Boise State football spring preview: Big question mark after Hedrick at QB

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2014 Idaho Statesman

Through the spring, I’ll preview each position.

Today: Quarterbacks.

Previously: Offensive line

HARSIN WILL BE INVOLVED WITH QBS

Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, who was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for seven years at Boise State (2006-10) and Texas (2011-12) and the play caller for the first half of last season at Arkansas State, has not completely removed himself from the offense.

At practice, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford calls the plays from the sideline. Harsin watches from behind the offense and has a quick conversation between snaps with the quarterback about what he saw.

“They’re getting a play and answering my questions at the same time,” Harsin said. “I’m trying to gauge what they’re thinking so I can relay that to Mike. … At the same time, my job for the quarterback is to make sure the operation is right.”

Harsin also attends the offensive staff meetings and shares his opinions on the scheme.

PERSONNEL AT A GLANCE

Roster
9 Grant Hedrick, 6-0, 202, R-Sr.
Tommy Stuart, 6-0, 190, So.
15 Ryan Finley, 6-3, 186, R-Fr.
13 Richard Hoppe, 5-10, 153, R-Fr.

Signee:
Alex Ogle, 6-3, 205, Fr.

Returning starters (0 of 1): None.

Key loss: The Broncos were 17-4 over the past two seasons when Joe Southwick started. They were 2-3 when he didn’t. Southwick completed 72.6 percent of his passes with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions last season.

Key returner: Hedrick completed 69 percent of his passes for 1,825 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions last season. He also rushed for 277 yards and six touchdowns, both second on the team, while playing most of the final seven games (five starts). His efficiency rating of 150.04 nearly matched Southwick’s 153.62.

Projected starter: Hedrick.

Other players to watch: The Broncos only have two other scholarship quarterbacks in spring ball — sophomore transfer Tommy Stuart, of Butte College, and redshirt freshman Ryan Finley, who missed most of last fall to have shoulder surgery to repair a pre-existing injury. That makes Stuart a rare JC transfer who walked into camp as the backup quarterback. Finley, who was held out of team sessions when spring ball began, will begin getting 11-on-11 action today.

Out for spring: None.

Incoming signees: Alex Ogle, who might not have signed with anyone if the Broncos hadn’t offered him late in the recruiting process, becomes a key figure in Harsin’s rebuilding effort. “He’s obviously a big part of what we’re trying to build and Alex needs to come in here and be prepared,” Harsin said.

Notes/quotes:

— Hedrick on his spring priorities: “Taking care of the football is probably No. 1. No. 2 is the leadership role. I need to be a big leader to this team and just have fun and believe in what we’re doing.”

—Sanford on Hedrick: “The biggest thing is his desire to be great. He’s a talented athlete. I think he’s a really unflappable individual. The ups and downs of going through what he did last year, that hardened him, in a good way. He can throw the ball, too. He’s a guy that can spin it.”

— Sanford on Stuart: “He is a gym rat. That dude, it seems like you can’t walk by the facility without seeing him doing something football-related. He loves working, too.”

— Harsin on what he wants to see from Hedrick this spring: “I want to see him execute. He’s got good technique. He throws the ball well. His arm is plenty strong. He runs well. It all comes down to execution. … ‘Did you see this? Did you see that?’ I’m talking more football with him — scheme, defenses and how to beat it. For Grant, it comes down to execution. … You start to hear him coach himself back to you, basically. As a senior quarterback, that’s where you get to be. ‘I saw this, I saw that, so I checked it down.’ He’s not there yet, but that’s really what you hope to come out of spring with.”

— Harsin won’t hesitate to use Hedrick’s running ability: “We’ll run him because he’s got the ability to do that. That’s part of who we are. We utilize our quarterback in different ways. It also depends on how we develop up front … to maybe not have to do those things, but if we have to, we will. … One thing about Grant, Grant’s a tough guy.”

— Finley has progressed to an “as tolerated” throwing program, Harsin said. “We held him back out of team. He tried to insert himself. We’ve basically taken the training wheels off. We’ll let him get some team reps now. The more he throws, the better he feels.”

— Stuart has shown a playmaking knack. Harsin laughed at one play. Stuart didn’t know the tight end’s name or the call to alert him to a certain adjustment, so he just yelled “tight end, tight end.” It worked — and the throw to the tight end went for a touchdown. “Tommy’s done a real good job,” Harsin said. “We don’t over-coach Tommy. Just let him go out and play football. He finds the guys and throws them open. … He doesn’t have all the concepts right now.” But Stuart spends as much time as anyone studying, Harsin said, “trying to figure it out.” “One thing I can guarantee you is he will (figure it out),” he said. “I like the way he’s operating out there. I like the way he’s seeing certain things.”

•••

I’ll have a full story on Hedrick in Sunday’s newspaper.


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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