TANNER VALLEJO, LINEBACKER
As he has settled into playing on the outside this season, Vallejo has been making plays all over the field. His 11.5 tackles per game are tied for No. 8 in the nation, and he’s coming off a 14-tackle showing against Washington State.
Two days after the win over the Cougars, coach Mike Leach said, “Our inside receivers were afraid of (Vallejo). Everybody that faced him except for the possible exception of John Thompson got their (butt) kicked. ... He kicked all of our guys around.”
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Said defensive coordinator Andy Avalos: “The mentality Tanner plays with is pretty special.”
DAVID MOA, NOSE TACKLE
Most nose tackles outweigh the 6-foot-3, 271-pound Moa by 30 pounds, but the sophomore has been mighty productive in his first year as a starter.
Moa has five tackles, 1.5 sacks and batted down a Washington State pass. Oregon State has allowed seven sacks in two games, so there should be chances for the defensive line to make plays.
“He knew he was coming in and had a big role to not only fill, but make a name for himself,” linebacker Ben Weaver said. “Starting back in the spring, through summer, all his training, he’s made it happen.”
JEREMY MCNICHOLS, RUNNING BACK
McNichols posted his eighth career 100-yard game against Washington State, rushing for 116 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns. He owns a Mountain West-record streak of 14 straight games with a rushing touchdown.
Against the Cougars, 86 of his yards came in the second half, imposing his physical running style. The Beavers have allowed five rushing scores.
“If that doesn’t fire you up, you might as well be dead. ... Hopefully Jeremy can continue to do those things,” co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Scott Huff said.
RYAN NALL, RUNNING BACK
Starting his OSU career as a tight end/fullback, “The Wrecking Nall” has settled in as the Beavers’ top running back. The 6-foot-2, 234-pound sophomore has rushed for 110 yards and a TD, adding 10 receptions for 76 yards.
Last season, injuries forced him to move to running back, and he had 122 yards against Colorado and 176 against Oregon in his final five games.
Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos compares him to former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Mike Alstott.
“He’s a big back, not your standard shifty, incredibly fast (back), but he’s good at what he does and a good benefit for their team,” Boise State linebacker Ben Weaver said.
TRESTON DECOUD, CORNERBACK
The reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the week, Decoud had two interceptions against Idaho State, running one back 75 yards for a touchdown.
The 6-3, 208-pound cornerback has 11 starts since joining the team from Northwest Mississippi CC last year, and has 11 tackles this season.
“Big, strong physical guy. He moves well,” Boise State receivers coach Junior Adams said. “He makes plays on the ball, like a wideout.”
VICTOR BOLDEN, WIDE RECEIVER
Oregon State’s top wide receiver the last two seasons, the senior is No. 1 with 88 yards on seven receptions (long of 48), and leads the team with 111 rushing yards on four carries, aided by a 92-yard touchdown run in last week’s victory against Idaho State.
Bolden is the Beavers’ primary punt returner and also returns kickoffs (a long of 21 yards).
“He can roll, there’s no doubt about it. It pops on film,” Avalos said. “The thing about him, too, is that he’s a great route runner.”