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October 29, 2009BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore will take substance over style any day, a fine philosophy to live by since playing in this college football outpost doesn't bring the kind of attention heaped on quarterbacks at the nation's marquee schools.
That could soon change for Moore. At the season's midway point, his statistics are good enough to match or best most of his peers.
He is not a flashy scrambler, doesn't have a cannon for an arm and is not a vocal or animated leader. But his ability to make good decisions, spread the ball to all his receivers and outwit opposing defenses are the biggest reasons the sixth-ranked Broncos are undefeated and making a case for another BCS bid.
Through seven games, Moore leads the nation with 21 touchdown passes and has just two interceptions. He's the nation's most efficient passer with a rating of 172.15 and has completed 68 percent of his throws for 1,627 yards. His 69 percent career mark is second only to Texas' Colt McCoy among active quarterbacks.
With a modesty he's shown since becoming the Broncos' starter as a redshirt freshman last season, Moore shrugs off the growing praise for his achievements on the field and the simmering chatter that his name be added to Heisman debates.
"Some people want to throw a name to this team, and if it's mine, that's exciting for the program," Moore said. "But I've got enough to deal with week in and week out. If I get caught up in myself, then it takes away from something else."
For now, that something else is helping Boise State remain undefeated.
They're 7-0 headed into Saturday's matchup with San Jose State (1-5, 0-2 Western Athletic) and in position to win their second straight conference title.
Last year, Moore guided the Broncos to a 12-0 regular-season record, with the only loss coming in the Poinsettia Bowl against TCU, the team that leapfrogged Boise State in the BCS standings this week.
But don't blame Moore for the Broncos slight dip in the BCS rankings.
Last week, he threw five TDs in a 54-9 victory at Hawaii, putting together his best game of the season and helping unleash an offense that had sputtered in the red zone the last two games against lesser opponents like UC Davis and Tulsa.
Against the Warriors, Moore was 18 of 30 for 223 yards, hitting nine different receivers - including his younger brother Kirby Moore - and managing to sidestep the rush just enough to avoid getting sacked, the fourth game without being sacked this season.
It was the kind of smart, mistake-free performance Broncos coach Chris Petersen has come to expect since making Moore the first freshman to start a season opener in school history.
Last season, the lefty threw for 3,486 yards and 25 TDs and was WAC Freshman of the Year. If there is a lasting stain on the season, though, it may have been Moore's interception in the final minutes of that 17-16 loss to TCU in the season finale.
So this season, Moore decided to focus even more on the mental and fundamental aspect of his game, vowing to make fewer mistakes and off-target throws.
In many ways, the extra attention to detail has paid dividends for a quarterback Petersen acknowledges is the sometimes one step ahead of the coaches on the field and in the film room.
"Its interesting from the sideline, because when I think he missed something or could have gone somewhere else with a throw, you put the tape on and you see why he did what he did. And coach is wrong again," said Petersen, who helps keep Moore focused on football by limiting his media access to once every other week.
"That is probably the most impressive thing about him, the way he continues to play at a pretty high level."
Moore, who threw for 4,269 yards and 67 touchdowns as a high school senior in his father's pass-happy, spread offense at Prosser, Wash., doesn't get to air it out like he once did because the Broncos have such a potent running game. Led by the tandem of Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin, the Broncos are averaging 192 yards a game on the ground and 5 yards per carry.
With that kind of rushing attack, Moore has had just three games this season with 30 or more passing attempts. So far, he's managed to make the most of his chances by focusing even more on improving his practice and game prep habits.
"All off season we were focusing on being more efficient, being more accurate with the ball and making better decisions," Moore said. "And I think that definitely translates to the games, working on details a little more."