For all of the hype associated with SEC linemen, the Boise State linemen couldn’t care less heading into their matchup against Ole Miss in Atlanta.
“They’re a big SEC offensive line, but we have big linemen too,” said Tyler Horn, senior defensive tackle. “It’s not like we’ve never played a big offensive line before.”
Horn argued that with the drastic improvement of sophomore defensive linemen Kamalei Correa and Gabe Perez, the Broncos will not be at a huge disadvantage against the Rebels.
After blocking against the defensive line every day in practice this fall, offensive lineman Steven Baggett can personally attest to the pressure Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace will be facing.
“Beau Martin; he’s tough to block on the end,” Baggett said. “Then there’s Tyler Horn and Armand Nance – the whole defensive line over there is pretty good.”
When it comes to skill players, the Broncos and Rebels match up evenly. Wallace and Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick both can make plays in the running game.
The Rebels have sophomore receiver Laquon Treadwell, the 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year to combat his Bronco counterparts Matt Miller and Shane Williams-Rhodes.
With those even matchups, it falls to the battle for the line of scrimmage to decide who walks out of the Georgia Dome with a victory.
Baggett is up to the challenge. He will be open the season as the starter at right tackle after making two starts in that position last season.
“There’s, pressure on us for sure,” Baggett said. “That’s why we want to go out there and we want to answer, come to the call, and do the best we can.”
Despite the offensive line returning only two full-time starters from last season, Baggett believes the unit’s versatility will play into Boise State’s hands.
Starting left guard Travis Averill made three starts at right tackle last season, while starting right guard Mario Yakoo made a start at that same position last year.
“Any three of us can start at any three of those positions, so that’s the nice thing about that,” Baggett said.
Horn also believes the defense is up to the task.
“We always prepare to win,” Horn said. “You can kind of sense that everyone around here expects to win and that we want to win.”
Tackling was a major issue for the Broncos last season. According to defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, that issue was remedied during fall camp.
“I’ve been most pleased with, actually, our tackling,” Yates said. “It still needs to improve a little bit, but I think it’s a lot better than what I thought it was going to be at this point. And then a thing that needs to improve is just talking to each other.”
Horn attributes the improvement in tackling to the coaching staff adding tackling drills to every practice.