ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick entered Saturdays game at New Mexico fully aware that he and his offense needed to be better on third and fourth downs.
The Broncos were a dismal 36.9 percent (17-of-46) on those downs in their first three games.
Third down is money down. Youve got to be able to on third down make some things happen, Southwick said last week.
Against the Lobos, he delivered. The Broncos converted 8-of-13 third-down tries and were 0-for-1 on fourth down (57.1 percent overall).
Much of the damage was done by Southwick, who completed 7-of-10 passes on third down for 71 yards and seven first downs, including a touchdown.
Ive felt very comfortable all year in third down with our play calls and what were trying to get done, said Southwick, who set career highs in passing yards (311) and touchdowns (three).
Southwick was 24-of-34 overall in the victory against the Lobos. His numbers could have been even better, except for a few drops.
Joe did a nice job. I thought he took a big step forward. We had a couple drops, blatant drops, that I think our guys are better than that, coach Chris Petersen said.
Southwick, in his fourth game as the Broncos starter, also fared better in the red zone. Boise State had scored three touchdowns on 12 drives inside their opponents 20.
But all three of Southwicks touchdown passes came in the red zone a 10-yarder to Chris Potter, a 9-yarder to Matt Miller and an 8-yarder to Shane Williams-Rhodes.
Southwick wasnt perfect in the red zone. He missed fullback Dan Paul on a fourth-and-1 play from the New Mexico 4. Southwick rolled right and tried to lob the pass over Paul. Southwick pounded the turf in frustration after the incomplete pass.
Weve got to hit that, Petersen said.
Southwick, who did not have a turnover and took just one sack, nearly threw a costly interception late in the fourth quarter. On third-and-8, he tried to get the ball to Potter and New Mexicos DeShawn Mills stepped in front of it. It went off Mills hands.
Hes got to read that corner. Hes got to see that flat defender and hes got to see that corner if hes squatting, Petersen said.
Quarterback, especially at Boise State, is a demanding spot. Improve at one spot and theres room to grow somewhere else.
We moved the ball great all night, but it just comes down to finishing, Southwick said.