SCOTTSDALE, Ariz, - When looking at Boise State’s offense, Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel recognizes that the biggest challenge the Wildcats face is containing Bronco’s running back Jay Ajayi.
“He runs behind his pads and is physical and has the wiggle,” Casteel said. “He can get out and run. That’s the tough part with a kid like that. You have to get your feet on the ground to make good contact on him and then he moves.
“He is a really good running back with good vision. We better do a good job of handling the things that he does, if not then everything starts with the running game.
“They throw the ball and they throw the ball off their running game, but the kid’s a good football player. We have to make sure we do a good job of that.”
Boise State has been very successful in the red zone this season and much of that has to do with its running game.
“If you have an outstanding back like they have and kids up front that will get after you, you get in the red zone, you have opportunities,” Casteel said.
“Another thing they do a great job of is their play action game, so they are able to do a lot of different things. They do a good job in their run game and they always have a companion off of what they are doing, so our kids have to be disciplined.”
As much attention as Ajayi gets, quarterback Grant Hedrick has had a solid season as well.
“I think he sees the field well and they do a lot of things with him with his feet and he does a good job off of the play action,” Casteel said. “He can get out on the perimeter and hurt you.
“I know he threw some interceptions against Air Force and all that, but the kid’s completing 70 percent of his balls. He’s doing a pretty good job. If you watch film on him and watch him play, he is a really good football player.”
Similar to what Arizona does with Anu Solomon, Boise State puts pressure on its quarterback to have numerous roles.
“I think he manages the game, he does a good job getting them into what the coaches want him to get them into,” Casteel said. “That is a lot of responsibility on a kid with the crowd and tempo you have to do it in. I think Grant has done a really good job.”
When asked to compare Boise State’s offense to one that Arizona has seen this season, Casteel believes it is actually a combination of a few.
“They do a lot of different things,” he said. “They are a combination of some of the things Oregon does, they do some of the things that Utah does.
“I think that is one of the things that really makes it difficult with them, is that they do so many different things and formation you to death, a lot like Arizona State did. They do a good job of getting their kids in the right spot to take advantage of the things they are trying to do.”