Boise State’s renewed focus on creating turnovers pays off in second spring scrimmage

Boise State forced just 19 turnovers last fall, which were its fewest in a full season since 2019, so new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander issued a challenge to his players this spring.

Chinander said he wants the defense to force at least three turnovers in every practice.

“We’ve been implementing some turnover circuits, so I just think the guys are more ball-aware right now,” Chinander said. “Hopefully, that translates into more turnovers during the season.”

The Broncos have hit their turnover goal more often than not through 12 practices this spring, Chinander said, adding the defense forced five in one practice. The defense just missed its goal Saturday when former Cal cornerback Jeremiah Earby snagged two interceptions during the team’s second live scrimmage of the year.

That’s a stark contrast from the first scrimmage, which didn’t include a single interception.

“If you get three turnovers a game, you will lead the nation,” Boise State football coach Spencer Danielson said. “When you lead the nation in takeaways, that directly equals success as a football team.”

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Boise State’s defensive staff met with coaches from Clemson and Middle Tennessee State this year to explore new ways to drill turnovers in practice. Chinander said the Broncos’ new method is already paying dividends. Clemson forced 28 turnovers last season, which tied Bowling Green and Cal for No. 1 in the country.

“To me, it doesn’t have much to do with the film,” Chinander said. “It’s how are they getting that point across to the kids? How are they drilling it? How are they creating turnovers?”

Earby, who joined the Broncos in January with three years of eligibility left, got his hands on plenty of passes this spring. He leads the defense in interceptions, and Danielson said he may have already done enough to earn a starting job, even though the Broncos are expected to return a trio of experienced cornerbacks this season.

Sixth-year senior Markel Reed is back for his final season of eligibility after he suffering two season-ending injuries the past three years. Senior A’Marion McCoy is back after leading the team with three interceptions last season, and fifth-year senior Kaonohi Kaniho is back after playing in 40 games since 2020.

“Since he’s been here, he’s done a great job growing in the meeting room, and he plays extremely hard,” Danielson said of Earby. “More often than not, luck follows effort. The closer you are to the ball because of your pursuit and your commitment to this football team, the more likely it is that you’re going to be in position to make plays.”

Boise State wide receiver Austin Bolt catches a 39-yard touchdown pass Saturday during the Broncos’ second live scrimmage of spring practice.
Boise State wide receiver Austin Bolt catches a 39-yard touchdown pass Saturday during the Broncos’ second live scrimmage of spring practice.

Notes from the scrimmage

Wide receiver Austin Bolt caught the only touchdown pass of the day on a 39-yard throw from CJ Tiller. Bolt, who missed the 2022 season with a broken leg, came on late last season and has a chance to be one of the Broncos’ top deep threats this year. The former standout at Borah High averaged 15.3 yards a catch on Saturday. Former Eagle star Ben Ford averaged 12.5.

Backup quarterback Max Cutforth, a walk-on from nearby Skyview High, scored on a 9-yard touchdown run. Fellow walk-on quarterback Colt Fulton found the end zone on a 1-yard run.

Kicker Jonah Dalmas hit field goals of 31 and 57 yards — one yard longer than his career-long, which he set last season.

Young running backs Jambres Dubar and Sire Gaines earned praise from Danielson on Saturday. Dubar, a sophomore, averaged 3.3 yards a carry. Gaines, a freshman, who enrolled early and has been on campus since January, averaged 4.2.

Linebacker Jake Ripp led the defense with six tackles and a sack. Fellow linebacker Chase Martin added four tackles, and freshman cornerback Treyvon Tolmaire was credited with two pass breakups.