Stats & Info: Kellen Moore

Boise brings 'A' game vs ranked opponents

August, 31, 2012
For the fourth straight season Boise State
is opening with a top-20 opponent, as the 24th-ranked Broncos face 13th-ranked Michigan State on Friday at 8 ET on ESPN.

However, this will be the first time the Broncos have played a true road game in the season opener since a loss at Georgia in 2005.


Over the last 10 seasons, no team has won more games or had a better win percentage than Boise State.

And the Broncos have been at their best against AP Top 25 opponents, winning six of seven games since the start of 2009. They're 5-0 in these games when they have more than two weeks to prepare, including 3-0 in season openers. Boise’s passing has been the key. The Broncos are averaging 270.6 pass yards per game against AP Top 25 teams since the start of the 2009 season.

The Broncos have won six straight and eight of their last nine games against BCS teams. Of those eight wins, six have been against ranked teams.

But this is a different team than it was the last four years. Joe Southwick will be Boise State’s starting quarterback. He has big shoes to fill, as he tries to replace Kellen Moore, the all-time winningest quarterback in FBS history with 50 victories.

Southwick does have some playing experience. He has played in 16 games as a backup over the last two seasons, completing 40-of-54 passes for 400 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

This is just the second time the Broncos will face a Big Ten team – they lost at Wisconsin in 1997.

Boise State’s average drive started at its own 39-yard line last season, the best starting field position in FBS. Its opponents started at their own 24, which was the best defensive field position.


Field position may be tough to come by at Spartan Stadium, where Michigan State’s 14-game home win streak is the fourth-longest active streak among FBS teams. The last time the Spartans lost at home was in 2009 against Penn State.

Boise State isn't the only team in this matchup with a new quarterback replacing a stalwart. Andrew Maxwell will be Michigan State’s starting quarterback. He will be replacing Kirk Cousins, the Spartans’ all-time leader in wins, passing yards and passing touchdowns.

In addition to losing Cousins, the Spartans also lost their top-four pass catchers (by receiving yards) from last season: B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Keith Nichol and Brian Linthicum. Specifically the loss of Cunningham will hurt the Spartans downfield attack as Cunningham had 17 more 20-plus yard receptions than any other Spartans receiver since the start of 2010.

Michigan State is opening the season against a ranked opponent for the first time since 1998. That season, the Spartans hosted 15th-ranked Colorado State and lost 23-16.

The Spartans are ranked 13th in the preseason AP Poll. That is the highest the Spartans have been ranked in the preseason since 1979 when they were ranked 10th.

Michigan State is ranked in the preseason AP Poll for the second straight season, something that hasn’t happened since 1997-98.
The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future on QB Robert Griffin III, trading their 2012 first- and second-round picks and their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 in order to draft the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner.

So it came as a surprise to many when the Redskins used their fourth-round pick on Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins.

From an historical standpoint, the Redskins are:

• First team since the 1989 Green Bay Packers to draft two quarterbacks in the first four rounds. In '89, Green Bay selected Anthony Dilweg in the third round then Jeff Graham in the fourth round. (They combined to make seven NFL starts, all by Dilweg.)

• First team since the 1971 Houston Oilers to use two of their first three draft picks on quarterbacks. In 1971, the Oilers took Dan Pastorini with the third overall pick, then selected Lynn Dickey in the third round. (Both went on to start more than 100 games during their careers.)

John Beck
Cousins was not the only QB transaction made by the Redskins on Wednesday. They also released John Beck, who started three games last season. Combined with Rex Grossman the pair committed 30 turnovers, which was tied with Tampa Bay last season for the most turnovers committed by a team’s quarterbacks.

For what it's worth, the only team to select three quarterbacks in the same draft in the Common Draft Era is the Oakland Raiders, who took Dave Humm (5th), Harry Knight (9th) and Tom Doyle (14th) in 1975.

Draft Wrap-up
• More than 55 percent of the drafted players (142 of 253) came from four conferences: SEC (42 players), Big Ten (41), ACC (31), Pac-12 (28). It’s the sixth straight year that the SEC had the most selections. Almost 20 percent of the players drafted (50 of 253) were defensive backs.

• Alabama had the most players drafted with eight, followed by Oklahoma and Georgia with seven.

• Some schools that did not have any players drafted: UCLA, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Minnesota, BYU, Kansas, Texas Tech, Washington State.

• The Browns made the most picks (11) and the Saints made the fewest (5).

• The Minnesota Vikings selected wide receivers Greg Childs and Jarius Wright from Arkansas. Minnesota is the first team to draft two wide receivers from the same school in the same draft since the 2007 Indianapolis Colts took Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall from Ohio State.

• After allowing an NFL-worst 411.6 yards per game in 2011, the Packers drafted defensive players with their first six picks. The Patriots, who finished 31st in yards allowed last season, also took six defensive players with their first six picks. Green Bay and New England became the first teams since the 2002 Titans and 2002 Colts to draft defensive players with their first six picks of a draft, and just the seventh and eighth teams to do so in the Common Draft Era (since 1967).

• The draft started with the Colts taking a quarterback and it ended with them taking a quarterback. Mr. Irrelevant is Northern Illinois' Chandler Harnish, the first time since 1997 that a QB was the last pick. (In '97, Mr. Irrelevant was Ron McAda from Army.)

• Speaking of quarterbacks, Case Keenum (155) and Kellen Moore (142) rank first and second, respectively, with the most touchdown passes in FBS history. Both, however, went undrafted. At Boise State, Moore went 50-3 (.943 win percentage), the best record by starting quarterback in the history of college football. (Moore signed with the Detriot Lions shortly after the draft.)

Luck's athleticism on display at combine

February, 26, 2012
Andrew Luck is constantly praised for his accuracy, football intelligence and leadership intangibles, but on Sunday at the NFL combine he proved that his athleticism rivals the top quarterbacks in the league.

Of the 14 quarterbacks who participated in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump at the 2012 combine, only Luck and Robert Griffin III placed in the top four in all three events. Notably, Luck posted the top broad jump of all quarterbacks, and put up comparable numbers to Cam Newton’s combine in 2011.

Unlike Newton, Luck played in a pro-style offense in college that did not ask him to run consistently. But anyone who watched Stanford throughout Luck’s career could see that he has the athleticism and mobility to succeed at the next level.

Luck was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation when throwing on the run. The average quarterback completes less than 50 percent of his passes when forced to scramble outside of the pocket, but last season Luck completed 63.6 percent of these passes. He was even better when passing outside of the pocket on designed roll-outs, completing 71.8 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception on such passes.

Inside of the pocket, Luck’s mobility helped him elude pass rushers and get the ball out quickly. Luck was sacked only 23 times in his career at Stanford, about once in every 50 drop-backs. Of quarterbacks that started at least 20 games since 2009, only Kellen Moore and Brandon Weeden were sacked at lower rates.

Luck chose to remain in the pocket on the majority of the time, but when forced to scramble he averaged 5.9 yards per attempt. Overall, Luck ran for 957 yards and seven touchdowns in his career. Additionally, he caught two passes for 24 yards, including one of the most athletic plays of the season -- a one-handed, sprawling catch down the right sideline against UCLA.

So while Griffin may have stolen the spotlight by running a 4.41 40-yard dash on Sunday, Luck proved that he is one of the top athletes at the quarterback position -- a fact that may be surprising to some, but not those that have watched him closely for years.

Moore may have been better for Boise State

December, 22, 2011

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.

Moore efficient in record-tying performance

October, 25, 2011
In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight.

In Week 8, the top four candidates on the Heisman Watch all played night games on Saturday. Let’s see who was able to seize the moment.

(1) Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
Kellen Moore threw for 281 yards and three touchdowns in Boise State’s win over Air Force. It was his 45th win as a starting quarterback, tying Colt McCoy for the most career wins in FBS history.

Moore completed 23-of-29 (79.3 percent) passes against the Falcons. It was his sixth game where he completed more than 70 percent of his passes and threw three touchdowns. That is two more such games than any other player in FBS. Moore threw two of his three touchdown passes in the red zone, giving him 17 red-zone touchdown passes this season, tied for the most in FBS.

(2) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Trent Richardson rushed for a game-high 77 yards and two touchdowns in Alabama’s 37-6 rout of Tennessee. It was Richardson’s sixth game this season with two or more touchdown runs, which is tied for the most in FBS.

Richardson was held under 100 yards on the ground for the first time since the season opener against Kent State (37 yards). Yet, he still managed to net 51 yards after contact. It was the fourth straight game that Richardson had more yards after contact than before. For the season, Richardson has now gained 513 of his 989 yards (51.9 percent) after contact.

(3) Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal
Andrew Luck completed 16-of-21 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns in Stanford’s win over Washington. Stanford ran for a school record 446 yards in the 44-point blowout.

Luck was able to utilize the Cardinal’s success on the ground to help the passing game. He completed five of six passes off play-action for 78 yards and a touchdown. Luck is now completing 77.4 percent of his passes in play-action formations this season, including 10 touchdowns and no interceptions.

(4) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers
Russell Wilson passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns in Wisconsin’s loss to Michigan State. Wilson threw two interceptions in the game, with both coming on throws of 15 yards or longer. It was Wilson’s first two interceptions of the season on throws of this length.

He entered the game with five touchdowns and no interceptions on 39 throws of 15-plus yards this season. In fact, his last interception on one of these throws was 12 games ago (89 attempts), when he was playing for North Carolina State against East Carolina.
Two more unbeaten teams cruised to victory, while three men behind center had record-setting performances on a busy late Saturday afternoon in college football.

Despite playing without two of their four leading tacklers and their leading rusher, the top-ranked LSU Tigers crushed the Auburn Tigers 45-10. LSU is now 8-0 for the first time since 1973 and just the fourth time in school history (1908, 1958). Their 5-0 conference start is also their best since 1973.

The Tigers continue to dominate their competition, as they have now won each of their first eight games by at least 13 points. In 480 minutes of action this year, LSU has trailed for just 6:33 and hasn’t been behind since Week 1 versus Oregon.

The 45 points are the most that LSU has scored in 46 all-time meetings between the two schools. The Tigers also hand their SEC brethren its worst conference loss since a 36-0 shutout by Alabama in the 2008 regular season finale.

Auburn’s 35-point loss was the worst by a defending national champion in the BCS era, and is tied with Miami's 38-3 loss to Florida State in 1984 for the fourth-worst by a defending champ in the AP Poll era.

The Boise State Broncos improved to 7-0 overall with a 37-26 win over the Air Force Falcons in their first home game as a member of the Mountain West. The Broncos have now won 35 consecutive home games, the second longest active streak in the nation.

Boise State also extended its regular season home win streak to 65 games and its conference home win streak to 47. The last time they lost a home regular season game was 2001 and the last time they lost a home conference game was in the 1999 season when they were members of the Big West.

Kellen Moore notched his 45th career victory, matching Colt McCoy for the most wins as a starting quarterback in FBS history. He also threw three touchdowns, moving past Ty Detmer for fourth place on the all-time FBS list.

Other Quarterbacks Who Shined
• East Carolina QB Dominique Davis completed all 26 of his passes in the first half against Navy, breaking the FBS record for consecutive completions in a single game. The previous record was 23, set by Tennessee's Tee Martin and California's Aaron Rodgers.

• Houston QB Case Keenum set the first of what should be a trio of major passing records, when he broke the career FBS mark for total offense in the first quarter vs. Marshall. Keenum needed 130 yards to pass former Hawaii QB Timmy Chang, who had 16,910 yards from 2000-04.

Short pass game key to Luck's success

October, 18, 2011

Chris Morrison/US Presswire
Andrew Luck is completing 80.1 percent of his passes thrown less than 10 yards, a slightly higher percentage than last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton (75.5 percent).

In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 7, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the candidates who helped themselves the most.

(1) Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal
Luck passed for over 300 yards for the second straight game in Stanford’s win against Washington State. Despite attempting more passes (12) of 20-plus yards than in any other game over the last two seasons, Luck found success keeping it short. Luck was 20-of-24 with three touchdowns and no interceptions on throws of 20 yards or fewer and 16-of-17 on throws shorter than 10 yards. For the season, Luck is completing 80.1 percent of his passes thrown less than 10 yards, a slightly higher percentage than last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton who completed 75.5 percent of the same throws.

(2) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Trent Richardson set new career-highs with 183 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries in Alabama’s win over Ole Miss. Richardson ran through the Rebel defense with 127 of his 183 yards (69.4 percent) coming after contact, including 80 such yards on his 76-yard touchdown run. It was Richardson’s third 40-plus yard touchdown run this season, which is tied with LaMichael James for most in FBS.

(3) Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
Moore completed 26-of-30 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns in Boise State’s win over Colorado State. It was Moore’s eighth career game with four or more touchdown passes, trailing only Houston’s Case Keenum (14) for the most in FBS since 2008. Moore did much of his damage against the Rams in shotgun formation, where he completed 19-of-22 attempts for 294 yards and a season-high three touchdowns. It was Moore’s highest completion percentage while in shotgun during a game over the last three seasons.

(4) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers
Wilson completed 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) passes for 166 yards and a touchdown in Wisconsin’s win against Indiana. Wilson has now completed at least 70 percent of his passes in all six games this season. The only other player to accomplish this feat this season is Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. No other FBS player that has played in at least four games has completed 70 percent or more of their passes in every game. Wilson showcased his versatility against the Hoosiers. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from running back Montee Ball in the second quarter and both of his rushing attempts gained 15 yards or more. For the season, 25 percent (6-24) of Wilson’s rushes have gained 15 yards or more.

(5) Landry Jones, Oklahoma Sooners
Jones passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in Oklahoma’s lopsided win over Kansas. Jones has now passed for more than 300 yards in five of his six games this season, and has thrown at least three touchdowns in four of the six games. Jones completed seven-of-13 throws of 15-plus yards against Kansas, including three touchdowns. The seven completions and three touchdowns both tied career-highs. Jones was at his best when targeting Ryan Broyles on these throws. Broyles caught four of the seven passes and two of the three touchdowns.

(6) Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears
Griffin III threw for a career-high 430 yards and three touchdowns in Baylor’s loss at Texas A&M. It was Griffin’s fourth game this season with at least three touchdown passes and 300 yards passing, which is tied for the most such games in FBS. Against the Aggies, Griffin was particularly successful using play action. Griffin completed 16-of-22 passes following a run fake for 252 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, 14 of Griffin’s 22 touchdown passes have followed play action.

Robinson passes way into Heisman race

October, 11, 2011

Brian Spurlock/US Presswire
Denard Robinson passed for 337 yards (one shy of his career high) Saturday against Northwestern.

In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 6, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the candidates who helped themselves the most.

(1) Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines
Denard Robinson threw for 337 yards and ran for another 117 in Michigan’s win over Northwestern. This was Robinson’s 13th 100-yard rushing game since the start of last season, which is tied for the most such games in FBS with Western Kentucky’s Bobby Rainey. Robinson continues to make improvements with his passing game in Michigan’s new system. Robinson completed all six of his pass attempts, including two for touchdowns, from under center on Saturday. He has completed 72.0 percent of his passes from under center this season to go along with seven touchdowns and just one interception.

(2) Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears
Robert Griffin III threw for 212 yards and ran for 107 in Baylor’s win against Iowa State. Griffin III completed his first 11 passes to start the game, marking the fifth time this season he has completed 10 or more consecutive passes in a game. Griffin III also showed that he could make plays with his legs, as six of his 24 carries (25 percent) went for 10 yards or more. He only had eight such carries coming into Saturday’s game.

(3) Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal
Andrew Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns in Stanford’s win over Colorado. It was the most yards that Luck had thrown for in a single game since October 2009, when he threw for 423 against Arizona. Luck was at his best when throwing the ball downfield against Colorado. On throws of 15 yards or longer, he completed 8-of-9 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Luck is completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 653 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.

(4) Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
Kellen Moore continued his excellence this weekend, completing 23-of-31 passes for 254 yard and three touchdowns in a win over Fresno State. Moore was efficient in the red zone, where he completed 5-of-7 attempts including all three of his touchdowns. For the season, Moore has the second-most touchdowns (13) and the third-highest completion percentage (76.0) inside the red zone among quarterbacks with 15 or more pass attempts. Moore utilized newly reinstated wide receiver Geraldo Boldewijn, targeting him three times inside the opponent’s 20-yardline, which led to two touchdowns.

(5) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Trent Richardson rushed 107 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries Saturday in a win over Vanderbilt. Richardson had four carries of 10 yards or more, which tied his single-game career high. It was the eighth time that Richardson has rushed for more than a hundred yards and scored at least one touchdown in a game, second among SEC players since the start of the 2009 season. Richardson had found the majority of his success against the Commodores when running up the middle, as 68 of his 107 yards came between the tackles, including his touchdown run.

Griffin throws himself into Heisman race

September, 27, 2011
In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 4, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the candidates who helped themselves the most.

(1) Robert Griffin III, Baylor Bears
Robert Griffin III continued his stellar play Saturday in a win against the Rice Owls, totaling a career-high six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing). Griffin now has more touchdown passes (13) this season than he does incomplete passes (12). Griffin has been especially dangerous throwing the ball downfield, completing 15 of his 20 throws that have traveled 15 yards in the air or longer for eight touchdowns, including three Saturday against Rice.

(2) LaMichael James, Oregon Ducks
LaMichael James ran for 288 yards and two touchdowns in Oregon’s victory over the Arizona Wildcats, setting a new school records for both yards in a game and career touchdowns. James shed tackles all game long, racking up a career-high 187 yards after contact. James also had five rushes of over 20 yards, giving him 43 for his career, eight more than anybody else during that same time span.

(3) Trent Richardson, Alabama Crimson Tide
Trent Richardson ran for 126 yards on 17 carries and caught three passes for 85 yards in a win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday. His 211 yards from scrimmage was a career-high. The Razorbacks could not handle him between the tackles, where Richardson ran for 103 yards on 12 carries, including four rushes of 10 yards or longer. In the third quarter, Richardson showed his versatility by taking a screen pass 61 yards for a touchdown. It was his third touchdown from scrimmage of over 50 yards this season, tied for second most in FBS.

(4) Russell Wilson, Wisconsin Badgers
Russell Wilson only needed three quarters against South Dakota Coyotes to become the first Wisconsin quarterback to throw for 300-plus yards in back-to-back games since Jim Sorgi in 2003. Wilson has now thrown for three touchdowns in three straight games and has the second highest pass efficiency rating in the country. Wilson excelled with two tight ends on the field Saturday, completing 13 of his 16 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns. Overall, seven of his 11 touchdown passes this season have come out of a 2-plus tight end set.

(5) Denard Robinson, Michigan Wolverines
Denard Robinson ran for 200 yards and tied a career-high with three rushing touchdowns in Michigan’s win over the San Diego State Aztecs. It was his third career 200-yard rushing game and his first at the Big House. Robinson did most of his damage on designed running plays. The Wolverines called Robinson’s number 19 times and he delivered with 190 yards and three touchdowns.

(6) Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
Kellen Moore passed for 279 yards and four touchdowns in Boise State’s home opener versus the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. It was his 16th straight game with at least two touchdown passes and his 12th straight 200-plus yard passing game. Moore was especially efficient on third and fourth down on Saturday, completing 7-of-9 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.

(7) Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina Gamecocks
Marcus Lattimore had 150 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in a win against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday. Lattimore faced eight or more defenders in the box on 12 of his 20 rushing attempts. With the line of scrimmage stacked against him, Lattimore showed that he could contribute in others ways. The sophomore hauled in three receptions for 73 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN's "Year of the Quarterback" page.

Lattimore making huge push for Heisman

September, 20, 2011
In order to win a Heisman Trophy, candidates must find a way to separate themselves from the competition. Each week, they are presented with one opportunity to showcase their skills and impress voters. One bad game can end a player’s Heisman aspirations, while one good performance can vault a player into the national spotlight. In Week 3, we saw several outstanding performances by potential Heisman Trophy candidates. Here are the top seven.

(1)Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore ran for a career-high 246 yards on 37 carries in South Carolina’s win over Navy. Lattimore had eight rushes of 10 yards or longer, the most by any player in a game this season against a FBS opponent. The last time a player had more runs of 10-plus yards in a game against an FBS school was when Lattimore had nine such runs at Florida last season. He leads FBS with 16 such runs this season.

(2)Chris Rainey, Florida
Rainey racked up 212 yards of total offense in Florida’s win over Tennessee, including a career-high 104 receiving yards. It was the first time Rainey had over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game and the first time a Gator had done it since Percy Harvin in 2007. Rainey showcased his ability to win one-on-one matchups, with all of his receiving yards coming after the catch and 86 of his 108 rushing yards coming after contact.

(3)Andrew Luck, Stanford
Luck notched his first 300-yard passing game of the season and added two touchdowns in Stanford’s win at Arizona. Both of Luck’s touchdowns went to his tight ends; his seven touchdowns this season and 10 since the start of last season to tight ends both lead FBS.

(4)LaMichael James, Oregon
James ran for 204 yards and three touchdowns in Oregon’s victory over Missouri State. James was effective running both inside and outside, racking up 120 outside the tackles and 84 yards inside the tackles. His versatility was highlighted by two touchdown runs of 50-plus yards, one coming from inside the tackles and the other from outside. James now has 11 runs of 50 yards or longer since the start of the 2009 season, most in FBS.

(5)Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Griffin threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns in just three quarters during Baylor’s weather-shorten win against Stephen F. Austin. Among the 120 FBS quarterbacks that have attempted 30 passes this season, Griffin leads the country in completion percentage (83.7), passing efficiency (244.5), yards per attempt (12.7), touchdowns per attempt percentage (16.3) and percentage of passes for completions of 20+ yards (18.4).

(6)Kellen Moore, Boise State
Moore completed 32 passes (career-high) and threw five touchdowns in Boise State’s rout of Toledo. Moore completed passes to nine different receivers, amassing 455 yards on 42 attempts. After completing only one throw over 15 yards against Georgia, he went 8-of-9 for 183 yards and two touchdowns on passes of that distance. Moore has 23 touchdowns and two interceptions the past two seasons when throwing 15 yards or farther.

(7)Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
Wilson threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Northern Illinois. He was outstanding passing off play action, going 11-of-16 with two touchdowns. Wilson has completed 70 percent of his passes after a run fake this season and continues to have success running the ball on third down and five yards or more. He tallied two more first downs Saturday and has 16 since the start of last season, most in FBS.
In the fourth matchup of AP preseason top-five teams meeting in the season opener, another blowout ensued as No. 4 LSU Tigers routed No. 3 Oregon 40-27. LSU won its 34th straight regular season non-conference game and is 29-1 in non-conference games under Les Miles.

The Tigers forced four turnovers and got two rushing touchdowns from Michael Ford to lead the way. Jarrett Lee threw for 98 yards and a touchdown in place of suspended QB Jordan Jefferson.

Oregon lost its fourth straight game against a top-20 non-conference opponent, averaging just 18 points in those games compared to 45 in their other 23 games.

They are also averaging nearly 200 fewer yards per game in those four games (against Boise State, Ohio State, Auburn, LSU).

Oregon started last season with a 12-game winning streak, but has lost its past two games, both against SEC teams. The Ducks scored fewer than half as many points per game against Auburn and LSU and averaged just 83 yards rushing in those two games, compared to 307 per game in their first dozen contests.

In Saturday’s other primetime heavyweight matchup, Kellen Moore continued his huge success against ranked teams, leading No. 5 Boise State to a 35-21 win over No. 19 Georgia. It’s his seventh career win in nine games against ranked opponents and he improves to 39-2 as a starting quarterback.

Since the start of 2008 the Broncos have played eight games against non-conference ranked opponents, winning seven of them. The only loss came by one point in a bowl game against TCU.

It’s Boise State’s first win against an SEC team -- they entered the game 0-4 against the SEC with an average margin of defeat of 22 points. Its last game against an SEC team was a 35-point loss to Georgia in 2005.

It’s Georgia’s fifth straight loss and eighth in its past nine games against ranked teams.
Television remotes will be busy Saturday night. Just as a pair of top-five teams (Oregon and LSU) square off on ABC, the weekend’s other ranked battle kicks off as No. 5 Boise State meets No. 19 Georgia in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (ESPN, 8 ET).

It’s just the second all-time meeting between these teams. In the other, also a season opener back in 2005, No. 13 Georgia routed No. 18 Boise State 48-13 in Athens.

For Boise State, a tough opponent out of the gates has become the norm, as has beating them. This will be the Broncos’ third straight season facing a top-20 opponent to start the season. In 2009, they beat No. 16 Oregon 19-8 in Boise. Last season, it was a 33-20 win over No. 10 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Maryland.

For Georgia, a top-five opponent this early is nearly unprecedented. You have to go back 46 years to 1965 to find the last example. That’s when the Bulldogs opened the season with an 18-17 victory over No. 5 Alabama in Athens.

It won’t get much easier for Georgia, which draws No. 12 South Carolina next. The Bulldogs are one of three FBS teams who will start the season with consecutive games against currently-ranked opponents. Only East Carolina and Florida Atlantic share that fate.

That’s a particularly daunting task for a Georgia team that has struggled against ranked foes. The Bulldogs have lost seven of their last eight such games, and were 0-4 against ranked opponents in 2010.

Boise State has its own history to overcome. The Broncos are 0-4 all-time against current SEC teams, losing their past three by a combined 81 points.

The pressure falls on quarterback Kellen Moore, and his 38-2 career record as a starter. Both those losses have come against ranked opponents, but he’s fared well overall against the Top 25.

In eight starts, he is 6-2 with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. That includes wins at No. 17 Oregon in 2008 and against No. 10 Virginia Tech in a virtual road game to open last season.

Moore’s key weapon has been the big strike -- over the past two seasons, he’s connected on 116 completions of 20 or more yards. That’s two more than Ryan Mallett, who had the second-most over that span.

Of course, Moore will be without his two favorite targets. Titus Young and Austin Pettis, both now departed for the NFL, were targeted on 49 percent (401 of 814) of his throws last season. Adding to those concerns, projected starting wideout Geraldo Boldewijn was one of three Broncos suspended Friday.

With quarterback Aaron Murray looking to build off his prolific freshman campaign, Georgia again turns to a newcomer. Highly-touted freshman Isaiah Crowell, the nation’s top rated running back recruit, is expected to debut. He looks to bolster a running attack that ranked just 73rd in the nation in yards per game last season.

Changes await Moore at Boise State

August, 24, 2011

Steve Conner/Icon SMI
Kellen Moore must adapt to a new conference, new offensive coordinator and new set of receivers.

Kellen Moore returns to the Boise State Broncos for his senior season as a Heisman frontrunner and the nation’s active career leader in pass efficiency (166.7) and wins by a quarterback (38). Yet, not many things will look the same for Moore, who must adapt to a new conference, a new offensive coordinator and a new set of receivers.

Moore lost two of the most prolific receivers in Boise State history when Titus Young and Austin Pettis moved on to the NFL. Young and Pettis combined for 433 receptions, 5,901 yards, and 64 touchdowns at Boise State. They were Moore’s go-to receivers in the red zone, on deep passes, on third down, and when opponents brought the blitz.

The Broncos will look to Tyler Shoemaker (WR), Doug Martin (RB), Kyle Efaw (TE), Geraldo Boldewijn (WR), Mitch Burroughs (WR), Kirby Moore (WR), and others to fill the void left at wideout. This will not be an easy task, but here are the likely candidates to step up in different situations for Moore and the Broncos.

Red Zone: Austin Pettis had 22 touchdown receptions inside the 20 the past two seasons (most in FBS), and was targeted 27 more times than any other Broncos receiver in the red zone since 2009. The likely candidate to fill Pettis’ shoes is tight end Kyle Efaw. At 6-4, Efaw is a large target with good hands. Last season he caught three of five balls thrown to him in the end zone, and his three red zone touchdowns ranked second on the team behind Pettis.

Downfield: Titus Young averaged 47.7 yards per touchdown reception last year and was Moore’s greatest threat downfield. On passes thrown 30 yards or more, Moore targeted Young on 20 of 23 attempts. Geraldo Boldewijn will be asked to stretch the field in Young’s absence. His downfield speed and strength were highlighted in Boise State’s spring game, in which he had five receptions for 97 yards, including two receptions of 20 or more yards.

Moving the chains: Young and Pettis combined for more than half of Boise State’s first-down receptions last season. On third down, they were targeted on 46 of Moore’s 94 attempts. Tyler Shoemaker will likely become Moore’s go-to guy when it comes to converting first downs. Twenty-one of Shoemaker’s 30 receptions resulted in first downs, and on third down he was targeted twice as many times as any other returning player. Overall, when targeting Shoemaker on third down, Moore completed nine of 16 passes, including eight to move the chains.

Facing Pressure: Kellen Moore completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns and no interceptions when facing a blitz the past two seasons. He completed 79.0 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns when targeting Austin Pettis. It is likely that Moore will throw quick screens to RB Doug Martin when defenses bring pressure in 2011. In the past two years when Moore targeted Martin when facing added pressure, he completed all 12 of his passes for 127 yards. Martin averaged 12.0 yards after the catch on these outlet passes.

For exclusive video, stories and blogs about quarterbacks from every level of competition, check out ESPN’s “Year of the Quarterback” page.

Building the ideal college quarterback

August, 10, 2011
Cam Newton dominated college football last season, winning the Heisman Trophy, a conference championship and a national championship. Newton displayed several traits that allowed him to excel as a quarterback:

• He was accurate, completing 67.4 percent of his passes in SEC play.
• He could throw it deep, going a combined 7-of-11 with four touchdowns on throws of 20 yards or more in the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship Game.
• And of course, he could run. His 22 rushes of 15 or more yards in SEC play were the most of any player in a single season in the past seven years.

Newton was as close to having the total package as anyone in college football last season. Which begs the question, “If you could construct the perfect quarterback combination, whose skills would you incorporate?” Here's our take.

A synonym of accuracy is precision, which is the perfect adjective to describe the passing game of Andrew Luck. Luck completed 70.7 percent of his passes last season, fifth-best in FBS. He only threw 109 incompletions in 372 attempts. Of those 109 incompletions, 25 were knocked down by defenders, seven were intentionally thrown away, 10 were dropped and just 67 were thrown off target. Which means that of Luck’s 372 passes last year, 82 percent were on target.

Luck is at his best in the pocket, where he completed 73.0 percent of his passes last season. That's a higher rate than any quarterback taken in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Throwing the deep ball is an art. Quarterbacks need to judge the correct ball speed, trajectory and location in order to hit their target in stride.

Boise State’s Kellen Moore has mastered this art. Moore completed 58.3 percent of his throws of 25 yards or more last season, including 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. By comparison, the average FBS quarterback completes roughly 32 percent of his throws of this distance, and none of the first five quarterbacks taken in last year’s draft completed higher than 42.0 percent. Moore’s 12 touchdowns on such throws were the most of any quarterback from a team ranked in the final AP poll.

To get rid of the football quickly a quarterback must read the defense, plant his feet and throw before the defense arrives.

Landry Jones is one of the best in the nation at getting rid of the ball. Jones attempted 617 passes last season, the most of any player in FBS. He was only forced to throw the ball away 16 times. That's one in every 38.6 attempts. Jones was able to use his quick release to his advantage against aggressive defenses, completing 66.7 percent of his passes against the blitz, including 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

No one invented or created plays like Denard Robinson last season.

Robinson averaged 6.1 yards per carry on scrambles and was only sacked seven times in 311 dropbacks. His 25 rushing first downs on third down were 4th-most in FBS. “Shoelace” was always a threat to go the distance, as he led the nation with 55 rushes of 10 or more yards and he ran for 100 or more yards in nine of 13 games.

Luck and Moore lead pro-style quarterbacks

June, 9, 2011
This is the first of three posts that break down quarterbacks who will likely be Heisman Trophy contenders in 2011. See also our looks at spread-offense quarterbacks and dual-threat quarterbacks.

Although a record 38 Heisman Trophy winners have been running backs, quarterbacks have dominated the award recently, winning nine times since 2000. Two pro-style signal-callers go into 2011 as front-runners for this season's Heisman Trophy.

Andrew Luck, Stanford Cardinal
His stats from 2010 support the notion that he should be the Heisman favorite. Yet Luck will have to overcome extensive hurdles, including a new coach and new receivers, in order to become the first Heisman winner from Stanford since Jim Plunkett in 1970.

In 2010, Luck completed 70.7 percent of his passes, fifth-best in Division I, including 70.2 percent on third down. He also showed that he’s a threat to run, gaining 453 yards on the ground.

His 10.2 yards per rush (excluding sacks) was second-highest among quarterbacks with at least 10 rush attempts. Luck’s mobility forced defenses to respect his ability to run, and that translated into success in the passing game. On designed roll outs, Luck completed 69.2 percent of his passes for three touchdowns.

One area of concern could be Luck’s stamina. In the second half of games last season, he struggled to complete throws longer than 10 yards. In Stanford’s loss to Oregon, Luck completed 4-of-13 passes with two interceptions on throws longer than 10 yards in the second half.

Luck’s chances to win the Heisman may largely depend upon the players around him. He will have a new coach in David Shaw, new offensive linemen and new go-to receivers. Luck has the talent to win the award, but question marks surrounding his team could hinder his campaign.

Kellen Moore, Boise State Broncos
After finishing fourth in Heisman voting a year ago, Moore could climb higher in 2011. One area in which he separated himself from other quarterbacks is accuracy -- especially on deep balls.

In 2010, Moore completed 59 percent of his passes that traveled 15 yards or more in the air, with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. When his distance increased to 30 yards, Moore’s completion percentage was 60.9 with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. (By comparison, Luck completed 39.1 percent of his passes thrown 30 or more yards, and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones completed 28.6 percent.)

The last three quarterbacks to win the Heisman ranked either first or second in pass efficiency and yards per attempt. Downfield accuracy is an easy way for Moore to put his name at the top of those statistical categories.

With the departure of Titus Young, Moore will have to find a new downfield receiver, as Young was the target on more than 85 percent of Moore’s 30-yard attempts last season. Boise State also has to replace Moore’s other go-to receiver, Austin Pettis, who was targeted more than any other Broncos receiver in the red zone and on third down.

Team success will be critical to Moore's campaign as well. Playing in a non-AQ conference, Boise State likely will have to run the table in order for Moore to win the award. Not since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990 has a player outside a Big Six conference won the Heisman.