Defense The Key For No. 10 Boise State

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

Fresno State coach Pat Hill has been on the wrong end of enough games against Boise State over the years to know that there's a lot more to the Broncos' success than the trick plays and innovative offense.

The team known for the Statue of Liberty and the hook-and-lateral can play some pretty stout defense too.

"Defensively, they've been a very good team for years," Hill said this week. "A lot of people called me before the Oregon game. I was very clear to people, 'Don't be talking about their offense. Their defense is the one that can control the game.' Sure enough they did."

The 10th-ranked Broncos (2-0) have done just that for the first two games of the season, throttling Oregon's vaunted spread offense and shutting out Miami of Ohio.

Next up for Boise State is the Western Athletic Conference opener in Fresno on Friday night against the Bulldogs (1-1).

Broncos coach Chris Petersen is happy to hear his defense get credit.

"I think that's great," Petersen said. "We kind of felt for a while here that our defense has been maybe underappreciated in some ways but not on our team. Everybody knows if you're going to do good things you have to play great defense."

The Broncos served notice to the entire country about their defense in their highly anticipated opener against Oregon. The Ducks have had one of the country's most high-powered offenses in recent years but couldn't even manage a single first down in the first half.

Boise State limited Oregon to 152 yards in the 19-8 victory that was overshadowed when Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount punched
Boise State defensive end Byron Hout in the aftermath of the game on national television.

"That defense gets overlooked," Fresno State receiver Seyi Ajirotutu said. "Look how they shut down Oregon. Their defense is really good. They play hard and they play sound defense."

Miami only managed 194 yards in last week's 48-0 Boise State win, marking the first time since the Fiesta bowl winning season of 2006 that the Broncos held successive opponents under 200 yards. With performances like that, accolades are soon to follow.

"I think we've earned it," cornerback Kyle Wilson said. "The last few years we have turned the attitude and focus around on defense to earn that stuff. The defense has been getting stingier the last few years than it had been in the past. The key is to keep that up. It's nice to get that respect but it's up to us to maintain it."

Boise State allowed the third fewest points in the nation last season, just 13.6 per game, and forced the fourth most turnovers a game at 2.5. This season, the Broncos are in the top 10 in scoring defense, total defense, run defense and pass-efficiency defense.

Petersen knows that Fresno State could offer his defense its toughest test of the season with a diversified offense that can spread the field with receivers like Ajirotutu and Devon Wylie or pound it inside with running backs like Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller.

"It's still early so it's hard to really know," Petersen said. "We'll be tested certainly this week in some ways we haven't been tested yet for sure. We still need a few more games to know where we're at there."

Fresno State has a first-year starter at quarterback in Ryan Colburn, who is 27 for 45 with five touchdowns and four interceptions through two games.


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