By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Joe Southwick spent last season as the Boise State football team’s backup quarterback.
This spring, he’s getting a taste of life as the starter — and all the challenges that come with that job.
Southwick, a sophomore, has taken about a third of the snaps with the first team. Fourth-year returning starter Kellen Moore has taken fewer snaps than usual to give Southwick a chance to develop.
Southwick has had practices where he looked completely comfortable in the offense and others where he has struggled.
“You definitely get frustrated,” he said. “The biggest frustration for me I’d say is sometimes taking the next step in my thinking. Sometimes if (option) one and two are not open, instead of trying to force it into two knowing that now it’s time to get it to three.
“Once it gets to that point, then I’m getting to what Kellen can do. From day one to now, I feel like I’ve done a great job of bridging that gap.”
Southwick also is shouldering more of a load in the meeting room.
“I’ve been stepping up and answering a lot more questions,” he said. “Kellen is doing a good job of letting me.”
Southwick was 17-of-24 for 202 yards and a touchdown last season. He also rushed for 31 yards.
He was listed as the co-backup with senior Mike Coughlin but Southwick said he was told every week that he would be the next guy into the game and took the majority of the second-team snaps in practice.
Like most former high school stars, he wasn’t used to a backup role.
“I learned a lot,” he said. “It’s a different situation I’ve never been put in before. I’m glad I went through it. … I feel like this year I’ll be much better at being prepared, just being older and more mature.”
Southwick may have to fight for that backup spot in fall camp, depending on how freshman Grant Hedrick develops. Hedrick has been impressive this spring, moving the chains with consistency during game-like possessions. He works mostly with the third team but gets to run the second team during periods when Southwick runs the first team.
Both quarterbacks have spent quite a bit of time running the Broncos’ no-huddle offense. They’ll each get a heavy load in Saturday’s Spring Game.
“(Southwick) is doing a good job and Grant’s coming on, too,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “… It’s easy when you’re the backup and you get a couple reps. Now you’ve got to control the flow of what’s going on in a game-management situation.”
Both quarterbacks have taken their lumps at times, which is by design.
“I think I’ve done well in some situations and there have been some situations where I have to learn and I have learned,” Southwick said. “The big thing is, I’m OK with making mistakes as long as I correct them and try not to do them again.”
Said Moore: “It’s just getting experience, getting looks, having a chance to be out there and just play football more — and I think that’s huge for Joe. You can watch from the sidelines all you want but it’s another thing to be out there and be able to experience things and go through good things and go through bad things and be able to get through all that.”
Brian Murphy has a few Boise State-football related notes in his blog today, including news that ESPN/ABC will air the LSU-Oregon game on ABC at the same time as the Boise State-Georgia game on ESPN on Sept. 3. Both games begin at 6 p.m.
Murph and I will be holding a live chat at 1 p.m. Thursday. You can sign up for a reminder through Murph's blog.