The Cougars return home to the friendly confines of LaVell Edwards Stadium on Friday night to take on the Boise State Broncos.
The Broncos enter the contest at 5-2 on the season including 3-1 record in the Mountain West Conference. The Broncos have victories over UT Martin, Air Force, Southern Mississippi, Utah State and Nevada while their two defeats came at the hands of Washington and Fresno State.
This is the fourth time the two teams will be meeting with the Broncos holding a 3-0 series advantage. The most recent contest came a year ago when BSU beat the Cougars 7-6 in Boise.
The Broncos are coached by Chris Petersen who is coaching his 100th game at the Boise State helm on Friday night. Petersen is in his eighth season leading the Broncos and has an astounding record of 89 wins and 10 losses. That mark gives him the highest winning percentage of any active coach in the FBS right now.
Boise State has a very balanced and potent offense that is averaging just under 40 points and nearly 500 yards of total offense per game so far in 2013. The Cougar defense will have to prepare for a different look from the Broncos offense after the loss of BSU starting quarterback Joe Southwick in the first series of last week’s game against Nevada. Before the injury, Southwick had put up some impressive numbers this year by throwing for 1,589 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 72.3 percent of his passes.
He is replaced under center by redshirt junior Grant Hedrick. Hedrick stepped onto the field a week ago and was very impressive himself. He completed 18-21 passes for 150 yards and an interception while also carrying the ball eight times for 115 yards and two scores.
Hedrick will have plenty of talent to work with in the backfield led by sophomore running back Jay Ajayi. Ajayi has rushed for 766 yards and 12 touchdowns on 135 carries so far this season including a 224 yard and three touchdown game just a week ago.
Hedrick will have plenty of weapons through the air as well. The Broncos passing attack averages 270 per game, thanks in part to an impressive array of receivers. Leading the way in that department is Shane Williams-Rhodes. Williams-Rhodes has caught 45 passes for 389 yards and four touchdowns. Williams-Rhodes is also a dangerous punt returner averaging more than 21 yards per return. He is joined by three other wide receivers that see plenty of action as well in Matt Miller, Geraldo Boldewijn and Kirby Moore.
Miller leads the Bronco receivers in yards with 454 on 42 receptions and has also registered two touchdowns. Boldewijn has 25 catches for 389 yards and a score while Moore also has 25 receptions for a total of 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Not to be outdone, the Bronco 3-4 defense has played very well at times this season as well. They are able to get into the opponents backfield on a regular basis and have already recorded 42 tackles for loss as well as 18 sacks. They have also been able to force their fair share of turnovers including 10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
The players to watch on the Broncos d-line are junior ends Demarcus Lawrence and Beau Martin as well as sophomore tackle Armand Nance. Lawrence leads the team with 9.5 TFL’s, 6.5 sacks and is second on the team with 38 tackles. He is also a play maker on special teams already having blocked two kicks. Martin has 15 tackles on the season but has already accounted for five TFL’s and four sacks. Nance is third on the team with 35 tackles as well as recording 2.5 TFL’s and a sack.
The line backing core is led by a trio of sure tacklers in Ben Weaver, Kharyee Marshall and Corey Bell. Weaver leads the defense with 63 tackles including four TFL’s and a sack. Marshall has only 23 tackles but 5.5 of them have been for a loss. Bell is fourth on the team with 33 tackles including three for loss and a sack.
The secondary has its fair share of play makers as well with nine of the team’s ten interceptions coming from their current starters. Corner back Bryan Douglas leads the defense with four interceptions, nine passes defended and five pass break-ups. He is joined in the secondary by three other big time play makers. Corner Back Donte Deayon has two interceptions of his own as well as six passes defended and four pass break-ups. Safety Darian Thompson has registered 27 tackles, three interceptions and three passes defended.