Bronco Nation is looking for one big answer going forward. No, not which conference will it play in next year, nor even if the world will survive beyond the end of the Mayan calendar on December 21st. Those would be too easy to answer. The bigger question on nearly every Bronco fan’s mind is which one of the four quarterbacks on the Broncos roster will be selected to fill record setting quarterback Kellen Moore
Not helping the discussion is that following last month’s Spring Game, Broncos head coach Chris Petersen was non-committal. They all did well, he said, and all are showing signs of improvement, thus leaving the clear impression that the QB race for the starting position is far from over. He’s just being picky.
Luckily for Petersen, he has a stable full of good, dual-threat quarterbacks to pick from.
Well, four, anyway. One of those is junior QB Joe Southwick
, 6-1, 198 lbs, the backup for Moore the past two years. By most accounts he could be the expected starter
after a good year last season. He was 23 of 30 for 198 yards in passing, averaging 6.60 yards with a TD and an INT. He had a rating of 136.4 coming into spring ball.
This season Southwick was picked to head the first squad during the Blue and Orange Spring Game, where he guided the offense on two touchdown drives. One of those included an 18-yard TD pass on fourth down. Southwick finished the game 14-of-19 for 145 yards with the TD, and scrambled for 8 more yards. It was planned that he would get the most snaps.
Strengths: of the four, he has the most college experience, an able player, and knows the playbook. He has also shown he is a good leader and has the respect of the men in the huddle.
Weaknesses: his longest ball last season was 20 yards and brings into question his arm strength. Or it could be nothing; in 2010 he tossed the pigskin for a 78-yarder.
Sophomore QB Grant Hedrick
, 6-1, 191 lbs, was the third QB in rotation last season. With limited action as the third stringer he was 2-of-3 for 19 yards passing, each averaging 6.33 yards. That closed out his first college passing season with a 119.9 rating. But Hedrick was impressive with his running and scrambling abilities. He ran 8 times for 70 yards, including a 23 yard TD run against Fresno State. Unfortunately, about half way through the season while down in Las Vegas he was injured on a sideline run when a big, mean Rebel gave him a hit that sidelined him for the next three games.
Last month Hedrick was Southwick’s backup during the Spring Game so he had another chance to shine. Instead, his 2012 debut was overshadowed by a mediocre performance and might have had the toughest outing of the four quarterbacks on the Bronco squad. Hedrick finished 2-of-6 in the passing department for 5 yards, and tossed an interception. He also added a minus 7 yards on two rushes.
Strengths: an accurate passer that combines with his speed on the field. In 2009, he ran a 4.5 at the Nike Football Training Camp in Palo Alto, California so there is no question of his ability.
Weaknesses: the injury at Las Vegas might bring into question his toughness. If he is going to run with the ball he needs to be able to take a hit.
Of all four quarterbacks, true freshman QB Nick Patti, 5-11, 190 lbs, is probably the most like Moore
according to sources. He is also proud of the fact that he is known as one of the “OKG’s---our kind of guys, “ a label he got from head coach Chris Petersen. The young passer out of Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida comes to Boise State with an impressive resume of his own. He has good speed (a 4.49-second 40-yard dash) and promises to be a dual threat on the field. He won the 8A (largest division) Player of the Year award this year in Florida and was one of only 24 quarterbacks who attended the prestigious Elite 11 camp last summer.
Patti graduated high school early so he could get to BSU in time for spring ball and he has not disappointed. He looked impressive in front of the Bronco fan base and was clearly a crowd favorite. He led the 2nd team with a drive that culminated in a touchdown, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown. He finished the game 4-of-8 for 60 yards passing and the TD. He also picked up 15 running yards. “(Patti) might be the most impressive guy in the quarterback race right now,” Petersen said later , “just from being around such a short time and just throwing as much as we did (at him).”
Strengths: he is a highly accurate passer and possesses something Kellen Moore didn’t: speed and the ability to run.
Weaknesses: probably his two most important deficits are his lack of football experience at the college level and his smaller size in comparison to other college quarterbacks---or as Coach Pete puts it, he’s an OKG.
QB Jimmy Laughrea
, 6-2, 197 lbs., a pro-style quarterback out of Rocklin, California, is starting his second year at Boise State following a redshirt season learning the Broncos playbook. When he was recruited for the 2011 class, Laughrea ranked No. 18 on Rivals.com's
list of top dual-threat QBs and earned a 5.7 ranking overall. That ranking followed his high school senior year where he tossed 22 TDs en route to claiming the Sierra Foothill League Offensive MVP honors.
During the spring game Laughrea shared leadership of the second team with Patti. In the limited play he was 3-of-7 for 13 yards in passing, and had 3 yards scrambling. That is not really enough for a satisfactory evaluation at this level of play, but coach Petersen has not ruled him out and---in fact---is very impressed
with his arm strength.
Strengths: like the other Boise State QB’s, he’s a dual threat. And by all accounts he has one of the strongest arms on the Broncos squad and more than capable of heaving a deep bomb down field. He also makes good decisions, and is quick to decide whether to run or pass the ball.
Weaknesses: a lack of experience at the college level and somewhat rusty play action after a year spent warming the Broncos bench.
Everyone at Bronco Nation has their favorite they want to be in the saddle on August 31st when the Broncos travel to Michigan State to take on the 13th ranked Spartans
and for the most part there is no consensus of opinion. As for Coach Pete, he has not ruled anyone out as the starter and has said no decisions will be made until fall practice. Southwick, with experience as Moore’s backup, will enter fall camp as the front-runner after his strong showing in the spring game, but Patti also showed the stuff he is made of and could certainly challenge him for the starting spot. Then there is Hedrick, who will be out to prove himself all over again in fall camp, and Laughrea, whose arm strength has caught Petersen’s attention. Don't forget to add this thought into the mix: Petersen picked Kellen Moore
as his starter when Moore was a true freshman.
So who will be the one selected to fill Moore's shoes? Your guess is as good as mine.