BOISE — The football cliché says the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town. Though that could not be more wrong in Boise, there is a strong competition in fall camp to be that guy.
Sophomore Joe Southwick and redshirt freshman Grant Hedrick are fighting for the shot to be named Boise State’s backup behind senior Kellen Moore. Though the offense in all likelihood will use both in certain packages, it is important to be the guy who would be called in should — devastating the thought it may be — Moore go down.
“I want to see a guy step forward, see who wants that spot,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.
Both quarterbacks offer one of the few things Moore does not possess — speed. Southwick (6-foot-1, 197 pounds) ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash over the summer, and Hedrick has been clocked in the 4.4 range.
With that in mind, the offense will utilize some of the same looks it did last season, when Southwick and Mike Coughlin would come in to present the added running threat.
“It’s the goal — we’re competing for that backup job, but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter to me,” Hedrick said. “It’s kind of a title. If I play well enough, I’ll probably get in on some Wildcat stuff.”
Considering Hedrick is a year behind Southwick, he spent most of the spring and summer trying to catch up in terms of his understanding of the offense and the collegiate game.
With the scout team cards taken away and a chance to really dive into the playbook, Hedrick said his film study has also greatly increased as he is preparing for the chance to see the field for the first time.
“I’m still getting that mental aspect of it,” he said. “I think physically, I’m doing OK … we’re getting there. The offense is so complex, but I’m feeling better now than I did in the spring.”
Hedrick’s words are similar to what Southwick said last August — trying to interpret the manual of the high-performance machine that is the Boise State offense. Southwick also has a bit of an edge based on the fact he has played against Division I competition. Last season, he completed 17-of-24 passes for 202 yards and touchdown.
“It helps a little bit to know they will give you a chance to play even if you don’t start,” Southwick said. “I think now that I’ve played a bit, I have a good base in terms of what to expect. Now I have to build on that, I have to get more consistent.”
During the first three days of fall practices, Hedrick has worked with true freshman Jimmy Laughrea in the afternoon session with other newcomers, while Southwick has worked with Moore in the mornings in the veterans’ practice.
Since he arrived in the summer two years ago, Southwick has made it a point to learn from Moore. While he’s picked up plenty in all aspects, he pointed to one that has helped Moore not only complete passes, but avoid spending time on the turf.
“Pocket work — it’s been huge,” Southwick said. “I think I’ve made strides and I’m excited about it. It was frustrating for a while because I wasn’t able to move like him, but it takes some time to get that kind of sixth sense. He’s the best at it.”
With each quarterback past a redshirt season and boasting a bit of speed, Moore himself said he’s excited to see what the future holds for the duo.
“We’re going to be just fine,” Moore said. “They’re both athletic guys, so it’ll be interesting to see what the staff can do with that. They’re smart guys, too, so when they’re asked to pick things up, they’ll do it.”