry going on — we know that and they know that. They know that there’s bad blood between us.”
Tickets are on sale for Boise State’s football awards banquet, which is at 5 p.m. Sunday in the Jordan Ballroom of the Student Union Building. Tickets are $35, including dinner buffet. They’re available at idahotickets.com.