The Broncos’ no longer have any question on who their leader is going to be. Joe Southwick is returning for his senior season after taking over for Kellen Moore last fall. As a junior, Southwick threw for 2,730 yards 19 touchdowns and only 7 seven interceptions
Southwick led the first unit offense during Saturday’s Blue and Orange Spring Game but failed to produce any sort of flow on the game’s first series. The offenses’ first drive was limited to just six plays before being forced to punt. The second unit was led by Grant Hedrick, the redshirt junior out of Independence, Ore. Hedrick looked as if he had some apparent jitters but made a nice toss to Aaron Burkes on a 3rd and four (yards) for a nice nine yard gain. On the very next play Hendricks was intercepted by defensive end Tyler Horn. It would not be the only struggles of the afternoon for the Bronco quarterbacks.
Southwick reentered the game with 1:37 left in the 1st quarter after Jimmy Laughrea produced a 3-and out. Southwick connected with Matt Miller on a deep-in early and were up to the line of scrimmage immediately not allowing the defense any rest with the new no-huddle wrinkle inserted this year.
“We know how to huddle, we can huddle, we got that figured out,” Head Coach Chris Petersen said. He added that “it changes things” alluding to the fact the defenses must now prepare for something different.
Once the 2nd quarter was underway it was the Jay Ajayi show. After trying to air-it-out in the 1st quarter and having little success due to the wind, it was clear the Broncos were looking to ground and pound in the 2nd quarter. Ajayi gashed the defense, marching the offense down field into the red zone. Once in the red zone he was able to sniff out the end zone on a two yard run up the gut, for the first score of the afternoon.
Southwick lead the offense on an impressive two-minute drill showing us all he has matured as a player and a leader. Standing tall in the pocket he was able to take what the defense gave him and not force anything.
“We knew the situation… The play calling was good and we executed well,” Southwick said.
The drive ended with Southwick throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass up the sideline to Geraldo Boldweijn to end the first half and Southwick’s day. He finished 12-20 with 1 touchdown and most importantly zero interceptions.
With Southwick sitting on the sideline all of the second half it was Jimmy Laughrea and Grant Hedrick taking most of the reps at quarterback. Neither separated himself from the other person but each showed some potential. However, Laughrea was picked off in the 3rd quarter by Donte Deayon for a pick six. Laughrea rebounded and lead the offense on a scoring drive, capping off the drive with a sneak touchdown into the endzone.
The game concluded with the offense coming out on top 28-19 (defense is awarded points for sacks, and turnovers.)