BOISE, Idaho - The University of Hawaii football team will face a Boise State defense today that is ranked among the nation's best, but is facing injury news that keeps getting worse.
Broncos coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that senior nose tackle Mike Atkinson will miss the rest of the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in Saturday's home loss to San Diego State.
Atkinson's 37 tackles rank sixth on the team and he has two forced fumbles and one interception return for a touchdown, the only score for Boise State in a 7-6 victory over Brigham Young back in September.
Sean Schroeder will try to help Hawaii defeat Boise State today at Aloha Stadium.
"I still think we've got a good core of defensive lineman," Petersen said. "You lose a guy for the season whenever it is, that's hard. He's a good tough, true nose tackle, and those guys are hard to find."
Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, who has played extensively at tackle this season, is projected to take over at nose tackle, while Darrin Koontz will move into the void at tackle when the Broncos (7-2, 4-1 Mountain West Conference) face the Warriors (1-7, 0-5) at Aloha Stadium.
The setback is just the latest blow for a defense already hobbled by medical and disciplinary problems.
Starting safety Lee Hightower is on track for missing a third straight game for violating team rules. Petersen did not address Hightower's status during the coach's regular meeting with reporters Monday.
Both defensive back Dextrell Simmons and defensive tackle Greg Grimes are questionable, though Simmons is listed as the starter on the depth chart.
Despite the problems, the Broncos are holding opponents to an average of 306.3 yards per game, which ranks 15th in the Bowl Subdivision.
"They make your heart absolutely stop sometimes," UH coach Norm Chow was quoted as saying on the school's athletics website. "You wanna turn off the tape and just go play. Their defensive front hasn't allowed a touchdown in the first quarter all season long. They're what you'd like to be like."
Hawaii lost 45-10 at Fresno State last week, and is still seeking its first win of the season over a Bowl Subdivision team.
"I have no answer than to keep working," Chow said. "That's all I know how to do."
COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON TV
7 a.m.-Louisville at Syracuse, ABC
7 a.m.-Arkansas at South Carolina, CBS
7 a.m.-Louisiana-Lafayette at Florida, KFVE
7 a.m.-Northwestern at Michigan, ESPN
7 a.m.-Wisconsin at Indiana, ESPN2
7 a.m.-Army at Rutgers, ESPNU
7 a.m.-Kansas at Texas Tech, FSW
7 a.m.-Harvard at Pennsylvania, NBCSN
7 a.m.-Purdue at Iowa, BTN
7 a.m.-Southeast Missouri St. at E. Illinois, FCS
7 a.m.-St. Francis (Pa.) at Monmouth, FCSA
7 a.m.-Kansas at Texas Tech, FCSC
7:30 a.m.-Colgate at Lehigh, CBSSP
8:30 a.m.-Colorado at Arizona, FX
10 a.m.-Oregon St. at Stanford, FOX
10 a.m.-Wake Forest at N.C. State, FSWP
10 a.m.-Arizona St. at Southern Cal, PAC12
10:30 a.m.-Penn St. at Nebraska, ABC
10:30 a.m.-Texas A&M at Alabama, CBS
10:30 a.m.-West Virginia at Oklahoma St., ESPN2
10:30 a.m.-Maryland at Clemson, ESPNU
10:30 a.m.-Baylor at Oklahoma, FSW
10:30 a.m.-Air Force at San Diego St., NBCSN
10:30 a.m.-Minnesota at Illinois, BTN
10:30 a.m.-South Dakota St. at North Dakota St., FCSC
10:30 a.m.-Teams TBA, FCS
Noon-Tulsa at Houston, CBSSP
2 p.m.-Kansas St. at TCU, FOX
2 p.m.-Georgia at Auburn, ESPN2
2 p.m.-Vanderbilt at Mississippi, ESPNU
2 p.m.-Southern Miss at SMU, FSW/FCS
2 p.m.-Boise St. at Hawaii, NBCSN
2 p.m.-UNLV at Colorado State, TWCSN
2 p.m.-C. Florida at UTEP, FCSA
3 p.m.-Notre Dame at Boston College, ABC
5:15 p.m.-Idaho at BYU, ESPNU
5:30 p.m.-Fresno St. at Nevada, NBCSP
5:30 p.m.-Oregon at California, ESPNU
5:30 p.m.-Colorado at Arizona, FSW
5:30 p.m.-Utah at Washington, PAC12