By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
Boise State sophomore quarterback Joe Southwick has made crisp throws and used his mobility to scramble for nice gains the first three days of fall camp, mostly avoiding the turnovers that got him in trouble in the spring.
Southwick and redshirt freshman Grant Hedrick are competing for the backup job that Southwick held last year. Southwick is the front-runner, spending the first three days with the veterans while Hedrick worked with the newcomers.
“The big thing for me, if I can put it down to one word, is being more consistent or efficient,” Southwick said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s one thing — it’s everything. From spring to now, I’m feeling better. I can see improvements here and there.”
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease sees Southwick and Hedrick becoming more comfortable in their roles.
“Their understanding and knowledge and the speed of the game — everything is becoming a little more instinctive to them,” Pease said. “And they’ve done a good job in leadership to this point.”
The Broncos have listed co-backups at times in recent years but Pease hopes to avoid that this year.
“I want to see a guy step forward,” he said. “Who wants the spot?”
The only other quarterbacks on the roster are senior starter Kellen Moore and true freshman Jimmy Laughrea. Laughrea has looked good in the newcomer practices.
The Broncos wore shoulder pads for the first time during camp Saturday. The offense struggled to run the ball against the team’s loaded front seven.
“It always feels good to go hit those O-linemen after they’ve been getting the best of you with no pads on,” junior linebacker J.C. Percy said.
Sophomore wide receiver Aaron Burks looked sharp during the practice. He was one of the top performers in spring testing, running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, and is another big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-2, 191 pounds.
Georgia coach Mark Richt backtracked on his comments about not knowing Moore would be back this year, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The newspaper reported Saturday that Richt had been telling his story about Moore as a joke during Bulldog Club tours.
"I probably embellished the truth a little bit,” Richt told the newspaper. “(Athletic director) Greg (McGarity) did say, 'I think that quarterback is gone,' when it first came up. But by the time we signed the contract, we knew he was coming back. Maybe it will go to his head a little bit and he’ll be overconfident.”
Pease, on Friday, talking about the first two days of practice:
“Really good. I think we’ve had great tempo. We’ll get the details cleaned up later — but the goals we set, as far as tempo and ball security, that’s all been really good.”
Percy has finished second on the team in tackles each of the past two years, with 65 last year and 64 in 2009. He shares the weak-side linebacker job with senior Aaron Tevis and is a key special-teamer.
This year, Percy hopes to make more of an impact on pass defense. He has worked on his coverage skills and blitzes.
The former walk-on from Blackfoot has 1.5 sacks and two pass breakups in his career.
“I get a couple blitzes here and there and I need to be able to capitalize on that opportunity,” Percy said.
Percy, Tevis and senior middle linebacker Byron Hout give the Broncos an experienced trio to fill the two linebacker spots. Junior Tommy Smith impressed during spring ball, while Hout was injured, and will be a factor, too.
“This is going to be one of the best (linebacker corps) we’ve had in a long time,” Percy said. “All around, the (middle linebacker) and the (weak-side linebacker) are going to be pretty productive this year.”