Boise State Football: Broncos Will Be Fine Without Joe Southwick in Hawaii Bowl

K BecksCorrespondent IIDecember 23, 2013

Sep 20, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick (16) looks to throw a pass against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the fourth quarter at Bulldog Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Broncos 41-40. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

When it was announced on Friday that Joe Southwick had been sent home from the Hawaii Bowl due to a violation of team rules, it was a shock to Bronco Nation.

Southwick, the fifth-year senior that had been the starting quarterback for Boise State since the beginning of last season before breaking his ankle against Nevada on October 19, was expected to sail off into the sunset with the rest of the seniors in Honolulu.

Now, that will not be the case.

Despite the claims now made by Southwick in an attempt to clear his name of any wrongdoing, the Broncos will need to move on quickly and regain focus for the task at hand, which is preparing for Oregon State.

Southwick tells Channel 7 KTVB that he wants to "clear my name." Talking so "people in community realize I didn't do anything wrong."

— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) December 23, 2013

While Southwick’s dismissal is disappointing (and perhaps unwarranted, depending on your stance regarding the matter), it isn’t back-breaking.

Boise State will be fine without Southwick in the Hawaii Bowl.

Well, at least as fine as it would have been with him suiting up for the game.

Since Southwick’s injury, Grant Hedrick has assumed the starting quarterback role for the Broncos. And while it has been a rocky ride to say the least, there is reason to suggest that the redshirt junior is capable of being what Boise State needs him to be in order to be competitive against the Beavers.

Hedrick has been inconsistent but serviceable as starting quarterback for the Broncos in 2013.
Hedrick has been inconsistent but serviceable as starting quarterback for the Broncos in 2013.Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Hedrick’s performances this season have been marked by inconsistency, and it would not be incorrect to assert that fans don’t really know what to expect of him in the upcoming game.

However, one of the major knocks on Hedrick is that when he is the signal-caller, Boise State’s offense reverts to fairly basic play-calling.

Whether this is a conscious decision by offensive coordinator Robert Prince so as not to throw Hedrick to the wolves is unknown. But the fact is that Boise State is not in a position to rely on Hedrick to make big plays for the offense.

Fortunately, it won’t have to against the Beavers.

Oregon State’s biggest weakness on defense, which undoubtedly contributed to the five-game skid the team suffered through to end the regular season, is stopping the run.

The Beavers are next to last in the Pac-12 in run defense, allowing nearly 200 yards per game on the ground.

Rather than trying to beat Oregon State through the air, the Broncos can take a page from the 2007 East Carolina team’s book and simply grind it out in Hawaii.

Boise State was going to rely on Jay Ajayi heavily anyway, and with Hedrick seemingly pegged as the starter for the entire game, the Broncos can take advantage of his running abilities, provided he holds onto the football.

The Broncos need Hedrick to be a game manager more than anything else. And in this case, game manager means taking care of the football and providing well-timed short-yardage passes for first downs when needed.

The dismissal of Joe Southwick is unfortunate for Joe Southwick. But for the Boise State football team, it really doesn’t change things much from a “keys to victory” perspective.

The Broncos need a solid ground game, perhaps a magical defensive performance and some luck to beat the Beavers in the Hawaii Bowl.

The loss of Southwick doesn’t make that any harder.