Average-sized Moore leaves Boise State as biggest winner in FBS

by | College Football Recruiting Blogger
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Moore wraps up his historic career in typical fashion -- helping Boise State pile up big points. (US Presswire)  
Moore wraps up his historic career in typical fashion -- helping Boise State pile up big points. (US Presswire)  

LAS VEGAS -- There is nothing average about Kellen Moore.

Sure, he is of average height and average build -- he's generously listed at 6 feet and 191 pounds in the Boise State program -- and he could be easily confused for a high schooler, but he's anything but average.

The Broncos quarterback drops back in one smooth motion so fluid, you would think he's Tim Tebow walking on water. His throwing motion is effortless, whipping the ball past his ear toward his intended receiver like Roger Federer flicks a backhand at Wimbledon. Moore's eyes dart from sideline to sideline during his pre-snap read to the point where he knows what the defense will be doing well before the ball is snapped.

Nothing about Moore is average because everything about him is so exceptional. Moore was not perfect by any means Thursday night but he still picked up victory No. 50 as a starter for Boise State, more than any other starting quarterback in FBS history, in the Las Vegas Bowl 56-24 against a lackluster Arizona State team.

"I have no idea what we're going to do without Kellen Moore, so don't ask it," head coach Chris Petersen said. "There were a lot of kids that have played here that did a great job laying the foundation. On the field, off the field, in the classroom. These [seniors] took it up another notch or two."

The victory was, in typical Boise State fashion, the sum of several parts and not limited to the quarterback who gets most of the attention.

Career Wins by a Quarterback
Player, School (Years) Wins
1. Kellen Moore, Boise State (2008-11) 50
2. Colt McCoy, Texas (2006-09) 45
3t. David Greene, Georgia (2001-04) 42
3t. Andy Dalton, TCU (2007-10) 42

Senior running back Doug Martin took the opening kickoff 100 yards for a score that set the tone. Moore finished 26 for 34 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Trusty receiver Tyler Shoemaker caught the offense's first touchdown on a beautiful fade route against a busted coverage. Wideout Matt Miller tossed a touchdown pass off a reverse right before halftime.

The Broncos scored in so many different ways, it was as if they were playing Yahtzee with the box score.

Boise being Boise.

"We really wanted to start fast. And they did that," Petersen said. "And we really wanted to finish strong. And we did that."

That one of the game's most productive quarterbacks ended his career with a ho-hum victory a few miles from the glitziest strip of land in the country might be fitting. Moore has led Boise State to at least 12 victories each season, and to the promised land of a BCS bowl triumph. Though he is as approachable a college football star as there is, he shies away from media attention in deference of his teammates and speaks humbly and from the heart.

In the pantheon of nice guys who happen to be great college football players, Moore is on the first ballot.

"You're always going to lose players, but I think Kellen is obviously one of the greatest players since I've been around in college football," Petersen said.

The game -- much more of a scrimmage for the Broncos -- was what many expected from Arizona State. Uninspired, undisciplined and unfit to play, the Sun Devils appropriately sent Dennis Erickson out with a 31-31 record over five years as the head man in Tempe.

"It's difficult. When you put a lot of your life into this, which I have over 40-something years as I've done ... it's very emotional," Erickson said. "Football is the greatest game in the world and I'm glad I've been able to spend a lot of time in it."

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Ironically, the man across the sidelines was one of the few people who believed in Moore. While at Idaho for one season, it was Erickson who offered the quarterback one of three scholarship offers he had coming out of high school.

"He made some throws out there tonight that just kind of amazed me," said the 23-year college football veteran with two national-title rings. "He threw the ball and the receiver hadn't even come close to coming out of his break. Then, boom -- it's there. You can't defend it."

Even those who seem him every day have trouble comprehending just how good Moore is.

"I was at practice a couple days ago," said Martin, the game's MVP with 301 all-purpose yards. "He was throwing it into the tightest window. I was just wondering how he did that.

"He still amazes me."

The Broncos burst onto the national spotlight thanks to Petersen's creativity and a trick play for the ages in the Fiesta Bowl. The program became one of college football's elite, thanks to Moore's arm.

"I feel very fortunate to be put in the situation I was and play for four years at a great college," he said. "I'm surrounded by great people and when you're surrounded by great people, great things happen."

Say what you want about the level of competition, Boise State reaching double digits in victories the past six years is an accomplishment on par with Howard Schnellenberger turning around Miami and Louisville, or Washington State going to the Rose Bowl.

There's nothing special in Boise outside of the famous blue turf. You'll find no five-star recruits among the most successful senior class in college football -- just hard workers like Moore who have a chip on their shoulder.

"Boise State, we're just a hard-working team," Martin said. "We're just consistent and we're winners."

The elevation from quirky to historic the past four years has come largely behind the arm of Moore, who incredibly has never allowed Boise State to trail by more than a touchdown in his entire <i>career</i> and gone 6-0 against BCS conference teams.

Moore's only flaw is that he also couldn't kick. He was failed twice by walk-ons missing field goals in the final minutes and costing him at least a chance at playing for a BCS championship. All told, the program has suffered only three losses by a combined five points in Moore's four seasons.

"So many things have to go so right for these guys to do what they've done over the past four years," Petersen said. "It's been pretty amazing."

Sequestered up in Idaho, it's easy to overlook the greatness -- every motion before the snap, the precision, the execution. Early in the game, Moore recognized that receiver Matt Miller had single coverage near the goal line. Two steps and a perfect back shoulder throw later, the Broncos were up 21-0. Nothing average about the play at all.

Even the opponents are awed.

"What Kellen has done in his career is unbelievable," ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler said. "Hats off to him."

"He's got a lot stronger arm than people think," Erickson said. "He throws a great ball."

Moore owes plenty of success to his father, Tom, not only for his genes but his intellect. The elder Moore was a legendary coach at Prosser (Wash.) High, winning four state championships and the league title all but two of his 23 seasons running the football team.

Winning, it seems, is what Kellen Moore has done ever since picking up a football.

"I don't know how someone will break that [record]," Petersen said. "That's a lot of football wins right there."

"It might take 100 years," Osweiler added.

There have been plenty of great quarterbacks to come before and there will be plenty more to play the game in the future. There never will be one like Kellen Moore, however.

"Talent doesn't do a whole lot," he said. "You've got to put it together."

Overlooked and under the radar, Moore managed to do it better than anybody.

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