Last season Boise State quarterback, Joe Southwick, earned the difficult task of replacing the winningest quarterback in NCAA history in Kellen Moore but what might have been even harder for the Junior signal caller was the task of trying to win over the hearts of Bronco Nation. For not only was Moore an outstanding quarterback he was and still is a fan favorite. Not easy tasks for sure and tasks made even tougher after a rocky start (by Boise State standards) by Southwick when the offense struggled to score points through the first nine games of the season.
During that time though Southwick showed steady improvement and Bronco fans came around and by the end of the season when Southwick was putting up Kellen-Moore-like numbers as he led the Broncos to four straight wins to close out the season most of Bronco Nation was back on board.
But not all of them and even today some of the Bronco faithful are still skeptical of Southwick's ability despite leading Boise State to an 11-2 record and winning its third straight MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Even with his 9-0 touchdown/interception ratio over the last four games of the 2012 season, doubters still linger. So with the 2013 season slowly approaching, we thought we would take a closer look at the the fifth year senior.
During the first nine games of last season, Southwick's numbers looked like this -1842 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. Average. During the last four games of 2012 Southwick's stats read 888 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions with a completion percentage of 71, a marked improvement from August 31ST to December 22ND. For the season he ended up with a very impressive completion percentage of 66.8% and a great QB rating of 141.8. He averaged 227.5 yards per game and his pass attempt/interception ratio stands at 53:1. Solid numbers.
In comparison, Washington Husky quarterback, Keith Price the quarterback Southwick last faced in the MAACO Bowl and the same quarterback the Broncos will face to start off the 2013 season had lesser numbers yet were still among some of the best in Husky history *. Southwick threw for just four more yards than Price, but Price attempted 61 more passes. Likewise in all the passing categories Southwick had better numbers than 2013 Heisman front runner Braxton Miller and even though there is no comparison between the two's rushing stats it still shows how good Southwick is compared to some of the best quarterbacks in the country.
And how about pocket presence? Southwick was sacked seven times in all of the 2012 season. EJ Manuel of FSU and Aaron Murray of UGA were both sacked 26 times, and Mike Glennon of NC State was sacked 36 times. A large part of those sack numbers is due to a lack of a strong offensive line, but the comparison of seven sacks to 36 is quite glaring.
Southwick seemed to be much more comfortable moving in the pocket in empty sets. As he got more comfortable, he started to use his athleticism in scrambling as well.
And what does head coach Chris Petersen think? In Monday's press conference following the opening practice for Spring camp Petersen said he believes Southwick is primed for a big year which should give those skeptical Bronco fans reason to be hopeful. Petersen said "I think he (Southwick) is in a great groove right now. I think he's as hungry as he's been. I think he's confident because he knows he got better as the season went on and he produced and did some very good things. I'm really excited to watch him, as much as anyone through the spring"
"When you get a fifth-year senior at that position who has done some good things, the average fan may not see it, but as coaches we'll know, Petersen said. "If he can take that next little step, he's going to be an extremely effective and efficient player and play at a very high level."
High praise from a coach that has coached the best and just possibly a primer for a Monster Senior year?
Follow Mike Singer on Twitter @Mike_BTN
* In 2012 Keith Price passed for 2,726 yards for the season, sixth-most in UW history ... 263 completions and 432 attempts both ranked No. 3 in UW single-season history ... 19 touchdown passes were seventh-most in Husky history while 54 career TD passes is tied for second, just one shy of the school record ... .609 completion percentage in 2012 was fourth best in UW history