BOISE — Senior quarterback Joe Southwick could return before the end of the regular season, coach Chris Petersen said Monday.
Southwick was scheduled to have surgery on his broken right ankle late Monday afternoon. Petersen said Southwick could return in a five-week window, but said that is speculation.
The Broncos game at San Diego State is five weeks out from the injury. They also have a home game against New Mexico Southwicks Senior Day before a possible Mountain West title game and a likely bowl game.
Well get more information when he comes out of surgery, Petersen said.
Southwick was injured on the Broncos first offensive play Saturday against Nevada. He is 15-4 as a starter (16-4 if you count Saturdays victory). He ranks third in the nation in completion percentage (72.3) and 30th in pass efficiency (149.9).
He is in good spirits, Petersen said. He wants to get back as soon as possible. Thats his whole mission.
Junior backup Grant Hedrick is slated to start Friday at BYU (6:06 p.m., ESPN). He was 18-for-21 for 150 yards, no TDs and an interception against Nevada. He also rushed eight times for 115 yards and two touchdowns the first 100-yard rushing game by a Boise State quarterback since Jared Zabransky in 2004.
He did a good job, Petersen said. You can see that from the stands. Not many balls hit the ground.
Hedrick will face a much stiffer challenge this week.
Nevadas defense is 113th in the nation in points allowed, 122nd in rushing yards allowed and 90th in pass efficiency defense. BYU is 29th, 33rd and 29th in those categories.
Cougars fans also will give Hedrick his first significant experience with crowd noise.
Hell be tested in a completely different way this Friday, Petersen said.
In Hedricks favor, the Broncos will have six days to prepare him for the start and to adjust the game plan to his abilities.
Well always cater toward the guy back theres strength, but it will be tweaks here or there, Petersen said. Its not going to be a brand-new offense.
The Broncos are severely shorthanded at quarterback until Southwick returns. Redshirt freshman Nick Patti is the backup. The other quarterbacks on the roster are true freshman Ryan Finley, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, and true freshman walk-on Richard Hoppe, who was added to the team because the Broncos needed another arm for practice.
Were kind of figuring that out as we go, Petersen said about an emergency No. 3 quarterback.
Petersen shied away from the brewing debate among fans about whether Southwick is the certain starter when he returns.
Well cross that bridge when we come to it, Petersen said.
The last time the Broncos lost their starter to injury, backup B.J. Rhode led the team to a 4-0 record and an average of 52 points per game in 2002. He was replaced when starter Ryan Dinwiddie returned.
Redshirt freshman Steven Baggett has played most of the past two games at right tackle in place of injured sophomore starter Rees Odhiambo. Baggett may get some help this week from redshirt freshman Travis Averill, who moved from guard/center to tackle when the Broncos lost Odhiambo (week to week) and backup Jake Broyles (out for year).
Odhiambo missed the Utah State game but started against Nevada. He left after about a quarter when he aggravated his injury.
You hate it for Rees, Petersen said. I think Rees is playing really good.
BYU injury updates
Safety Craig Bills (head), who missed last weeks game at Houston, and running back Jamaal Williams (hip), who played but got injured, are expected to play in Fridays game. Houston attacked the Bills-less secondary last week for 435 passing yards and four touchdowns. BYU also grabbed three interceptions.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat