Twenty-two college football programs since 2002 have replaced a quarterback who finished in the top five in Heisman Trophy voting.
Of those, only eight were able to win 10 games in the first season without their star.
And only one USC in 2003, with future Heisman winner Matt Leinart lost fewer than two games.
That provides some perspective for the challenge facing No. 24 Boise State this season the Broncos first without four-year starter Kellen Moore, who set an NCAA record with 50 career victories and finished fourth in Heisman voting in 2010.
The new era junior Joe Southwick is the presumed starter but coach Chris Petersen hasnt made an announcement yet begins Friday night at No. 13 Michigan State (6 p.m., ESPN).
Petersen addresses the media at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Generally, Ive been one of those folks who has said what Chris Petersen has done there is establish a great program, said ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore, who will call Fridays game, and I guess this is going to be the test to see if its a real program. You lose Kellen Moore and six (NFL) draft picks.
This is an opportunity to show theyre more than a great team, that it truly is a great program.
But even the nations elite programs can struggle with a quarterback change.
Texas replaced national championship quarterback Vince Young with Colt McCoy, who held the NCAA wins record before Moore. But the Longhorns have stumbled the past two years without McCoy.
Florida hasnt been the same since Tim Tebow left.
Notre Dame still hasnt replaced Brady Quinn, who last played in 2006.
That has led to significant skepticism toward rising programs that lose their marquee quarterback. In the preseason polls, Boise State, Oklahoma State (Brandon Weeden), Stanford (Andrew Luck) and Baylor (Heisman winner Robert Griffin III) plummeted from their rankings at the end of last season because of uncertainty at quarterback.
When you have a proven guy at that position, a guy like Matt Barkley (at No. 1 USC), that gives you that much more of a leg up on things, ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge said.
At Boise State, there is hope in the past.
The Broncos have thrived through quarterback transitions for more than a decade from Big West Offensive Player of the Year Bart Hendricks (1999-2000) to WAC Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Dinwiddie (2001-03) to Fiesta Bowl champion Jared Zabransky (2004-06) to record-setting passer Taylor Tharp (2007) to All-American Moore (2008-11).
People forget that (Petersen) started out as a quarterbacks coach and a coordinator, Gilmore said, and is focused on making sure that guy whos taking the snap knows what hes doing and is comfortable.
That starts with one of Petersens favorite pieces of advice: Ignore the outside noise.
The new quarterback will face intense scrutiny from fans and media who became accustomed to Moores near-spotless play and a level of success unprecedented at the school.
Moore was the quarterback for seven of Boise States 10 wins over ranked opponents and six of its 10 wins over Bowl Championship Series-conference schools.
We know how good Kellen was, Petersen said, but the more and the longer hes away, the legend will grow even bigger. I dont think very many people know that that fifth-year senior quarterback on his first pass against Wyoming (last year) threw a pick six. You dont remember those things.
And so, theyre human beings. Theyre going to make mistakes. But we want to play at a certain level.
Petersen said he wont lower his standards for the new quarterback, but he will understand that a first-time starter wont play the same way Moore did in game No. 53.
It was no different for Kellen when he came in here, Petersen said. Weve had these quarterbacks playing well and we told Kellen, Hey, this is the standard were looking for and these are the things we expect out of you, and he did a great job. He did a good job as a freshman and continued to inch each year, to get better. And thats what we expect out of these guys.
None of the Boise State quarterbacks have been available to talk to the local media this year.
However, in an interview at the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas in December, Southwick said one key to replacing Moore will be following his example.
He left this place a lot better than when he showed up, Southwick said. The important thing is to look at how it came, and thats the process that you have to go through. It doesnt just happen on Saturdays. Its the other six days of the week. The preparation. Hes definitely left that quality with the quarterbacks.
Now its our turn to go out there and prepare and do the same thing.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat
Editors note: This is the ninth and last in a series of stories previewing the Boise State football team by position.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART, QUARTERBACKS
Joe Southwick (6-1, 187, jr.): Southwick will bring more mobility to the position. He also served as the backup for two years and has a deep understanding of the offense. For his career, hes 40-of-54 for 400 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Grant Hedrick (6-0, 192, so.): Hedricks ugly fall scrimmage four turnovers was a surprise. Hes a solid passer and a terrific runner who likely still will operate the wildcat package. He ran eight times for 70 yards and a TD last year.
Jimmy Laughrea (6-1, 200, fr.) OR Nick Patti (5-10, 187, fr.): The two talented freshmen took nearly all of their scrimmage snaps with the third team, an indication that they werent pushing the two veterans. It seems likely that Patti will redshirt and run the scout team; Laughrea redshirted last year.