Only the Air Force has a better Aerial Attack.

Boise State is known nationwide for the Smurf Turf.. but what isn't as well known to the casual observer is the tradition of excellent quarterbacks. This article dives back into the recent, and not so recent past to look at some of the QB's that have helped give Boise State a winning tradition that rivals the best in the NCAA's.

The quarterback story for the modern day Boise State football team has to begin with Eric Guthrie, Boise Junior College's great find from Vancouver, British Columbia. Guthrie's 33 TD passes ranks 6th on the all-time list at Boise State. His numbers don't tell the whole story—because of the Broncos excellent ground game, Guthrie only passed 10-15 times per game until 1971. Coach Tony Knap's game plan really changed when receivers Don Hutt and Al Marshall were brought into the fold—one of the best Bronco tandems ever on the field at the same time. That year, Guthrie threw the ball an average of 30 times per game and tossed 19 TD passes. He also was an effective runner and even kicked field goals! His best individual game was a 367-yard effort against Montana State in 1971, the year he was selected All-Big Sky. Guthrie led the Broncos to a Camelia Bowl win, but the Broncos were forced to give back the trophy because Guthrie also played professional baseball. Guthrie was drafted in the 15th round by the San Francisco 49'ers.

Ron Autele, who learned under Guthrie, was the starter for a good portion of his games, yet Jim McMillan played as much or more. Autele was injured for the entire 1971 season, but came back to start in 1972 and 1973. Most of Autele's 34 career TD passes came those two seasons, good for 5th in the Bronco record books. Autele's career best was the 1972 game against Weber State, when he threw for 379. In 1973, when backup McMillan earned All Big Sky, starter Autele was named to the second team.

Jim McMillan, from Caldwell's Vallivue High, became the Broncos' signal-caller in 1973. He passed for 5,508 yards in his career and ran for another 607. He ranks second all-time in passing percentage with a pinpoint .597 average (382-640), third all-time in passing, total offense and passing touchdowns (58), and 4th in passing efficiency. McMillan finished his stellar career with 13 career 200 + passing games, 7 300 + and 2 400 + games. McMillan put up these numbers despite sharing time with and for a while backing up Autele.

Other highlights of Jimmy Mac's career include total offense numbers of 471 yards (passing for 454) against UNLV (Both all-time single game records), 418 vs. Montana and 407 vs. Montana State in 1974, hitting 18 of 23 against Idaho State in 1972, and passing for 6 touchdowns in a game against Montana (another all-time record) and 5 against UNLV. The smooth-throwing McMillan was named to the Division II All-America team as well as All-Big Sky in 1974 and was chosen to play in the East-West Shrine game. McMillan's number 12 remains the only jersey ever retired at Boise State. McMillan was drafted in the 14th round by the Detroit Lions.

Tough shoes to fill, and Greg Stern responded in 1975. The tall QB threw for 2265 yards and Stern ranked 1st in passing and total offense and made 2nd team All Big Sky. His top performance came against Augustana, when he found Bronco receivers at will for a 12 for 15 game. Stern finished with a record that ranks 4th in passing efficiency for his career.

Lee Huey shared quarterback duties with Stern and gave the Broncos a 1-2 punch similar to McMillan and Autele. Huey had a great year, hitting 73 of 122. In fact, Huey's career percentage of .575 (122-212) is 3rd all time on the Bronco list. He threw for 406 yards vs. UNLV that year. Lee had two especially hot games against Weber State, an 11 for 15 performance in 1974, followed by 12 for 16 against the Wildcats the following year.

Dee Pickett came in to lead the Bronco attack in 1976-77. Pickett threw for 1398 yards in 1976, ranked 2nd in both passing and total offense, and scored 9 rushing touchdowns as well. He made a choice to shift to a rodeo career in 1977, and Dee was consistently among the world's best, winning the world title in team roping in 1984. His totals at Boise State place him 5th in passing efficiency.

Hoskin Hogan stepped in for Pickett in 1977 and threw for 1565 yards and 13 TD's to earn him second team All Big Sky.

Joe Aliotti, from Pittsburgh, CA, only played two seasons for Boise State, but they were two of the most memorable on record, the 1980 national championship season and 1979, when the Broncos went 10-1 but were ineligible for postseason play due to a scouting violation the previous year. In those two remarkable seasons, Aliotti threw for 3,460 yards and ran for 596 and led the Broncos to a 20-4 record over his two-year career. Despite the brief stint at BSU, he ranks 8th in both passing and total offense and 7th in touchdown passes with 32. Although Aliotti did not have NFL size, he definitely had NFL heart and desire, he could make things happen and Joe was a winner. His scrambling to elude Eastern Kentucky defenders on fourth down bought him enough time to find a wide open Duane Dlouhy in the left corner of the end zone with twelve seconds left to give Boise State the I-AA national championship in 1980, his heroics on that Saturday being one of the top plays in BSU history. Although the pass officially covered 14 yards, the ball traveled 45 yards in the air to get from Aliotti on one side of the field to Dlouhy on the other. Aliotti performed when it mattered the most, hitting 24 of 41 passes that afternoon for 358 yards.

Aliotti was the most accurate passer of all the great Bronco QB's, hitting on 278 of 437 for a sizzling .636 percentage and, in passing efficiency, he is 2nd only to Jim McMillan. Further, Aliotti ranks 3rd for the lowest interception ratio in his career, with just 3.43 % of his passes picked off, and 7th with 32 TD passes in his two years. He was 144 of 219 for an amazing .658 in 1979 and owns 4 of the top 15 single-game performances, including the best, an incredible 20-24 against Idaho in '79. Aliotti was a unanimous All-Big Sky selection in 1979, earning offensive MVP for the league and Kodak All-America honors. Big Sky coaches also tabbed him all-league in 1980. Aliotti's great passion for football led him into coaching….he was an assistant coach for his alma mater, and still coaches high school football.

Tim Klena started most of 1981-82, leading the Broncos into the 1981 I-AA semi-finals. Klena is 8th all-time in passing percentage with a .558 (154 for 276). After leaving Boise State, Tim opened a successful chiropractic business in Boise, where he still works.

Gerald DesPres played from 1981-84, his highlight being a second-half comeback (9 for 14 for 175 yards) in a rematch of the 1980 championship game the following year in Bronco Stadium that fell just short (DesPres' quarterback sneak on fourth down was inches short near the EKU 20). Had the Broncos won, it would have been Boise State vs. Idaho State for the national championship. DesPres was named honorable mention All-Big Sky in ‘81.

Hazsen Choates was Boise State's scrambling quarterback from 1983-1986, throwing for 4,524 yards and running for another 701. He ranks 4th in both passing and total offense on the career Boise State list. Choates was 316 for 613 in his years for the Broncos, finishing 8th in passing efficiency and 5th among all Bronco quarterbacks for the lowest career interception rate, at 3.8 %. He also is 4th in career touchdown passes with 36.

Vince Alcade led the Broncs in 1987, throwing for 2,523 yards.

Duane Halliday of Coeur D'Alene took over the reins in 1988 and 1989. Halliday also came off the bench to throw for 382 yards in a thrilling 59-52 triple overtime loss to Nevada in the I-AA semi-finals in 1990.

Mike Virden threw for 2,182 yards in 1990 and 4,294 in his career, good for 5th all-time at Boise State. Virden's star was especially bright in a 1990 game against rival Idaho State, going 21 for 27, and he led the Broncos past Northern Iowa and Middle Tennessee in the first two rounds of the I-AA playoffs.

Jeff Mladenich ranks 6th all-time with a .564 passing percentage (186-330), achieved mostly in 1991. Mladenich continues to own the lowest Boise State interception ratio in history, as just 9 of his 330 passes were picked off, an incredible 2.7 percent!

Travis Stuart, Bronco quarterback from 1990-92, threw for 3,060 yards in his career. Stuart's highlight was a 31 for 41 game against Weber State in 1992. He put up 51 passes against Montana to share that all-time record, and 356 over his career, also #1 on the BSU list.

Tony Hilde ranks number one all-time in passing yards and total offense with 9,107 and 10,138 respectively. Hilde also places #2 in career touchdown passes with 70 and 6th in passing efficiency. He put the ball up nearly 30 times a game, and also holds a dubious record that may never be broken, 40 career interceptions. Still, he ranks 3rd for the lowest ratio at 3.38%. Hilde's completion percentage was just over 53 percent (629 for 1,181), ranking him 10th behind Gerald DesPres. Hilde's glory year came in 1994, when the Broncos knocked off the number one, two and three teams in the nation to advance to the I-AA championship game. However, Hilde finished his career going 2-10 in 1996, the worst Bronco season since 1937. Over his career, Hilde had 26 200 + and 6 300 + passing games.

Bart Hendricks, from Reno, is the quarterback that took Boise State from being just a new I-A team to respectability. Bart's incredible instincts and desire won the hearts of all Bronco fans. With Bart, it seemed anything was possible as he made play after play, turning almost guaranteed sacks into huge gainers. Bart threw for 9,020 and ran for 1,019—his passing and total offense are second to Hilde despite starting far fewer games. He ranks 2nd for owning the lowest interception ratio, a measly 3 %, and 5th in career passing percentage 56.9% (650 for 1,142). Hendricks is the Boise State career completion leader with 650—both his seasons as starter are 1-2 in that department. Mr. Accuracy was the all-time passing efficiency leader for a season, 170.63 in 2000, until current Bronco quarterback Ryan Dinwiddie eclipsed that record in 2002—Bart ranks 3rd for his career at Boise State.

Hendrick's 405-yard show against Idaho in 2000 is tied with Dinwiddie for the 2nd best single-game passing yardage; Bart owns no less than 4 of the top 15 single game performances. Over Hendricks' amazing career, there were 28 200 + and 10 300 + passing games. He also was the best runner of the Bronco quarterbacks; his 77 yard touchdown through the middle of the UTEP defense in the 2000 Humanitarian Bowl is the second longest run from scrimmage. He also reeled off a 73 yard score against Louisiana Tech in 1997. All told, Hendricks found the end zone 20 times, the all-time mark for quarterbacks. He was named the Offensive MVP and selected to the All-Big West team in both 1999 and 2000. Hendricks was selected to participate in the East-West Shrine Game, where he led the West to a couple of scores. Signed by the San Diego Chargers for a look-see after leaving Boise, he proceeded to the Frankfurt Galaxy in NFL Europe and now is with Edmonton of the Canadian Football League.

That brings us to the current Bronco at the helm, senior Ryan Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie has within his grasp a chance to break most of the Boise State career records. He has the highest passing efficiency, is neck and neck with Joe Aliotti for career passing percentage (63.57% to Aliotti's 63.61%), needs 29 TD passes to tie Hendricks, and 3,644 passing yards in 2003 to catch Hilde. Considering that the Broncos play 13 games this season (14 if they make a bowl game), all these numbers are within reach. Dinwiddie was chosen All-WAC in 2002.

Who will be the next great quarterback after Dinwiddie? Whoever is fortunate to get the job will be carrying on an outstanding tradition of flying footballs at Boise State.

Special thanks to Mr. Tom Scott for providing statistics.
Photos courtesy of The Idaho Statesman.

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