By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
I’m running a series of blog posts breaking down each position on the Boise State football team. This is the last one until after spring break, which is next week.
Returning starters (0 of 1): None.
Key losses: The Broncos lost four-year starter Kellen Moore, who in 2011 broke the school record for completion percentage (74.3) and the Mountain West and school records for touchdown passes (43). He also excelled at keeping the Broncos out of bad situations, finishing as the least-sacked quarterback in the country twice in his career and as the second-least-intercepted quarterback in FBS history.
Other key returners: Junior Joe Southwick served as the backup the past two seasons and posted solid numbers last year in relief — 76.7 percent completions and a 136.44 rating. Sophomore Grant Hedrick was effective running the wildcat package with 70 yards on eight carries.
Other players to watch: Redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea is similar to Southwick — he has the best arm on the team and good mobility. True freshman Nick Patti is similar to Hedrick — he’s undersized but he has great speed and an accurate arm.
Projected starter: Southwick (on experience)
Joining in August: None. Patti arrived a semester early.
— Southwick gets the first snaps with the first team because he’s the veteran, quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith, but each quarterback has had time with the first and second units. “We’ve had some real highlights and some mistakes that we’ve learned from,” Smith said.
— All of the quarterbacks have shown the ability to move the offense, and each has the athletic ability to avoid the rush and make some plays with his legs. “Each guy has had some positives,” Smith said. “The first couple days, Nick Patti, being his first practices, did some things. It’s easy to recognize Jimmy’s arm. You should have seen a couple throws he made on the post. Grant, in the vertical game, he’s done some things. Joe, it’s shown that he’s the most experienced, in his decision-making.”
— The Broncos have adjusted the practice script to get more 11-on-11 periods to get a better look at the quarterbacks.
— Smith says he’s in no hurry to establish a pecking order. “If you make too quick a decision with (the younger guys), you don’t really know. They’re going to get so much better from spring ball to fall camp.”
Two young defensive players keep showing up — true sophomore middle linebacker Blake Renaud and redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu. Both made interceptions Wednesday.
Ukwuachu made a diving catch on a tipped ball for his third pick of the spring. He is playing the Shea McClellin role, playing a combination of end and outside linebacker.
“There are not many Sheas out there,” coach Chris Petersen said. “We’re hoping he can kind of fit into that role a little bit. … Sam’s got a lot of talent and a lot of potential. If he can stay focused and keep learning and keep working as hard as he’s been working, he will be a very good player.”
Boise State’s pro day workout is Thursday, when NFL scouts and coaches will get an up-close look at last year’s seniors. It is closed to the public but open to the media. I’ll be posting highlights early tomorrow afternoon.
The seven players who went to the combine will go through position drills and can try to improve their results in any of the testing they choose. Here’s what they’re planning to do (I haven’t reached Nate Potter yet):
QB Kellen Moore — Position drills only
RB Doug Martin — Position drills only
DE Shea McClellin — 20-yard shuttle and position drills
DE Tyrone Crawford — 40-yard dash and position drills
DT Billy Winn — Bench press, 40-yard dash and position drills
S George Iloka — Position drills only