The Boise State coaches are known for their creativity and they found another unique solution to a pressing problem last week.
The Broncos moved four-year starting free safety George Iloka to cornerback and inserted senior career backup Travis Stanaway at safety. With backup free safety Lee Hightower, a true freshman, already starting at corner, the Broncos played with four safeties and no true cornerbacks in a 36-14 victory over Wyoming on Nov. 26.
The result was their best defensive performance since early October. The Broncos have started seven players at cornerback this season because of injuries and ineffective backups.
Iloka didn't get a lot of action, but Stanaway led the team with nine tackles, grabbed his first interception and forced a fumble in the second start of his career.
"Let's put our four smartest football players on the field and let's go from there," defensive backs coach Marcel Yates said, explaining the personnel change. "Guys that are going to know what to do and give us a chance to win. It turned out well for us."
• Boise State senior quarterback Kellen Moore broke the Mountain West record for TD passes in a season (38 so far) and became the first player in FBS history to combine four 3,000-yard passing seasons with four 3,000-yard seasons of total offense.
• The Broncos need TCU to lose at home to UNLV to earn a share of the Mountain West title. They have clinched at least second place.
• Coach Chris Petersen has tied the school record with 71 coaching wins. Tony Knap set the mark from 1968 to 1975, the first eight years of four-year football at Boise State.
Series History: Boise State leads New Mexico 2-0 (last meeting, 2000, 31-14 Boise State)
Scouting The Offense: The Broncos got off to a sluggish start against Wyoming and have averaged a little over 34 points per game in day games this season. They get a later kickoff against New Mexico, and they average 48 points per game when games start after 4 p.m. As is typical for the Broncos, they scored a bunch of points in a spurt against Wyoming-putting up 36 points in less than 20 minutes after falling behind 7-0. Quarterback Kellen Moore led six consecutive scoring drives.
Scouting The Defense: The Broncos patched their hole at cornerback with starting free safety George Iloka and held Wyoming to 191 yards and one touchdown. It was a return to normal for a defense that had allowed nearly 30 points per game in the previous four games-a huge departure from its usual performance. The Broncos are 21st in the nation in total defense at 326.4 yards per game.
Quote To Note: "That's probably a once-in-a-lifetime catch."-Boise State wide receiver Matt Miller on his Hail Mary touchdown catch at the end of the first half of Boise State's 36-14 win over Wyoming on Nov. 26.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Game: New Mexico at Boise State, Dec. 3-The Broncos are seven touchdown favorites against one of the worst teams in the country. The Lobos already have hired their next coach, Bob Davie, so it's hard to imagine they are going to be fully focused on this game.
Keys To The Game: It's Senior Day for the Broncos and the last home game for players such as Kellen Moore, George Iloka, Shea McClellin, Tyler Shoemaker, Kyle Efaw, Tyrone Crawford and Byron Hout. The Broncos are clearly the better team. But their ability to handle the emotions that will be bubbling that day will be tested.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Kellen Moore - He's fourth in the nation in pass efficiency at 175.19. He's second in completion percentage and third in touchdown passes.
RB Doug Martin - Martin has rushed for at least 100 yards in his last four complete games. He missed nearly all of one game and most of another with an ankle injury. In the past two weeks, he has 282 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
WR Matt Miller - The freshman caught a Hail Mary for a touchdown against Wyoming. He now has 53 catches for 585 yards and eight touchdowns. All but the yardage are freshman school records.
• TB D.J. Harper returned against Wyoming after missing one game with an ankle injury.
• DE Tyrone Crawford played against Wyoming. He was hit in the head against San Diego State and wasn't green-lighted to play against Wyoming until the day before the game.
• QB Grant Hedrick didn't play for the third straight game but was in uniform.