Southern Miss quarterback relishes another chance

The senior has had to adapt quickly after transferring from Cal.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.com © 2013 Idaho StatesmanSeptember 25, 2013 

Arriving to a new school just a few days before fall camp started, Allan Bridgford had to cram like never before — and that’s saying a lot.

Bridgford, a redshirt senior quarterback, came to Southern Miss in late July as a graduate transfer from Cal, where he earned his degree in American Studies with a business emphasis. To get his degree from Berkeley, Bridgford had to take a full course load in the summer, then transition into his new life in Hattiesburg, Miss.

“A lot of studying, because most of the guys here had been running the system for six months or so,” Bridgford said. “I knew I had to pick it up quickly, it was my only chance.”

A highly-touted 2009 recruit out of Mission Viejo, Calif., Bridgford (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) also had offers from Notre Dame, Stanford and his opponent on Saturday, Boise State. Mainly a backup at Cal, he appeared in 10 games, throwing for 461 yards on 44-of-100 passing with one touchdown to three interceptions.

Cal hired a new head coach, Sonny Dykes, in December, and after four spring practices, his staff told Bridgford they wanted to start a younger quarterback — true freshman Jared Goff.

“I thought, ‘Am I done? Or am I going to keep going?’ ” Bridgford said.

In Southern Miss, Bridgford found the right fit for him to continue on.

First, Marcus Arroyo had been hired as the Golden Eagles’ offensive coordinator in January. Arroyo was the quarterbacks coach at Cal the prior two seasons before Jeff Tedford’s staff was let go after going 3-9 last season.

Second, Southern Miss needed a stable passer after starting four quarterbacks during last season’s 0-12 campaign.

And finally, Bridgford found a system that rewards a smart quarterback, along with a first-year coach in Todd Monken who oversaw a high-performance offense at Oklahoma State.

“A lot of spreading the ball out, a lot on the quarterback’s shoulders, which I like,” Bridgford said.

In the first three games this season, Bridgford has completed 66-of-121 passes for 732 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his first game in a Southern Miss uniform, Bridgford was 28-of-53 for 377 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

“What an unbelievable job Allan Bridgford did, when you think about a guy who wasn’t here in the spring, wasn’t here in the summer,” Monken said. “He came a week before camp and then had just fall camp to really try to understand what we’re doing and to move forward. I mean, that’s a credit to him.

“For him to come out and really throw the ball accurately, to really, honestly run our offense the way he has is really almost unprecedented when you think about it.”

Boise State may not be facing an offense of Fresno State’s caliber again, but it is another test against a spread team led by a big-armed thrower.

“Good strong arm, a very similar offense again, it’s spread out — they’re going to want to throw the football,” Boise State defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. “He’s more of a pocket guy. He’s not extremely athletic. He can still run, but he’s more of a pocket passer.”

Bridgford admits he isn’t a big scrambler, but one that can throw well on the run. After he had to rush to Southern Miss, he’s settling in and hoping to end the team’s 15-game losing streak.

“It’s a great opportunity, to be able to step in and compete right away,” Bridgford said. “I definitely came into a team that’s hungry to win — I have the same emotions, coming off a disappointing season, just in a different place.”

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