BOISE – Did Chris Petersen hint at who Boise State’s starting quarterback would be when Joe Southwick was ready to return by saying Grant Hedrick “is going to be a heck of player,” and that he and Nick Patti are “getting some great experience”?
How much does it matter?
If it is Southwick, does it limit the Broncos upside in a potential rematch against Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference championship game, should both teams make it?
Could Hedrick already be better than Southwick?
Against Colorado State, and in just his second start, Hedrick had what would have been the best game (statistically) of Southwick’s career, with six total touchdowns and a 226 quarterback rating.
“He is making plays with his arm and feet,” receiver Matt Miller said. “His running ability adds a whole new dynamic to our offense where the defense has to key on it, and if he sees some green grass he is going to take it.”
Teammates — from Jay Ajayi to the receivers — have been effusive in their praise of the junior, going as far to imply the offense is better with him at the helm, without any qualifiers about the senior’s presumed return.
“(Hedrick) has definitely relaxed a lot more and the game is slowing down for him and he is making the throws we see him make in practice. Teams are worried about him running the ball, when he can throw it like that, it’s kind of scary.”
Hedrick likely has two more weeks to secure the job for the rest of the season. Even considering Peter-sen’s loyalty to Southwick, who’s paid his dues in the program and knows the offense as well as anyone Petersen has coached, he’s said, it would seem unlikely that Petersen would start Southwick against the Bulldogs without a week to find his rhythm.
Assuming Southwick is ready for the last game of the season against New Mexico, Hedrick will likely need to make it demonstrably clear he’s a better player than Southwick at his best.
That means two more CSU games.
Hedrick spoke with the media on Wednesday, and was all aplomb, appearing as calm and confident as he looked in the pocket against the Rams, shedding off questions from his front and blindside without hesitation, at times delivering pointed responses targeted down the timeline.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to last but I’m going to keep at it every day,” Hedrick said. “(Starting) is why I came here from the beginning.”
Hedrick said Southwick has been a “mentor” to him, sending him re-assuring text messages before starts. But there is no doubt about Southwick’s competitive fire and desire to finish his career at BSU with the fate of the team in his right hand. According to Petersen and Hedrick, perhaps in jest, Southwick has been nagging the trainers to let him get back on the field.
Hedrick has a chance to make the final two weeks as controversial as any in Petersen’s tenure. And unless Hedrick bombs, there is guaranteed to be some discontent, and whether it could spread through the locker room will surely be part of Petersen’s calculus.
Hedrick can make Petersen’s decision one of arithmetic, too, but with the way he’s acted and played, seems quite unlikely.