Boise State junior quarterback Joe Southwick tossed seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in the last three games of the regular season.
He ran for four first downs in the finale Saturday at Nevada.
And his efficiency rating, which ranked in the 80s nationally after three games and in the 50s after six games, has climbed to 40th.
Hes been playing at a little bit different level, coach Chris Petersen said Monday, when he addressed the Broncos date with Washington in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22. A different level can mean just inches different. Its that, with the consistency. Because you can see some really good plays being made even when he didnt play like we wanted him to play. So its all about being consistent and improving just this much and I think hes done those things.
Southwick was 53-for-75 (70.7 percent) for 624 yards in the closing three-game stretch good for a stellar 171.35 rating.
That lifted Southwicks overall rating to 141.51, putting him in the same neighborhood as high-profile players such as Tyler Wilson (Arkansas), Cody Fajardo (Nevada), Taylor Martinez (Nebraska) and Braxton Miller (Ohio State).
Coaches told the offensive players before the season that they should play their best late in the year.
The last three games have been pretty clean, Southwick said. Ive been proud of the way the offense has been moving the ball. Thats great that weve been able to accomplish that.
Southwick added a new wrinkle at Nevada. He rushed for a season-high 25 yards and those four first downs. He scrambled for 15 yards on a third-and-10.
Weve kind of been dumbfounded on the whole thing, Petersen said. He came in here an athlete who could run, and all the sudden he becomes the starting quarterback and he doesnt think he can run anymore. I guess Kellen (Moore) rubbed off on him too much. It was nice to see him do that. We needed those. Those were key runs and he needs to continue to build on that.
Petersen said its a little awkward to play Washington in the bowl and the 2013 season opener, but he isnt sure how it will affect next years game.
I have no idea, he said. Maybe thats kind of the beauty of it.
Washington went through a similar experience with Nebraska. The Huskies and Huskers met three times in a calendar year, including the 2010 Holiday Bowl.
It becomes a healthy competition, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. Thats what makes this unique. Somebody is going to win Dec. 22 and somebody for nine months is going to be wanting that rematch to show theyre worthy of beating the other team and the other teams got nine months to show that wasnt a fluke and they can do it again. For both schools, it serves as great motivation.
Sarkisian said the MAACO Bowl was the game the Huskies wanted. They beat out Arizona for the spot.
You never know when you lose your last (game) the kind of taste it can leave in the bowl games mouth, he said. We were hopeful all along we could get in that game and were fortunate that we did.
PATTI WINS SCOUT AWARD
Freshman Nick Patti became the fourth straight Boise State quarterback to win the Offensive Scout Player of the Year award Sunday, following Southwick, sophomore Grant Hedrick and redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea. The winner is chosen by the players.
Patti took a different route than those guys, though, because he came in for spring ball and competed for the starting job.
Petersen said he was impressed with how Patti handled the year.
He is an awesome, awesome person, he said. All the coaches, his teammates everybody likes being around him. We also obviously like him as a player, but thats the thing that has jumped out to me so far about Nick is that hes just got that it factor as a person. Now hopefully hes got that it factor as a quarterback and then weve really got something going. Obviously he does have good talent. Weve seen that for a long time. We havent been disappointed since hes been here. It will be good to see him go for real (in the spring) now that he has had all this experience under his belt.
Redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Ukwuachu said Patti was the offensive scout-teamer who caught his attention.
Just how he commanded the offense, Ukwuachu said. If they were having an off-day, how he picked them up and said, Weve got to get the defense better.
Boise States finals week is Dec. 17-20. The Broncos will leave late on Dec. 18, creating a conflict they havent had to deal with the past two years.
Well get them all done for the most part before we leave, Petersen said. There may be a professor or two who doesnt want that to happen and theyll maybe take them (in Las Vegas).
Graduating players will miss commencement, which is the day before the game. They can walk in the spring instead.
SMITHS WIFE DIES
Eleanore Smith, the wife of Boise State coaching legend Lyle Smith, died Sunday in Boise. She was 95. The Smiths were married in 1971.
A celebration of Eleanores life will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Summers Funeral Home.
Boise State will be the home team in the MAACO Bowl. The Mountain West will announce its football awards at noon Tuesday. Boise State tailback D.J. Harper (130 rushing yards, TD) and linebacker J.C. Percy (13 tackles, fumble recovery) were named the Mountain West offensive and defensive players of the week.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat