Aaron Burks, Boise State wide receiver

Burks, a junior, had 57 yards receiving all of his sophomore year, and 58 his redshirt freshman year. On Saturday against Miami (Ohio), he gave himself a new season-best when he hauled in three passes for 67 yards.

With the Broncos trailing 9-8, Joe Southwick threw deep to the 6-foot-3 Burks, who had separation from the defensive back, and hauled in a 53-yard catch. Two plays later, D.J. Harper scored on a touchdown run, and Boise State never trailed again.

“It was one of those things I’d been waiting on for a while now, it was a good feeling after the catch hearing the crowd going crazy,” Burks said. “... It was very important. I think it adds another element to our game.”

With Tyler Shoemaker’s graduation, the Broncos had just one player returning in 2012 who made a catch of more than 50 yards. At 6-3 and with one of the team’s fastest 40-yard dash times (4.36 seconds in the spring), Burks could be that deep threat the team has been anxiously awaiting.

“Gosh, we’re hoping,” coach Chris Petersen said. “… We’ve been waiting for him to take the next step, and we’re all real hopeful that was one of the first steps.”

Petersen said “details” were what had been keeping Burks from playing a larger role. The Texas native said part of that meant sharpening not his obvious physical skills, but the mental portion.

“The thing was that I just had to stay in the playbook, stay in the film room and know why we’re doing certain things,” Burks said. “I knew what I was supposed to do, but to recognize why we do things before it happens was something I focused on.”

—Dave Southorn/IPT

Kyle Van Noy, BYU linebacker

Boise State coach Chris Petersen said trying to figure out what Van Noy does best is similar to trying to answer what made the Broncos’ recent defensive whiz, Shea McClellin, a good player.

For Van Noy, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound junior, the stats speak for themselves. Last season, Van Noy was No. 1 on the team in unassisted tackles (50), tackles for loss (15), sacks (seven), interceptions (three), quarterback hurries (10) and had the team’s only blocked kick.

“My mindset is to try and be a playmaker,” Van Noy said. “I want to help the team out as much as possible, so I take pride in being able to do whatever is asked of me.”

This summer, BYU linebackers coach Kelly Poppinga told The Deseret News “(Van Noy) needs to master his pass rush.” Well, after three games, Van Noy is tied for fifth in the FBS with 4.5 sacks. He also has forced two fumbles and has 7.5 tackles for loss.

“He’s just an athlete … he’s like a smaller Shea, just a complete hybrid guy,” Boise State tight end Gabe Linehan said.

Van Noy, a Reno native, said he was “recruited hard” by Boise State, and said he’s been looking forward to taking on the Broncos.

“It’s going to be a great test,” Van Noy said. “They always have a great offense, so it’s going to be a good battle with them and our defense.”    —Dave Southorn/IPT

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