As much as Boise States offense struggled in its 38-6 season-opening loss at Washington, the defense took just as much of the blame.
On Saturday during a 63-14 win over UT Martin, the defenses six takeaways and much-improved result on the scoreboard was cathartic.
Basically, all of it was motivation we never want to give Bronco Nation that image of us, cornerback Bryan Douglas said. We came out to make a point today.
After creating one turnover against Washington on the second play of the game the Broncos got four interceptions and recovered two fumbles against the Skyhawks. Boise State scored 21 points off those turnovers.
The turnovers, that we were able to finish plays, going up and getting the ball, that was huge, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
The biggest play off one of those turnovers was Douglas 33-yard interception return for a touchdown with 5 minutes, 3 seconds to go in the first half. The junior missed the last five games of 2012 with a torn ACL. He added a second interception in the third quarter at the Boise State 9-yard line.
It felt good, just coming from rehab, it felt good to let everybody know Im back, Douglas said.
Though there were plenty of smiles on the sideline for the defense, the unit was quick to acknowledge the need for further improvement.
UT Martin picked up 357 yards of offense, converted 11-of-20 third downs and allowed two sacks. After missing more than 30 tackles against Washington, the Broncos still had quite a few misses Saturday.
I think we did take a step, but weve got to tackle better, we get tired, take a lot of snaps, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. We had the quarterback a couple times and couldnt tackle him, weve got to be better about that.
Kwiatkowski said tackling is on the top of the list for needed improvements, especially with games against Air Force and Fresno State the next two Friday nights.
Its shown up in the first and second games, so its something we know has to improve quickly if you miss one tackle or 20, theres room to improve, safety Ebo Makinde said.
The Broncos have a short week to prepare for Air Forces option, which was held to 162 rushing yards Saturday by Utah State.
Theyre a good team, itll need to be a good week of prep, Kwiatkowski said. Those things we are trying to focus are on going to be big against them its all about leveraging the ball, having your eyes in the right place, having that first guy make a tackle.
Armand Nance and Dillon Lukehart, both sophomores, led the Broncos with eight tackles apiece. Douglas said the defenses youngsters got all the early-season jitters out and they were ready to play today. Trying to temper the enthusiasm, Douglas noted that a real test of improvement lies right around the corner.
Its very good, Douglas said. Weve got to keep rolling from here, but we cant get too high on this. Weve got to start grinding on Air Force.
Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_southorn