BOISE, Idaho For Boise State senior defensive tackle Joe Bozikovich just walking onto the field everyday is an accomplishment.
During his freshman season with the Broncos, Bozikovich tore his MCL, PCL, meniscus and broke the top of his tibia in spring ball. Bozikovich would not be deterred by the injury, as he worked extremely hard and rejoined the team one calendar year later to participate in the final Blue and Orange game of spring ball.
“There were a lot of rough times trying to keep playing and pushing through it because my knee wouldn’t let me do what I wanted it to,” Bozikovich said. “I wanted to move faster and be quicker but it wasn’t happening.”
That was not the end of the challenge for Bozikovich. He returned to the field as a practice squad member and had to earn his playing time. He continued to work both on the practice field and in the weight room during the following year.
“I continued to keep working and plugging away,” Bozikovich said. “And I got to start a couple of games last year which was really nice.”
Bozikovich started the final regular season game at Nevada and the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma.
“After the Fiesta Bowl I went around to my doctor and my trainers and told them thank you’ and half of them told me they were surprised I ever even stepped on the field again.”
Well Bozikovich saw the field in two of the Broncos’ biggest games of the season and he should continue to see significant playing time as Boise State looks for replacements for the departed Andrew Browning and Dennis Ellis.
“We all know we have ginormous shoes to fill,” Bozikovich said. “We must have a hard working attitude and be dirt dogs out there.”
Bozikovich will join seven other defensive tackles in the trenches.
Joe Bozikovich, 6’1”, 279 lbs., senior, started the final two games of the 2006 season for Boise State.
“He is big guy that we are expecting a lot from against the run,” defensive line coach Pete Kwiatkowski said. “He has to continue to play at pad level and use his hands. We will need him to anchor down the middle when teams are running the ball against us.”
Ian Smart, 6’3”, 274 lbs., senior, backup defensive tackle for three seasons. Finished the 2006 season with three tackles and a hurry, which resulted in an interception return for a touchdown.
“Ian has really quick feet and he understand the protections,” coach Kwiatkowski said. “He is a smart guy and we will need to get push and some pocket collapses from him inside when they are passing the ball.”
Sione Tavake, 6’1”, 300 lbs., senior, was backup defensive tackle on the 2006 team.
“He is extremely strong,” Kwiatkowski said. “He uses his hands well and he will have to push the pocket in passing and he will have to hold his gap down in the run game.”
Phillip Edwards, 6’4”, 287 lbs., junior, finished the 2006 season with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack as a backup defensive tackle.
“Edwards is really quick with really long arms,” Kwiatkowski said. “He just needs keep improving on being physical and playing low. He can be a very good pass rusher and he can play the run well when he puts his mind to it.”
Billy Winn, 6’4”, 270 lbs., freshman, joins Boise State after playing his high school football in Las Vegas, Nev.
“Billy is very athletic,” said coach Kwiatkowski. “He has to work on being stronger and more physical. He is going to be a very good player down the line for us.”
J.P. Nisby, 6’2”, 308 lbs., freshman, played his high school ball in Stockton, Calif., with fellow Boise State freshman Doug Martin.
“He is a big, physical guy,” said Kwiatkowski. “He is very strong and he will have to be a good run stopper for us.”
The Broncos will not rely on any individual to carry the load of the defensive tackle position instead the team will be looking for every defensive tackle to step up and contribute.