In more than 35 years of coaching experience, Steve Caldwell never quite had the situation he did last season, chock full of seniors on the Boise State defensive line.
This year, he once again has never quite been in this situation.
“Obviously very thin, just completely opposite what it was last spring,” Caldwell said.
Six seniors on the defensive line graduated, STUD end Kamalei Correa declared for the NFL Draft and defensive tackle Dereck Boles was kicked off the team in February.
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Caldwell and company have 14 linemen to work with this spring listed on the roster, including walk-ons: “thank the good lord we have them,” he said. Eight scholarship players are taking part this spring, with seven more set to join this summer, and many of the newcomers likely will play right away.
Still, Caldwell said the work ethic “has been as good or better than it has been in the past.”
“They’re making spring a lot of fun, I was a little bit nervous, going ‘wow, I'm never going to have a voice left after this spring,’” Caldwell said.
The first-teamers through most of spring have been senior Elliot Hoyte and sophomore David Moa on the inside, with senior Sam McCaskill at end and sophomore Jabril Frazier and junior Gabe Perez sharing time at the STUD.
“I’m confident in those ... first (five), once we get past that, we’re going to have to some guys ready to play,” Caldwell said. “That’s where we’re going be struggling at, we’ve got to get more guys that we’re comfortable with out on the field.”
Moa, who played in five games last season and had a sack, has caught some attention for his play, with Caldwell pointing to a similarity with McCaskill, who moved inside two seasons ago, able to do it because of his focus on technique.
“I think the guy that has been most surprising to me has been David Moa, man, he is really having a good spring,” Caldwell said. “... Everything we ask him to do, he tries to do it exactly that way.”
Caldwell also had praise for Frazier (who I will highlight in Sunday's Statesman), but feels good about Perez, who redshirted last season following a sophomore campaign in which he had 3.5 sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss.
“I think he's picked up where he left off the year before ... he’s back into it, ready to go, both shoulders are fixed and he's ready to go,” Caldwell said. “I think he’s had a real good spring, we’ve been happy where he is right now.”
SCRIMMAGE ON SATURDAY: The Broncos will hold a scrimmage at 5 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. It will only be open to Boise State students, faculty and staff. The spring game will be held the following Saturday, April 9, also at the same time and place.