NCF Nation: Grant Hedrick

Hawaii Bowl preview

December, 24, 2013

Oregon State will take on Boise State on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN) in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

Here's a quick preview:

Who to watch: Both teams have quarterback questions, though of a very different nature. Oregon State QB Sean Mannion put up big numbers this year for the one-dimensional Beavers, but he threw 11 of his 14 interceptions over the final four games. Will the time off get him back up to speed? Or will he again struggle with accuracy and decision making? Boise State has junior Grant Hedrick behind center, the backup to suspended starter Joe Southwick. The good news for the Broncos is Hedrick has been the starter since Southwick hurt his foot on Oct. 19 against Nevada. He went 4-2 and mostly played well.

What to watch: Oregon State is terrible against the run. It ranked 11th in the Pac-12 and 91st in the nation in run defense, yielding 193.2 yards per game. But that's not the worst of it. Opposing runners averaged 5.2 yards per carry, which ranked 107th in the nation and last in the conference. Boise State running back Jay Ajayi is outstanding. He rushed for 1,328 yards and 17 TDs, averaging 5.9 per carry this year. Meanwhile, the Broncos struggle against the pass, with opposing quarterbacks completing 64 percent of their throws for 248.4 yards per game. The Beavers with Mannion and WR Brandin Cooks should be able to take advantage.

Why to watch: It will be interesting to see how both teams react, because the more motivated and focused team likely wins. Oregon State is riding a dispiriting five-game losing streak, due in large part to a back-loaded schedule. Is it enough motivation knowing a victory gives the Beavers a winning record and a loss means a losing one for the third time in four seasons? For the Broncos, they are playing their first game since coach Chris Petersen, who built Boise State into a national power, shocked some when he bolted for Washington. They will be led by interim coach Bob Gregory before Bryan Harsin takes over. The Broncos should be motivated to show the nation the program will continue to thrive against AQ foes, even without Peterson.

Predictions: Kevin: Oregon State 38, Boise State 35. Ted: Boise State 38, Oregon State 35.

Opening spring: Boise State

March, 13, 2012
Boise State opened spring practice Monday with a radically different look -- its record-setting senior class is gone. No Kellen Moore, no Doug Martin, no Shea McClellin.

That means for the first time in a long while, major positions are open for competition. Here is a quick preview of what to watch for the Broncos.

Spring changes: Boise State lost is offensive coordinator yet again, as Brent Pease left to take a job with Florida. In comes Robert Prince, who will continue to coach the receivers. What coach Chris Petersen has done to help mitigate the losses is promote from within, a system that has served him well over the past several seasons. Boise State will continue to run its offensive scheme, as no wholesale changes are expected. The Broncos also have three new position coaches: defensive line coach Andy Avalos, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, and quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith.

But the personnel changes are what folks are going to notice most, heading into the spring, as Boise State returns just 10 starters. Here are some position battles to watch:

Quarterback. You are going to be hearing a lot more about this throughout the course of the spring and the fall. Moore led Boise State to uncharted heights, and became the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Now that he is gone, four players are competing to win the starting job: backup Joe Southwick; sophomore Grant Hedrick; redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughrea; highly touted true freshman Nick Patti. All four are more mobile than Moore, but don't expect the Broncos to morph into a Wildcat team. Patti has drawn the most comparisons to Moore. To ease the pressure, Petersen has made all four off-limits to interviews this spring.

Defensive line. All four starters are gone, leaving the Broncos in a serious bind. And it is not as if the four starters they are losing were slackers. All four were major contributors to a line that has been solid for several years. Tyrone Crawford, McClellin, Billy Winn and Chase Baker are out. Those four combined for 36.5 tackles for loss and and 16.5 sacks (Boise State only had a total of 24). Valuable backup Jarrell Root is gone, leaving inexperienced players like Tyler Horn, Darren Koontz, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Robert Ash and Jeff Worthy.

Secondary. This was a group that was hit hard by injuries last season, and now will be hit hard again with the loss of George Iloka, Cedric Febis, Travis Stanaway and Hunter White. The good news is Jerrell Gavins and Jamar Taylor are slated to return, so that should help the cornerbacks. But safety is an area of concern going into spring, and players like Jeremy Ioane, Darian Thompson and Hazen Moss -- among others -- have to step up.

3-point stance: Courageous Spartans

December, 20, 2011
1. Michigan State fifth-year senior Arthur Ray Jr., spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons fighting bone cancer in his left leg. After spending nearly two years on crutches, Ray returned to play in three games this season. The Football Writers Association of America named Ray the winner Monday of the Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Someone should create an award for Spartans; left guard Joel Foreman, who gave up his streak of 22 straight starts so that Ray could start the 2011 opener against Youngstown State.

2. Former ESPN announcer Craig James announced Monday that he is running in the Republican primary for the 2012 U.S. Senate in Texas. If the former SMU tailback is elected, he will join a very short list of senators who played college football. Sen. Joe Manchin (D.-W.Va.) went to West Virginia on a football scholarship but got hurt. Former senators John Culver of Iowa and the late Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts were teammates at Harvard. I know I must be missing others. Let me know at

3. Coaches love to use bowl practices as a pre-spring practice for next season. At Boise State, for example, sophomore Joe Southwick and freshman Grant Hedrick prepared for replacing Kellen Moore, the winningest quarterback in FBS history. Brent Pease, the Broncos’ quarterback coach, said he must figure out what they know and how well they know it. “What [will] they understand in the heat of the moment?” Pease asked. “None of them have really been [in when] the game’s on the line.”
One of the more interesting schools mentioned as a possible landing spot for former Nebraska quarterback Cody Green is Boise State.

[+] EnlargeCody Green
Eric Francis/Getty ImagesCody Green has the mobility, but does he have the accuracy as a passer to fit into the Boise State offense?
This would make sense for Green, who is looking for a new home after failing to win the starting job with the Cornhuskers. Kellen Moore is graduating after 2011. Once Green sits out this season because of transfer rules, he would be immediately eligible to compete for the starting job in Boise in 2012. He would get to spend a year learning the offense, and learning behind Moore would be invaluable.

But would he actually win the starting job? That is a great unknown. Currently, Moore is the only quarterback on the Boise State roster who has started a game, so inexperience behind him is a huge question. Though he has been a career backup, Green has started four games in the past two seasons. So he would give a big boost when it comes to playing time.

Is that enough for him to win a starting job? Joe Southwick is the current backup and headed into his redshirt sophomore year, which means he has had plenty of time to learn the Boise State offense. He also had an opportunity to take about one-third of the snaps this spring as Boise State began getting him more reps so he could develop. Southwick also had more responsibility in the meeting rooms as well.

Freshman Grant Hedrick had a good spring and could push Southwick for the backup job once the fall begins. Boise State has another quarterback in Jimmy Laughrea coming to school this fall and has a verbal commitment from Orlando quarterback Nick Patti for the class of 2012. There might be inexperience, but there is no shortage of talent.

You also have to wonder whether Green would be a good fit for the wide-open Boise State offense. Nebraska runs a completely different style. Green is not as big of a runner as Taylor Martinez, but he would have to improve his accuracy to have any shot at being a starter in Boise. His accuracy is average -- 55 percent in 2009 and 53 percent in 2010 -- and he has thrown five touchdown passes and three interceptions. Moore has never completed less than 64 percent of his passes in his career.

Green certainly has talent and would bring experience to the position. But is that enough to make Boise State the perfect fit? We shall wait and see.
Boise State didn’t have a lot of room in this year’s recruiting class after losing just five seniors this past season, so coach Chris Petersen wanted to make the most of the few spots he had to fill.

There were only a few areas of minor concern -- secondary and quarterback -- and Petersen thinks his staff did a good job of finding players to fill those posts.

“I really kind of feel the same way as I do every year,” Petersen said. “Our coaches do a good job of finding the right guys that are the right fit for us. And the thing that we’re always so proud of is that our guys don’t care who’s recruiting them and who’s not recruiting them. We do a good job of making our own evaluations and our own opinions and not getting caught up in everybody else’s opinion. Our coaches have been on the mark the last however many years and we feel the same about this crew.”

Receiver Troy Ware and athlete Matt Miller could be the two players ready to contribute right away. Both Ware and Miller are tall, rangy guys that should be a nice complement to a young receiving corps.

The surprise of the class was the signing of safety Jeremy Ioane from Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Ioane was also being recruited by Washington and Notre Dame and since a couple of his former high school teammates were on the Irish roster, he appeared headed to South Bend. But Petersen said they had a gut feeling they might land him.

“We were hoping with Jeremy Ioane,” Petersen said. “We really felt like he would fit into our program really well in just so many different ways. He was recruited by some good schools, so you never know. We were just thrilled to get him because we think that he’s going to be a fabulous player for us. We feel really good about the type of person he is.”

The only other goal of this year’s class was to grab yet another quarterback, which Petersen said he wants to do every year. Grant Hedrick is a little different than the other quarterbacks in the program because of his ability to be a true dual-threat player. He was the Oregon High School State Player of the Year after completing 65 percent of his passes for more than 2,500 yards, 34 touchdowns and just one interception. He also rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns.

There’s only room for six of the 10 recruits the Broncos picked up this year. But Petersen said the four remaining players might not grayshirt. Changes to the roster could open some more spots before fall camp begins in August.