Boise State Football

Boise State linemen are winning the battles up front

Travis Averill on Utah State

Boise State offensive lineman Travis Averill discusses the Aggies
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Boise State offensive lineman Travis Averill discusses the Aggies

From the Boise State offensive line, this sort of showing through the first three games was expected. But not many predicted a strong start from the defensive line.

The Broncos are unbeaten thanks to a solid effort from the big guys in the middle.

“A lot of pride, it all starts (with us), that’s what we think,” senior offensive guard Travis Averill said.

Boise State, which has four starters on the offensive line who came into the season with at least 13 starts under their belts, has allowed only three sacks on 107 attempts, or one out of every 36 throws. Opponents had 31 sacks last season, or one every 17 passes. It has helped the offense, even with its recent second-half struggles, average 505.3 yards per game, good for No. 20 nationally.

After he ran for 208 yards Saturday at Oregon State, junior running back Jeremy McNichols said “the offensive line, those tight ends, the receivers blocking on the edge, made it that much easier.”

“I think we’ve played pretty well. We’ve done a lot of good things, but we can still get better,” Averill said.

But perhaps the most surprising showing has been from the guys dueling with the opposing offensive line. The Broncos are tied for No. 1 nationally with 4.33 sacks per game (13), seven coming from the line. It’s also responsible for a rush defense that’s allowing 72.3 yards per game, tied for No. 6 in the FBS.

“It’s pretty cool, actually, because a lot of people doubted us,” senior defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte said.

Hoyte made one start last season. Otherwise, no returning player on the defensive line made a start in 2015, or had made one in their career other than the 13 senior end Sam McCaskill made as a tackle as a sophomore.

Yet, the unit has been among the best on the team, with McCaskill posting a team-high 4.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups and a blocked field goal, while sophomore defensive tackle David Moa has a team-high four sacks.

“I’m not surprised. We knew we were up to the challenge, if we kept getting better every week, we knew we’d have a chance to do something special,” said Hoyte, who added his goal is to get his first sack of the season Saturday against Utah State.

ALBERTSONS STADIUM IMPROVEMENTS ON THE HORIZON?

Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey said Monday that improvements to the east side of the stadium are “more than needed,” and hopes to “get moving on this a lot quicker than people might think.”

That could include adding/renovating bathrooms, concessions, or adding loge-type seating, with the idea it can create revenue to help pay for the changes.

Apsey also said the football schedule has open dates for 2019, 2020 and 2021 that he hopes to fill by the end of this year. The 2019 date is likely to be a home game.

MCNICHOLS, WALE PICK UP MOUNTAIN WEST HONORS

Boise State had two players honored by the Mountain West on Monday, the second straight week after a game the Broncos have earned a conference award.

McNichols is the offensive player of the week, and senior punter Sean Wale is the special teams player of the week. McNichols had a career-best four TDs against the Beavers in addition to his 200-yard game. Wale averaged 46.5 yards per punt, with three traveling at least 50 yards. He is the first Boise State punter to earn the weekly Mountain West honor since the Broncos joined the conference in 2011.

Cornerback Tyler Horton was the defensive player of the week after the 31-28 win over Washington State on Sept. 10, when he had an 85-yard interception return for a TD.

PLAYER UPDATES

▪ On Monday at the Bronco Athletic Association luncheon, coach Bryan Harsin said senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo “is banged up,” but did not offer any additional information. He said he was expecting to get an injury report Monday night. Vallejo did not finish Saturday’s game at Oregon State. Harsin meets with the media at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

▪ The Broncos’ depth chart remained nearly unchanged Monday, but true freshman running back Alexander Mattison is listed as a co-backup with senior Devan Demas.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat

Utah State at Boise State

  • When: 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday
  • Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
  • TV: ESPN2 (Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey, Alex Corddry)
  • Radio: KBOI 670 AM/KTIK 93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
  • Records: Boise State 3-0 (0-0 Mountain West); Utah State 2-2 (0-1 Mountain West)
  • Kickoff weather: High-50s and clear, light winds, no chance of precipitation
  • Vegas line: Boise State favored by 20 points
  • Series: Boise State leads 15-5 (last meeting: Aggies won 52-26 on Oct. 16, 2015 in Logan)
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