Boise State Football

Players to watch when No. 19 Boise State visits Air Force

Blake Whitlock, right, had a season-high six tackles against UNLV last week.
Blake Whitlock, right, had a season-high six tackles against UNLV last week. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

BOISE STATE

JEREMY McNICHOLS, RUNNING BACK

The nation’s third-leading rusher and touchdown leader is approaching some of Boise State’s top records with at least two games remaining. The junior needs 139 yards to pass Ian Johnson for second on the school’s single-season list (1,713 in 2006), one touchdown to set a career high, and two more to pass Jay Ajayi (55) for third in a career.

“Quite frankly, a guy that should be one of the top four or five contenders for the Heisman Trophy,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said.

BLAKE WHITLOCK, LINEBACKER

From joining the team as a walk-on this summer to moving into a starting role this week, the junior said “it’s been crazy.” The Reno native has made three starts this season and will finish the season that way with Tanner Vallejo out. Whitlock has 26 tackles (four for loss) and two sacks.

“It’s been fun, really a dream come true,” Whitlock said.

JONATHAN MOXEY, CORNERBACK

The senior still hasn’t pulled down his first interception of the season, but he’s been in the right place with 13 pass breakups (tied for No. 7 in the Football Bowl Subdivision). He also has career-highs of 44 tackles and 4 1/2 for loss.

“It’s been ups and downs, but at the end of the day, I’ve been doing my job, so I’m happy with that,” Moxey said. “I can see my growth on the field.”

AIR FORCE

ARION WORTHMAN, QUARTERBACK

Starting two of the past four games and seeing a majority of the snaps in the quartet of wins for Air Force, the sophomore has 523 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Three of his 13 completions this season have gone for touchdowns.

“He’s like having another running back back there,” Boise State defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “We’re going to have to do a good job with him. He does a great job operating their offense.”

JALEN ROBINETTE, WIDE RECEIVER

Air Force doesn’t pass often, but when it does, Robinette will usually be the target. And why not, since he is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds? The senior has 30 receptions for 790 yards (No. 1 in the FBS with 26.3 yards per catch), both more than 50 percent of the Falcons’ team totals, and Worthman found him for the winning touchdown with 32 seconds left last week to beat San Jose State. He’s No. 1 in school history with 2,528 career receiving yards

“Jalen’s pretty good. He’s got an NFL-type body, great ball skills and runs great routes,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said.

WESTON STEELHAMMER, SAFETY

College football will miss the wonderfully named senior, but Boise State certainly will not. The FBS active leader with 17 career interceptions, Steelhammer has three interceptions, two tackles for loss (including a sack) and a pass breakup against the Broncos in Falcon wins the past two years.

“He’s definitely one of those guys we’re looking at on film and making sure we know where he’s at,” Boise State co-offensive coordinator Zak Hill said.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman

  Comments