Boise State's defense continues to grow

Broncos register four sacks, forces three turnovers.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comOctober 13, 2013 

LOGAN, Utah — Saturday was Utah State’s first game when it knew Chuckie Keeton could do nothing to help.

Boise State’s defense didn’t make it any easier to take.

The Aggies trotted out junior Craig Harrison to start at quarterback in place of Keeton, who tore knee ligaments last Friday in a loss to BYU. Rendered ineffective, Harrison was replaced by true freshman Darell Garretson in the third quarter in his first career action.

Boise State intercepted Garretson twice and held the Aggies to 154 passing yards before their final drive in a 34-23 win.

“It was kind of a hectic week, because we had no idea really what to expect, didn’t know who would start,” Boise State cornerback Bryan Douglas said. “I think that says some good things about us, that we definitely stepped up as a whole.”

Harrison was 7-of-17 passing for 105 yards, while Garretson was 9-of-14 for 116 yards, getting 67 of those on the last possession.

The Broncos’ defense technically only allowed 17 points, as six of Utah State’s points came via an interception return.

“They did great, bottom line they did great,” Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick said.

Including the Broncos’ previous game, a 60-7 win over Southern Miss on Sept. 28, the defense has yielded 307 yards per game. The Aggies had 257 yards of offense before a final 91-yard TD drive with the game out of reach in the final minutes. Boise State forced three turnovers for a second straight game.

“I think they’re starting to figure out some things, there’s no question about it,” coach Chris Petersen said. “I think they’re definitely improving, starting to just get comfortable playing college football and the speed of this game, with our calls, and they’re getting into a better groove.”

In Boise State’s first four games, the defense accounted for three sacks. Against Southern Miss, the Broncos had four, and on Saturday, they registered another four.

“To finally get there, and see ourselves get a little bit better at it, feels really good,” said Boise State senior defensive end Beau Martin, who had 1.5 sacks Saturday.

In addition to frustrating quarterbacks with pressure, the Broncos broke up six passes and got interceptions from Douglas and Donte Deayon. Tyler Horn recovered a fumble at the Broncos’ 40-yard line with 7:56 to play on a third-and-1 and Boise State leading 34-16.

Utah State rushed 39 times for 127 yards, and stopping the Aggies’ ground game was key, Petersen said, noting their inexperience and uncertainty at quarterback.

“They got some turnovers, I thought they were pretty stout against the run, and they didn’t give up a whole lot,” Petersen said about his defense. “… we knew they’d probably try to run the ball a little bit more with their quarterback situation. They set the tone.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420

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