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September 4, 2009

Broncos D bucks up against Ducks

BOISE, Idaho (AP) As Thursday turned into the wee hours of Friday morning, Justin Wilcox sat subdued in an office chair, looking almost as if he'd just coached in a hard-fought loss - not the biggest home win in Boise State's history.

While the headlines were all about Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount's postgame punch, which dropped Boise State instigator Byron Hout to his knees, for most of the night it was the Broncos' underappreciated defense that demanded attention in a 19-8 victory.

The 14th-ranked Broncos managed to stymie an Oregon offense that at the end of the 2008 season embarrassed Arizona, Oregon State and Oklahoma State to the tune of 162 points and more than a mile of yardage.

Instead of unstoppable, the Broncos made the No. 16 Ducks look inept.

"So much of this game comes down to know what your looking at, know how to play the call, and go compete your (butt) off and see what happens," said Wilcox, now in his fourth season as Boise State's defensive coordinator.

For now, Boise State's win will be remembered for the postgame circus after Hout's taunts and Blount's jab.

A game that started with pregame handshakes ended with Blount's right-hand connecting with the chin of Hout, a defensive end who played briefly, after Hout had yelled in Blount's face and poked his shoulder pad - both right in front of Boise State coach Chris Petersen. Hout won't be suspended for taunting Blount, the university announced Friday.

After the punch, Blount had to be restrained from going after fans by Oregon assistant Scott Frost and a Boise police officer as he made his way to the locker room. Even before postgame craziness, Blount was already flustered by the Broncos D.

"We didn't execute our game plan. We didn't play Oregon football," Blount said. "Defense played tremendous. They gave us the ball a number of times and we didn't do anything with it."

An Oregon offense that averaged 485 yards per game last season - best in the Pac-10 - and ranked second in the country in rushing offense couldn't get a first down for the first 2 1/2 quarters. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, thought to be one of the best run-pass options in the country not named Tebow, was 2 of 10 passing for 8 yards at halftime and had 3 yards rushing.

Blount, who rushed for a school record 17 touchdowns last season as part of a 1,000-yard season and was now finally the featured guy, carried eight times for (minus)-5 yards and only twice gained more than 1 yard.

Apparently Oregon's bellyaching about last year's 37-32 Broncos' win in Eugene didn't sit well with the Boise State defense.

"It was a motivator," Broncos safety George Iloka said. "We felt like they didn't respect us. That's cool. But since last year they've been talking about this game. ... It's been in the back of our minds and we just wanted to go out there and send a message."

That message of Boise State being more than just a high-scoring, trick-play offense started last year when the Broncos defense ranked third in the country - giving up just 12.6 points per game. But no one took notice because of the offensive numbers quarterback Kellen Moore posted as a freshman.

Wilcox said it doesn't matter if Boise State's defense gets overlooked by the other side of the ball.

"It's about players, and when people look at our school I hope they're thinking of offense because that means we're scoring points," Wilcox said.

Thursday night, with the nation watching to see the first ranked team to visit Bronco Stadium for a regular season game, Boise State's didn't employ any wacky defensive alignments or blitz 10 guys at a time. They simply pushed around the more highly regarded Ducks.

They consistently moved the line of scrimmage into the Ducks backfield, creating tight quarters for Masoli and Blount. A perfect example was Blount being hauled down for a safety when BSU's Mike Willis saw a pulling guard, raced into the void and tackled Blount.

BSU's linebackers played disciplined football and kept containment on Oregon's running threats. And Masoli didn't dare throw to the side of shutdown corner Kyle Wilson.

Only once did Oregon have a drive of more than four plays.

"There was a lot of hype around this game because of last year's game," Wilcox said. "It's Oregon coming in and we knew they were a great team but we prepared like we should each week, focus on the team, focus on the game plan and go out and play the game and not get caught up. ... If you start worrying about that stuff you're worrying about the wrong things. It sounds kind of hokey."


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