5 Reasons Why Joe Southwick Is Poised for a Big Senior Season at Boise State
It was a trying year for junior quarterback Joe Southwick; he constantly had to deal with rumblings from fans about the security of his job, not only for 2013, but this past season as well.
Southwick had the unfortunate task of replacing Kellen Moore, one of the greatest at the position in Boise State's history and the FBS leader in career victories at quarterback. Southwick actually did a decent job in 2012, considering the pressure that he was under to perform.
While it is no sure thing that Southwick will win the starting job for the upcoming season, he is definitely the favorite, and there are even reasons to suggest that the Danville, California native could have a breakout year.
The following list highlights five reasons Joe Southwick is poised to have a big senior season in Boise.
5. The Offensive Line Isn’t Totally Depleted
Boise State’s offensive line will have a monumental impact in determining whether Southwick continues his improvement into 2013. The 2012 line was very effective, leading the Mountain West Conference by allowing only 9 sacks all season. However, three starters from that group are graduating, which makes repeating that success difficult.
Still, four seniors with experience return in 2013, including 1st team all-MWC center Matt Paradis and 2nd team selection Charles Leno, Jr. In addition, the coaching staff is very excited about three redshirt freshman that should begin to contribute this coming season.
The Broncos may not be as solid on the offensive line as they were in 2013, but assuming that Southwick is quicker to find open receivers, they won’t have to be. At any rate, losing three starters isn’t a death kiss for this team. Boise State still has talent at the position and will be responsible for Southwick’s success.
4. Big, Physical Targets To Throw To
Three of Boise State’s potential top receivers next season stand at 6’3’’ or taller. Matt Miller, the leading receiver from the 2012 season, should be a candidate for 1st team all-conference honors heading into next season and will be Southwick’s favorite target. Seniors Aaron Burks and Kirby Moore are also 6’3’’, and both hover around 200 pounds.
Then there is sophomore Holden Huff, a 6’5’’ tight end with some speed and soft hands, who will make things miserable for opposing defenses up the middle. While Miller, Burks and Moore are your prototypical wideouts, Huff isn’t, but he has the speed to line up as one. When Huff is on the field next season, Southwick will have three or even four options to throw to that are taller than the opposing defender.
Defensive backs in the Mountain West do not have the same type of size or speed as those in the power conferences, but Southwick’s receivers do. As a result, Southwick may find himself with the opportunity to simply throw the ball up and let his receivers go get it, which could result in some astounding passing numbers in 2013.
3. Marked Improvement at the End of 2012
On August 31st, 2012, Joe Southwick made his first career start against the Michigan State Spartans. Southwick went 15 for 31 with 169 yards passing and an interception. Boise State’s offense looked stale, and it was difficult for the Broncos to move the ball against Michigan State’s defense, because it knew what was coming.
On December 22nd, 2012, Southwick played his final game of the season against the Washington Huskies in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Southwick went 26 for 38 with 264 passing yards and two touchdowns. In addition, he ran for 39 yards on 11 carries. Had Washington’s Bishop Sankey not gashed Boise State’s defense for 205 yards rushing, the game would’ve been a blowout and Southwick surely would have won the game’s MVP award.
Obviously, a year of experience can make a lot of difference for a quarterback. In Southwick’s case, the results were astounding. By the end of the year, Southwick was No. 21 in the nation in completion percentage and No. 39 in QB rating. Take out the graduating seniors, and Southwick is No. 15 and 26 in those two categories, respectively.
Southwick isn’t ever going to be Kellen Moore, but he is more than just a serviceable quarterback. Do not be surprised if he continues to improve his completion percentage in 2013 and is a top ten quarterback in several statistical categories by the end of next season.
2. He Will Be Pushed by Nick Patti
It would be natural and even smart to have reservations about Southwick improving so dramatically again in 2013. But there is reason to hope that the improvement will continue, and that reason has a name: Nick Patti.
Patti, who was redshirted in 2012, will give Southwick all he can handle in the offseason with regards to retaining the starting quarterback spot heading into 2013. In fact, there are those that think Patti would actually be a better starter than Southwick. In 2011, ESPN’s Mitch Sherman wrote a column asserting that Patti could become the next Kellen Moore for the Broncos.
After the struggles that Southwick faced the first month of the 2012 season, it’s hard to imagine Boise State’s coaching staff electing to go through growing pains once again, considering that the Broncos have another high profile matchup against Washington to start the upcoming season.
But Patti will definitely push Southwick to improve during spring and summer workouts, because if he doesn’t, Nick Patti could go from being “the future” to being “the now”.
1. Boise State Cannot Lean on the Run Game as Much
A lot of fans probably can’t remember the last time a man named D.J., Doug or Ian lined up behind the quarterback in Boise State’s offense. But it’s happening this year, as either Jay Ajayi or Jack Fields will get the bulk of the carries for the Broncos.
Ajayi was impressive in 2012, rushing for 548 yards on 82 carries while averaging 6.7 yards per carry, but he hasn’t been tested as a feature back. Only once in 2012 did the sophomore carry the ball more than 10 times in a game, although at 222 pounds, there isn’t much doubt that he can take the physical beating.
Even if Ajayi does pan out to be the next feature back in a line of very solid running backs at Boise State, one must remember that the Broncos will be replacing three offensive linemen in 2013. While it was noted that this might not affect Southwick as much, it could have a far greater effect on the running game.
Thus, Southwick will be called upon to do more in 2013. However, there are several signs that indicate he is ready to assume a larger responsibility in the success of Boise State’s offense, and he should have a big season for the Broncos in his final season on the blue turf.