BOISE, Idaho – Kellen Moore is uniquely indistinguishable. He's modest and reserved, unlikely to draw attention to himself. At 6-feet tall and 186 pounds, he hardly looks the part of a football hero.
Yet much like the Boise State team he leads, Moore is so much more than the sum of his part, an undersized and overlooked small-town kid who has turned out to be Heisman Trophy contender.
"He's a very calm person who does his homework so when he gets into tough situations he goes back to his basics and keeps it simple," said his brother Kirby, a sophomore receiver for the third-ranked Broncos.
In two years as Boise State's starting quarterback, Kellen Moore has thrown for more than 7,000 yards and 64 touchdowns with just 13 interceptions. Last year, his 39 touchdowns to three interceptions was the best ratio in NCAA history. He was a third-team AP All-American.
Maybe the most impressive number Moore has racked up is this: 26-1. That's Boise State's record with Moore heading into Monday night's monumental opener against No. 10 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
"Sometimes it feels like it's gone for ever. Other days it seems fast," Moore said. "you're watching tape and see a clip and it's two years ago and it feels like yesterday. Other times you think 'I've been here a while,' especially when you see the freshman."
It was back when Moore was a redshirting freshman, three years ago, that he started displaying the attributes that have made him maybe the most successful QB in Boise State history.
Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, the coach who fought to give Moore a scholarship when Idaho and Eastern Washington were his only other suitors, said Moore's performances during scrimmages that redshirt year convinced him the Broncos had unearthed a gem.
Harsin knew Moore's background — son of a coach, played in a pass-based offense in high school — gave the kid the football smarts needed to do the job.
But in his first few weeks on campus, during basic drills, Moore never stood out. It wasn't until Harsin threw Moore into a game setting, that the lackluster drills were forgotten.
"His freshman year we put him in a scrimmage and you see that's where he really shines is in that game environment and being in that situation," Harsin said.
For coach Chris Petersen, where Moore set himself apart was the film room, during hours of study. Even when it was certain Moore was never going to play, Petersen noticed he was paying the most attention.
"Here is this redshirt and he is engaged and maybe more engaged than some of the guys who are playing," Petersen recalled. "Just the focus he would bring to the meetings and when you do that day after day after day you start to really reap the benefits.
"That's a very simple concept that most can't do day after day, stay engaged for a full hour in a meeting, totally engaged, but he could."
For teammate Austin Pettis, it's Moore's knack for knowing what the receivers are about to do, even if a route is altered in the middle of a play, that makes the quarterback special.
"He just knows what the defense is doing at all times and it seems like he knows what you're doing at all times," Pettis said. "If the DB does something to you and you have to change your route, he knows what you're doing. It makes you're job a lot easier."
The numbers Moore has posted in his two seasons — and especially last year — are almost impossible to match. Harsin points out the Broncos never ask Moore to carry the offense, to be a star. Moore's lone task is to make the right decisions, Harsin said.
If he does that, the numbers come.
"He just needs to continue to do his job and he gets that. And that is the reason he is our quarterback," Harsin said. "He did his job he made the right decisions and we saw that when he was young. That's why he is out there."
Moore will need to avoid any major mistakes if the Broncos run at a national title is to even get started against Virginia Tech. The Hokies surrendered 15 points per game last season and 167 yards passing per game. Duke was the only team to throw for more than 250 yards against the Hokies' defense.
That's fine to Moore. He believes the manner in which the Broncos beat TCU 17-10 in the Fiesta Bowl proved the Broncos don't need to throw for huge yards or score bundles of points to defeat tough opponents.
"I think it shows resiliency. It wasn't a great performance," Moore said. "It's one of those you keep going, you keep going and eventually when the opportunities come, fourth quarter, you're able to make some plays."
(This version CORRECTS Corrects Boise State's record with Moore to 26-1.)