The Boise State football team’s front seven on defense has lived up to the preseason hype so far.
The deep, veteran group has allowed the Broncos to dominate in the category they care about most on defense: rushing yards.
The Broncos rank second in the nation with 45.7 rushing yards per game allowed and third with 1.65 yards per attempt allowed.
The teams ranked ahead of them are Boston College in rushing yards (37.3) and Boston College and Syracuse (1.38 and 1.52) in yards per carry. Boston College has played two of its three games against FCS teams.
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The Boise State records in those categories are 40.7 yards per game and 1.1 yards per carry in 1969, before the school joined an NCAA conference.
In the FBS era, the best Boise State has done is 89.1 yards per game in 2006 and 2.9 yards per carry in 2010.
“We try to keep them under 2 yards per rush,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “That’s a big deal to us. It’s great that we’re holding them to that because that’s our first priority, to stop the run.”
Here’s how Boise State’s first three opponents have fared against the Broncos and in their other games:
Washington: 22 carries, 29 yards (1.3 yards per carry) vs. Boise State; 71 carries, 292 yards (4.1) vs. others.
BYU: 39 carries, 72 yards (1.8 ypc) vs. Boise State; 67 carries, 293 yards (4.4) vs. others.
Idaho State: 22 carries, 36 yards (1.6 ypc) vs. Boise State; 86 carries, 393 yards (4.6) vs. others.
“We’d like to get them under 50 (yards) — and accounting for sacks, that’s an attainable goal,” junior defensive end Sam McCaskill said.
Friday night at Virginia, the Broncos will face a Cavaliers offense that runs the ball as often as it throws. The Cavaliers average 31 attempts for 111.7 yards per game, an average of 3.6 yards per carry.
Those numbers don’t sound dynamic but the Cavs already have played a pair of Top 10 teams: UCLA and Notre Dame.
“Their offensive line is huge to start with and I think they’re one of the more athletic groups we’ve played,” Caldwell said. “I thought BYU’s offensive line was really aggressive. These guys are a little bit different in that they’re so athletic. They’re big and long. ... I think it will be a major challenge for us.”