Blanket Coverage

Defensive backs coach Marcel Yates has the secondary he wants at Boise State. They are aggressive, hard-hitters with great athletic talent and football instincts. They also have the attitude he wants and their ability to cover receivers like a blanket frees up the rest of the Bronco defense to make plays.

The Boise State offensive line has been recognized for a decade as one of the best in college football.  Now, it's the Bronco secondary that is getting all the press.  

Phil Steele has Kyle Wilson, Brandyn Thompson and Jeron Johnson All-Western Athletic Conference and George Iloka a third-teamer.  As a unit, these four were ranked fourth in the nation in Pass Efficiency Defense one year ago.  If you talk to this group, that isn't good enough—they want to be the best.  

Can the Broncos live up to the hype?  

Wilson (5-10, 186, Sr.) has been mentioned on an All-America team or two and possesses great speed and an uncanny ability to make things happen on defense.  The opposition avoided him much of last year so he only made 35 tackles but three of them were for loss, and he still had five interceptions and 10 pass deflections.  

Wilson 's partner at cornerback is the ever-improving Brandyn Thompson (5-10, 180, Jr.).  With attention focused on his side of the field, Thompson became a lock-down cornerback himself with four interceptions and six pass deflections.  He also had 54 tackles, five behind the line.  Thompson is great at reading the play and reacting and he has good closing speed.  Plus, if he picks one off, he's a threat since he was a wide receiver/running back/punt returner in high school.  

Antwon Murray (5-11, 177, So.)  was rated as the ninth-best defensive back from Florida in the 2007 recruiting class.  He had 52 tackles, eight interceptions and two kickoff returns for touchdowns as a senior in high school.  It's time for Murray to show what he can do.  Some of the other cornerbacks are right there with him to take Wilson 's spot next year and he'll have to battle for it.  Perhaps Murray can get a chance to shine on special teams this season.  

Jamar Taylor (5-11, 193, So.) is a superb athlete and will compete strongly for the vacant cornerback position next season.  He will likely see the field quite a bit this year—he played in all 13 games last season registering 24 tackles and an interception.  

Jerrell Gavins (5-9, 171) has been a pleasant surprise.  Picked up late in the recruiting season from El Camino Junior College, Gavins is ready to play right now.  He has impressed the Bronco coaches and could be a factor this fall.  

Cedric Febis (6-3, 197, So.) is "wowing" them at Bronco practices.  One of several student-athletes from the Netherlands to be signed by Boise State , Febis has great size; not too many receivers are going to have a height advantage over him.   

Travis Stanaway has played so well that he was just awarded a scholarship from Coach Chris Petersen.  The 5-11, 188-pound sophomore from Clyde Hill , Washington gives Boise State excellent depth at cornerback.  

The up-and-coming Broncos are Josh Borgman (5-7, 169), Quaylon Ewing (6-0, 175), Raphiel Lambert (5-7, 200) and Ebenezer Makinde (5-11, 164).  They all need work in the weight room and in learning the Bronco way. 

Bronco fans have been fixated on the battle for the "nickel" position, which is a hybrid linebacker/defensive back spot.  Converted running back Doug Martin (5-9, 201, So.) and Winston Venable (5-11, 223, Jr.) have battled all year for the right to start at the nickel.  Martin is so talented that the Boise State coaches had to find a way to get him on the field.  Doug has the size and speed to fill the shoes of All-WAC nickelback Ellis Powers.  JC transfer Venable has been dynamite in spring ball and again in summer, and Jason Robinson (5-11, 194, Jr.) is another who has been vying for this spot.  If Martin doesn't start here, look for him to get his share of carries in the Bronco backfield—he's too good to be on the sidelines.  

Iloka (6-3, 207, So.) and Johnson (5-11, 194, Jr.) may be the best safety tandem in the country.  Both are extremely talented, big hitters, and big studiers of the game.  They can separate you from the ball like a bolt of orange lightning from the sky.  Iloka has already become a playmaker for the Broncos and all opposing offensive players are aware of Johnson. 

Garcia Day (6-1, 204, Sr.) is a hard-hitter who will make the most of his senior year.  Freshmen Jonathan Brown (5-10, 204), Tyler Jackson (6-0, 203) and Dane Turner (5-10, 170) could redshirt as the players ahead of them are solid and the youngsters could benefit not only from watching and learning from them but doing everything they can in a possible redshirt year to make themselves ready.  

Boise State has always focused on stopping the run first.  As we've already seen in the 2009 Previews, if the defensive line can perform as expected, it takes a lot of pressure off the secondary and allows them to be playmakers.  Following that line of thinking, the 2009 Bronco secondary could be in for a big year.

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