Spring practice is finally underway for the Boise State Broncos. The team stepped onto the blue turf of Bronco Stadium for the first of 15 practices on Monday.
While there are a lot of things on the “to do” checklist during the spring, such as slimming down the offensive playbook, the ultimate goal of the limited amount of practices is to see which players have improved, which are remaining stagnant and which ones may have actually regressed in the couple of months since last season.
For the next several weeks, we’ll break down how some of the players are doing; more specifically, give a report of a few players whose stock is rising as well as some whose stock is falling.
The criterion is simple, really. Which players are having a markedly spectacular spring? Their stock will rise. The players who may not impress the coaching staff for one reason or another? A drop in their stock is inevitable.
Not just players can have a rise or fall in stock, of course. Do not be surprised if a coach, a coaching philosophy or a facility also makes the list.
In addition to the identification of the player, a brief explanation of the stock direction will be given in each slide.
Let’s take a look at the stock report after the first couple of practices.
It was important that Southwick continue to improve upon his 2012 season, and apparently he has done that so far this spring.
Not bad for a guy who appeared to play with a lot of urgency near the end of the season, just a few weeks after fans and the media started to question whether or not he was the right man for the job.
There was a time when people began to wonder whether Southwick would have competition for his job starting this spring. Needless to say, barring some unlikely development with backups Nick Patti or Grant Hedrick, Southwick has the starting spot wrapped up.
Clearly, Southwick is not only improving his game, but is also beginning to gain the full confidence of his head coach. Assuming he develops a strong relationship with his teammates (specifically the offensive line) the fifth-year senior is putting himself in prime position to have a tremendous year.
Sophomore quarterback Nick Patti.
While Joe Southwick continues to shine in the spring, it appears as though the gap between the starter and the backups is continuing to widen.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Coach Petersen referenced the other quarterbacks on his team in saying, “A couple guys are pressing, trying too hard. It doesn’t have to happen day one or even day 15" (Idaho Statesman).
“Pushing too hard” could be a reference to the fact that the other quarterbacks are trying to keep pace with Southwick, which is difficult to do considering he has a year of starting experience under his belt and has gained a lot of confidence over the past year.
It could also mean that they are simply making too many mistakes to realistically compete with the incumbent starter.
Either way, the rumblings about Nick Patti or some other backup challenging Southwick for the starting quarterback job seem to be a thing of the past.
More than anything, the sophomore earned himself some playing time as a freshman last season by being one of the fastest Broncos on the roster. Since the wide receiving corps is one of the most talented units for Boise State, it may be difficult to see where Williams-Rhodes could fit in on the offense in 2013.
However, according to the Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe, Williams-Rhodes looked impressive on Monday catching a number of tough passes.
Even if Williams-Rhodes doesn’t break into the regular receiver rotation this season, his improvement this spring puts him on the radar for the future. In addition, the sophomore has already been pegged as the probable starter at punt returner and isn’t doing himself any harm by proving he is a sure-handed athlete.
Several times in previous articles, Maston has been pegged as a potential replacement at cornerback for either Jamar Taylor or Jerrell Gavins. But while some of the other cornerbacks have been making plays already, Maston can only sit and wait for his turn to shine as a Class of 2013 signee.
Both Deon’tae Florence and Donte Deayon have impressed the coaching staff by grabbing a couple of interceptions during practice on Monday. Not only are Florence and Deayon familiar with the Boise State defense as members of the 2012 squad (Maston is a JUCO transfer), but their performance indicates that they are practicing with the first-team squad.
It is too early to tell who will earn the vacant starting cornerback spots, and it is one of the Broncos’ most pressing issues, so the coaching staff will definitely take a close look at each candidate.
But at the same time, Florence and Deayon are taking full advantage of their ability to take part in the spring drills, which is only hurting Maston.
The sophomore didn’t log any playing time as a defensive tackle, and being moved to offensive guard could be viewed as a bad sign considering that the Broncos are rebuilding on the defensive line this season.
But in actuality, Ash’s move to the other side of the ball means that the coaching staff sees something in the young man.
According to the Idaho Statesman, Ash is being moved to the offensive line in the hopes that he can be contribute at a position other than the one he was recruited for—much like current center Matt Paradis.
Ash likely won’t see much playing time in 2013. But if he is a quick learner and continues to show promise in the spring at his new position, he could be in line to replace one of the current starting guards, both of whom will graduate after this coming season.
Fans may love all the quirky plays that Boise State has become known for in the past, but we may see a more standard set of plays from Coach Petersen in 2013.
Petersen said that “we have too much stuff” in regards to the offensive playbook and admitted that the playbook needs to be cut back in order to make things more simple for the players. (Idaho Statesman)
A recent lack of stability may have partially contributed to the issue. The Broncos have experienced a swinging door the past few years with regards to their offensive coordinators, as three different men have assumed the role since 2010.
This year, OC Robert Prince will be the first man back for a second season since Bryan Harsin was with the program.
While the playbook may not be as large as it has been in recent years, fans need not worry. Chris Petersen loves what he affectionately refers to as the “voodoo” stuff, and it is unlikely that the trick plays and goofy schemes will totally go away as long as he is coaching the Broncos.