Poinsettia Bowl Preview Series-Linemen



Football games are often won and lost based on the physical play of the big guys up front.  In some games, that matchup takes on a bigger emphasis, as establishing tempo, field position and either defensive or offensive play selection come down to how the line of scrimmage is controlled.  Tuesday’s Poinsettia Bowl between #9 Boise State and #11 TCU could very well be one of those games.  A battle between two teams who pride themselves on a physical front and an offense that dictates game flow. 

“We know they are a physical and fast defense,” said Boise State head coach Chris Petersen.  “Offensively, they are dangerous because they have weapons, but seem to have that methodical approach to being in second and medium, then third and short, moving the chains and controlling time of possession.”

“They go hard every snap with kids who want to play,” said TCU head coach Gary Patterson.  “They do it all and it’s with a variety of people, not just one or two.” 

So effective at the time of possession game is TCU that they are first in the nation in that category, holding the ball for nearly 35:05 minutes per game.  Boise State counters with the 12th ranked scoring offense in the country, despite an offensive line that had to replace four starters from 2007 and seemingly had a different starting combination each game.

In the first of a series of Poinsettia Bowl previews, broncosports.com breaks down the key head-to-head matchups in the trenches.  Clearing space or clogging space.  Speed rushing versus pass protecting.  Establishing the game plan on both offense and defense starts here. 

TCU Defensive End Jerry Hughes vs. BSU Offensive Tackle Nate Potter:

Hughes is a first team All-American and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, leading the nation with 14 sacks.  Athletic and disruptive, rest assured Bronco coaches and Kellen Moore will want to know where #98 in black and purple will be on each play.  TCU brings him from the right, which means for the bowl game, he’ll be matched a good deal of the time against Bronco freshman tackle Nate Potter.  Potter has a load of potential, and this will be a big time test for the youngster from Boise’s Timberline High School, as he looks to solidify a long term spot on the Bronco offensive line.  With the number of line combinations Boise State has used, don’t be surprised if Boise State coaches throw all the looks they can to try and at least make Hughes work for everything.

BSU Center Thomas Byrd vs. TCU Nose Tackle Cody Moore:

Byrd looks to be a mainstay on the Bronco offensive line for years to come.  The young freshman has answered the call in the middle late in the season, and is Boise State’s quarterback on the line.  He will draw the big assignment of trying to create space in the middle.  To do that it means recognizing defensive fronts, making the line call and then getting off the ball quick.  While Hughes gets all the headlines on the TCU front four, 292 pound senior nose tackle Cody Moore is a load to handle.  Moore is a second team All-MWC pick and has spent his career clogging the middle so that guys like Hughes and the TCU linebacker corp can grab the glory.  Still, he has 29 career starts with 22 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks for the Horned Frogs. 

BSU Defensive End Ryan Winterswyk vs. TCU Left Tackle Marshall Newhouse:

Winterswyk may not come with all the accolades and credentials as Hughes, but he is equally as disruptive.  Swyk’ earned first team All-WAC honors and uses his ability to rush from the outside and the multiple looks Boise State provides up front that allows him to come from underneath.  Like Boise State, TCU’s offensive front will pay attention to #98 on the Bronco side.  The ultimate test falls to junior left tackle Marshall Newhouse, who will be making his 26th consecutive start for TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.  It will be Winterswyk’s quickness, agility and all out intensity against Newhouse’s large 6-3, 317 pound frame.

BSU Defensive Lineman Billy Winn vs. TCU Right Tackle Marcus Cannon:

A matchup that will be fun to watch, between two up and coming youngsters.  Winn, just a freshman, showed flashes of brilliance this season, earning first team Freshman All-American honors from The Sporting News.  His quickness and strength put him in opposing team backfields throughout the season, but his presence really showed in Boise State’s physical play and constant pressure up front.  For the Poinsettia Bowl, Winn will find himself playing some on the outside at defensive end, with the loss of senior Mike T. Williams to a knee injury in the Fresno State game.  Cannon, meanwhile, is in his first year as a starter for TCU and is the largest member of the Horned Frog team at 6-5 and 350 pounds.  He earned Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference honors despite missing two league games to injury.   


TCU Center Blake Schlueter vs. BSU Defensive Tackle Joe Bozikovich:

All-Mountain West and Rimington Watch List center Blake Schlueter anchors the middle of the TCU line.  Among his primary assignments will be Boise State senior defensive tackle Joe Bozikovich.  Joe Boz’, is in his second year as a starter, had a solid season with 22 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.  He’ll need to step into a bigger role against TCU, with Billy Winn sliding to the outside as injuries to Mike T. Williams, Shea McClellin and Jarrell Root have depleted the Bronco depth at defensive end.


Coming tomorrow in the next installment of the Boise State-TCU preview series will be the matchup at the skill positions in the secondary and at wide receiver.  Monday’s preview will be the offensive backfield and linebacker matchups.  And, Tuesday morning look for a complete game overview from broncosports.com.



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