Boise State might need to add a tote board at Albertsons Stadium for the rest of this football season so fans can keep up with the game generating chatter on the sideline.
The current score:
Darian Thompson, 17.
Donte Deayon, 17.
The two senior defensive backs are tied in career interceptions going into Saturday’s game at Colorado State (5 p.m., CBS Sports Network). Each needs two more to break the Mountain West record of 18 set by former Utah and longtime San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle.
They’ll have at least eight games to get it done.
“It’s competitive and it’s fun for them,” defensive backs coach Julius Brown said. “On the sidelines, it’s pretty neat during the game. They push each other and at the end of the day they want each other to be great. I think they’ll be happy if they walk out of here a tie.”
Thompson, a safety, entered the season with a 14-13 lead and gained a two-pick lead in the season opener against Washington.
Deayon, a cornerback, drew even with two interceptions against BYU.
And since then, they’ve mirrored each other.
Thompson grabbed No. 16 in the first quarter at Virginia. Deayon matched him in the third quarter.
Deayon snagged No. 17 in the first quarter last week against Hawaii. Thompson caught up in the second quarter.
“It seems like whenever I get one, he gets one,” Thompson said.
Thompson is more focused on the single-season battle than the overall total.
He won 7-6 last year. Deayon won 6-4 in 2013, their first full season starting together in the secondary.
“I asked him (during the Hawaii game), ‘How many do you have?’ ” Thompson said. “He said four. I’ve got three. So he’s winning right now.”
Thompson and Deayon are the latest in a long line of terrific defensive backs at Boise State. Shaunard Harts, Quintin Mikell, Chris Carr, Gerald Alexander, Orlando Scandrick, Kyle Wilson, George Iloka, Jeron Johnson and Jamar Taylor are among the former Broncos to stick in the NFL.
None made plays on the ball like the two seniors. The school record in the FBS era is 18 interceptions by cornerback Gabe Franklin from 2001-04 (Steve Forrey holds the overall record with 24 from 1968-70).
“It starts with their preparation,” Brown said of Deayon and Thompson. “All the fans and everybody see the interception and think that those guys are just magical. ... I would credit it all to their preparation.”
Thompson and Deayon also possess uncanny instincts and outstanding hands, the latter a rare commodity among defensive backs.
They also have benefited, coaches say, from the play of their teammates. Opponents can’t avoid them because the Broncos don’t have a starter who would be considered a weak link.
Still, coaches have tried to move the two stars around enough to keep offenses from building a plan for them.
“You put them into a concept and explain what they can and can’t do and they’ve got some feel that you’re seeing,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “Some of those interceptions, that’s feel. That’s just knowing what’s coming. Both of those guys have done that. It’s been fun to watch two guys that are elevating their level of play. I think they’re feeding off each other. That’s the competition -- the fun part within our team. ... That’s helped this team come together even more.”
Thompson, a converted cornerback, has started since he replaced the suspended Lee Hightower with six games left in the 2012 season. Thompson was named to the All-Mountain West first team and CBSSports.com All-American second team last season.
He submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft advisory group after last season. He was advised to stay in school for his senior year. Mel Kiper Jr. lists him as the No. 5 senior safety prospect this year.
“His approach to the game has been as a pro,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “He already knows what’s going on before he gets our game plan.”
Deayon didn’t play as a true freshman until the final five games of the season, starting once. He has been named to the All-Mountain West second team each of the past two seasons.
His NFL future is uncertain because of his size — he’s just 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds.
The same issue limited his options out of college. Boise State coaches were sold when they saw him in their high school camp.
“He was 130 (pounds),” said Brown, who was on the Broncos’ support staff at the time. “He was at our football camp and they couldn’t catch a pass. It was very easy to tell (he’d succeed) when you’re in there and every guy that lines up, all the balls are incomplete or intercepted.”
It’s starting to feel that way in college games this season.
Last week, Deayon could have caught two more interceptions but he underestimated the velocity of quarterback Max Wittek’s throws.
He might regret that by the end of his competition with Thompson.
“If he finishes ahead, I’m fine with that,” Deayon said, “but I’m going to go out there and he’s going to get a run for his money.”