NOTE: Boise State has distributed 30,500 tickets for Friday’s game against Fresno State. That’s significantly ahead of the pace for the two previous home games this season. The Broncos drew an average of 34,124 fans for those games.
The Boise State football team’s battered secondary got a boost against Nevada with the return of starting cornerback Cleshawn Page.
Page began the game in a backup role but was playing full time in the second half because another starter, junior Donte Deayon, got shaken up on an interception.
Page had missed three games after sublexing his knee against Colorado State.
“In the beginning, I had to get my legs back and get the feel for it and just trust myself again,” Page said Monday. “Once I started, it was like I never left.”
The Broncos have used their preferred starters in the secondary just once this season, in the opener. They have used the same five guys just twice — and both times Deayon was unable to finish the game. Eight defensive backs have started a game, not counting linebacker Tanner Vallejo, who has taken over at nickel so senior Corey Bell can play safety.
Page (three), Deayon (two), safety Jeremy Ioane (three), safety Darian Thompson (one), safety Chanceller James (one) and cornerback Bryan Douglas (two) have missed games. The only guys who have started at least one game and not missed a game are sophomore cornerback Jonathan Moxey and Bell.
That list doesn’t include backup cornerback Mercy Maston (leg injury), who has not played this season and might redshirt.
“We know that each week there’s a chance there’s going to be a guy or two guys or three guys get hurt,” Page said. “That’s just how the game is played, especially how physical and aggressive we are. We understand that. It’s always a mindset of next guy up, and we always support the next guy up and can’t wait to see what he does when he gets out there.”
Page feared his season was over when he was injured Sept. 6. He hit his knee and thought he heard a pop. In a knee subluxation, the kneecap slides laterally instead of vertically.
“I was hoping it wasn’t as bad as it felt at the time,” Page said. “It’s my senior year In my mind, I was hoping that it wasn’t over. I’ve worked all summer, all spring, and all fall camp to play with these guys. And it was only the second game. It’s too early for this to happen right now.”
When the extent of the injury was known, the goal was for him to return for this week’s game against Fresno State (6 p.m. Friday, ESPN). He beat that by two weeks.
And the Broncos needed him against Nevada. He made four tackles, most among the cornerbacks.
Now Page is back to competing with Moxey for the starting spot he won in fall camp — assuming Deayon is available on the other side.
“I’m not really worried about that,” Page said. “ I just want to see us win.”
And he’d like to see all of his friends on the field together. The Broncos haven’t had a full complement of defensive backs available all year.
“You want the entire room to be healthy,” he said. “That’s sometimes not the case. If we can — and we will — get everybody back, we’ll be fine. We’ll get a nice rotation going.”
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