When former head coach Dan Hawkins left the team in December and Chris Petersen stepped in, you knew many changes were eminent. Coach Pete made it clear that he wanted to find the right people for the job while building his staff for the upcoming 2006 season. One man Petersen made clear that he wanted was already on the staff: Boise State's cornerbacks coach, Marcel Yates. Yates had coached the Bronco cornerbacks since 2003, and now will coach the safeties as well.
It wasn't long before Marcel made it known that he wanted a more aggressive secondary in 2006. The lack of an aggressive defensive backfield is what many felt was the Broncos' Achilles heal during the past few years. To move his unit in that direction, Yates has made a few position changes for the upcoming season. Yates switched rover Austin Smith to cornerback in favor of a bigger Gerald Alexander, who switched from corner to rover.
One of the biggest advantages this season's defensive backfield has is that it returns every single player from last year's team. Yates wants the corners and safeties to play anywhere in the backfield, and their experience will help ease the players into whatever role the coaches want them to have. Almost without exception, Yates' group is bigger than a season ago. They will be a bigger and stronger and the hits will hurt much more than a season ago. You should see a whole new attitude in the 2006 Boise State secondary.
All the starters from last year's secondary return for the Broncos in 2006, along with great backups and some redshirt freshman coming to provide depth. Here is a breakdown of the 2006 Boise State secondary:
- #16 Orlando Scandrick (So, 5-11, 187)
Orlando Scandrick burst onto the scene in 2005 as just a true freshman. Scandrick made a name for himself first on special teams, scoring touchdowns on two blocked kicks during the 44-41 victory over the Hawai'i Rainbow Warriors. He finished sixth on the team with 50 tackles along with an interception, which he ran back for another touchdown. Scandrick also recorded 11 pass break ups (second on the team) and one quarterback sack.
- #37 Austin Smith (Jr., 5-9, 173)
Austin Smith has started at Rover the past year and a half for the Broncos. Smith was thrust into the lineup in 2004 as a freshman when Chris Carr (now of the Oakland Raiders) was injured midway through that season. Smith has a powerful hit for such a small frame, but Yates believes he would best be suited for corner. In 2005, Austin finished fifth on the team with 51 tackles, including four for loss and 1.5 sacks. He was also involved in one of the biggest plays of the year...
- #23 Quinton Jones (Sr., 5-9, 177)
Quinton Jones was originally brought onto the team as a running back, but switched to the defensive backfield last season. He spent the year learning the defense but is way too athletic to keep off the field. Jones is probably the fastest and most explosive player on the team. You'll also see him on kickoff and put returns. Jones finished 2005 with 16 tackles and three pass breakups.
- #32 Chad McKibben (Sr., 5-10, 178)
Chad McKibben has been a reserve defensive back throughout his career at Boise State, and has finally made the spring two-deep as a senior. McKibben, who walked on as a freshman out of Capital High School in Boise, has recorded 17 tackles in his three years on the field, including 12 as a freshman in 2002.
- #6 Rashaun Scott (Jr, 5-10, 194)
Rashaun Scott, a junior out of Henderson, Nevada, has seen limited time
throughout his career, but needs to step up this spring in order to be more
involved this year. He has not been known for his interceptions but rather his ability to stay with the receiver in coverage. Scott finished with six tackles and two passes
broken up in 2005.
- #22 Kyle Wilson (RSFr., 5-10, 186)
Kyle Wilson, a redshirt freshman from Piscataway, NJ, impressed coaches enough during his redshirt year that he is now on the 2-deep spring depth chart. Wilson was a star wide receiver in high school, as he received all-area, all-state, all-conference, all-county, and all-division honors as the team captain his senior year. Wilson is a very athletic and intelligent player, which has helped his move up the depth chart. Watch for Wilson to be a breakout star in 2006.
- # 4 Tristan Patin (RSFr., 5-9, 166)
Tristan Patin, from Los Angeles, redshirted alongside Wilson last year. While Patin is not expected to be the player that Wilson is, he still has plenty of time to grow. Patin will provide some depth this year while he learns the system and gets comfortable as a college player.
- #20 Marty Tadman (Jr., 5-11, 182)
When Marty Tadman first took the field in '04 as a true freshman, it was obvious that Bronco fans were looking at someone special. He has great instinct and a nose for the ball--Tadman flies everywhere on the field, and you always seem to see him on the play. This ability to read the play and react to the ball helped Tadman finish second on the team in tackles with 101 along with seven passes broken up (third on the team). He also finished with a sack and a forced fumble. Tadman has established himself as a solid starter along with being a fan favorite.
- #2 Gerald Alexander (Sr., 6-0, 204)
Gerald Alexander has always been known as one of the most athletic players on the team, and now must utilize his abilities at the rover position. Coach Yates needs Alexander to become a physical presence on the field and put some fear into receivers running across the field. Gerald finished with 50 tackles in 2005 along with leading the team with 13 passes broken up. Alexander's play in 2006 will be a key factor in Boise State's defense in 2006.
- #29 Ashlei Nyong-Dunham (Jr., 5-10, 210)
Ashlei Nyong-Dunham, a junior out of Sacramento, will back up Alexander at the rover spot. Nyong-Dunham has been a more than capable backup the past few years, even making a start against Oregon State in 2004. Nyong-Dunham seems to have an eye for the ball, and could easily start for many WAC teams. He finished with 13 tackles, two passes broken up, and two interceptions in 2005.
- #18 Ellis Powers (So, 5-10, 205)
Ellis Powers, a sophomore out of Lakewood, CA, made his presence known last year on special teams and should see some good playing time this year. Powers will back up Marty Tadman, but you should also see him in nickel packages. He finished with 19 tackles along with two sacks in 2005. Powers is another player you could see break out this year.
- #26 Ia Falo (Jr., 5-7, 167)
Ia Falo, out of Mountain Home, has been a special teams demon the past two years. While undersized for a division I player, Falo uses hard work and determination to get the job done; he finished with 13 tackles in 2005. That work ethic paid off this offseason, as Coach Petersen awarded him a scholarship. You probably won't see much of Ia playing defense, but he is one of the key special teams player on the team.
- #41 John Barry Van Hoogen (RSFr., 6-2, 211)
John Barry Van Hoogen, from Borah High School in Boise, walked on to the team last year from Shasta Junior College. Van Hoogen was the star of Boise State's second scrimmage, returning an interception 35 yards for a touchdown and making several other big plays. That performance, plus the fact that he's gained 19 pounds through his hard work in the weight room, will be hard to ignore if he continues to make progress. Still, John does have his work cut out for him if he is to see the field this fall.
- #36 Seth Anderson (RSFr., 6-2, 190)
Seth Anderson, a walk-on from Bishop Kelly High School in Boise, will also provide some depth in the defensive backfield. Anderson played safety in high school and was always one of the most dominant athletes on the field.