Boise State defense ready for challenge

Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is aware of what makes Arizona's offense so dangerous. Read on to see what that is, his thoughts on the Wildcats' freshmen contributions, and more.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - When simplifying what the Fiesta Bowl will come down to, Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates believes it will come down to two major factors.

“It’s a challenge and to me you don’t play this game or coach this game unless you’re not a competitor and you don’t want to play against the best,” Yates said. “They are good, but we also think we have some guys that are pretty good.

“They are Pac-12, they have some pretty big time recruits, their kids play hard, they are well coached, but we have some kids that play hard also and are well coached.

“When you get in this game, you want guys to play their butts off and play hard. It comes down to whatever team can eliminate mistakes and tackling. You watch these bowl games, I think the team that can not turn the ball over and the team that can tackle are the teams that will win it.”

When watching film on Arizona. Yates believes the Wildcats are at their best when they can run the ball and get big plays.

“That is our number one goal, we always want to stop the run,” he said. “Now at the same time you obviously don’t want to give up 800 yards of passing obviously, but you want to stop the run and you want to eliminate explosive passes.

“If we can hold them to five and ten yard gains I think we will be okay, but you don’t want to give up an 80-yarder. When you watch film I think because of their tempo, you see a lot of teams that allow explosive passes. With every play there is a run pass option, so you have to play with good eyes on their receivers.”

Arizona’s backfield is made up of two freshmen in Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson, but Yates says don’t be fooled by their age.

“They don’t look like freshmen,” he said. “If you watch those guys play, you wouldn’t think either one of them was a redshirt freshman or true freshman.

“For me, that is what it comes down to. When you’re a coach and recruiting kids, I don’t care about how many stars they are or how great they are coming in, it is who can learn your system and who can play the style you want them to play at.”

Although he has been inconsistent a times, Solomon remains a legitimate threat to the Broncos.

“His feel for the offense and what they want stands out,” Yates said. “He knows exactly what he sees from the defense and he makes the right checks.

“Also, how many plays he keeps alive with his legs. He is a guy that can run it or find space and hit you downfield on a pass. He is a guy you have to be very concerned about.”

It’s not much different for Wilson, as he poses his own obstacles as well.

“He doesn’t look like a freshman,” Yates said. “When you turn on the film and watch him run, he is a good Pac-12 running back. He is a good running back in any conference he is in.

“We don’t get caught up in how old a guy is or what he can or can’t do. He runs their system well, he is downhill, and if he hits a crease he goes. He will pose issues for us if we can’t tackle him in space.”

Arizona is one of the more athletic teams that Boise State will face all season, which drew a comparison to a SEC team.

“I think Ole Miss was probably similar,” Yates said. “That is a game I look at because you are talking about better athletes at Arizona and Ole Miss.

“I looked at that game to see how we fared against those guys and their speed. They run it at a whole different tempo, so I don’t know if we have seen a team that goes as fast as Arizona goes.”

Boise State has been on this stage before and Yates does not plan to approach the Fiesta Bowl any differently than other games.

“It feels great, but for me it’s work,” he said. “I try to treat it as much as a normal game as possible because I always think the kids feed off of us as coaches.

“They will feel the energy and the difference once they walk out for that game and see the stadium. I think for me being in the SEC for two years has kind of helped me get ready for a stage like this because every game in the SEC to me feels like how this game does.”

The offensive game plan is in for Boise State and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford believes this game could have been played this past weekend. For Yates and the defense, that’s not the case.

“We’re going to need every day, every hour, every minute leading up to the game to get ready for this one,” he said. “This offense is good.

“This is an uptempo, fast offense with a quarterback that does a great job and has some good receivers and good backs. We have our work and it will be tough for us.”

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