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Fiesta Bowl Preview: Q&A with Mountain West Connection about Boise State

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Getting to know Boise State better with the help of people that have watched them all year

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the Arizona Wildcats will face the Boise State Broncos for the first time in program history.

To get to know the Broncos a little better, I asked Jeremy Mauss from Mountain West Connection a few questions. You can find my answers to his questions about Arizona here.

1. The obvious offensive star at Boise State is running back Jay Ajayi. What makes him so tough for opposing defenses to stop, and how effective is he at catching passes out of the backfield?

Ajayi is a multi-purpose back and as for running the ball he never stops moving, and goes for every possible yard. There is not a second back as Ajayi has carried the ball 325 times this season and the second leading rusher is quarterback Grant Hedrick. It is his versatility that makes him so tough to stop, he can go up the middle and also bounce it outside with his speed. Catching the ball out of the backfield is what sets him apart. He caught 45 passes which was good for 12th in the conference, and scored four times. It is rare for him to line up out of the receiving spot, so all of his catches are designed out of the backfield. By being all over the field and rarely taking a break, he can wear down opposing defenses late in the game. His one weakness is that he is prone to fumble the ball, but he has even limited those this year.

2. Four of Grant Hedrick's 13 interceptions this season came in the loss to Air Force. What were the Falcons able to do that threw him off his game so much?

The Falcons defense played one of their best games in probably a decade. Air Force harassed Hedrick all day, and ultimately got him benched, with a pair of sacks and multiple quarterback hurries. It was not just the hurries but the secondary, specifically Weston Steelhammer, were not letting the Boise State receivers get open. Steelhammer had three interceptions and a fumble recovery. There were four knock down passes and they came from the secondary as they were attacking a pass. The Falcons players in general are smaller due to Academy restrictions so that means they make up for that in speed at all positions, so a quick defense can give Boise State some trouble.

3. What is the greatest strength of Kamalei Correa's game on the defensive line?

It is surprising that a defensive lineman who is just 247 pounds was able to break the line of scrimmage and end up leading the Mountain West with 10 sacks. He has just found a way to split the offensive line with his size, or lack there of, and speed. His greatest strength is how he is able to break through the line and that goes back with his speed.

4. Is there one guy that maybe hasn't lit up the box scores that Arizona fans should be aware of as a potential breakout player?

Freshman running back Jeremy McNichols is that guy. He is a versatile player who will line up at wide receiver or as a second running back. He came on late midway through the season to help with wide receiver depth due to injuries. He might get only four to 10 touches per game but he makes those count by averaging just over 10 yards per carry, and has seven of his 30 touches have been for 15 or more yards.

Also, anyone who has a position named after as "The Weapon" has a chance to have an impact.

5. What is your personal favorite play from the 2007 Fiesta Bowl out of the Hook and Ladder, Halfback pass, and Statue of Liberty plays?

It has to be the hook and ladder, because without that play none of the other plays could have happened. Also, it was the most difficult to pull off. Completing a halfback pass on a two-point conversion is very risky with a short field and the Statue of Liberty was just showing off. The hook and ladder made it all happen for those other plays.

6. Game prediction?

Boise State has been playing its best football over the past few games, and if the momentum carries over then the Broncos have a good chance to win. Jay Ajayi will be able to have a solid game in the running and passing game, and the Boise State defense when it plays well is very good. This will likely be a one-possession game with Boise State winning 24-21.

Thanks again to Jeremy for the time, and check out Mountain West Connection's complete Fiesta Bowl coverage.