Washington coaches say first-year Boise State starter Joe Southwick is playing the best football of his career entering Saturday's bowl game in Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS — Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick had a tough act to follow, taking over this season for Kellen Moore, who graduated as the winningest quarterback in college football history.
Moore, a Prosser High grad, went 50-3 in four years at Boise State.
Southwick, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound junior from Danville, Calif., may not yet draw comparisons to Moore. But Washington coaches say Southwick is playing the best football of his career entering Saturday’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Saturday.
“They are two different guys,” said UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, the defensive coordinator at Boise State in 2009 when Southwick was a freshman.
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Wilcox said Southwick has shown great progression in his decision making during his first season as a starter.
“I know Joe, and he can throw the football, and he can run well enough to beat you, whether it’s zone read or scrambling, too,” Wilcox said.
Southwick endured criticism early in the season when Boise State’s offense struggled. But he finished with respectable numbers, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,466 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions. His passer rating is 141.5.
He also ran more later in the season and had some key gains in the Broncos’ season-ending win at Nevada, with 25 yards on six carries.
“He’s making the decision to run a bit more,” said UW coach Steve Sarkisian. “I think it’s just being more comfortable playing the position.”
in good health
Sarkisian gave UW players a mostly clean bill of health after the team’s last significant practice on Thursday. He said every player, other than those already out for the season, should be ready to go except Jamaal Kearse. The backup linebacker, who is used primarily on special teams, has some lingering injuries and Sarkisian said he won’t play.
One player who will return is linebacker Princeton Fuiamaono, who missed the last three games due to injury.
Sarkisian said cornerback Desmond Trufant (hamstring) and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ankle) appear back to full health after lingering injuries.
“If they are not 100 percent, they are about as close as you can get … I expect them to play well,” Sarkisian said.
• UW officials said the school has distributed 4,200 tickets for the game. It was allocated 11,000. Unused tickets (which, under rules of the bowl, must be purchased by the Pac-12 and the school) are scheduled to be distributed to local youth groups and other charities.
• Players from each team attended a performance by the Blue Man Group Thursday night.