Late-blooming QB leads San Diego State

Junior college walk-on Quinn Kaehler is 6-2 as the Aztecs’ starter.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comNovember 20, 2013 

San Diego State quarterback Quinn Kaehler had his hands full against the Hawaii defense last week. He was sacked twice and hurried eight times behind a inconsistent offensive line, and he finished 17-of-34 for 265 yards and a touchdown. The Aztecs prevailed in overtime to improve to 6-1 in their past seven games, and each of their past eight were decided by 10 or fewer points.

GREGORY BULL — The Associated Press

  • BSU fans sound off: Hedrick or Southwick?

    “I would like to see Grant Hedrick stay as our starting QB because he is more of a dual threat than Joe Southwick. Joe will be hampered with that mending ankle for some time after the football season,and Grant is just now coming on. ...’’

    TERRY ENGLISH, Meridian

    “It seems that Hedrick is better at getting the team to work together. Southwick is good, too, but instead of using one or the other, how about using them both equally and putting in plays to keep the opponents defense guessing.’’

    ARLENE WILKINSON, Boise

    “It’s Hedrick, no-brainer; better arm, better legs. After four games and over a month as starter, Hedrick also has the momentum. I wonder how the players would vote?’’

    BILL GRAHAM, Boise

    “Grant has done a great job filling in for Joe (as a good Bronco should), but when Joe is ready, he should get his job back. No one should lose their job due to injury.’’

    RON GOODMAN, Meridian

    “There is no comparison. We have watched each game this year, and last, and Hedrick is so much more valuable than Southwick. ... It would not be good if Coach starts Joe and we lose.’’

    HAPPY OLSEN, Boise

  • Boise State at San Diego State

    When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Qualcomm Stadium (54,000, grass), San Diego

    TV: CBS Sports Network (Andrew Catalon, Aaron Taylor, Lauren Gardner)

    Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender

    Records: Boise State is 7-3 overall, 5-1 Mountain West; San Diego State is 6-4, 5-1

    Series: Tied 1-1 (last meeting: SDSU 21-19, 2012, in Boise)

    Vegas line: Boise State by 7

Barely recruited not once, but twice, quarterback Quinn Kaehler has been an unlikely leader taking the San Diego State Aztecs to another six-win season.

Kaehler started only one year at California High School in San Ramon, Calif., and drew a bit of interest from Division II schools, but had no FBS offers.

So, he enrolled at San Diego State in the summer of 2010 because of its finance program. But he wanted to play football and took part in an open tryout. The Aztecs said they had too many quarterbacks. Kaehler was disappointed and moved back home after the semester, enrolling at Diablo Valley College.

Kaehler threw for 1,241 yards as a freshman, then in 2012 went for 4,044 yards and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore at the Pleasant Hill, Calif., junior college.

Still, no FBS offers.

But Bob Toledo, San Diego State's new offensive coordinator, saw a fit in his West Coast offense for the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Kaehler, and he was given the chance to walk on.

"We thought bringing in a guy who was completing 70 percent of his passes was a good insurance policy if we could get him to walk on," San Diego State coach Rocky Long said in September.

Kaehler opened the season as the backup to Adam Dingwell, who helped guide the Aztecs to a 21-19 win at Boise State on Nov. 3, 2012. After losing 40-19 to Eastern Illinois, then struggling against Ohio State coupled with a bothersome back the next week, Dingwell was pulled in favor of Kaehler, who had 216 yards against the Buckeyes, earning the No. 1 job.

The Aztecs are 6-2 since Kaehler took over as starter, and he has completed 170-of-278 passes for 2,269 yards with 14 touchdowns to six interceptions this season.

"He has a great understanding of what we’re doing," Toledo told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Not all players are automatically ready to play FBS football. Part of Kaehler being overlooked was playing in the same conference as Boise State's Joe Southwick and Oregon State's Sean Mannion, and the other part can simply be traced to the fact Kaehler just may be a late bloomer.

"I really needed to go through some of the things I did to be here," Kaehler told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420, Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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