BOISE — The Boise State football team has lost a promising young tailback and one of its leaders on special teams to season-ending injuries, coach Chris Petersen said Monday.
True freshman tailback Aaron Baltazar tore an anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and senior safety Ebo Makinde tore a pectoral muscle in the Sept. 28 game against Southern Miss.
The Broncos return to the field Saturday at Utah State.
Sophomore Jack Fields replaces Baltazar as the No. 2 tailback behind starter Jay Ajayi. Fields has 27 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown (3.4 yards per carry). Junior Derrick Thomas is listed as No. 3. He has seven carries for 10 yards.
Weve got some guys there, we do, Petersen said. Weve been saying from day one you need more than one or two guys at that position.
Makinde was a backup and key special-teamer with six tackles. His Boise State career is over.
Ebo was one of our best (special-teamers), for sure, Petersen said. Hes been doing a really good job. Our team and our coaches know how important that guy was in the role he was in.
Petersen doesnt comment on short-term injuries, but he said the team did get healthier during last weeks bye. Among those who have missed time in recent games: wide receivers Aaron Burks and Kirby Moore, tight ends Gabe Linehan and Holden Huff, right tackle Rees Odhiambo, defensive tackle Tyler Horn, safety Jeremy Ioane and linebacker Jonathan Brown.
We got a lot of work done recruiting, practice, a lot of training room, Petersen said. Every coach had a checklist of what they wanted to improve upon. We did it by offense, defense and special teams and then by position group.
Decision for Aggies
Utah State lost star quarterback Chuckie Keeton to a torn ACL in Fridays game against BYU.
Now the Aggies are trying to choose a new starter for Saturdays game. Junior Craig Harrison, who finished the BYU game, and freshman Darell Garretson, who hasnt played yet, will compete for the job this week in practice and fans will learn the winner when he takes the field, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The Aggies also lost second-leading rusher Joe Hill to an ACL tear. They lost starting guard Kyle Whimpey to a season-ending injury in the previous game.
Boise State (3-2 overall, 1-1 Mountain West) and Utah State (3-3, 2-0) are considered the leading contenders for the Mountain Division title. If Utah State wins, it would hold a two-game lead and the tiebreaker over Boise State.
Join the caravan
Boise State fans are putting together a caravan to Logan, Utah. The group will leave the outlet mall just off I-84 at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398,Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat