Kellen Moore

‘Good spring’ leaves Ryan Finley as Boise State QB front-runner

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The same weekend a former Boise State quarterback great was feted, the future of the position gained some additional clarity as well.

Prior to Saturday’s spring game, Kellen Moore, the football program’s all-time passing leader and winner of 50 games in a career that ended in 2011, was honored by the Broncos during a pregame ceremony.  Shortly thereafter, the quarterback competition to replace Grant Hedrick continued, with Ryan Finley once again reaffirming to most observers that he will enter the summer as the front-runner for the job — even as his coaches will wait until the first couple of weeks of summer camp before officially anointing anyone.

“He’s done well,” head coach Bryan Harsin said according to the Idaho Press-Tribune. “He’s put himself in a position to have the most experience out of those guys. He was the guy ready to play had Grant (Hendrick) gone down last year. He’s improved, and he’s taken advantage of that.”

He’s had a good spring,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz added. “This competition is open, and this competition is going to stay open until coach Harsin says it’s no longer open. But the reality is he’s had a good spring.”

In addition to the redshirt sophomore Finley, the open competition includes redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart, true freshman Brett Rypien and redshirt freshman Alex Ogle. None of those three players have attempted a pass at the collegiate level.

As Hedrick’s primary backup in 2014, Finley completed 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

Boise State will reportedly honor Kellen Moore, and his No. 11 should probably be retired

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Former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore will likely be placed in the spotlight during Boise State’s spring game festivities on April 11. The writing appears to be on the wall the former Broncos quarterback will be honored in some way. Might his jersey number (No. 11) be retired as part of the alumni weekend and spring football bonanza?

As mapped out by The Idaho Statesman Boise State reporter Chadd Cripe, reading the tea leaves is pretty easy. Boise State is planning an alumni gathering of former Broncos players around the spring game. That spring game just so happens to be scheduled for April 11. Fans between the ages of two and 18 wearing a No. 11 jersey (because Kellen Moore jerseys are an NCAA no-no, of course) will be admitted to the spring game for free. Head coach Bryan Harsin has been using “#11” in his tweets for a while now. No player on the current roster is currently wearing the No. 11, after a few players changed jersey numbers this offseason.

Something appears to be up, and for good reason.

Moore graduated from Boise State owning the record for most career wins by an FBS quarterback and was the first to win 50 games. A two-time All-American, Moore won a pair of WAC Offensive Player of the Year awards, was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2010. I am not going to sit here and speak on behalf of Boise State fans, but if the school has shown the desire to retire a uniform number in the past (Jim McMillan had his No. 12 retired). If McMillan set the bar for Boise State’s retired number status, and Moore smashed every record previously owned by him, then Moore having his number retired seems to make perfect sense.

What say you, Boise State fans? Should Moore have his number retired by the Broncos?

Marshall’s Rakeem Cato sets NCAA record for consecutive games with TD pass

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Marshall trailed early on the road against FIU on Saturday, but quarterback Rakeem Cato still led the Thundering Herd to a win to remain undefeated. He did so while making some history as well. Cato’s first of four touchdowns on Saturday set the NCAA record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass. Saturday’s game was the 39th straight game Cato has thrown a touchdown. The record (38 games) was previously held by Russell Wilson of NC State and Wisconsin.

”It was a team effort for all 39 games and we still got more games to play,” Cato said after the 45-13 victory. ”We’ve got to keep finding a way to find seven points.”

Through seven games, Cato has passed for 1,912 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions. His play is a large reason why Marshall is one of the four remaining undefeated teams and also why Marshall will remain in the hunt for an access bowl spot among the Group of Five contenders. East Carolina likely still has the edge in that category, and Colorado State has a pretty decent case as well.

There will be some talk that Heisman Trophy voters should be paying attention to what Cato has done as a result of this record, but keep in mind the Heisman Trophy is an annual award and not a career achievement award. That said, Cato is piling up some huge numbers, but his odds of being recognized by the Heisman voters are still slim due to the level of competition Cato is facing. This is not a slight on Cato’s achievements, but more so a dose of reality. Cato may have a shot to be invited to the Heisman presentation in New York if he keeps this up, but in the end he will have as realistic a chance to win the Heisman as players like quarterback Kellen Moore of Boise State or former Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch.

But he sure is darn fun to watch.

Will Boise State ever be the little engine that could again?

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The first month of college football is in the books and we know this about the Boise State Broncos; Boise State’s heyday is behind it. Just a couple of years ago you never would have expected the Broncos to be dominated on the road in conference play and lose a neutral site game against a power conference opponent.

Boise State opened the season with a loss to Ole Miss in Atlanta. The Rebels played a rough game on that Thursday night, the kind Boise State used to take advantage of. The Broncos scored a nice conference victory with a win over Colorado State, but last night the Broncos were grounded by Air Force, 28-14. The game was not as close as that score would suggest. Boise State turned the football over seven times, including four interceptions thrown by Grant Hedrick. That has opened the door for head coach Bryan Harsin‘s first quarterback controversy. The problem for the first-year Boise State coach is there is no Kellen Moore to be found on the roster.

Ryan Finley replaced Hedrick in the game and led the offense to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Harsin will now face questions and pressure regarding the quarterback situation heading into Boise State’s next game, next week on the road against Nevada. Next week’s contest with Nevada is a difficult one and Boise State still has to play Fresno State and Utah State (and BYU in non-conference play).

If nothing else, we are witnessing just how special Boise State’s run as a BCS Cinderella was under head coach Chris Petersen. What the Broncos managed to do in those seasons is difficult to do, and is not common. The pieces fell together for the Broncos under the BCS format. The new College Football Playoff is one that leaves a door open just a bit wider for a program like Boise State to play in a big bowl game. Right now East Carolina appears to be first in line for that prized invitation.

Boise State does not have that far to go to get back to that lofty status among its Group of Five peers, but the Broncos need to find a quarterback that can be trusted with the offense. They have a running back that fits just fine with Jay Ajayi and the defense is good enough, but the Broncos need to improve at quarterback. Under the structure in place, a quarterback can make a huge difference for Boise State. Finding one may be tougher than it used to be though, because Boise State is not in a power conference, which means they do not benefit from the perks that come with autonomy. The overall impact this has on Boise State and other Group of Five schools remains to be seen, but there are plenty of quarterbacks out there.

Boise State’s uphill battle is based on recruiting. Petersen was able to recruit. We will have to see if Harsin can do the same as head coach. But recruiting trends are stacked against Boise State. When playing in California or Texas or anywhere south is a viable option for a player, how many will choose to play in Idaho? It is not a new problem for Boise State, but the sales pitch is easier to sell when Boise State has established itself as a team capable and worthy of being on the same field as power conference opponents. So ultimately it all comes down to winning games.

Boise State has lost its edge as a non-power conference program. Has it been lost for good?

Concern over losing top talent grows for non power conferences

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The push for autonomy for the power conferences is about to leave its mark on the world of college football. The ability to provide more to student-athletes in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC is likely to be a true line between the haves and the have-nots in the sport, and that is starting to have some schools left behind growing with concern over losing the top players from their respective programs.

One thing likely to change with new rules and regulations down the pipeline is the transfer rules. As suggested by the Associated Press, coaches may lose the power to limit where players transferring out will or will not be able to move. Coaches listing any number of schools a player may not transfer to has long been a problem. Afterall, if this is all about giving student-athletes the best chance to succeed academically and get the most out of college, why would a football coach be able to tell a kid he cannot go to State U. just because they are a conference rival or they happen to appear on the upcoming football schedule two years down the road? The good news is that power appears to be fading with new rules. The flip side of that though is now there may be opportunities for some of the top players in the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference may now have an opportunity to transfer to a power conference program, where the benefits to players will be significantly greater.

Programs like Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon may not be the programs the likes of Boise State, Cincinnati and UCF may have to worry about, but now the attraction of playing for a program like California, Purdue or Kentucky may start to become more enticing with greater benefits to be made available. Need an example to work with? Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson has one ready for you.

Per the Associated Press;

”The example that I used is Kellen Moore at Boise State,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said of the former star quarterback. ”He came in as an un-recruited player and by the time he was into his junior year he showed he had some unbelievable talent.

”If the transfer rules are eliminated and there’s free movement, does that allow that type of a player to quote ‘go up’ without any type of sitting out?”

It’s a pretty fascinating scenario that needs to be discussed before any vote takes place. Moore continued to become a household name the longer he was at Boise State. Would he have been a missing part for any team at a power conference school that could have put them over the edge by the time he was a senior?

Conferences also must know exactly what they can and cannot do with extended powers. Fortunately, these conferences have been preparing for what to do with the extra powers granted through autonomy, but nobody really knows what details will come until a vote by the 65 member schools of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC is held, and passed. Some around the country are still left wondering what will happen.

”I still haven’t gotten a good answer as to why transfer rules have been included in the autonomy bucket,” said SMU athletic director Rick Hart told the AP. ”I’m hopeful that will remain something that is voted upon by the entire membership.”

The new rules may not go into effect until 2015, but as it plays out every school will be looking to be prepared for whatever is coming our way.