Boise State Football

Hawaii will test Boise State’s front seven with its 3-headed monster at running back

Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste (22) ran for a career-high 205 yards on 19 carries against Nevada on Oct. 1.
Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste (22) ran for a career-high 205 yards on 19 carries against Nevada on Oct. 1. The Associated Press

Hawaii is 79th in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 163.7 rushing yards per game. That’s normally not much to brag about, but for the Warriors, that might as well be like bringing back the option.

Since 2000, Hawaii has finished 100th or worse 14 times in rushing offense while leaning heavily on the passing game. This year, they have plenty of talent in the backfield.

Junior Diocemy Saint Juste leads the team with 691 yards, senior Steven Lakalaka is the short-yardage specialist (380 yards and 10 TDs), and senior Paul Harris (359 yards, 6.5 per carry) was the team’s second 1,000-yard rusher since 1992 last season, when he had 1,132.

“It kind of comes with the balance of their offense. ... I think this year, they’ve done a much better job of being able to have both of those key components,” Boise State senior linebacker Ben Weaver said.

That means the Broncos’ defensive line and linebackers will have their work cut out for them, especially when factoring in Hawaii’s offensive line, which checks in at 290 pounds or more apiece. Boise State has allowed 217 and 215 yards on the ground the past two games.

“Their run game, they’re physical up front, big O-line as they usually have,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “It always starts with that. We’ve got to do a better job in the front seven than we have.”

If that sounds like a challenge to his defense, that is certainly how the group has taken it. The defensive line, which has used its four starters on a vast majority of the snaps, is ready to step up.

“They have really physical backs. It’s going to rely on the defensive line,” sophomore defensive tackle David Moa said. “... We need to get back to the little things we’ve been doing since Day 1 of spring ball. All the defensive coaches, even coach Harsin put a challenge on us to get back to what we’ve been doing.

“We’re definitely going to show out this upcoming game.”

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