That’s WAC: Week Four

27 09 2010

SCORES AND SCHEDULE
WAC Non-Conference Record
This Week: 3-6 record, 2-6 vs FBS, 1-1 vs top 25
This Season: 14-17 record, 9-17 vs FBS, 2-6 vs top 25

WAC STANDINGS    
  CONF OVERALL
Fresno State  1-0  2-1
Nevada  0-0  4-0
Boise State  0-0  3-0
Idaho  0-0  2-2
Hawai’i  0-0  2-2
Louisiana Tech  0-0  1-3
San Jose State  0-0  1-3
New Mexico State  0-0  0-3
Utah State  0-1  1-3

Saturday, September 25
Idaho 34 at Colorado State 36 – Final
Nevada 27 at BYU 13 – Final
New Mexico State 16 at Kansas 42 – Final
Southern Mississippi 13 at Louisiana Tech 12 – Final
Fresno State 38 at Mississippi 55 – Final
Utah State 7 at San Diego State 41 – Final
#24 Oregon State 24 at #3 Boise State 37 – Final
San Jose State 3 at #13 Utah 56 – Final
Charleston Southern 7 at Hawai’i 66 – Final

TOP PERFORMERS
Passing:
1. Bryant Moniz, JR (UH): 19-27, 395 yds, 6 td, 2 int vs Charleston Southern
2. Ryan Colburn, SR (FSU): 32-42, 390 yds, 4 td vs Mississippi
3. Nathan Enderle, SR (UI): 25-30, 347 yds, 3 td vs Colorado State
4. Kellen Moore, JR (BSU): 19-27, 288 yds, 3 td vs Oregon State
5. Tarik Hakmi, SO (LT): 22-35, 262 yds, td, 2 int vs Southern Mississippi

Rushing:
1. Doug Martin, JR (BSU): 19 car, 138 yds vs Oregon State
2. Vai Taua, SR (NEV): 29 car, 133, td vs BYU
3. Colin Kaepernick, SR (NEV): 17 car, 82 yds, td vs BYU
4. Deonte Jackson, SR (UI): 11 car, 77 yds vs Colorado State
5. Seth Smith, SR (NMSU): 16 car, 52 yds, td vs Kansas

Receiving:
1. Titus Young, SR (BSU): 5 rec, 136 yds, td vs Oregon State
2. Greg Salas, SR (UH): 7 rec, 131 yds, 2 td vs Charleston Southern
3. Jamel Hamler, JR (FSU): 8 rec, 130 yds, td vs Mississippi
4. Matt Lindsey, SO (FSU): 6 rec, 102 yds vs Mississippi
5. Marcus Allen, SR (NMSU): 4 rec, 89 yds, td vs Kansas

CONFERENCE OUTLOOK
What a disappointing weekend for the conference.  With the exception of #3 Boise State (because lets face it, they are always the exception), every team that had a chance to prove a point came up empty. 
The biggest letdown was Idaho’s performance against Colorado State.  Taking on a team that entered with the worst scoring offense in the nation (6.3 ppg – 120th in NCAA), the Vandals defense looked much like the maligned unit from a year ago, surrendering 36 points in a loss.  Junior runningback Raymond Carter (25 car, 39 yards in 3 games prior) rushed for 104 yards on 16 carries, as freshman quarterback Pete Thomas (112.5 QB efficiency rating, 1 td, 6 int in 3 games prior) threw for a career-high 386 yards and completed over 78-percent of his passes.
While Hawai’i blew out an FCS school – as FBS teams are suppose to – and Boise State topped #24 Oregon State at home, Nevada – although they won – missed out on an opportunity to really make a statement.  I know this may be a little picky, and that the Wolfpack did jump into the top 25 as a result of the win, but BYU is down this season.  Way down.  Led by freshman Jake Heaps at quarterback, the Cougars rank 116th in the NCAA in offense (15.0 ppg) and haven’t been much better on defense (28.3 ppg/allowed ranks 86th).
Had senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick and company put 50-plus points on the board for the third straight game, pollsters would have been put on alert of another potential BCS-buster.  Considering some people are saying the Broncos win over the Beavers wasn’t as dominant as it could’ve been, the point is non-BCS conference teams have to take advantage of every opportunity they’re given, no matter how small.  It’s very realistic the Wolfpack can run the table in the WAC (and even more realistic they’ll suffer at least one loss – see Boise State on November 26) and those given the power of the vote will scrutinize the margin of victory against an unranked that will struggle mightly to qualify for a bowl game.
Other than that, little was expected of both San Jose State and New Mexico State playing on the road at #13 Utah and Kansas.  But Utah State laid a big egg against San Diego State.  The Aztecs are very balanced on offense with plenty of playmakers, but the Aggies were picked by the media to finish in the upper-half of the Western Athletic Conference this Fall.  A 41-7 loss to a team that was slated to finished sixth in the Mountain West this preseason doesn’t do them much justice.
Finally, sure Louisiana Tech showed some grit with a late comeback attempt against Southern Mississippi.  But just like ‘a win is a win’, ‘a loss is a loss’ and the Bulldogs are 1-3 heading into conference play with their only victory having come against an FCS school (Grambling State, 20-6).

STAT(S) OF THE WEEK – IDAHO VANDAL STYLE
The Idaho Vandals entered Saturday contest against Colorado State as one of the best pass defenses in the nation (120.3 yds/game allowed – 7th in NCAA), but sure didn’t show it.  Here’s proof…

  • Games 1-3:
    39-68, 57.4 comp %, 361 yds, td, 4 int – 95.1 qb efficiency rating
  • vs Colorado State:
    29-37, 78.4 comp %, 386 yds, 3 td, int – 187.4 qb efficiency rating

…and in general, big plays were a big problem.

  • Plays of 10+ yards: 19
  • Plays of 15+ yards: 11
  • Playfs of 30+ yards: 3

Defensive end Aaron Lavarias sure did his best to get after the quarterback, registering a career-high three sacks.  The WAC’s reigning defensive player of the week is on the best two game stretch of his career.

  • First 37 career games: 4.0 sacks, 12.0 TFL
  • Last two games combine: 5.0 sacks, 6.0 TFL

Offensively, it seems like the receiving trio of senior Maurice Shaw, junior Preston Davis and sophomore Justin Veltung are starting to get heathy…

  • Games 1-3 (combined stats):
    13 rec, 176 yds, td
  • vs Colorado State:
    14 rec, 192 yds, 2 td

…and quarterback Nathan Enderle sure seemed to be enjoy having them back, throwing for a season-high 347 yards without tossing an interception for the first time this season.

  •  Games 1-3:
    Tossed interception once every 13.9 attempts.
  • vs Colorado State:
    Zero interceptions in 30 pass attempts.

…but in the end, Idaho failed to close out the Rams, much like they’ve done every other team his season.

  • Games 1-3: Outscored opponents 24-7 in fourth quarter
  • vs Colorado: Rams outscored the Vandals 12-7

The two-point defeat was the smallest margin they’ve lost by since falling to Louisiana-Monroe 16-14 back in October 2004.

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That’s WAC: Week Three

20 09 2010

SCORES AND SCHEDULE
WAC Record
Non-Conference: 4-3 record, 3-3 vs FBS, 0-0 vs top 25
Overall: 11-11 record, 7-11 vs FBS, 1-5 vs top 25

WAC STANDINGS    
  CONF OVERALL
Fresno State  1-0  2-0
Nevada  0-0  3-0
Boise State  0-0  2-0
Idaho  0-0  2-1
Hawai’i  0-0  1-2
Louisiana Tech  0-0  1-2
San Jose State  0-0  1-2
New Mexico State  0-0  0-2
Utah State  0-1  1-2

Friday, September 17
California 31 at Nevada 52 – Final

Saturday, September 18
Hawai’i 13 at Colorado 31 – Final
Navy 37 at Louisiana Tech 23 – Final
Southern Utah 11 at San Jose State 16 – Final
Fresno State 41 at Utah State 24 – Final
Boise State 51 at Wyoming 6 – Final
New Mexico State 10 at UTEP -42 – Final
UNLV 7 at Idaho 30 – Final

TOP PERFORMERS
Passing:
1. Kellen Moore, JR (BSU): 20-30, 370 yds, 2 td, int vs Wyoming
2. Bryant Moniz, JR (UH): 27-41, 330 yds, 1 td, 1 int vs Colorado
3. Colby Cameron, SO (LT): 31-43, 251 yds, 1 td, 2 int vs Navy
4. Nathan Enderle, SR (UI): 15-27, 210 yds, td, int vs UNLV
5. Matt Christian, JR (NMSU): 21-40, 200 yds, int vs UTEP

Rushing:
1. A.J. Ellis, SO (FSU): 29 car, 165 yds, 2 td vs Utah State
2. Vai Taua, SR (NEV): 25 car, 151 yds, td vs California
3. Colin Kaepernick, SR (NEV): 17 car, 148 yds, 3 td vs California
4. Doug Martin, JR (BSU): 17 car, 105 yds, td vs Wyoming
5. Lennon Creer, JR (LT): 13 car, 90 yds vs Navy

Receiving:
1. Kealoha Pilares, SR (UH): 6 rec, 117 yds, 1 td vs Colorado
2. Greg Salas, SR (UH): 9 rec, 94 yds vs Colorado
3. Titus Young, SR (BSU): 4 rec, 94 yds, td vs Wyoming
4. Taukib Ikharo, JR (LT): 10 rec, 88 yds, td vs Navy
5. Austin Pettis, SR (BSU): 3 rec, 88 yds, td vs Wyoming

CONFERENCE OUTLOOK
With Nevada taking the cake with a victory over Pac-10-foe California, the Western Athletic Conference climbed back to .500 against non-conference opponents this week.  Wolfpack senior quarterback Colin Kaepernick was a one-man wrecking crew against the Bears, lighting them up for five touchdowns (2 passing, 3 rushing) on national television.  Other than that, Boise State dominated Wyoming – as expected – while Idaho – maybe unexpectedly – put it to UNLV, thanks to a strong defensive effort.
As for New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech, both of their losses were to be expected.  The Aggies are just plain bad, while Navy (preseason ranked #25) clearly outmatched the Bulldogs.  I predicted (UH 31 – CU 23) a much better showing out of the Warriors against the Buffaloes (22.6 points per game ranks 66th in NCAA).  But surprise, surprise, their defense was nowhere to be found.
Finally, in the first conference matchup of the season, Utah State hung around as long as it could with perennial power Fresno State.  In the end, the Aggies simply ran out of gas as senior quarterback Diondre Borel struggled to throw the ball (11-of-23, 106 yds, td).  The Bulldogs seemingly found Ryan Mathews replacement at runningback, as sophomore A.J. Ellis ran for a career-high 165 yards (Last week, Ellis only carried the ball one time!  Once!).
 
STAT OF THE WEEK – WAC Backs Kicking It Into Gear
  • 100-yard rushing performances in weeks 1 and 2: 2
  • 100-yard rushing performances in week 3: 4

Noting the lack of production on the ground, Idaho head coach Robb Akey placed an emphasis on establishing the run this week.
“We need to get back to being able to run the ball,” Akey said.  “We need to be able to run and throw the football equally.”

  •  Games 1 & 2: Pass Plays – 87, Run Plays – 64
  • Game 3: Pass Plays – 27, Run Plays – 39

…sure it helped they had a big lead, but Akey showed his eagerness early by running the ball eight times on their opening drive that covered 69-yards on 14 plays, and chewed up 6:31 of game clock.

As for the others teams who were looking to do something similar apparently…

  • Boise State
    Games 1: 22 rush attempts
    Game 2:  55 rush attempts (ran on 15 of opening 26 plays)
  • Utah State
    Games 1 & 2: 19.5 rush attempt per game
    Game 3:  45 rush attempts (ran on 10 of opening 15 plays) 
  • Fresno State
    Game 1 – 30 rush attempts
    Game 2 – 44 rush attempts
  • San Jose State
    Games 1 & 2 – 24.5 rush attempt per game
    Game 3: 30  rush attempts
  • Nevada
    Games 1 & 2 – 45.0 rush attempt per game
    Game 3: 49 rush attempts (ran on 14 of opening 20 plays)

MOUNTAIN WORST CONFERENCE
With all the realignment chaos over the last few months (and don’t assume it’s over), one has to wonder how much better the Mountain West Conference is than the Western Athletic Conference – if it is at all.  Both Boise State and Idaho had dominant performances against two MWC opponents on Saturday, outscoring them a combine 81-13.  Boise State racked up 635 total yards on offense in beating Wyoming 51-6, while Idaho didn’t allow UNLV inside the redzone until there was under two minutes left in the game, resulting in a 30-7 victory.
Sure San Diego State beat up on New Mexico State a week ago yesterday, but so will the rest of the WAC once conference play kicks off as the Aggies are one of the worst teams in the nation (CBSSports.com ranks them 115… out of 120!)
Next week figures to be A-BIG-ONE!  Idaho travels to Colorado State, Nevada goes to BYU, San Jose State heads to Utah, and Utah State will hit the road to play San Diego State.
The one obvious thing all those games have in common – the MWC will be the home team in each contest.
I think the Vandals and Wolfpack will pick up wins, while the Spartans stand little chance to even compete with the Utes.  The wildcard will be the Aggies and Aztecs.  An even matchup, both were preseason picks to finish sixth in their respective conferences and are looking to bounce back after losses over the weekend.
I know realignment has more to do with dollars than donuts (donuts = current caliber of play in each conference as a whole.  I know it doesn’t make much sense.  Sorry!  Best I could do…), and that many of the teams doing the damage are the ones jumping ship to the MWC, but as it stands right now, my money is on the WAC.