Boise State spring game recap: Defensive line, Geraldo Hiwat, and insane punt make headlines

After a lackluster first spring scrimmage, the Boise State defense showed up in a big way on Saturday, beating the offense 21-13 in front of 14,000 fans at Bronco Stadium. The defense held the offense to two field goals until Grant Hedrick's touchdown run as time expired.

The defensive line was great, Geraldo Hiwat looked good, Trevor Harman kicked a ball 80 yards, and the Broncos escaped without any serious injuries (provided Billy Winn's ankle is fine). Join me after the jump for my take on the Blue and Orange game, and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Starting offense

QB: Kellen Moore
RB: Doug Martin
OL: (left to right) Nate Potter, Joe Kellogg, Matt Paradis, Jake Broyles, Charles Leno
TE: Kyle Efaw, Gabe Linehan
WR: Tyler Shoemaker, Geraldo Hiwat

The Broncos started with a two-TE formation. Chris Potter was the next receiver on once they switched to a three-WR set ... Thomas Byrd did not play since he has old man knees ... Kirby Moore was the fourth receiver ...

Starting defense

DL: Shea McClellin, Michael Atkinson, Billy Winn, Tyrone Crawford
LB: Tommy Smith, J.C. Percy
NB: Hunter White
CB: Jamar Taylor, Jerrell Gavins
S: George Iloka, Jeremy Ioane

Hunter White switched out with Dextrell Simmons on a fairly regular basis ... Aaron Tevis was healthy enough to play. He played with the second team and the first team ...

Notable player performances

Geraldo Hiwat

Pretty much the only thing the offense had going tonight was Geraldo Hiwat catching passes. The sophomore finished with 97 yards, including a 49-yard haul on a bomb from Joe Southwick. His prettiest move was a catch over the middle that he turned upfield, spinning and striding for a 22-yard gain. The best thing I can say about Hiwat was that he was a playmaker in the spring game. This season, I can see Tyler Shoemaker doing the dirty work (picking up first downs, averaging seven yards per reception) and Hiwat changing games (big catches, big gains).

Jeremy Ioane

Ioane was solid in coverage throughout the night. He didn't make his presence known like Jeron Johnson used to, but he didn't get burned deep and was never caught out of position. He let Anthony Clarke get in front of him for one catch, but that was it. He had a solid - if unspectacular - night.

Billy Winn

He was his usual dominant self throughout the scrimmage, knifing through the line on pass plays, stuffing the run. Late in the game, he moved outside to defensive end and gave Charles Leno more trouble than Charles Leno had had all game. On the play when he went down with an injured leg, Winn leaped over Raphiel Lambert. Grant Hedrick rolled past Winn while he was hanging in the air.

Jake Broyles and Charles Leno

The offensive line had some rough moments (both starters and backups). Broyles and Leno rarely got beat physically by the Bronco defense, but they did seem to have some miscommunications. Free blitzers were in the backfield often, and some assignments seemed confused. If the season started tomorrow, I would feel good about Broyles and Leno in the starting lineup. Since the season starts in September, I will feel great knowing they had five more months to practice together.

Kellen Moore and Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick

Moore made some throws and he missed some throws - nothing spectacular. His longest pass was a swing pass to Doug Martin that Martin cut back to the middle of the field and gained 20 yards.

Southwick had his moments of occasional brilliance, like when he hooked up with Hiwat on that 49-yard pass play. But he also had his moments of struggle, like when he threw a pick to grayshirt Bryan Douglas. To his credit, Southwick did lead the Broncos on two long field goal drives and would have had a touchdown to Chris Potter if not for a spectacular play by J.C. Percy to break up the pass. Hedrick was ineffective until the final drive of the game when he took the offense downfield for their only touchdown - a 10-yard scramble from Hedrick. Overall, neither quarterback really made a statement, so I'd say the backup job is Southwick's for the time being.

Miscellaneous

  • Jerrell Gavins had a couple of nice breakups and showed great closing speed and ball skills.
  • The left side of the offensive line (Nate Potter and Joe Kellogg) will be very good this year, and you could do a whole lot worse than having Matt Paradis as a backup center.
  • Trevor Harman's 80-yard punt could very well have been the highlight of the game.
  • Ebo Makinde was out with mono. He and Antwon Murray and Bryan Douglas and maybe some of the true freshmen will be competing in the fall for the No. 3 CB spot, which I think is one of the more underrated position battles.
  • In addition to his 20-yard reception, Doug Martin also leaped over Jamar Taylor in the open field on a run.

Strategies

The Broncos don't typically show much in the way of new strategies and formations at their scrimmages, but they did have some interesting wrinkles in tonight's game. Most we've seen before, but it's good to know they're still part of the gameplan. Here are the strategies I noticed:

  • The pistol formation.
  • The 3-3-5 defense with Shea McClellin as a stand-up linebacker next to Tyrone Crawford. When McClellin blitzed, that made for a DE-DE-DT-DT alignment up front, which would be an interesting twist.
  • Hurry-up offense.
  • Blitzing nickelbacks. The Bronco defense blitzed a lot tonight, and I'd say that at least half the time the blitz came from the nickel.
  • Read option. The backup quarterbacks ran this fairly often.
  • Traditional option. Again, these plays were reserved for Southwick and Hedrick.
  • Billy Winn at defensive end. This may have just been Winn goofing around, but he was a terror at DE.
  • "Tackle Over" formation. In other words, three offensive lineman on one side of the center, one lineman on the other side.
  • 1-5-5 defense. The Broncos had one defensive lineman in a three-point stance and the rest of the front six/seven buzzing around the line of scrimmage.

Reader questions

Is there anyone who can snap photos or short 30 sec videos of Kellen whipping 40 yard passes to his brother?

Kellen didn't throw to Kirby a single time that I can remember.

What type of running styles do the younger running backs have. Do they sweep around the static or do they (at least try to) mow people over Doug Martin style?

  • Drew Wright: Hits the hole fast, not a lot of shake but runs hard
  • Raphiel Lambert: Bowling ball shape and does not shy away from contact
  • Carlo Audagnotti: Likes moving laterally, quicker / shiftier than the others

Anything about Matt Miller.

Nothing about Matt Miller. He didn't play.

Do any other D-line men resemble super heroes, or villians for that matter?

Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe was the other D-lineman who stood out to me. He made a big hit on the quarterback and got up preening and clapping and generally making a fool out of himself. I appreciated it.

Is Shoemaker a traditional wideout or does he belong in the slot where he’s already proven himself?

Shoemaker didn't do much, and Hiwat definitely looked the better of the two. I think it's more that Shoemaker will have to be a traditional wideout since the Broncos have better depth at slot.

Your turn

What did you think of the spring game? Impressed with the defense? Worried about the offense? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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