Boise State junior linebacker Ben Weaver found a positive in facing triple-option offenses.
“The quarterbacks maybe aren’t as experienced of passers as runners,” he said.
That’s one possible explanation for Weaver’s mind-boggling trifecta. After 34 games and 26 starts without an interception in his college career, Weaver has grabbed a pick in three straight games going into the Dec. 23 Poinsettia Bowl against Northern Illinois.
He’s the first Boise State linebacker with three interceptions in a season since Aaron Tevis in 2009.
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“A lot of (luck involved),” Weaver said. “You don’t get a lot of jump balls or 1-on-1 routes. You’ve kind of got to make the best of your opportunities. A lot of times it’s off of tipped balls or over routes (behind the linebackers) where the quarterback may not see you.”
Weaver has proven a playmaker throughout his career, just not when the ball is in the air. He leads the team with 66 tackles this season. He was tops with 89 as a redshirt freshman in 2013 and third with 62 in 2014.
But he had only broken up two passes before November of this year.
His first interception occurred late in the first half of the New Mexico game. The option-based Lobos were leading 14-3 and driving for more points when Weaver intercepted Austin Apodoca at the Broncos’ 7-yard line.
His second interception happened in the fourth quarter against option-based Air Force. The Broncos were down by two touchdowns and in desperate need of a break when Weaver snagged Karson Roberts’ pass near midfield. The Broncos scored moments later to get within a touchdown.
And his third interception came in the fourth quarter at San Jose State, three plays after tailback Jeremy McNichols’ 88-yard touchdown run. The interception in San Jose State territory set up a field goal that stretched the Broncos’ lead to 16.
“I’m not sure if there’s something I’ve been doing different, or if all the years of preparation started to pay off a little bit,” Weaver said.
He hadn’t caught a football in a game in five years before the New Mexico game, dating to his junior year of high school. He was a backup quarterback as a high school freshman, so he has a little bit of ballhandling experience.
“Any time you put yourself in position, you’ve got to actually make the play,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s a credit to him. He’s actually made the plays. ... Ben’s a guy to me, not just on the football field, but he has got himself organized off the field with the classroom and what he wants to do, how he’s going about his business. All that stuff shows up.”
▪ Who: Boise State (8-4, 5-3 MW) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5, 6-2 MAC)
▪ When: 2:30 p.m. MT Wednesday, Dec. 23
▪ Where: Qualcomm Stadium (71,500, grass), San Diego
▪ TV: ESPN
▪ Series: First meeting
▪ Tickets: $39, $61 or $78 at BroncoSports.com/ bowlcentral. Tickets about $10 more through SanDiegoBowlGames.com.