Boise State notebook: Southwick rediscovers his lucky ‘mojo’

ccripe@idahostatesman.comSeptember 10, 2013 

— “The ’stache is back,” Boise State senior quarterback Joe Southwick proclaimed Monday, “so look out.”

Southwick’s good-luck mustache has become a bit of a cult hit among Broncos fans. He wore it during the final three games in 2012, when he threw six touchdown passes and no interceptions.

He went scruffy for the 2013 opener against Washington — a loss in which the Broncos failed to score a touchdown and Southwick threw an interception.

He broke out the mustache again last week, when he tossed a career-high five touchdown passes and no interceptions in a 63-14 win against UT Martin.

“I think the mojo is working,” Southwick said. “I threw a couple touchdown passes, we scored a lot of points, so it’s sticking around.”

In fact, The Corral — an organized group within the Boise State student section — plans to distribute 1,000 blue mustaches to students at the student tailgate and student entrance Friday before the Broncos’ Mountain West opener against Air Force (6 p.m., ESPN).

Quick turnaround

Air Force is one of the teams the nation’s coaches least like to prepare for because of the Falcons’ awkward offensive style — heavy on option running and cut blocking.

Boise State gets one less day to prepare because of the Friday night appearance on ESPN.

The Broncos practiced Sunday, usually the players’ day off. They moved each of their game-plan practices up a day, starting Monday instead of Tuesday.

“The kids will adjust,” coach Chris Petersen said. “It’s maybe harder on the coaches. … The problem with Air Force is they do a lot. Everybody thinks of those guys as triple option — and they’re not just triple option. That’s a really small percentage of what they do. They have a lot of offense. That’s what makes it so hard to prepare for.”

Saxton out, Vallejo in

Junior backup middle linebacker Travis Saxton tore an anterior cruciate ligament Saturday and is out for the season, Petersen said.

True freshmen Darren Lee, a return missionary who played in the opener, and Tanner Vallejo, a 2013 high school graduate, are the co-backups this week.

Vallejo entered Saturday’s game late as a response to Saxton’s injury. He was “on standby,” Petersen said. He expects Vallejo, who was on the scout team last week in practice, to make an immediate impact on special teams and ease into a role on defense.

A salute for Air Force

Two years ago, Petersen asked fans to cheer Air Force as the team entered Bronco Stadium out of respect for their unique commitment.

On Monday, Petersen said he’d like to see all opponents treated that way.

“I think when a team comes into the stadium, you give them a good applause and then just make sure they can’t hear a darn thing when they have the ball for the rest of the game,” he said. “That’s what the game should be like.”

Backup QBs shine

Quarterbacks Grant Hedrick, a junior, and Nick Patti, a freshman, showed playmaking ability in the UT Martin game. Hedrick scored on a 50-yard run, and Patti hit wide receiver Dallas Burroughs in the helmet on what could have been a 52-yard TD pass.

“It was awesome to see both those guys in there,” Petersen said. “You can see Grant, he’s an explosive player. It was really good to see Nick in there, as well. He missed that one pass, but it wasn’t on him. He put that ball right where it needed to be and he hung in there, and there was a guy who hit him right after the throw and he didn’t blink for a second.”

A little levity

Senior linebacker Dustin Kamper intercepted a pass and returned it 20 yards against UT Martin, but he was drilled by running back DJ McNeil in the open field.

“That might have been the funniest part of the game,” sophomore safety Darian Thompson said. “He got the interception. We were all excited and cheering. … Next thing you know, he got leveled.”

Said Petersen: “Everybody in the stadium saw that hit coming except him. Him and his parents didn’t see it coming.”

Ticket update

Boise State sold 22,416 season tickets this year, down 1,693 from last year and the lowest total since 2009.

The school has distributed 28,650 tickets for Friday’s game. That’s about the same as the total through Wednesday last week, when the attendance was 33,293.

Quick hits

Junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence returns this week, Petersen said. He was suspended for last week’s game. … True freshman wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, a high school quarterback, is running the scout-team offense this week to mimic Air Force’s scheme.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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