Boise State notebook: Petersen wants better ball control from playmakers

The Boise State coach wants Jay Ajayi and Shane Williams-Rhodes to eschew shifty moves in favor of keeping the ball.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comOctober 29, 2013 

— The Boise State football team’s two best offensive playmakers need to adjust their style, coach Chris Petersen said Monday.

The Broncos have lost seven fumbles in eight games this season, including three last week at BYU. Sophomore tailback Jay Ajayi (three) and sophomore wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (one) have accounted for more than half of the lost fumbles.

The others belong to wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, and quarterbacks Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick (one each).

Ajayi (team-high 917 rushing yards, 12 TDs) tends to fight multiple tacklers at the end of his runs. Williams-Rhodes (team-high 55 catches) tries to slither between tacklers.

“I don’t think they should be fighting for extra yards,” Petersen said. “They (should) hit creases and go forward and try to fall forward. I don’t think guys should be dancing and pulling and spinning because bad things are going to happen. You watch Shane, who is a heck of a playmaker. He’s starting and stopping and looking great, but he gets very few extra yards.”

It was just that type of play on which Williams-Rhodes fumbled at BYU. He already secured a first down near midfield when he chose to take on a couple defenders rather than step out of bounds.

The ball came out, the Cougars recovered, and moments later a 17-3 deficit became 24-3. The Broncos never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.

Petersen and Williams-Rhodes said the Broncos need to take their turnover circuit in practice more seriously. Those are drills that emphasize ball security and forcing fumbles.

“Because we do it so much, we relax, we get complacent,” Williams-Rhodes said after the game. “On Monday, we’re definitely going to emphasize it.”

Hedrick's play "solid"

Petersen said backup quarterback Grant Hedrick, who made his first start last week at BYU, needs to play better.

He called Hedrick’s play “OK … solid.”

“Like we always say, we need better than solid at the quarterback position,” Petersen said. “We need darn good. It was his first road game. He’ll continue to take steps.”

Hedrick was 25-of-42 for 232 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He rushed nine times for 24 yards and a TD.

“He threw a nice deep ball,” Petersen said. “He made some good decisions, checked the ball down. The one interception was not a good one. There’s never a good one, but that was all on him. But then you need your quarterback to make some really good throws and stick it on guys. When he does that, our offense will play at a high level.”

Starting quarterback Joe Southwick had ankle surgery last week. Petersen said the surgery did not change the expectations that Southwick could return sometime late in the regular season. Southwick likely won’t travel again this week, Petersen said, to make sure he heals.

No controversy on targeting call

Petersen agreed with the targeting call on Boise State safety Dillon Lukehart. Lukehart’s shoulder hit wide receiver Cody Hoffman in the head. Lukehart was ejected and, since the foul occurred in the second half, he must sit out the first half this week at Colorado State.

“When you get involved with the guy’s head, going over the middle, no matter how it is, they’re going to call targeting,” Petersen said.

Averill moves up

Redshirt freshman Travis Averill replaced Steven Baggett early on and played most of the BYU game at right tackle. Averill is listed as a starter for the first time this week.

Averill is expected to play center or guard in the future, where he was practicing before injuries caught up to the Broncos, but he’s workable at tackle.

“He’s pretty sharp and battles hard,” Petersen said.

The Broncos are without starter Rees Odhiambo (week-to-week) and backup Jake Broyles (out for the year) at right tackle.

In other injury news, wide receiver Kirby Moore (foot) ran Monday, and linebacker Jonathan Brown (knee) is nearing his return.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398,Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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