© 2013 Idaho Statesman
With the Boise State football team set to open spring practice next Monday, I’m using my blog this week to discuss five areas to watch — one a day, Monday-Friday.
Returning starter or no, quarterback is always a position of intrigue in spring ball.
And make no mistake — senior Joe Southwick is a solid returning starter at the position for the Broncos. The way he played in the final four games last season cemented that.
“It is (his job),” coach Chris Petersen said after the MAACO Bowl. “Joe’s done a good job. But it’s always going to be a competition. And it’s not fair to anybody in this program to say, ‘You’re the guy, period.’ The good thing about it is those other guys are good players and when they get this thing figured out they’re going to push Joe.”
Here’s where the four quarterbacks stand going into the spring:
Joe Southwick, senior: He was 79-of-113 (69.9 percent) for 888 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions in the last four games last season. He also rushed for career highs in each of the last two games. “All year, I’ve known I could play at this level,” Southwick said in December. “It’s just a lot of work, a lot of moving parts, to fit the puzzle together. The last three or four games, it’s really showed. We’ve been executing at a higher level on offense.” Still, he has weaknesses to address. He must be more efficient in the red zone and capitalize more often on deep balls. “The mark of any good quarterback is going to be third down, red zone and then hitting shots (deep balls),” Petersen said in December. “He’s slowly but surely making progress in those areas.” Southwick should benefit this spring from the experience and confidence he gained last season as well as the return of quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith and offensive coordinator Robert Prince, who were both in new roles last year. “I want him to maintain his improvement that he’s done,” Smith said. “I really felt like he improved from beginning to end and if he can keep on that same plane of improvement we’ll be really excited about him. … I do want him to feel a little push from the younger guys because I think there’s some talent there behind him.”
Grant Hedrick, junior: Hedrick spent last season as the backup and wildcat quarterback. He was 12-of-17 for 116 yards and he rushed 19 times for 32 yards. He showed flashes in fall camp last year when he looked like a potential starter. He also showed flashes — in the fall scrimmage, in particular — where it looked like he might not be able to hold onto the backup spot. He will be pushed for the backup job this year. “We feel better and better with Grant’s development, especially in the passing game,” Smith said. “It’s really been two years now he’s kind of been the option quarterback where this next year I’d like to see that he’ll go out there and throw the ball a whole lot.”
Jimmy Laughrea, sophomore: Laughrea wasn’t in uniform for several games last season. It wasn’t a disciplinary issue, coaches said. “I don’t think it was bad … just stepping back and saying, ‘How important is football?’ ” Smith said. “And I think he’s come out of it really well. He’s got some talent. He’s going to get some turns in the spring to continue to develop. The kid’s still young. We’re excited to see where he takes this.”
Nick Patti, redshirt freshman: All eyes will be on Patti in the Spring Game. The much-hyped recruit out of Florida impressed in spring ball last year, when he should have still been in high school, but struggled in the fall scrimmage before redshirting. He appears to have the most upside of the backups. “He’s got some stuff, now,” Smith said. “… Once we decided he was going to redshirt and go down there and do the scout team stuff, he got better. We want a guy who can move his feet and he can do that. I think the guys on the team really respect him. He’s one of those guys that just kind of has that moxie, that ‘it’ factor. He’s going to get his turns and again see what he can do with things.”
Personnel at a glance:
Returning starters (5 of 12): LT Charles Leno Jr. (sr.), C Matt Paradis (sr.), WR Kirby Moore (sr.), WR Matt Miller (jr.), QB Joe Southwick (sr.)
Lost starters (7): LG Joe Kellogg, RG Michael Ames, RT Brenel Myers, TE Chandler Koch, WR Mitch Burroughs/Chris Potter, FB Dan Paul, RB D.J. Harper
Key reserves returning: WR Aaron Burks (sr.), WR Geraldo Boldewijn (sr.), OL Spencer Gerke (sr.), OL Jake Broyles (sr.), TE Gabe Linehan (sr.), TE Holden Huff (so.), RB Jay Ajayi (so.), WR Shane Williams-Rhodes (so.)
Redshirts to watch: QB Nick Patti, RB Devan Demas, OL Travis Averill
Newcomers to watch: RB Derrick Thomas, WR D.J. Dean
Returning stat leaders: Ajayi 82 rushes, 548 yds., 4 TDs; Southwick 248-of-371, 2,730 yds., 19 TDs, 7 ints., 141.78 eff.; Miller 66 rec., 769 yds., 5 TDs; Moore 36 rec., 368 yds., 1 TD.
Returning starters (5 of 11): DE Demarcus Lawrence (jr.), DT Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (sr.), DE Sam Ukwuachu (so.), S Jeremy Ioane (jr.), S Darian Thompson (so.)
Lost starters (6): DT Mike Atkinson, LB Tommy Smith, LB J.C. Percy, N Dextrell Simmons, CB Jamar Taylor, CB Jerrell Gavins
Key reserves returning: DL Tyler Horn (jr.), DE Beau Martin (jr.), DE Kharyee Marshall (sr.), LB Blake Renaud (jr.), LB Tyler Gray (so.), N Corey Bell (jr.), S Dillon Lukehart (so.), CB Bryan Douglas (jr.), CB Donte Deayon (so.)
Redshirts to watch: DT Elliot Hoyte, LB Ben Weaver, LB Chris Santini, S Chanceller James
Newcomers to watch: DT Tutulupeatau “Deuce” Mataele, CB Cleshawn Page, LB Darren Lee
Returning stat leaders: Ioane 70 tackles, Lawrence 48, Renaud 46, Bell 45, Thompson 43; Ioane, Thompson 3 ints.; Lawrence 9.5 sacks, Horn 5, Ukwuachu 4.5; Lawrence 4 forced fumbles
Returning starters (1 of 2): P Trevor Harman (sr.)
Lost starters (1): K Michael Frisina
Other key returners: KO Dan Goodale (jr.), LS Kevin Keane (jr.), KR Shane Williams-Rhodes (so.), H Matt Miller (jr.)
Redshirt to watch: P Sean Wale
Newcomer to watch: K Tyler Rausa
Returning stat leaders: Harman 42 punts, 41.2 avg.; Williams-Rhodes 13 KO returns, 24.9 avg.
Aug. 31: at Washington
Sept. 7: vs. Tennessee Martin
Sept. 28: vs. Southern Miss
Oct. 26: at BYU
Mountain West home games (dates TBA): Air Force, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming
Mountain West road games (dates TBA): Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State
The Spring Game is at 5 p.m. April 13 at Bronco Stadium. The Beat Coach Pete Scholarship run and Walk is the same day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Registration is available here.