It has taken less than half a season for Demarcus Lawrence to become completely comfortable in Boise and on the blue turf. And its taken the same amount of time for the South Carolina native to establish himself as someone opposing offenses must focus on when playing Boise State.
I feel like this is going to be my new home, Lawrence said after Saturdays 20-10 victory against Fresno State.
The Broncos, no doubt, are more than happy to have him. The 6-foot-3, 242-pound Lawrence leads the Broncos in tackles for loss (six), sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (three) from his defensive end position.
He was part of all three Boise State sacks against the Bulldogs and he forced a fumble by quarterback Derek Carr. This despite being a focal point of the Fresno State game plan entering the game.
There are very few guys that weve seen that were going to make a package for, but he is long and he is fast and thats one thing were not at tackle right now, Fresno State offensive line coach Cameron Norcross told the Fresno Bee before the game. ... The length presents some problems out there and he is quick, so were going to have to move our feet and get into position and not over-set him.
Lawrence heard about the Bulldogs emphasis on slowing him down. He said Fresno State did not use additional blockers on him, which was something he anticipated going into the game.
It means a lot. It means that Im getting respect in the game, said Lawrence, who transferred from Butler Community College in Kansas and arrived on campus in January. I kind of like it.
Whats not to like?
Teammates and coaches gush about him. And now opponents are catching on.
Besides being a long, good athlete, he plays with a good motor and is physical. You put those attributes together and he can get under guys, go around guys. He does a good job with his hands, getting an O-linemans hands off, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. A lot of it comes back to that effort being relentless, keep coming, keep coming, keep coming. You just never know when the coverage is going to be there and you can make a play.
The Broncos rushed four and sometimes just three defenders against the Bulldogs, preferring to drop into coverage and make Carr hold the ball longer than normal in the quick-pass offense. It worked. Fresno State rarely took any shots down the field, instead they had to engineer long scoring drives. And it allowed the rushers to get to Carr, who moved out of the pocket several times.
All three sacks came on third-down plays. Lawrence and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe combined for a 5-yard sack on third-and-8 in the first quarter. Lawrence and Mike Atkinson got to Carr on third-and-9 at the Boise State 18 in the third quarter. Fresno State was forced to kick a field goal on the drive.
And Lawrence showed off that effort with a fourth-quarter sack of Carr, who was flushed out of the pocket on third-and-2. Lawrence tracked him down from behind and stripped the ball. Atkinson fell on it.
I knew I was there and just had to punch it out, Lawrence said. I thought (Atkinson) was going to scoop it and take it to the house, but he didnt do anything but jump on it.
That was enough. Enough to give the Broncos their 19th forced turnover of the season. Enough to help the Broncos get past the Bulldogs for the seventh consecutive time. Enough to keep the Milk Can the little-known rivalry trophy that Boise State put in the locker room all week in Boise, likely for a very long time.
Hes been excellent, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. The thing that is encouraging about him is we still really feel like his best footballs in front of him. The more comfortable he gets, the more time he spends in this program, is good for all of us.
It was Petersen that swayed Lawrence to select the Broncos over BCS-conference schools such as Tennessee, South Florida, Kansas State and Mississippi. His mother really loved Petersen.
I felt connected with Coach Pete, too, Lawrence said. So I wanted to come up here and give it a try.
Hes found a perfect fit.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444