Aug 31, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell (10) drops back to pass and is hit by Boise State Broncos linebacker J.C. Percy (48) in the second quarter at Spartan Stadium. - Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
Each week, we take a look at the various fronts of Washington's upcoming opponent. Today, we look at the defense of the Boise State Broncos.
The Broncos run a base 4-2-5 scheme that is predicated in creating pressure situations for opposing quarterbacks, and in that effort, they've been largely successful. The team's 33 sacks ties them for 15th in the nation, which could spell trouble for a Washington offensive line that has been a revolving door more than a few times for opposing rush end-type players. That unit's maturation will likely be the key to Washington winning Saturday's ballgame, especially against a defensive that has allowed just 14.9 points per game, a figure that ranks them as the sixth-best scoring defense in the nation.
Defensive Line: Washington catches a break in not having to play against senior tackle Mike Atkinson, who suffered an ACL tear in the Broncos' game against San Diego State. However, the Huskies are hardly off the hook entirely since they still have to face players like defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, a redshirt sophomore whose 8.5 sacks ranks first in the conference and is tied for 27th in the nation. He's flanked by the superbly named Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, a 296 lb. behemoth at nose tackle, and Sam Ukwuachu, who has tallied 7.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.
Linebacker: Fifth year senior J.C. Percy seems to find himself attacking the ball carrier on just about every defensive play that the Broncos have taken part in this year. His 101 tackles (61 solo) lead the team by a wide margin, while fellow senior Tommy Smith ranks third, with 55. This position group plays little role in the pass defense game, as coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski prefers to leave that to the team's defensive backs.
Defensive Backs: Boise State has one of the nation's best ball-hawking defenses, with 16 interceptions on the year ranking the squad 17th in the nation. Those totals come almost entirely on the part of the secondary, which employs a nickel player in its base setup. They are led by Jeremy Ioane, a safety whose 65 tackles ranks second on the team, and Jamar Taylor and Darian Thompson, who both lead the team with three interceptions apiece. Boise State has also shown an affinity for blitzing Taylor out of disguise packages, as the senior has accounted for 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles.