Utah State’s most experienced group directly faces Boise State’s least experienced Saturday night, yet it will be strength against strength.
The Aggies feature four senior starters on the offensive line, three of whom combined for 60 starts entering this season. The Broncos entered the season with a group that had one player make one start last year.
“They have a very experienced offensive line. They’ve (now) had 80 starts between four seniors and a junior,” Boise State sophomore nose tackle David Moa said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for our defensive line.”
Boise State’s defensive line has had early success this season. The Broncos are tied for No. 1 in the nation with 4.33 sacks per game, and Moa’s four sacks are tied for No. 1 among players who have appeared in only three games.
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Despite their experience, the Aggies have at times had difficulty against a solid, aggressive defense. They’ve allowed 32 tackles for loss, with only 10 teams allowing more, including 11 sacks. Utah State is well aware of what it faces at Albertsons Stadium.
“I think the big challenge with Boise State in pass protection is when they bring four or five men, because those guys can rush,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “They’ve got moves. They go from speed to power and they’ve got counter moves. With Boise, it’s not about them trying to overload your protections. It’s about winning the one-on-one battles, and they’ve got excellent defenders on the edge to do that.”
In their 27-20 loss to Air Force last week, the Aggies were blitzed frequently, which led to 42 rushing yards, but with basic outside coverages, it allowed them to throw for 372.
They can run block, too, going for 428 and 198 yards on the ground in wins against Weber State and Arkansas State. The Broncos know the Aggies can still be tough, even if made to be one-dimensional, as quarterback Kent Myers can run and throw equally well.
“We’re going to have to play really well up front,” Boise State defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “We have to be disciplined in our pass-rushing lanes ... constrict the pocket so he can’t get out of there and destroy us on third downs.”
Constrict is an interesting choice of words, considering Moa has earned the nickname of “Moa Constrictor.” Caldwell said he’s grown up quickly in his first season as a starter and will likely see some double-teams Saturday, which thus far he’s handled well, and should free up others to make plays.
“In that position he plays, you’ve got to be a man. ... Hopefully we can keep him coming,” Caldwell said.