Facing an offense that has plenty of experience and talent at the skill positions is challenging enough, let alone with four possible starters sidelined.
The Boise State defense was without defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, linebacker Tyler Gray, safety Jeremy Ioane and cornerback Bryan Douglas for Saturday's Spring Game, which the offense won 28-19.
"We're a little short, numbers-wise, on defense," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "You want to play everybody. You also need to protect some guys - it's very hard to compete down to the wire. We're not trying to win spring ball; we're trying to get better. I think this thing would've been a little closer if guys had really been competing to win it."
Petersen said nagging injuries to Gray and Ioane weren't serious, while Ukwuachu has "some personal things he's taking care of." Douglas has been out since October with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"Those are some playmakers, and we always need those guys out there, they couldn't make it, but we've got guys to fill in," said linebacker Blake Renaud, who had a team-high eight tackles.
The offense wasn't free of the injury bug, as tight end Gabe Linehan and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. did not suit up. During the course of the scrimmage, quarterback Nick Patti, running back Jack Fields and receiver Geraldo Boldewijn left early. Petersen also believed those issues weren't cause for major concern.
"That's the nice thing about spring - they might not be ready next week, but they shouldn't be set back very far," Petersen said.
D-LINE MAKES AN IMPACT
Some familiar names and a new face stepped up for the Boise State defensive line Saturday.
Junior defensive tackle Tyler Horn spent most of his time playing at end, his former spot, with Ukwuachu out. Horn slid back easily, intercepting a Grant Hedrick pass and also picking up a tackle for loss. Junior defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence and Beau Martin had a sack apiece. Martin also blocked a punt.
Deuce Mataele, a junior college transfer, had six tackles (two for loss) and forced a fumble, which the defense recovered.
WINDY WEATHER, WAYWARD PASSES
Winds gusted throughout Saturday's scrimmage, often coming from north to south. Punts that went against the wind died quickly, while throws with the wind behind them flew out of quarterbacks' hands and out of their receivers' reach.
"It affected it," Petersen said. "It's very hard to throw the deep ball in the wind. Early on, a couple of them might've had a chance that were incomplete because the wind was coming pretty good."
Cornerback Deon'tae Florence was credited with three pass breakups. Fellow cornerback Cleshawn Page, who joined the program in January from Los Angeles Harbor College, had two tackles for loss. The two longest plays of the scrimmage were touchdowns - cornerback Donte Deayon's 30-yard interception return and receiver Geraldo Boldewijn's 25-yard catch. The attendance was 9,146, no doubt a product of the windy weather and the lack of quarterback intrigue. Last year's attendance was a record 17,123.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn