Boise State Football: Defensive Secondary Boasts Experience
Hampered by injuries and riddled by coverage breakdowns in some big games, the Boise State secondary grew a lot in 2011. With two key players sidelined during the season, young players were thrust into the spotlight and had to step it up. Some players did yet a few mistakes were made. If you look at it another way, what really happened was a foundation for the future was laid.
That future is now.
Boise State enters the 2012 campaign in less than three weeks against a potent Michigan State team. Not only will the offense have to click, but the defense will have to return to its stingy ways of seasons past.
In 2011 the Broncos yielded an average of 210.8 yards per game. That figure is a little deceptive. Of the 2,741 total yards surrendered through the air, TCU hung 473 yards on the Broncos, Arizona State had 395 passing yards and San Diego State added 350 aerial yards. Broken down, that means in 10 games, BSU allowed only 152.3 yards average via the passing attack. That is not too shabby.
If the Broncos hope to keep the opposition in check when it comes to the pass, they will need to count on the depth they have in the defensive secondary. Fortunately, that secondary is both skilled and experienced.
Here are the names that might be called a lot in 2012.
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At 5'9" and 169 lbs, Jerrell Gavins is not the biggest of cornerbacks. In 2011 he missed all but the first three games due to an injury. In spite of the limited play, he still had 11 total tackles and three interceptions. If there was a bright side to the injury it was that it came during Gavin's senior year and early enough to allow him to redshirt the season. Gavins has speed and instincts that serve him well in the secondary.
According to an Idaho Statesmen story, Gavins looks to pick up where he left off at the beginning of last season. That could spell trouble for opposing offenses.
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Jamar Taylor was a redshirt-junior in 2011, when he started in nine games and missed four – including the TCU loss – due to injury. In the games he played, Taylor was credited with 27 tackles (18 solo) and two picks. He also set a school record for the longest interception return, picking off Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl and racing 100 yards for the touchdown.
Taylor, at 5'11" and 196 lbs, has decent size and couples that with speed. Taylor may well be one of the leaders for the Broncos in 2012.
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With injuries to the secondary, Jeremy Ioane (5'10", 197 lbs) got plenty of playing time in 2011. Ioane was recruited by some quality schools, including Notre Dame, Arkansas and Washington, but chose BSU. Big things are expected from this redshirt-sophomore in 2012. Judging from the workouts he's put in during the preseason camps, Ioane may be close to delivering on expectations.
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Lee Hightower has size (6'2", 192 lbs) and speed. In 2011, as a true freshman, he played in eight games, had 25 tackles, broke up four passes and hauled in an interception. Hightower may be the heir-apparent at free safety for the departed (to the NFL) George Iloka.
If there is one defensive back in the secondary to keep an eye on, it could be Hightower.
Waiting in the Wings
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The Broncos have several younger players waiting for a chance to prove themselves.
Corey Bell (5'11", 206 lbs) burned his redshirt year and played at nickel back and ended up with nine tackles. He has had an impressive spring and summer and is hoping to find more playing time on the field.
Redshirt-freshman Eric Agbaroji brings a bit more size to the secondary, coming in at 6'1" and 203 lbs, and redshirt-sophomore Deon'tae Florence (5'9", 168 lbs), a transfer out of College of the Desert, has also been doing some decent work in camp. Then there is redshirt-junior Ebenezer Makinde (5'10", 181 lbs), who saw action in seven games. He missed the final four games due to injury but had 16 tackles and one interception on the season.
With the exception of Taylor and Gavins, the secondary for BSU appears young, but many have gained experience under fire and that will benefit the Broncos in the years to come.