Bronco Beat

Boise State football position breakdowns: Correa highlights loaded defensive line

I'm previewing the Boise State football team by position. I'll post a blog with many notes and quotes about the position and write a feature for the newspaper that runs the following morning.

Today: Offensive line

Previously: Linebackers, tailbacks, defensive backs, quarterbacks, offensive line

DEFENSIVE LINE ROSTER

End

69 Tyler Horn, 6-5, 268, R-Sr.

32 Rondell McNair, 6-2, 236, R-Sr.

94 Sam McCaskill, 6-3, 257, R-Jr.

97 Austin Silsby, 6-3, 248, R-So.

91 Durrant Miles, 6-5, 226, Fr.

Stud

33 Gabe Perez, 6-4, 236, Jr.

8 Kamalei Correa, 6-3, 248, Jr.

95 Kaleb Hill, 6-1, 237, R-Fr.

18 Jabril Frazier, 6-4, 232, R-Fr.

Tackle

90 Justin Taimatuia, 6-0, 298, R-Sr.

58 Robert Ash, 6-3, 288, R-Sr.

98 Antoine Turner, 6-1, 275, R-Sr.

55 Tutulupeatau Mataele, 6-3, 296, R-Sr.

40 Armand Nance, 6-0, 306, Sr.

96 Elliot Hoyte, 6-4, 280, R-Jr.

99 Dereck Boles, 6-2, 277, R-Fr.

48 David Moa, 6-3, 269, R-Fr.

92 Paul Semons, 6-3, 266, R-Fr.

54 Matt Locher, 6-2, 252, Fr.

53 Sam Whitney, 6-1, 234, Fr.

50 Sawyer Shields, 6-1, 241, Fr.

PROJECTED DEPTH CHART

End

Tyler Horn, 6-5, 268, R-Sr.: Moves back to end after two seasons at tackle. He has recorded 17.5 career tackles for loss and is coming off an injury that forced him to miss all but one game last year.

Sam McCaskill, 6-3, 257, R-Jr.: Replaced Horn as a starting tackle last year after the injury. Like Horn, he was recruited as an end and moves back there this year.

Tackle

Tutulupeatau Mataele, 6-3, 296, R-Sr.: Former junior college transfer wreaked havoc against the first-team offensive line in practice last year. He has waited two years for a chance to make his Boise State debut because of academic suspensions.

Antoine Turner, 6-1, 275, R-Sr.: Trimmed down and more knowledgeable of his assignments, Turner should be able to put his athleticism to better use. He made 13 tackles last season but his playing time slipped as the season progressed.

Nose

Justin Taimatuia, 6-0, 298, R-Sr.: Was a significant contributor in 2013 (29 tackles) and might have started in 2014 but an injury forced him to redshirt. He benched 500 pounds in the offseason.

Armand Nance, 6-0, 306, Sr.: Started every game last season and eight in 2013. He made 36 tackles last season and became a key leader on the defense.

Stud end

Kamalei Correa, 6-3, 248, Jr.: All-Mountain West first-teamer led the conference with 12 sacks and the team with 19 tackles for loss last season. He hopes to improve his consistency this year.

Gabe Perez, 6-4, 236, Jr.: Limited during fall camp, Perez could share time with redshirt freshman Jabril Frazier. Perez recorded 7.5 tackles for loss last season as a backup, fourth-most on the team.

THE BREAKDOWN

Overview: The Broncos return all but one contributing defensive lineman from last year's team. They add three seniors who were unable to play last season but could start this year -- end Tyler Horn, tackle Tutulupeatau Mataele and nose tackle Justin Taimatuia -- and a handful of redshirt freshmen who have pushed for playing time, led by stud end Jabril Frazier. The group includes seven seniors and four juniors and could be legitimately three deep across the entire line. At least 14 players appear poised to crack the rotation at some point this season. "I expect a lot out of them," defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. "I tell them that every day. ... We know we're going to be good. It's going to be up to us."

Key to success: The Broncos need to find another strong pass rusher to complement Correa. Horn was terrific in the opener against Ole Miss last year before his injury and could fill that role. Perez also can rush the passer but backs up Correa, so they won't be on the field together often. Perez and Hoyte, with 3.5 each, had the most sacks last year among returning linemen other than Correa.

Reason for concern: Many of the linemen were banged up at some point during fall camp, including Nance, Perez and Taimatuia. Nance, in particular, has some work to do to get himself back into game shape. He was injured before camp started.

Star player: Correa improved his speed and strength after his breakout sophomore season. He already is getting questions about whether he might leave early for the NFL. But he says his focus is on this season and building upon last year's success. "That's just a level ground right there," he said of his 2014 performance. "That's something to build off of. ... I'm not going to live off the past."

Breakout performer: Mataele will make his long-awaited debut after he was suspended from the university in 2013 and suspended by the NCAA in 2014 for an academic transgression. "I'm waiting to see him get in a game, just like you, and see what happens," Caldwell said.

Newcomer to watch: Frazier, one of the top recruits in Boise State's 2014 class, joined the team in January and has provided some depth at stud end. With Perez limited, Frazier capitalized on his second-team snaps in camp. "We've seen a lot out of him," Caldwell said.

Quotes/notes

-- Horn on the line: "The combination of people stepping up and people coming back from injuries is going to be a big positive."

-- Horn on competing with McCaskill: "You can't play the whole game. We are competing, but at the same time we want to be able to play fresh."

-- Correa says his success will start with the right mindset: "If you go in every game thinking you're the best, thinking you can be the best, thinking you can't be stopped ... then I think you can't be stopped if you really bring it."

-- Correa on the NFL: "We can focus on that question a little later. ... It's hard to grasp. It's always been a dream of mine, an aspiration, but I kind of just like to take it day by day I guess."

-- Caldwell on Correa: "He's got tremendous ability. It's up to me to get it out of him."

-- Caldwell on Taimatuia's return: "He really had a shot at being the starter (last year) because I thought he had a fantastic spring. ... He's obviously very quick, very strong."

-- Turner on the competition: "It's been amazingly brutal. It's been unreal to see all those guys working. You have to bring your game every day."

-- Turner on why he didn't play much late last season: "It was because I didn't really know the system. I was kind of running around with my blindfolds on. It was big-time football and you've got to be in your gap when you've got to be in your gap. And when you're not there, that hurts the defense. That hurts the team. I knew I wasn't ready to be in that role."

-- Turner on the line: "We're rallying in believing that our D-line can dominate anyone. We're still working. It's still a process, but I think at the end of the day we're going to be a dominant defense and we're going to be able to get to the quarterback. I just pray that they know that we're coming."

-- Turner on Caldwell: "He's fiery, dedicated and he wants the little things done right. Nothing but the little things and consistency. He demands it out of you. He demands it out of you to the point where when you do it wrong you're mad at yourself. That's the type of coach you need. You start to believe so much in the system and so much in what he's teaching that you have conviction in your heart about what he's teaching you, so when you do it wrong, you're upset. I love the guy."

-- McCaskill on moving back to end: "I'm trying to get on the field any way that I can. Last year, it was fun getting to move in (to tackle) just because I was moving to playing time. Now I'm just trying to really work on my craft and figure out which position I play better."

-- McCaskill on playing tackle and end: "Now I'm a lot more comfortable than I was last year at this time. Last year, I just felt so out of position. Now I kind of have a good balance of both of them."

-- McCaskill on the line: "With so many people who have played, we can start mixing up positions and going different places, putting different packages in and make it as hard as we can on the offense."

-- McCaskill on Horn: "He's just worked so much harder. He came back really hungry from the injury. I think it kind of motivated him. That was the hardest thing for him was watching a whole season go by and not being on the field at all."

RELATED POSTS

Once-troubled Mataele becomes 27-year-old D-lineman

Taimatuia gives D-line a lift

Player spotlight: Sam McCaskill

Correa eager to improve

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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