Three years of patience and preparation paid off for Boise State junior quarterback Joe Southwick.
Southwick will make his first career start Friday night at No. 13 Michigan State (6 p.m., ESPN), coach Chris Petersen announced Sunday.
Southwick joined the team in August 2009, was the Offensive Scout Player of the Year as a redshirt that season and served as the backup to Kellen Moore the past two seasons.
He beat out three younger players for the starting job. Sophomore Grant Hedrick is the backup, redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea is No. 3 and true freshman Nick Patti likely will redshirt.
Its a great opportunity for Joe, Petersen said. Were really excited for him. Hes been here going on four years now. He knows our system very well. Hes prepared really hard. And hes really earned this opportunity. He just needs to now go out and play and be the player that we know he can be.
Petersen praised Southwick for his approach to the job as a backup in recent years and in competing for the job this year.
Preparation is one of the four core requirements for Boise State quarterbacks. The list also includes toughness, decision-making and accuracy.
Hes studied very hard for these last three years, Petersen said. I always say its the hardest being a backup quarterback because there may be games where you dont even get in yet youre preparing like youre going to. That can wear on you. Its easy to lose some focus and maybe some drive and determination. Hes been through that for three years and hes really done a nice job preparing himself for this time.
Southwick, of Danville, Calif., learned he was the starter Wednesday.
However, it was clear throughout the offseason that he was the front-runner. He starred in the Spring Game and took the majority of the first-team snaps in the open fall scrimmage.
Southwick celebrated his new status by calling his parents.
It feels great, he said. To finally be named the starter, its a great privilege. There has been a great line of quarterbacks here for a long time. To be one of those guys, next in line, is just a great privilege, a lot of responsibility.
Southwick described a heightened sense of awareness brought on by the open quarterback job. He arrived as Moore entered his sophomore season, leaving little hope for playing time other than in mop-up roles.
Southwick is 40-of-54 for 400 yards and two touchdowns with an interception in his career.
It was pretty exciting for me, he said of taking the field this past spring, a chance for me to step up and show what I can do with the first-teamers. This is a new era, almost, for Boise State.
It will be fun to play some football again. Its been a while for me, personally.
He used that time wisely, though and thats a key reason hes the starter now.
Patience was a big thing, Southwick said. Coming from a lot of success in high school, sometimes its hard to have patience. That was a quality I think I needed to learn and Im really thankful that I did learn it. You learn so much, especially from a guy like Kellen. This gave a lot of time for me to craft my skill and improve.
Southwick who is more mobile and fiery will bring a different style to the field than Moore, a four-year starter. Coaches likely will utilize that athleticism, but Petersen said the offense wont need to change to compensate for Southwicks inexperience.
The other three quarterbacks probably would have required a slimmed-down playbook, the coach said.
He knows our system inside and out, Petersen said. And like weve said many times, theres a lot there, and well always pare our system to play to our quarterbacks strengths. But mentally, we can do as much with Joe as with anybody weve had.
What Southwick lacks is game time and theres only one way to change that.
On Friday night, in front of 75,000 mostly hostile fans and against one of the best defenses in the nation, hell get his first true taste of college football.
Hes played at a pretty high level (in practice), Petersen said. The next move is just for him to go on to games and gain confidence. Unfortunately for us and for Joe, this probably isnt a great team to try to go against and gain confidence. These guys are as good as there is out there, certainly defensively, so that will be quite a challenge for him, and for us, out of the gate.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat