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Boise State's Spring Game: some questions and some answers.

Boise State fans finally got to see what the Broncos football team might look like for the fall season and 17,123 of them showed up at Bronco Stadium yesterday afternoon to see the 2012 team first hand. That was a school record for the annual Blue and Orange game.

The first team was led by expected starter QB Joe Southwick, the backup for former QB Kellen Moore the past two years. Southwick guided the offense to a 22-19 win over the defense that included two touchdown drives by Southwick. One of those drives included an 18-yard TD pass to WR Chris Potter on fourth down. Southwick finished the evening 14-of-19 for 145 yards with the TD, and had 8 more yards by scrambling. Southwick’s backup was sophomore QB Grant Hedrick, who appears to have had the toughest outing of the four quarterbacks on the Bronco squad. He finished 2-of-6 for 5 yards, tossed an INT, and ended up a minus 7 yards on two rushes.

But true freshman QB Nick Patti looked impressive in front of his new hometown crowd. He led the 2nd team with a drive that culminated in a touchdown, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown pass to WR Troy Ware. The Boise crowd liked Patti, who finished the game 4-of-8 for 60 yards and the TD. He also picked up 15 running yards. Patti shared the second string spot with QB Jimmy Laughrea, who was 3-of-7 for 13 yards and had 3 yards scrambling.

So which QB does head coach Chris Petersen think did the best? According to what he said after the game they all are did well and all are showing signs of improvement, giving a clear impression that the race for the starting quarterback position is far from over. “(Patti) might be the most impressive guy in the quarterback race right now,” Petersen said , “just from being around such a short time and just throwing as much as we did (at him).”

The quarterbacks were helped in their performance with a few of the Bronco receivers. In addition to Chris Potter who had three catches for 39 yards, Kirby Moore caught three for 27 yards, and Geraldo Boldewijn had two for 33 yards. Not playing were a host of other Broncos including WR Mitch Burroughs, TE Kyle Sosnowski, and WR Tyler Jackson to name a few. Likewise, the backfield was devoid of both RB’s D.J. Harper and Jay Ajayi, and FB Dan Paul, who also sat out the game and leaving open many questions regarding the Bronco ground attack.

Others missing yesterday’s game were OL Joe Kellogg, DE Kharyee Marshall, DE Nick Alexander , CB Jerrel Gavins and S Taylor Loffler.

Spring ball appears to have done little to answer the question regarding special teams, i.e., the kicking game. Kicker Jake Van Ginkel booted a 37-yard field goal cleanly through the uprights, but he and kicker Dan Goodale both missed extra points. The punting end was handled by Trevor Harman who also appeared to struggle with inconsistency.

But what I took away from the game was the statement made by the defense. While the inexperienced defensive players might have lost the game in points, they showed that they were certainly capable of making up a great defense that lost their top five linemen and returned only one senior to its D-line. DE Demarcus Lawrence chalked up five tackles, and Darian Thompson wrapped up runners for six tackles of his own. Darren Koontz and freshman Sam Ukwuachu also had big nights: both had sacks and Koontz recorded 3 tackles and blocked a PAT while Ukwuachu had four tackles and forced a fumble. Add to all that with LB Blake Renaud intercepting a pass and S Jeremy Ioane intercepting another and you can see a team working hard to replace a couple of All-Americans lost to the pros.

The defensive coaching staff also made a statement yesterday. Many of us were worried when secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator Marcel Yates departed for Texas A&M last fall to be replaced by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake. Now add in new defensive line coach Andy Avalos to the picture and you can see the concern. But this morning we are all breathing much easier.

All in all, the defense had a very good outing.