For Kellen Moore, the challenge this summer is obvious. The veteran quarterback has got to develop a good chemistry with a new group of receivers to help answer the biggest question on the Boise State football team headed into the fall.
The spring delivered a few answers. But as Moore said in a phone interview after the spring game Saturday, “The spring is such a small portion of the big picture. We’ll get better. Those guys are doing really well so far.”
Moore spent plenty of time on the sideline this spring to allow backup Joe Southwick time to gain experience. The Heisman Trophy finalist only played three series in the spring game, going 5-of-14 for 50 yards. The entire offense struggled all day, but the one player who stood out should give Broncos fans a reason to feel optimistic that their team will be just fine without Titus Young and Austin Pettis.
Geraldo Hiwat continued his stellar spring with five catches for 97 yards, including a 49-yard catch from Southwick that was the longest offensive play of the game. Moore singled him out as the receiver who really stood out to him this spring.
A sophomore, Hiwat only had 11 receptions last season and no touchdowns. But Hiwat is Young and Pettis rolled into one. At 6-foot-4, he has the size of Pettis, who served as Moore’s go-to guy on third downs, with the speed of Young, the big-time deep threat.
“Geraldo is a big-body guy who has the ability to be the vertical threat in this offense,” Moore said. “He’s big, strong and athletic. He hasn’t played football a ton, but he’s gotten to that point he knows what he needs to do.”
Indeed, Hiwat has only been playing organized football for three years. Born in the Netherlands, he arrived in the United States when he was in high school and played just one season before heading to Boise State.
The Broncos also have Tyler Shoemaker, the most experienced of the group who returns. Shoemaker finished third on the team last season behind Pettis and Young with 32 catches for 582 yards and five touchdowns. Kirby Moore, who is Kellen’s brother, also returns off his redshirt season and is eager to make his mark.
There definitely is talent, but the question is whether the players will be able to step up immediately to replace two clutch receivers. Pettis and Young each had 71 receptions last season and combined for more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns -- half of the team’s total of receiving scores.
Moore said the receivers recognize the opportunity in front of them.
“They know it’s their time,” Moore said. “They’re excited, but they’ve got a lot of work to do.”
That involves working out with Moore this summer so they can develop their timing. What made Young and Pettis so successful is how they were completely in sync with Moore. He could anticipate what they would do and knew all of their tendencies as if they were his own.
Moore knows he has a lot of work ahead of him, too, and he is more than up for the challenge.
“Austin and Titus, those two guys have done everything you can ask for this program,” Moore said. “But we have some young guys that have just as much ability. They just have to get that experience.”