By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Boise State quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith said Tuesday he sees junior quarterback Joe Southwick becoming “more confident and comfortable” four games into his career as a starter.
Still, he sees plenty of room for improvement.
It was the first time that Smith was made available to the media since spring ball.
“It’s been OK,” Smith said of Southwick’s play. “I wouldn’t say that we’re satisfied. In some parts, and Joe would agree with me, we’re a little disappointed in some areas, especially our efficiency in the red zone — as an offense. But things start with the quarterback and kind of end with the quarterback.”
Smith has been pleased with Southwick’s approach to the job.
“The guy works hard and prepares himself,” Smith said. “There are not many times he goes in the games and gets confused. He knows what we’re trying to do. He does a great job studying tape and I think that’s paying off for him.”
Smith says Southwick has done a better job getting the ball out quickly and on time and he liked seeing him give his receivers a chance on deep balls last week. Earlier in the season, Southwick overthrew a couple long passes and missed a read or two that could have led to big plays.
Smith also said he was worried about sacks going into the season, so he’s happy that Southwick has only taken two.
“There are some things to build on and there are some things to improve on,” Smith said. “… I do think he can be a really good quarterback. He’ll give us a chance to win games and, if he keeps improving, he can be really good.”
Smith would like Southwick to improve in the red zone — he tossed three touchdown passes there last week, which was a step forward — and make better decisions as a runner.
“There are some times he could put his foot in the ground and run vs. maybe throwing it away or things of that nature,” Smith said. “And we’ve talked about that. I want him to still grow on third down. We’ve been pleased with a lot of his decision-making, just in general. … He is an athlete. He can move. I don’t think we’ve quite shown that.”
Smith said Southwick is in a difficult position because of the pressure and expectation on him. Even the coaches have had to adjust, he said, because they developed the offense around Kellen Moore the past four years.
“There’s a ton of pressure on (Southwick),” Smith said. “He’s getting it all over. He tells me all the time he goes to the supermarket and he’s getting heckled. I think he has handled it really well. He is a tough kid. Now, it means so much to him. It’s important to him to have success. He deserves to have success the way he works.”
Southwick’s efficiency rating is up to 139.29, which ranks 52nd nationally. By game, it’s been 87.73 (Michigan State), 174.63 (Miami), 108.72 (BYU) and 176.54 (New Mexico).
Other notes from Smith:
— On the Michigan State game: “That’s a miserable environment to go into as a first start. There’s no doubt. But I think he’s grown in that. He’s just feeling more comfortable and more confident in what he’s doing.”
— On the red zone: “There were a couple times we could have gone to a different area with the ball. And two, we’ve got to be able to run the ball into the end zone just to help him out.”
— On Southern Miss: “The speed of play will be a jump from New Mexico. I think they’re quite a bit more athletic than them.”
— Sophomore Grant Hedrick has been getting the second-team snaps and some first-team snaps. Redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea is the third-teamer and true freshman Nick Patti is the main scout-team quarterback. Hedrick got banged up in the first fall scrimmage, Smith said. He could get a package of plays to run soon. “We’ve kind of thought about it each week,” Smith said. “I think it’s closer and closer to going in.”
— Smith likes the way sophomore wide receiver Matt Miller plays in the run game. His block keyed D.J. Harper's long touchdown run against Miami. "We’re trying to get him the ball more and more," Smith said. "... You should see him blocking. He's had some huge blocks."