BOISE — Chris Petersen enjoys this time of year as much as any.
Boise State players and coaches are back on the football field for 15 spring practices over the next five weeks, but there are no opponents to prepare for, no gameplans to set and no stress of preparing for games.
“(I) love spring practice, (it) absolutely is one of our favorite times of the year,” he said. “You really get to teach and watch them grow and not have to worry about Saturday.”
It’s also a joy for the coach to see the growth that players have made in the offseason. Petersen said this year’s team is off to a strong start.
“I think they’ve worked hard, I really do,” Petersen said. “I think (Boise State strength coach) Tim Socha’s done a good job with those guys. That to me is where that whole foundation starts — in that weight room.”
Some of those players who have packed on pounds since the team’s Maaco Bowl Las Vegas victory over Washington on Dec. 22 are, perhaps, least suspect to be workout warriors — the quarterbacks.
“As the season wears on a little bit, those guys they don’t lift like a lot of the other guys, so sometimes they have a tendency to lose that weight,” Petersen said. “So, it’s good that they’re putting on what I think is good weight, I think it’s muscle weight. As much as we run around here, as long as it didn’t slow them down, we like it.”
Starter Joe Southwick has increased his weight from 191 pounds in 2012 to 202 this spring.
Redshirt junior Grant Hedrick has gained the most weight for a quarterback, packing 14 pounds onto his 6-foot frame. He now weighs 200 pounds.
Jimmy Laughrea, a 6-1 redshirt sophomore, increased his weight from 192 pounds to 204 in the offseason, and 5-10 redshirt freshman Nick Patti went from 195 to 200 pounds.
Petersen said any work the team does in the weight room is as important as anything the team does.
“You watch these guys go work and they do go hard, there’s no question, and I think that helps us carry on to the field,” he said. “But not only that, I think the job done in our weight room is second to none.”
Petersen pointed to Jamar Taylor as an example of a player who has made the most out of preparation. The coach said when Boise State was recruiting Taylor out of high school, coaches questioned if Taylor was fast enough to play in the Broncos’ secondary.
The All-Mountain West cornerback ran the 40-yard dash in 4.39 seconds during last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, tied for fourth best among players at his position.
“It’s baby steps,” Petersen said. “It’s not going to happen overnight or any one year, but that process in four and five years going through our strength and conditioning program. These guys all get stronger, they all get a little bit bigger and, most impressive, they all get faster.”
Earlier Tuesday, Boise State announced adding a home-and-home football series against Troy, Ala.
Boise State will host Troy at Bronco Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017 and play at Troy on Sept. 1, 2018.
Troy was 5-7 overall in 2012 and finished fifth in the Sun Belt Conference with a 4-4 record.
In recent weeks, Boise State also added a home-and-home series with Virginia and Florida State to future schedules. The Broncos play Virginia in 2015 and 2018 and Florida State in 2019 and 2020.
“I’m just glad we’re getting games,” Petersen said.
MORE ON UNIFORMS
The NCAA has already decided it will continue to allow teams, such as Boise State, to wear solid-colored uniforms the same color as the playing field.
But the numerals on the jerseys must be clearly visible and a different color than the jersey’s dominant color.
That means the Broncos can not wear the black jerseys they unveiled last season. The numbers the jerseys wore for their home game against UNLV are blue at the top and fade to white at the bottom of the number.
Boise State is expected to replace its blue jerseys with gray numbers with blue jerseys with white numerals. Petersen said Tuesday it’s possible to petition to see if the Broncos can continue to wear other alternate jerseys, saying it doesn’t make sense to only wear them once or twice.