Boise State vs Fresno State Football

Boise State safety Kekoa Nawahine (10) brings down Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion (6) on Nov. 9, 2018, at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

The Idaho Press is counting down the 20 most important players for the Boise State football team in 2019. Next up on our list is No. 13, Kekoa Nawahine:

The Broncos are hoping to get a strong senior year from their most experienced member of the secondary. It would go a long way in helping Boise State’s poor pass defense improve.

Safety Kekoa Nawahine has started 26 games the past two seasons and has appeared in 39 games since debuting as a true freshman in 2016. He’ll enter his senior year as the one of the most veteran players on the roster, and the Broncos are hoping to benefit from his experience and leadership.

Nawahine, a graduate of Rocky Mountain High School, is looking for a bounce-back year after his numbers dipped in 2018. He led the team in tackles last year with 71 and had 0.5 tackles-for-loss, two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. He was named honorable mention All-Mountain West.

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But two years ago Nawahine was a Second Team All-Mountain West pick after finishing with 108 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, three interceptions, a fumble recovery and four pass break-ups.

Despite starting 12 of the 13 games last season, his numbers dropped significantly in all areas and he finished the year without an interception. With DeAndre Pierce healthy and likely back alongside him at safety, there’s reason to think those numbers could improve – and the Broncos need them to.

Boise State’s pass defense struggled last season, in part because of Nawahine’s regression. They ranked No. 70 in passing yards allowed at 233.0 per game, No. 101 in opponents completion percentage at 62.8 and No. 102 with just seven interceptions.

The Broncos need all of those numbers to improve, and a solid senior season from Nawahine would be a big help.

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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