BOISE, Idaho — Boise State coach Chris Petersen could barely contain his grin while recounting the opening drive by his first-team offense after Sunday’s fall scrimmage.
Behind senior quarterback Joe Southwick and a clever mix of passing and running plays, the offense marched into the red zone with the kind of efficiency and crispness offensive-minded coaches like Petersen dream about.
But it was a play by the Broncos’ young defense that turned Petersen’s grin into a big, broad smile. With the defense on its heels, senior Ebo Makinde, a cornerback making the shift to safety, swooped in to tip Southwick’s pass in the back of the end zone before cradling it in his hands for an interception.
It’s the kind of big, momentum-shifting play that Petersen and his staff will need the defense to make often this season.
“I think we’re making progress,” Petersen said of his revamped defense. “This is always a hard position for me because ... on one side when the offense was moving the ball down there I’m thinking we’re not in shape on defense.
“Then our defense makes a play in the end zone and I’m thinking that’s a really bad play by our offense. So we’ll go back and put the tape on and see if it was a good play on either side of the ball and where we really need to shore up things,” he said.
More than likely, the offense for No. 19 Boise State will be just fine, even capable of putting up the kind of points that will remind fans of the days when Kellen Moore ran the show.
Southwick has looked sharp during spring and fall camps, and the interception by Makinde was just his third since fall workouts began. The senior, who began to flourish late last season, leading the Broncos to four straight victories, including a 28-26 win over Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl, has broadened his grasp of the offense and appears more confident each day, Petersen said.