When it comes to the offense of Boise State in 2012, to say it has been a disappointment would be an understatement. Yes, the Broncos have won the vast majority of their games, but the competition has not been of the top-tier FBS variety.
Moreso than the offense winning games outright, it has been the defense that has position Boise State to win. A couple of late-season lopsided victories have boosted the Broncos’ average scoring output per game to 29.6, from the 25 points per game it had been averaging for most of the season.
The quarterback slot, manned by Joe Southwick, has only thrown for 215 yards per game. Considering that Boise State has one of the best units of wide receivers in the Mountain West Conference, that is rather pedestrian. Southwick also has only 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
Grant Hedrick, a redshirt sophomore, is the only other quarterback of the four on the roster to see any field time, and that has been extremely limited. To complicate matters, Boise State has a fifth quarterback who has verbally committed to the program who is a pro-style passing quarterback.
Forget the commitment, for the moment, and ask a simple question—can Boise State afford to carry four quarterbacks on the roster with a fifth in reserve? Especially when one of the four redshirted but will be active in 2013 and another, a redshirt freshman this season, has yet to take a game snap? The answer is likely no. So what do you do with a stable of quarterbacks that won’t see much field action.
Staggering them to play backup to probable starters is OK, but most high school football players don’t go to college to ride the pines if they are scholarship athletes. They want to play. What has to be asked at that point is are they good enough to play at the collegiate FBS level? If not, what do you do with them?
Boise State will lose three of its five starting offensive linemen in 2013, its fullback, starting running back and three wide receivers. The Broncos should be fine at the running back position and at wide receiver. The competition for the starting quarterback slot should heat up the moment the season and bowl game is over.
It will be fun to watch.
So, looking down the road, barring injury, let’s look into an often muddy crystal ball and look at the race for the starting job as the Broncos' starting quarterback in 2013.
It seemed in the fall preseason practices leading into the 2012 season that Nick Patti was giving eventual starter Joe Southwick a run for his money. Southwick was a redshirt junior and Patti was a true freshman; that alone didn’t work in Patti’s favor.
OK, so he has burned his redshirt year and has learned more about the offense that Boise State would have liked to have run but really couldn’t under Southwick. Patti’s redshirt year may just be the right preparation to step in, win the starting assignment and begin the season under center for the Broncos.
Patti had impressive credentials coming to Boise State, and considering the season currently rolling past for the Bronco starting QB, after his redshirt year is in the rearview mirror, Patti may well be the starter in 2013.
Ryan Finley is a 6’4”, 180-lb pro-style quarterback out of Paradise Valley High School in Phoenix. He has verbally committed to Boise State.
He threw for 2,908 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior and is having a solid senior year. Considering Boise State has a solid corps of receivers returning—including Matt Miller—this could be the arm that can get the ball to them.
Before getting too excited, though, there is a big difference between high school and college, and Finley will have to earn his position on the team. Plus, coach Chris Petersen may be content, considering the number of bodies at the quarterback position, to give Finley a redshirt year and see if another quarterback (like Patti) can get the job done in the first year in the Big East.
Forget lopsided wins against teams like Hawaii or Wyoming; those were games that the Broncos should have won and won big. Defense was not a strong suit of the opposition. Put Southwick up against a reasonably good defense and, as a college quarterback, he is just an average Joe.
He has struggled mightily in finding receivers that were wide open, either underthrowing them or—in the red zone—overthrowing them. At one point his touchdown to interception ratio was sitting at nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
On the plus side, his feet have enabled him to scramble from pressure, but Southwick has not been the kind of player that, so far, could lead Boise State from behind against a tough defense when the Broncos trailed in a game.
He has had his chance, but his future may well be as a backup to the starter.
Grant Hedrick picks himself up off the turf after a fumble led to a touchdown.
Rarely used, and even then when redshirt sophomore Grant Hedrick comes into the game, it means a running-option type of play. In 2013, Hedrick has put the ball on the turf a couple of times when trying to run with it—not exactly what a coach wants from a running quarterback.
And his running stats, at the moment, are not that impressive. He has 12 carries for four yards. Passing he is 10-of-15 for 98 yards.
Not many reps means that using him is not something that the Broncos are prepared to do except in case of emergency. The lack of use of both Hedrick and Laughrea suggests that either the Bronco coaching staff is not comfortable with them under center or they simply are not ready to take that role. Either is not a good thing.
Jimmy Laughrea was said to have one of the strongest arms on the Broncos, but that arm has yet to be shown. He was left home on a road trip earlier in the season, already has burned his redshirt year and has not taken a game snap.
Maybe the Bronco coaches are hoping he matures a bit before throwing him into the mix, but with new talent coming in, time may not be on his side.