By Chadd Cripe
© 2010 Idaho Statesman
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore’s two poor spring scrimmages probably aren’t cause for alarm, but they will prompt a closer look from his coaches.
Moore was 14-of-31 for 143 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, both in the Spring Game on Saturday. His scrimmage drives resulted in seven first downs and three points.
Those are shocking numbers for a quarterback who is considered a strong Heisman Trophy contender and is known for accuracy and consistency.
“Kellen’s played a lot of games,” offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said Sunday, “but he’s still a junior. There are still a lot of areas to improve in his game. Even as smart as he is, there’s still a lot of areas for him to learn more about — how he can be better in certain situations, how he can improve on some decisions.”
A month ago, Harsin talked about Moore’s flaws being so small that he was working toward perfection, And by all accounts, Moore practiced well during the spring.
But failing to produce in scrimmages was an eye-opener.
“We’ll sit back and really analyze why,” Harsin said. “ ‘What’s going on? Why weren’t we more productive with that group at that position?’ That’s something that’s definitely a No. 1 focal point for us in this offseason. … We’ve got to be more productive. Those are game situations.”
Moore didn’t say much about his struggles after the Spring Game.
“It was frustrating,” he said, “but something to improve on.”
Meanwhile, freshman quarterback Joe Southwick’s playmaking and leadership in directing the offense’s second-half comeback in the Spring Game also caught Harsin’s attention.
“He rallied those guys when we needed something to happen,” Harsin said.
Harsin was particularly impressed this spring with how Southwick responded to an early problem. He had thrown three interceptions through three practices, when Harsin sat him down and told him that wasn’t acceptable.
Southwick threw another pick in the fourth practice — then none in the last 11 practices.
“And he threw touchdowns almost every day from that point on,” Harsin said. “At that point, it clicked.”
Southwick downplayed his Spring Game performance to the media, saying he needed to move on and continue to get better.
That wasn’t just talk.
He said the same thing to Harsin when the coach congratulated him on a good spring.
“He’ll critique himself in a good way,” Harsin said.
Harsin said Southwick did make some “young, inexperienced poor decisions.” He also dropped the ball for a fumble in the first half.
“The nice thing about it is immediately he knows that needs to improve,” Harsin said.
Southwick will compete with senior Mike Coughlin for the backup job in fall camp and likely throughout the season. Harsin said he needs to identify a backup quarterback each week so the guy is prepared, but he doesn’t have a problem changing backups from week to week.
“Coughlin, I still think he had a good spring,” Harsin said. “He’s got some very good experience and knowledge of what we do. This summer, we’ll let those guys continue to battle and push Kellen and see what happens come fall camp.”