Just returned from the Kellen Moore press conference at Boise State, and what stood out the most was how effusive coach Chris Petersen and offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin were in their praise of Moore.
They gushed about the freshman in ways that I can't recall them talking about other quarterbacks, which is a great sign for the Broncos when you consider all the success the program has had with those other QBs.
Petersen said the Broncos offered Moore a scholarship after seeing him at one of their summer camps. They were impressed right away with the left-hander from Prosser, Wash. Not much has changed since that day in the summer of ’06 — the Broncos remain impressed with Moore.
Petersen said he had a little Brett Favre in him. I'm pretty sure he didn't mean that Moore was going to retire and then unretire before next season. Harsin talked about several throws that Moore made in fall practice that separated him in the derby with senior Bush Hamdan. They were "feel" throws — plays that didn't develop the way they were supposed to — but Moore still found the open man and completed the pass.
"He has a lot of instinctual things that are very, very hard to coach," Petersen said.
In the end, I'm not sure the quarterback derby was all that close. Hamdan clearly improved and made the competition a real one.
But Moore has something else. Petersen revealed that he watched Moore for an entire 45-minute meeting during the Broncos' preparation for the Hawaii Bowl as the quarterback processed the game plan and the coach came away very impressed. Petersen added that even last year on scout team he saw special qualities in Moore.
"We feel like this guy is extremely ready to go," Petersen said.
Now he has entrusted the program to him. Moore, for his part, remained as cool as ever during the press conference, which was televised by two local channels. Nothing seems to faze the 20-year-old. I believe that demeanor played a big part in Moore earning the starting job.
"I'm excited about the opportunity," Moore said. "I'm very thankful the coaches have the confidence in me."
They have more than confidence. They have no doubt.
11:52 a.m. Boise State just announced that freshman Kellen Moore won the starting quarterback job and will be under center for the Broncos' season opener against Idaho State. He will be the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener in Bronco history.
Consider me a bit shocked. I know that fans have been clamoring for Moore ever since the Prosser, Wash., product arrived on campus. I know that he has looked good, very good at times, during the scrimmages.
But I thought — wrongly — that senior Bush Hamdan had a very, very slight edge in the derby.
Now that the decision was made — and we will find out more at 3 p.m. when coach Chris Petersen and Moore meet with the media — we're left to try and sort it out.
Hamdan said something after Saturday night's scrimmage that I considered putting in my column Sunday morning, but left out.
He was talking about the progress that he has made in five years in the program, then he said:
"I made a mistake on the interception that will probably haunt me for a long, long time," Hamdan said.
At the time, I took it as a competitor being hard on himself. Looking back, perhaps Hamdan had a sense of which way the coaching staff was leaning — and knew that interception could be a pivotal mark against him.
In the end, I think, it was Moore's coolness that helped him win the job. The freshman never got too high or too low throughout the process.