Freshman Kellen Moore gets nod as Broncos' starting QB

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 21, 2008 

Forget all that talk about Kellen Moore being a redshirt freshman, a potential four-year starter and a choice for the future.

That's not why Boise State football coach Chris Petersen introduced Moore as the Broncos' starting quarterback Wednesday.

The real reason is much less tangible - and perhaps much more important.

Moore edged senior Bush Hamdan in a tight, seven-and-a-half-month battle with his superior, uncoachable knack for the game.

He will become the first freshman quarterback to start the season opener in Boise State history when the Broncos face Idaho State on Aug. 30 at Bronco Stadium - and the first freshman quarterback to start any game since Bart Hendricks in 1997. Last year, the Broncos made history when Taylor Tharp became the school's first senior first-year starting quarterback.

"I can't wait to watch (Moore) play," Petersen said. "He's got a tremendous feel for the game. You can coach guys up, but things change very fast out there. A lot of things come down to instincts and quick decisions."

Petersen got a glimpse of Moore's football mind last December. He attended a quarterbacks meeting during preparation for the Hawaii Bowl and spent all 45 minutes observing Moore.

"He was processing every word that was being said and digesting it like he was the starter," Petersen said. "It was very interesting to watch."

Moore steps into a grand tradition at Boise State. Hendricks won Big West titles in 1999-2000, Ryan Dinwiddie won two WAC titles from 2001 to 2003, Jared Zabransky won three WAC titles and the Fiesta Bowl from 2004 to 2006 and Tharp set a school record for single-season completion percentage in 2007. All four earned all-conference honors.

"I'm pretty excited about the opportunity," Moore said. "I'm very thankful to the coaches for having the confidence in me and feeling I'm ready to take over and follow in the long tradition of quarterbacks at this school."

Moore led all of the Broncos' quarterbacks in completion percentage during fall camp, offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said, with a rate above 65 percent. He has a quick release, deft touch and uncanny anticipation.

He also made some plays this fall that reminded the coaches of Dinwiddie, the three-year starter who set an NCAA record for pass efficiency.

Several times, Moore surveyed the defense and made a throw that wasn't in the normal progression of the play. Harsin would ask why he made that decision and Moore would explain that he spotted a hole in the defense.

"You look at that and go, 'Well, that's common sense,' " Harsin said. "But that all happens in 2 seconds. There were a couple special things he did in there."

Moore (6-foot, 187 pounds), a 20-year-old lefty, is a coach's son from Prosser, Wash. He grew up around the Prosser High football team, where his dad is the head coach, and visiting college practices with his dad.

Moore was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Washington after setting career records for completions (787) and touchdown passes (173) and single-season records for touchdown passes (67 as a senior), passing yards (4,600 as a junior) and completions (317 as a junior).

The Boise State coaches offered him a scholarship after he attended their camp during the summer of 2006. Many bigger schools were reluctant to pursue him because of his size, but Petersen recognized his instincts and passion - traits he considers vital in a quarterback.

"We just feel like this guy is extremely ready to go," Petersen said. "We talk so much about being a football junkie - you need a guy who will spend hours and hours here. He's been here a very short time but this guy might already be setting (a new standard) in that."

That started even before Moore arrived at Boise State. He attended the 2007 Fiesta Bowl as a fan.

"He was there taking every rep (mentally)," Petersen said.

Moore has impressed his coaches ever since, lighting up the third-team defense during bowl preparations in December and producing consistently sound play through spring ball and fall camp.

The coaching staff agreed that Moore or Hamdan could lead the Broncos to a successful season, Petersen said, but he and Harsin had to make a choice.

"It was 'Who's our best guy right now?' " Harsin said. "And it's Kellen Moore."

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