Moore may have been better for Boise State

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
8:36
AM ET

Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images
Kellen Moore is set to play his final game against Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
The MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (8 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN3) will be the final collegiate game for Kellen Moore, who is second in FBS history in career touchdown passes (140) and fifth in passing yards (14,374). Moore’s 49 wins are the most all-time for an FBS quarterback.

After finishing fourth in Heisman voting last season while leading Boise State to its third straight 12-win season, Moore entered the season with high expectations.

One two-point conversion by TCU and a missed field goal by Boise State later, Moore was judged by what he was not able to achieve in 2011 rather than what he was.

Moore finished eighth in Heisman voting and Boise State was left out of a BCS bowl game despite finishing seventh in the final BCS standings.

While some of his statistical measures -- passing yards, yards per attempt and pass efficiency -- fell slightly in 2011, Moore may have had the best season of his career because of what he did with the players around him.

Boise State lost top receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young to the NFL after last season. The duo combined for nearly half of the Broncos’ receptions in 2010. Moore adapted this season by spreading the ball to a variety of receivers.

Boise State was the only team in the nation to have 10 different receivers gain at least 125 yards and catch at least one touchdown this season. Moore targeted 16 different receivers on the season and completed at least 60 percent of his attempts to each one.

Last season, Moore led the nation with 20 touchdown passes of 20-plus yards, averaging 28 yards in distance and 21 yards in the air per touchdown. His success deep was largely a product of Young, who was targeted on 25 of Moore’s 36 passes thrown 25-or-more yards downfield.

This season, Moore changed his approach. He did not target any receiver more than five times on throws of 25-plus yards. His 41 touchdowns averaged 18 yards in distance and 12 yards in the air.

Moore attempted over half of his passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage, up from 39 percent last season (which translated to an increase of about four pass attempts per game). His receivers gained 1,518 yards after the catch (compared to 1,445 last season).

Despite losing Pettis, his top red-zone and third-down target in 2010, Moore did not skip a beat in those areas.

Moore ranked in the top three of FBS in completion percentage (73 percent), touchdowns (28), and touchdown percentage (51 percent) in the red zone this season.

He threw nine more touchdowns and one fewer interception on third down this season and raised his completion percentage nearly eight points.

If Boise State beats Arizona State in Las Vegas, the Broncos will have their fourth straight 12-win season. That would snap a tie with the Oklahoma Sooners (2002-04) for the most consecutive 12-wins seasons in FBS history.

On the other sideline, the Sun Devils need a win to avoid their fourth straight non-winning season, the longest streak in Tempe since a five-season stretch in the 1940s.

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