Unreal. That is the only word I can use to describe tonight’s game. Unreal that Boise State was locked in perhaps their first true battle of the defenses. Shameful that some Bronco fans can’t recognize that sometimes you have to rely on your defense to win games. I know that’s a new concept, given Boise State’s prolific offensive history. Last year, LSU beat Alabama 9-6, and everyone called it the one of the "greatest games ever." This game was on that level defensively.
Are there some issues with the offense? Yes. Are they the result of the playcaller or the QB? I put it primarily on the QB, Joe Southwick. As one who has been an OC (at the high school level) before, I can sympathize with Prince to an extent. You can only call the plays which you feel your offense is capable of having success with. It doesn’t matter what the offense does in practice at this point – it matters HOW they’re executing the plays. If the OC doesn’t have confidence that the offense can have success in THAT game with certain plays – and this could be due to the defense or due to the offensive execution or lack thereof – he won’t call it. No OC would.
So, why so much pressure on Southwick? Is it because he follows the legendary Kellen Moore, who treated us Bronco fans to probably the greatest four years of football ANY of us have ever had the privilege of watching? Or is it because he reminds too many of Jared Zabransky, who was relatively inconsistent thoughout his own career? Perhaps Southwick puts too much pressure on himself to be like Kellen Moore when that’s not his game. Chances are, we’ll never know. Whatever the reason, Southwick does seem to be lacking in confidence in his own play. There is one major difference between Zabransky and Southwick, if that’s who you choose to compare Southwick to. Zabransky was a winner. He didn’t always win, but I don’t remember him not going all-out every single play of a game. He left it all on the field. So far, I cannot say the same about Joe Southwick. Is it time to give Grant Hedrick a shot? The next game is away vs. New Mexico – perhaps it’s time to see if Hedrick has the heart and confidence that Southwick seems to be missing.
However, calling for Nick Patti – a true freshman who can’t (at this time) rise above 4th string – is ridiculous. Patti is the option if Southwick, Hedrick, AND Jimmy Laughrea all go down with injuries or suspensions. If Coach Pete decides to replace Southwick, it will NOT be with Nick Patti. He needs more time to learn the offense; honestly, we’re not sure if he’ll be able to master the offense at this time, either. It’s ridiculous to assume that Patti will play any better than Southwick, Hedrick, or Laughrea this year. Since going to Division I/FBS, Boise State has NEVER played a true freshman at QB – and it might go back further than that. However, if the QB continues to struggle throughout this season, then NEXT year will be a 5-way race for QB between Southwick, Hedrick, Laughrea, Patti…and Finley.
Whoever shows best mastery of the offense will start. It’s been that way for 11 years now, and it’s not going to change because one guy is the "returning" starter.
In conclusion, we WON this game. We won against a tough defense, and we were able to run the ball effectively, despite BYU loading up the box on us most of the night. We should be happy with the win and confident that Boise State will have another successful year (I’m thinking 9-11 wins). Unlike in years past, we have to learn to accept the defense as the unit that will carry the team this year. We should be proud of the defensive unit, and thrilled with the win. Yes, it’s OK to be worried about the passing game and the QB – but it’s not time to jump off the cliff. Back away from the ledge. It’ll be OK. Coach Petersen will get it figured out.