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November 2, 2011BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State safety George Iloka used his off week to mend some nicks and bruises and take a little bit of time away from the rigorous routine of the college football season.
There was also time devoted to fixing flaws and weaknesses from the season's first seven games.
For Iloka and the rest of the defense, that meant a little extra time in tackling drills during three off-week practices.
"We obviously focused on ourselves last week," said Iloka. "As a defense we can improve. We've looked real nice out there, then sometimes we're inconsistent and give up foolish plays and make mistakes. We need to improve ... at all levels in tackling and being more disciplined.
"We're going to be playing some pretty good teams that could capitalize on some of our mistakes," he said.
Iloka, a senior and the veteran in the Broncos secondary, is the team's leading tackler with 35. But it's a distinction he'd gladly give up to someone else, seeing it instead as a sign too many ball carriers are busting through or around the line and linebackers for big gains.
"If your corners and free safety in our defense are making a lot of tackles, they're usually getting to the edge and you really don't want that to happen," he said.
Boise State's last game was a perfect example.
Air Force, with its triple option offense, marched up and down the field and gave the Broncos (7-0) their biggest test of the season. The Broncos held off a second half rally to win 37-26, but the Falcons rolled up 264 yards on the ground, the most allowed all season by Boise State.
The defense also got banged up a bit, making the week off critical for getting players healed and ready to roll for the season's second half.
"It was pretty light," linebacker Byron Hout said of the bye-week schedule. "We just had a couple of weightlifting and conditioning sessions, but everyone showed up. The week off let the body recover a bit. The first half of the season takes a toll."
The Broncos got back to business Monday in preparation for Saturday's game against UNLV (2-5, 1-1), a team coming off a 38-35 victory over Colorado State on Saturday and a knack for running the ball effectively. The Rebels are averaging 148 yards per game on the ground, and the team's leading rusher, Dionza Bradford, ran for 122 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in Saturday's victory over the Rams.
Coach Chris Petersen said the Broncos run defense should get a boost this week with the return of lineman Chase Baker, who missed two games with a calf strain.
Petersen, who squeezed in a couple of recruiting trips last week, said the bye week always has its pros and cons.
"We told them (players) `don't come in,'" Petersen said. "I think it's important to step back and stay away. We played (seven) games in a row, so it was good to let the guys catch their breath a little bit, and that's the good news. The bad news is the guys were in a pretty good rhythm."