By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said Monday that backup quarterback Grant Hedrick played “OK” in his first start, a 37-20 loss last week at BYU.
“Solid,” Petersen said. “Like we always say, we need better than solid at the quarterback position. We need darn good. It was his first road game. He’ll continue to take steps.”
Hedrick was 25-of-42 for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed nine times for 24 yards and a TD.
“He threw a nice deep ball,” Petersen said. “He made some good decisions, checked the ball down. The one interception was not a good one. There’s never a good one, but that was all on him. But then you need your quarterback to make some really good throws and stick it on guys. When he does that, our offense will play at a high level.”
Starting quarterback Joe Southwick had ankle surgery last week. Petersen said the surgery did not change the expectations that Southwick will return sometime late in the regular season. Southwick likely won’t travel again this week, he said, to make sure he heals.
Petersen said that the targeting call on Boise State safety Dillon Lukehart was correct. Lukehart’s shoulder hit wide receiver Cody Hoffman in the head. Lukehart must sit out the first half this week at Colorado State.
“When you get involved with the guy’s head, going over the middle, no matter how it is, they’re going to call targeting,” Petersen said.
Lukehart won’t be allowed on the sideline in the first half while serving the suspension.
“We might bring a cage,” Petersen joked.
Safety Darian Thompson said coaches have told the players to aim for the bottom of the numbers on a receiver. Since most passes are caught higher than that, I asked Thompson if a hit in that area would separate the ball like Lukehart’s hit did at BYU.
“It depends on how hard you hit them,” he said. “It may or may not, but there’s really nothing we can do about (the rule).”
Petersen began his press conference with an opening statement:
“First, I think that BYU has a really good team. Nothing really changed from what I thought coming out of the game. They’re big, they’re physical, I think they play hard. You kind of look back and look at everybody getting all over Texas (for losing to BYU). I thought, ‘Maybe BYU is a pretty good team.’ I think that even more so now.
“… So when you’re playing a really good team, then you can go right to the turnover battle. We lose four turnovers against a good team and get none and we’ve got no chance. On offense, our red-zone offense isn’t effective enough and certainly our short-yardage (plays), third and fourth down, they’ve got to get cleaned up. On defense, we’ve got to get off blocks better and tackle better.”
The Broncos lost three fumbles last week — increasing the season total to seven. The Broncos are on pace for at least 11 lost fumbles this season. That would be the most since 2010 (13).
Tailback Jay Ajayi and wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes lost fumbles at the end of plays fighting for extra yards, which is a habit for both.
“I don’t think they should be fighting for extra yards,” Petersen said. “They (should) hit creases and go forward and try to fall forward. I don’t think guys should be dancing and pulling and spinning because bad things are going to happen. You watch Shane, who is a heck of a playmaker. He’s starting and stopping and looking great, but he gets very few extra yards.”
The Broncos appeared to get the first down on a fourth-and-1 sneak in the first half but the ball was spotted short of the marker. Petersen said it looked on video like Hedrick got the first down.
“But they didn’t give it to us,” he said. “We can’t put it in the officials’ hands.”
Petersen on morale: “The morale should be down. I’d be disappointed if they’re excited about where we are. They care about this thing. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to focus and go hard. They practiced really well this morning.”
Offensive lineman Spencer Gerke: “We can’t let something like that bring us down too much. You kind of have to step back and realize that’s not a league game. It hits you kind of hard and it’s tough to lose.”
Thompson: “(Morale) is kind of down but we’re trying to pick it up. It’s not going to be easy. We don’t lose very often. When we do, we take it to the heart.”
Petersen on the BYU game:
“We played over 90 plays on each side of the ball. If you clean up 10 on each side, it’s a much different game. That’s how it is every game, though. But that one really jumps out. We have about 10 plays on each side where you’re going, ‘That’s not nearly good enough and we’re better than that.’ ”
Redshirt freshman Travis Averill replaced Steven Baggett and played most of the BYU game at right tackle. Averill is listed as the starter this week.
Averill is expected to play center or guard in the future — that’s where he was practicing before injuries caught up to the Broncos — but he’s workable at tackle.
“He’s pretty sharp and battles hard,” Petersen said.
The Broncos are without starter Rees Odhiambo (week to week) and backup Jake Broyles (out for the year) at right tackle.
Wide receiver Kirby Moore, who has missed four straight games with a foot injury stemming from the Fresno State game, ran Monday, Petersen said. Linebacker Jonathan Brown, who injured a knee in the opener against Washington, is nearing a return.
Safety Darian Thompson on the BYU game:
“We kind of started slow. We started to pick it up toward the end of the game, but it was too late.”