On the first play from scrimmage of the Boise State/Nevada game quarterback Joe Southwick sprinted for a seven yard gain and was tackled as he ran for the sidelines. He grabbed for his ankle in pain and was helped to his feet. Moments later he was hopping with crutches to the dressing room.
If it were up to Joe he’d have played with his foot missing.
News came later that he would not reappear in the game. In the second half there was a camera shot of him in a private booth above the stands with his ankle bandaged and iced. The next day we all got the bad news that Joe’s ankle was broken. Certainly this was not the way Joe Southwick nor anyone wanted to end a great career at Boise State.
Before the Utah State game players from Boise lamented Chuckie Keeton would not be playing due to an injury. I recall from my playing days that if your opponent was not playing with their best the victory was diminished.
Like many fans I don’t know Joe personally, only the body language and his on camera presence. He always seemed eager to compete and always mentally in the game.
I recall games prior the his junior and senior years when he was relegated to standing on the bench and waving a white towel to whoop-up the crowd. Then the times he wore a headset and sent signals to Kellen Moore. He waited for his time to come.
He had the unenviable job of replacing everybody’s boy next door or everybody’s lawn boy, Kellen Moore. There was nothing to dislike about him.
Joe became to many fans like the stepchild of abusive parents; no matter what he did, it was not good enough.
Everything about his legacy at Boise State will be talked about in terms of “what would have happened if not for…”
Joe’s first year at quarterback was offensive coordinator Robert Prince’s first year. That’s tough; for both of them.
Southwick was supported by less talented players for the day to day competition Boise State was now facing. Southwick did not have the likes of Doug Martin, Austin, Pettis, Titus Young, and Nate Potter. Those are just the offensive guys who went pro and started.
This year a new offensive scheme was administered. Four seasons Joe played and was tutored in one system of play and was asked to change. Not only him, but the other 10 guys on the field plus whoever was ran in from the sidelines. He was like a general in command of an untested army using weapons they’d never used before. When that occurs there’s a lot of collateral damage. Most in the form of criticism from fans that were aimed at Joe.
He came along at a time when many of Boise’s best (fans) would accept nothing less than perfection. He faced challenges with steely determination, heart, and courage. I don’t think anyone played harder or tried harder than Joe Southwick.
Joe was heading for an incredible year. He is every bit as good if not better than the darling of the Mountain West, Fresno’s Derek Carr.
Does he have another game or three left in him? Speculation is that he will be out for five weeks. Does that mean he’ll be ready for the final game of the regular season on November 30th with New Mexico? If Boise wins the rest of their games will he see action in a possible conference playoff against Fresno. In what post season Bowl game will Boise appear?
Whatever the case it should be what is best for Joe and the team.
As a quarterback no one knows what his future will be beyond college. Will he have a opportunity in the pros? Frankly with some college players that is the only thing they have to look forward.
Football is a game. It’s not reality. Yet it can effectively be used to teach life lessons and prepare one for much larger and more important endeavors.
If Joe has taken his final snap, as sad as I am to see Joe’s college career end in such and unceremonious way, I don’t think football will ever define who he is, was, or will be.