Boise State had another incredible season in 2012. The Broncos went 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference. Chris Petersen's team shared the MWC title and took the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas in an exciting win over the Washington Huskies.
A big part of the success the Orange and Blue enjoyed last season was driven by their stellar defense. It was a defense that allowed less than an a handful of touchdown passes on the year and kept several opponents scoreless in the first half of more than a handful of games.
Boise will lose some of its significant players on the defensive side of the ball as they enter into 2013, but they have a considerable amount of talent coming back as well.
Let's look at the top five defensive players slated to be on "The Blue" in 2013.
Samuel Ukwuachu had a breakout redshirt freshman season in 2012. He was recently named to the Freshman All-America team by the Football Writers Association of America. And for good reason.
In 2012 Ukwuachu compiled 35 tackles, seven of those for a loss, 4.5 sacks and three recovered fumbles. He was a force on a very good defense, and that should continue and even amplify in 2013.
Look for Ukwuachu to avoid a sophomore slump and top his stellar freshman season with an incredible follow-up.
Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe is another very good defensive player that helped Boise State have an incredible defense in 2012.
On the season, Tjong-A-Tjoe made 37 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries. In what will be his senior season, look for 2013 to be the icing on the cake for the man from Amsterdam.
Blake Renaud had a breakout sophomore season in 2012. He may have not been the starter, but he played like one.
On the season, Renaud had 46 tackles and made several impressive and athletic plays when his team needed them most.
If Renaud shows the same kind of improvement from one season to the next like he did last season, 2013 should be an incredible year for him.
With J.C. Percy and Tommy Smith gone, the team will need Renaud to step up. Expect him to do just that.
Jeremy Ioane will be a redshirt junior in 2013, and the Broncos have to be glad he is coming back. Not only did he finish off the season with an interception against Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas to seal the game, but he was second on the team in tackles for the year.
Ioane had 70 tackles in 2012 with three interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble. He will be much needed in a defensive secondary that will be minus a couple of quality cornerbacks in Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor.
Look for Ioane to make those losses less painful, but look for him to be a pain to opposing offenses.
Demarcus Lawrence didn't finish off the season the way he or his team wanted him to. While Boise State was gearing up to play Washington in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas, Lawrence was back in Boise.
He was sent back there by coach Petersen for an unspecified team rules violation.
If Lawrence is out of coach Pete's doghouse by opening day 2013, he will get a chance to face the team he missed out on in 2012. The Broncos open in Seattle against those same Huskies.
Lawrence actually missed two games in 2012 because of team rules violations, but he still managed to finish fifth on the list among Boise State tacklers. On the season, Demarcus had 48 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. He also had two quarterback hurries, two fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, a blocked kick and an interception.
Every Bronco fan probably hopes that he won't break any more team rules between now and Seattle. If he has learned his lesson, 2013 could be an incredible year for what will be his redshirt junior season.