Seeking Redemption in 2008

One group that would like to forget about last year is the Boise State linebackers. Their improvement is crucial to a turnaround this fall. JDravi previews the Bronco linebackers in this segment of our Fall Football Preview.

Perhaps no unit on the Boise State football team heads into this season with more intrigue than the linebackers. They are two years removed from being the dominant defensive unit in the highest of highs for Boise State football, but, to this unit, the Fiesta Bowl seems like ancient history. This unit is only eight months removed from one of the biggest thrashings in Bronco bowl game history. All three starters are back from that season, but there is lots of fresh blood ready to make an impact and usurp the returning starters. 

 In 2006, the Broncos boasted one of the best linebacker units in the country. Korey Hall, Colt Brooks, Kyle Gingg, and David Shields demonstrated tremendous discipline and solid tackling to make Boise State's run defense one of the best in the nation. The season was capped by the unforgettable Fiesta Bowl win in which future National Football League superstar Adrian Peterson was held to only 77 yards rushing. 

In 2007, the linebackers entered the season with the intention of building on that success. Instead, the season was marred from the beginning with the disappointing loss to Washington. The defense gave up almost 400 yards rushing in the overtime win against Nevada, and they got torched by Hawaii and mauled by East Carolina to close the season with two losses. 

2008 is about redemption. 

Just as sophomore Derrell Acrey was about to finally take over as the starting middle linebacker, promising freshman Aaron Tevis has grabbed his spot for the opener against Idaho State.  Tevis will play on the outside with Kyle Gingg moving to the middle. Tevis has been outstanding this fall.  Unlike the Bronco linebackers in the Nevada game, Tevis stays home and makes the sure tackle.  He also possesses good hands as evidenced by his interceptions throughout the fall camp. 

Acrey has a physical prowess the likes of which Boise State Football has seldom recruited. However, Acrey needs to catch up with the mental aspect of the game. This should be the year Acrey puts together the athleticism and enthusiasm with the disciplined assignment football, as he has been dominant in fall camp. 

Senior Kyle Gingg enters his third year as a starter. After a stint at middle linebacker last season, Bronco coaches were hoping they could move Gingg to the outside.  With Acrey's demotion, Gingg will once again play middle linebacker against the Bengals at least.  Gingg moves into a leadership role with this team after leading it last year in tackles. Gingg has good speed and athleticism, but he needs to grow into a coach on the field and improve his pass coverage, as he still has never intercepted a pass. 

Senior Tim Brady will start at outside linebacker for a second straight year. The former Bishop Kelly quarterback, Brady is athletic and a sack machine. He provided the one defensive highlight of the Nevada game last year. Look for Brady to be more consistent in his playmaking ability.  

Senior Dallas Dobbs was a partial starter last year and made a profound impact. He led the team in interceptions as a middle linebacker. While he may not be as athletic as Derrell Acrey, he made plays in the pass defense last year that no other linebacker could make. Dobbs will see the field plenty this year. 

Junior College transfer Daron Mackey was a third team JC All-American at Bakersfield College and promptly chose Boise State over Washington State.  This guy's going to be hard to keep off the field.  While at Bakersfield, Mackey compiled 191 tackles, five forced fumbles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. 

Dan Paul has the strength to literally throw guys to the ground.  He claimed first place in the Oregon Weightlifting Championships, benching 355, power cleaning 355 and squatting 615 pounds.  

Hunter White was named special teams scout player of the year in his redshirt year and will star for that unit.  That same passion and intensity will also give White an excellent shot at linebacker this fall as well.

These student-athletes don't want to go through another year and then hear all off-season how bad the linebacking crew did.  The word in fall camp is that they've responded with heart, soul and hard-hitting.  In just three days, we'll find out if that practice can be translated to game day.

Up next, the last defense: The Bronco secondary!

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