Like most offensive players, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore smells blood when he nears the red zone.
Moore threw three more short touchdown passes Friday night as the Broncos avenged their only WAC loss from a year ago by beating Hawaii 27-7.
Moore had scoring passes of 2, 12 and 16 yards, giving him 13 touchdown passes this season. In the past three games, six of his eight TD throws happened inside the 20-yard-line. The two that weren’t were a 28-yard screen pass at Southern Mississippi and a 44-yard trick play against Louisiana Tech.
“The red zone is where you’re going to get your points,” Moore said. “Their defense is either going to sit back and drop a bunch of guys or blitz all. You have to see what you got and look at the matchups.”
BSU running backs have had their share of rushing touchdowns in the red zone in recent years. Last year through six games, the Broncos had 13 rushing touchdowns from inside 20 yards. This year, that number is down to 10 — and none in the past two games.
Is it because of Moore’s knack for hitting the open receiver when he smells a TD.
BSU offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said that’s not necessarily the case.
“It’s the scheme for that game on what we feel gives us the best matchups,” Harsin said. “That’s really the reason.
“He’s obviously prepared himself for those situations. Down there, things are a lot tighter and he’s been able to see things he needs to see. He understands the scenarios in the red zone, just how crucial that is when we’re passing the football down there.”
Moore threw a 2-yard score to tight end Richie Brockel, hit Julian Hawkins on a pretty 12-yarder and then bought time as Austin Pettis worked his way free for a 16-yard TD.
Hawaii linebacker Adam Leonard said he was impressed with the BSU quarterback.
“He’s a good decision-maker. You can tell just from his experience of being a coach’s son that he’s got a good head on his shoulders,’’ Leonard said. “Even though he’s relatively young, he’s an old man in terms of knowing what defense you’re in. The coaches put the balls in his hands and he found his guys open.”
Moore finished 25-of-33 passing for 256 yards and three scores. His efficiency rating for the win was 170.92.
BSU coach Chris Petersen said he has no problem turning Moore loose near the goal line.
“That’s where a lot of quarterback intelligence comes out,” he said. “The one thing we know about Kellen is he’s smart. You give him a crack, he’s going to take advantage of it.’’