‘Loaded and reloaded’ — and hungry: Boise State defense enjoys spoils of spring game

Rachel Roberts
·3 min read

While Boise State’s offensive players were inside the Caven-Williams Sports Complex paying the penance for their loss to the defense in Saturday’s spring football game, Scale Igiehon was loading up on macaroni and cheese.

It’s the 6-foot-2, 286-pound nose tackle’s favorite food, and he earned a heaping helping, along with the rest of his defensive teammates, who powered to a 45-23 win over their offensive counterparts at Albertsons Stadium.

By virtue of its big victory, the defense earned first crack at the postgame feast, which featured an extensive spread of barbecued meats — and plenty of mac and cheese.

“Right now, the defense is actually in the locker room first getting to shower and eat,” Igiehon said. “The offense is in the indoor, doing extra. Doing something that they probably don’t want to do.”

Igiehon was credited with two of the Broncos’ seven sacks as the defense forced 11 three-and-outs, nine false starts and three interceptions. All that came despite missing the services of EDGE Demitri Washington, nose tackle Keeghan Freeborn, cornerback Markel Reed, defensive tackle Herbert Gums and EDGE Isaiah Bagnah.

“Scale, he’s a dog, like, I don’t even know how to explain it,” Boise State running back George Holani said. “He’s been doing this since day one. He’s consistent, he shows up, he puts in the work and he’s a hell of a player. I’m really proud of that guy.”

First-year head coach Andy Avalos — a former defensive coordinator — said he wasn’t surprised by the defense’s dominant performance.

“It’s totally to be expected. There’s consistency within the defense, things that we’ve done here for some time now,” Avalos said. “We’ve got a lot of returners on defense, which is really good, especially up front in the two D-tackles. And we’ve got depth there, too, aside from Scott (Matlock) and Scale, that are really difficult to block. Iron sharpens iron, and we continue to get better.”

Weakside linebacker Riley Whimpey, who will return for a fifth season with the Broncos this fall courtesy of the extra year granted by the NCAA because of the coronavirus pandemic, registered a team-leading seven tackles, including one sack. Whimpey was the Broncos’ leading tackler in 2020 with 61.

Defensive tackle Jackson Cravens, who sat out in 2019 after transferring from Utah, had five tackles and a pair of sacks. Middle linebackers Brock Miller and Ezekiel Noa each had five tackles, and Miller was credited with a sack.

“The defense dominated today. ... That’s what we expect to do. That’s what we’ve been training for all spring long,” Igiehon said. “We just have so many pieces and parts to our defense that can go, and we also have a lot of depth. Our defense is always ready — loaded and reloaded.”

After grabbing three interceptions during the entire 2020 season, the Boise State defense came away with three in the scrimmage. Nickel Roman Kafentzis and cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho each picked off senior quarterback Jack Sears, and safety Seyi Oladipo intercepted junior Hank Bachmeier.

“Those guys spend a lot of time on their ball drills,” Avalos said. “The type of drills that the secondary coaches — coach (Kane) Ioane and coach (Jeron) Johnson — are doing with those guys in terms of putting them in those positions and repping and encouraging and talking about it. There’s a whole side culture that comes into play when we’re talking about takeaways, whether it’s ball security or taking the ball, and that’s paying off.”