Scale Igiehon

Boise State nose tackle Scale Igiehon (90) wraps up BYU quarterback Jaren Hall (16) for a sack in a game at Albertsons Stadium on Nov. 3, 2018.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. The next entry in our series is question No. 13: What should be expected from the defensive line?

Boise State’s defensive line had a pretty solid year in 2018, finishing tied for 10th nationally with 3.0 sacks per game and 12th with a total of 39 sacks.

The Broncos also ranked No. 20 in rush defense by allowing just 122.92 rushing yards per game. They did all of that with their best defensive lineman appearing in just one game.

David Moa, a one-time NFL prospect at defensive tackle, was limited to just a handful of plays in one game at Oklahoma State last year due to a calf injury. But his unexpected return due to a medical redshirt could help make the Broncos even better up front this fall.

In short, a lot should be expected of the Boise State defensive line in 2019.

Boise State must replace starting defensive end Durrant Miles, who signed a free agent deal after the season with the Atlanta Falcons. And making up his production won’t be easy after he finished third on the Broncos with 4.5 sacks and fourth with 6.5 tackles-for-loss last year.

Chase Hatada, if he can stay healthy, appears primed to step in and take over for Miles. Hatada has bounced inside and out along the defensive line and filled in some at tackle last season due to injuries. But he would appear to make the most sense as Miles’ replacement at end after recording 23 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.0 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble last year.

Sonatane Lui returns at nose tackle after a second straight productive season. The senior had 26 tackles, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss, while playing in 10 games last season. He missed three games due to injury, and will need to find a way to stay healthy this year.

Scale Igiehon could be primed for a huge season at tackle as well. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Igiehon emerged as a true freshman last season to finish with 23 tackles, including 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. He appeared in 11 games and made three starts, a rarity for a true freshman defensive tackle.

The Broncos could be scary inside with the trio of Lui, Igiehon and the return of a healthy Moa. And that doesn’t even include Emmanuel Fasili, Matt Locher and Jabari Watson, who all return after seeing time on the line’s interior last season.

Boise State also redshirted some young defensive linemen who could be ready to contribute this year including Homedale’s Scott Matlock at defensive tackle, Rocky Mountain’s Keeghan Freeborn at nose tackle and Kukea Emmsley at defensive end. Redshirt sophomore Aisa Kelemete also could finally be ready to contribute after missing last season due to injury.

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With just one starter to replace and tons of quality depth along the defensive line, the group will face high expectations heading into the year. The return of Moa was a game-changer, and the group should help anchor a defense that loses key contributors at both linebacker and in the secondary.

What should be expected of the defensive line? A lot. Can they live up to those expectations with a third defensive line coach in as many years now that Spencer Danielson has taken over the group? That’s the question they must answer this fall.

Countdown to Camp Questions{/span}

No. 20: Can Boise State’s injured players return to form?

No. 19: Do the linebackers have enough talent and depth to produce?

No. 18: Will Boise State’s wide receivers be a strength?

No. 17: How will playing time shake out in the secondary?

No. 16: Which true freshmen could make immediate impacts?

No. 15: What are the toughest games on Boise State’s schedule?

No. 14: Who will take over at kicker and punter for the Broncos?

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 13: What should be expected from the defensive line?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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