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Notebook: Chase Hatada latest to emerge along Boise State defensive line

October 26, 2017 GMT

BOISE — Chase Hatada smiled as he described what it meant to get his first career sack last Saturday against Wyoming.

“It was probably the best feeling I’ve had in a while,” the Boise State defensive end said.

A month earlier might have been one of his worst feelings.

Hatada was ejected late in the second quarter against New Mexico on Sept. 14 following a hit to the helmet of Lobos quarterback Lamar Jordan.

Wednesday he spoke to the media for the first time since the incident.

“Huge learning experience,” Hatada said. “Our coaches do a great job of teaching technique and tackling and obviously I’m not going out there trying to hurt people. I just have to lower my target zone. That’s it.”

Some fans on social media reacted negatively to the hit and called it a dirty play, while a few went as far as to say charges should be pressed against Hatada.

“I try to stay away from that stuff because of stuff like that,” Hatada said. “I kind of put myself away from social media, Twitter, stuff like that during that time, so I really didn’t read much of it.”

It’s been much more positive talk from fans regarding Hatada’s play of late. His first career sack came against a future NFL quarterback in Josh Allen, and he finished the game with a career-high three tackles.

He has eight total tackles while continuing to see his playing time increase along the Boise State defensive line.

“It’s honestly just a good feeling,” Hatada said. “…just with all the work we’ve been doing the past couple years and finally for it to pay off was really nice. I have to give credit to all the guys around me and the coaches for having a good game plan.”

Hatada played sparingly in seven games as a true freshman last year. He would have played more had he not suffered a foot injury that impacted his play the rest of the season. He finished with one pass break-up and no tackles.

He’s been rotating in along the defensive line as part of the No. 2 unit this year and continues to see his playing time and production increase with each game.

“I’m really comfortable this year,” Hatada said. “Whenever I go in there I feel confident with what I’m doing and that’s because of the guys around me, David Moa, Durrant Miles, last year Sam McCaskill.

“Repetition and experience, that’s what it comes down to. Just being confident and knowing what to expect.”

DEFENSE PREPARING FOR FAST TEMPO FROM UTAH STATE: Utah State’s no-huddle, up-tempo offense has caught the eye of Boise State’s defensive players while watching film this week.

“They don’t let teams get lined up,” STUD Jabril Frazier said. “We have to be ready for the fast tempo.”

Utah State previously went no-huddle but upped the speed and tempo when new offensive coordinator David Yost was hired during the offseason. He’s worked at Oregon, Washington State and Missouri among other places.

Some players this week compared the speed of the Utah State offense to that of Baylor in last year’s Cactus Bowl.

“All the teams we’ve faced this year have been huddle teams,” Hatada said. “Even Washington State was kind of huddling too and we were expecting them to go fast tempo but we didn’t really get that from them.

“Utah State is really fast tempo so this week in practice we’re really focusing on that.”

The new-look offense is working. Utah State is averaging 32.6 points and 401 yards per game and has had at least 580 yards of offense in three different games this season. The Aggies scored 52 points and had 588 yards of offense against UNLV last Saturday.

Utah State is 4-4 on the season and has scored 51, 61, 40 and 52 points in its four wins, compared to 10, 10, 14 and 23 points in the four losses.

BRONCOS LAND WIDE RECEIVER COMMIT: Boise State picked up a verbal commitment from 6-foot-4, 185-pound wide receiver John Hightower of Hinds Community College in Mississippi on Wednesday.

Hightower had just nine catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns this season, but Hinds doesn’t typically put up big passing numbers. He had 18 catches for 273 yards and three touchdowns last season.

A native of Landover, Maryland, Hightower finished fourth at the 2016 NJCAA national championships in the 400-meter hurdles. He’s seen as a big-play receiver with speed and should have a chance to compete for immediate playing time with the graduation of another junior college transfer in Cedrick Wilson.

Wilson, a transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas, has 15 touchdowns in 20 games since arriving at Boise State. He and fellow juco transfer Austin Cottrell are the only two seniors at the wide receiver position for the Broncos.

Boise State currently has 12 known commitments for the 2018 recruiting class. Players can take advantage of the early signing period for the first time and sign with schools December 20-22. The traditional National Signing Day will still be held in early February.