(Returning starters: 6 | Defense: Multiple)
The Broncos return both of their defensive ends while new, but game proven players stepped into the tackle positions. The most experienced player on the line is left end senior Julius Roberts (6-5, 245) who earned All-WAC honors a years ago after grabbing four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Roberts is a speed rusher like Bill Swancutt and normally requires the attention of two offensive linemen. He is on the Rotary Lombardi Award watchlist.
Sophomore Andrew Browning (6-0, 272), a walk-on from Lake Oswego, played often last year and was the first lineman off the bench. He grabbed the starting left tackle position over freshman Dan Gore (6-5, 286).
Junior Alex Guerrero (6-1, 286) can play defensive end or tackle, but currently sits as the starting right tackle. Sophomore Mike Dominguez (6-2, 245) who missed four games last year with a broken hand in one of the more intense players on the team.
A host of underclassmen including junior college transfer Tim Volk and freshman Nick Schlekeway provide the defensive line with needed depth. Volk had two tackles against Idaho including his first sack in Division I ball. Schlekeway was the team’s second leading tackler against Idaho as he wrapped up five opponents and broke up one pass.
Boise State fans consider the linebackers the strength of their defense despite returning only four upperclassmen. The squad is led by first-team All-WAC linebacker Andy Avalos (5-10, 220) who grabbed over 100 tackles last year. The WAC’s preseason Player of the Year is one of the team’s captains and should earn post season honors again. He has a nose for the ball and is a good tackler. Avalos is on the Butkus and Rotary Award watchlists.
Honorable mention All-WAC middle linebacker Korey Hall (6-1, 231) returns after grabbing the second most tackles (85) on the team last year. Hall is aggressive and loves to lay down the big hits. He grabbed four tackles and recovered one fumble against Idaho.
|Avalos anchors the BSU defense.|
Sophomores Colt Brooks (6-0, 209) and Jared Hunter (6-4, 221) including junior Ben Chuckovich (6-0, 210) are still fighting for the starting strong side linebacker position. Brooks turned in a solid performance against Idaho grabbing four tackles including one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. Hunter is the most talented out the three but is recovering from broken leg he suffered last season. Chuckovich returns after playing a backup role in ’03.
Senior Tim Hefty (6-2, 221) and junior Chris Barrios (5-10, 218) back up Avalos and Hall respectively and will see limited playing time.
Out on an island? Sound familiar? That’s because that is what the Oregon State cornerbacks are asked to do – to be out on an island. The Broncos rely on one-on-one coverage and they currently have two talented starters. Senior Gabe Franklin (5-10, 185) has started since his redshirt freshman season and usually matches up the opposing team’s best receiver. He is a solid tackler and will be up for All-WAC credentials at the conclusion of the season. Franklin is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the WAC.
Franklin grabbed the first Boise State interception of 2004 against Idaho while adding five tackles and one sack. Sophomore Gerald Alexander (5-10, 185) worked his way into the rotation after a superb spring and fall camp. Alexander is an outstanding vertical leaper with a 40.5 inch mark and will provide the Beaver receivers with a challenge.
|Franklin is an All-WAC performer.|
Junior Marcosus Le Blanc (6-0, 187) and highly touted freshman Rashaun Scott (5-10, 181) also see playing time. Le Blanc has good reactions to the ball and loves to hit. Scott is the fastest player on the team with 4.3 speed.
Senior rover Chris Carr (5-9, 184) and junior free safety Cam Hall (6-0, 209) return after solidify a solid defensive backfield last year. Carr is an excellent coverman with a nose for the ball while Hall has the ability to deliver the big hit. Both are solid tacklers.
Redshirt freshman Austin Smith (5-9, 166) and senior Deshan Cabaong (6-1, 200)
provide Carr and Hall with rest. Smith is one of the better covernmen on the
team with good football instincts. Cabaong has been a special teams standout
the past few seasons. Good things seem to happen when he is in the game.