Posted on: September 10, 2011 7:18 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
OREGON WON. It appears that if you don't have more than a month or an offseason to prepare for the Oregon attack on offense then you don't have much of a chance to stop it. Oregon returned home after having its wings clipped by LSU last week and took out all its frustration on Nevada. And I mean all of it's frustration. The Ducks were up 34-0 in the blink of an eye, and Darron Thomas threw 5 touchdowns in the first half. The Oregon offense would finish with 603 yards, and Thomas would finish the game with 6 touchdowns and 295 yards. This is also where I point out that Thomas only completed 13 passes and 6 of them were for scores.
WHY OREGON WON. Too much speed and too much talent for Nevada to contend with. Darron Thomas wasn't the only Duck to finish with a ridiculous statline, as De'Anthony Thomas -- he of the fumble-itis last week -- finished the game with 204 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns. LaMichael James pitched in another 181 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns of his own. In fact, all three of them may have just scored again even though the game is over.
WHEN OREGON WON. When Colin Kaepernick graduated last season and went on to the NFL. Make no mistake about it, this is not the same Nevada team that beat Boise State last season, as a lot of the team's best players from that team were not on the field today. Though, to be honest, I'm not sure how much of an impact they'd have had in this game if they were.
WHAT OREGON WON. The Ducks got their groove back. The team had lost its last two games dating back to January's title game against Auburn, and the offense did not look incredibly strong in either game. Well, after Saturday's win the Ducks are flying high once again and ready to hang 60 on their next opponent.
WHAT NEVADA LOST. I'm not sure what you'd call it, but I'm pretty sure there isn't a member of this Nevada squad that will ever be able to take a peaceful stroll through a park with ducks swimming on a pond again.
THAT WAS CRAZY. Nothing too insane took place in this one, though being able to remember what it looks like when the Oregon offense is at 100% is enough to make you not believe what you're seeing.
Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
As part of the CBSSports.com season preview, here are my choices for the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
Bryant Moniz, Senior, Hawaii
Moniz is the latest in a long line of quarterbacks to rack up insane yardage totals out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. In 2010 he threw for 5,040 yards and led the country with 39 touchdown passes. He also led the nation in total offense, and "Mighty Mo" will look to do the same things in 2011 as he makes a Heisman push.
Also watch for: While Moniz gets the most attention in the WAC, don't forget about Fresno State's Derek Carr -- you may remember his older brother David -- and Idaho's Brian Reader. Those two could put up some nice numbers as well.
Robbie Rouse, Junior, Fresno State
Rouse showed a lot promise in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he'll be looking to continue to impress in 2011. If he can, it will be a big boost to Fresno State's chances of winning the WAC.
Robert Turbin, Junior, Utah State
After missing all of the 2010 season with an injury, the only person who wants to see Robert Turbin on the football field more than Aggie fans is Turbin himself. As a sophomore Turbin started 11 games and rushed for 108 yards per game to become Utah State's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2001. Along with being a threat carrying the ball, Turbin is also dangerous catching balls out of the backfield and contributing in the passing game.
Also watch for: There are a number of good running backs in the WAC, but there are two that come immediately to mind. Nevada's Mike Ball will get plenty of carries with the Wolfpack now that Vai Taua is no longer around. Then there's Louisiana Tech's Lennon Creer.
Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
I do not envy the position that Nevada quarterback Tyler Lantrip is in trying to replace Colin Kaepernick at Nevada, but he could certainly do a lot worse than having Rishard Matthews around to throw the ball to. Matthews led Nevada with 55 receptions and 873 yards last season, and will be Lantrip's go-to option in the passing game.
Royce Pollard, Senior, Hawaii
With both Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares no longer playing wide receiver for Hawaii, somebody is going to have to step up and catch all those passes, and Pollard is the best bet. As Hawaii's third receiving option in 2010 Pollard finished the year with 64 catches, 901 yards and 7 touchdowns. Imagine the numbers he'll put up as a number one!
Also watch for: Louisiana Tech has a talented duo in Taulib Ikharo and Ahmad Paige. Of course, when it comes to receivers, just about everybody on Hawaii's depth chart is a candidate to excel this season.
Ryan Otten, Junior, San Jose State
Otten missed a lot of time for San Jose State thanks to injuries in 2010, but he came on strong at the end of the season. His three touchdown receptions came in the final two games of the season, and he still finished third on the team in touchdown catches even though he missed half the year. He'll be looking to build on the momentum he picked up after getting healthy in 2011.
Also watch for: Idaho sophomore Taylor Elmo and Utah State's Kellen Bartlett are two other tight ends capable of putting up some nice numbers this season.
Center Jeff Meads, Senior, Nevada
Meads earned the starting job at center last season, starting all 13 games, and played a key role on an offensive line that helped the Wolfpack finish third in the nation in rushing offense.
Guard Chris Barker, Junior, Nevada
Since redshirting in 2008, there hasn't been a single game that the Wolfpack guard hasn't been in the starting lineup. He's another big reason that Nevada ran the ball on everyone it came across last season.
Guard Kevin Saia, Junior, Louisiana Tech
Saia earned the starting job at left guard at the end of 2009 and held onto it during the 2010 year, helping open plenty of holes for running back Lennon Creer.
Tackle Austin Hansen, Senior, Hawaii
When you have an offense that drops back to pass as often as Hawaii's does, you're going to need a left tackle you can count on to keep your quarterback on his feet. Hansen has been just that for the Warriors, starting 22 games the last two seasons.
Tackle Tyrone Novikoff, Senior, Idaho
Novikoff has seen time on the Idaho offensive line since his freshman season, and has started 25 games the last two years at left tackle. There's a reason for it too, as the 6-foot-7 tackle is not the easiest man to get by.
Also watch for: Utah State boasts a nice pair on its line in Funaki Asisi and Philip Gapelu. There's also Stephen Warner at Louisiana Tech. New Mexico State's Sioeli Fakalata and Hawaii's Chauncey Winchester-Makainai deserve your attention for their names alone, but both are talented as well.
DE Matt Broha, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Broha is one of the most prolific pass rushers in Louisiana Tech history. His 9 sacks in 2010 moved him into third all-time on the schools sack leaders, and he'll be looking to climb to the top in 2011.
DE Travis Johnson, Junior, San Jose State
Johnson has started 17 games in his career as a Spartan, and he's only entering his third season with the team. In 2010 he led all SJSU defensive lineman with 62 tackles and led the team in sacks with 7.5. He also had 9.5 tackles for a loss.
DT Logan Harrell, Senior, Fresno State
Logan Harrell was a monster for the Bulldogs on the interior of the defensive line. Though defensive tackles aren't generally known to be pass rush specialists, that still didn't stop Harrell from leading the WAC with 10.5 sacks and racking up another 14 tackles for loss.
DT Brett Roy, Senior, Nevada
Nevada's Brett Roy also proved to be problematic for offensive lines in 2010, tallying 8 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss with the Wolfpack.
Also watch for: Hawaii's Kaniela Tuipulotu and Idaho's Michael Cosgrove were also terrors on the inside and should continue to improve this season. Also on Hawaii's defensive line is Vaughn Meatoga -- mmmmm, meat toga -- and Donte Savage lives up to his last name for New Mexico State.
Bobby Wagner, Senior, Utah State
Wagner has already been named First Team All-WAC in his career at Utah State so why not go for a third? While he has other talented players around him, at times you get the sense that Wagner is the Utah State defense, as there is rarely a play run that he isn't a part of.
Corey Paredes, Senior, Hawaii
Corey Paredes is to tackles what Hawaii wide receivers are to receptions. He makes all of them. Paredes finished with 151 tackles last season, which was the second-highest total in school history. Paredes also showed that he could possibly play some wide receiver for Hawaii if he had to, picking off 4 passes during the year.
Adrien Cole, Senior, Louisiana Tech
Cole started only 6 games for the Bulldogs in 2010, but he made the most of the opportunity given to him. He finished the year as a second-team All-WAC selection, and I feel that if he shows the effort and skill that he did while making 80 tackles in limited time last year, he'll be making the leap to the first team this season.
Also watch for: The WAC is home to quite a few linebackers worthy of your attention. Keith Smith (San Jose State), Jay Dudley (Louisiana Tech) Aaron Brown (Hawaii), Kyle Gallagher (Utah State), James-Michael Johnson (Nevada), and Robert Siavil (Idaho) are just a few.
CB Isaiah Frey, Senior, Nevada
Frey's 2010 season was good enough to have him named second team All-WAC, and he's looking to move up this year. He may be the most consistent corner in the entire conference, and finished 2010 with 14 passes broken up. He's also not afraid to stick his nose into the fray and make a tackle on a running back coming around the corner.
S Walter McClenton, Senior, Utah State
McClenton made ten starts at safety for the Aggies last seson and finished the year third on the team in tackles with 62. He also broke up 2 passes and had a sack. He's somebody I'd consider more of a run-stuffer than a coverage safety, but if he can improve on his pass defense in 2011 his stock will soar.
S Duke Ihenacho, Senior, San Jose State
Since San Jose State joined the WAC in 1996 its never had a player named first team All-WAC. This season Ihenacho will look to be the first. Unfortunately he didn't have the chance last season after missing the last ten games of the season with an injury, but he's back and healthy this year and will be a force once again.
S Phillip Thomas, Junior, Fresno State
Thomas is a safety that is loaded with potential and he flashed signs of it last season, finishing the year with 64 tackles, 9 passes broken up, 2 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Now, as a junior, he'll be looking to fulfill that potential even more, and I fully expect him to.
Also watch for: Given the amount of passing offenses in the WAC, safeties play an important role in slowing down offenses, and the WAC has a few who are more than capable. Players like Louisiana Tech's Chad Boyd, New Mexico State's Donyae Coleman, Richard Torres at Hawaii and Nevada's Duke Williams play key roles for their teams.
K Kevin Goessling, Senior, Fresno State
P Bobby Cowan, Junior, Idaho
KR Kerwynn Williams, Junior, Utah State
PR Rishard Matthews, Senior, Nevada
Tags: Aaron Brown, Adrien Cole, Ahmad Paige, All-WAC Team, Austin Hansen, Bobby Cowan, Bobby Wagner, Brett Roy, Brian Reader, Bryant Moniz, Chad Boyd, Chauncey Winchester-Makainai, Chris Barker, Colin Kaepernick, Corey Paredes, David Carr, Derek Carr, Donte Savage, Donyae Coleman, Duke Ihenacho, Duke Williams, Fresno State, Funaki Asisi, Greg Salas, Hawaii, Idaho, Isaiah Frey, James-Michael Johnson, Jay Dudley, Jeff Meads, Kaniela Tuipulotu, Kealoha Pilares, Keith Smith, Kellen Bartlett, Kerwynn Williams, Kevin Goessling, Kevin Saia, Kyle Gallagher, Lennon Creer, Logan Harrell, Louisiana Tech, Matt Broha, Michael Cosgrove, Mike Ball, Nevada, New Mexico State, Non-BCS, Philip Gapelu, Phillip Thomas, Preseason All-WAC Team, Richard Torres, Rishard Matthews, Robbie Rouse, Robert Siavil, Robert Turbin, Royce Pollard, Ryan Otten, San Jose State, Sioeli Fakalata, Stephen Warner, Taulib Ikharo, Taylor Elmo, Tom Fornelli, Travis Johnson, Tyler Lantrip, Tyrone Novikoff, Utah State, Vaughn Meatoga, WAC, WAC Preview, Walter McClenton
Posted on: May 6, 2011 12:37 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Jim Harbaugh won't be coaching Andrew Luck this season, and unless the San Francisco 49ers undergo a stunning collapse in 2011, the future No. 1 pick won't be coached by Harbaugh again anytime soon.
But that doesn't mean Luck isn't doing his best to help out the coach who made him the presumptive 2011 Heisman favorite. How? By teaching Harbaugh's next quarterback, new 49ers second-round draft pick Colin Kaepernick, the essentials of the Harbaugh offense. As the Sacramento Bee reports:
Kaepernick and Luck met over the summer at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La. They remarked on how similar they were – tall, mobile, with big right arms – and became friends who traded text messages throughout the 2010 season.Despite not being able to meet with Harbaugh (or any Niners coaches) due to the lockout, Kaepernick is busy moving to nearby Santa Clara, where he'll have easy access to both the Niners' facilities once the lockout lifts and -- perhaps more importantly for the immediate future -- Luck's Stanford campus. (Kaepernick may also have received a playbook, which Harbaugh distributed to some Niner veterans who may have had an opportunity to share one with their new teammate.)
As discussed in this week's draft roundtable, the pistol-trained Kaepernick faces as difficult as transition to an NFL offense as any major quarterback prospect in this year's (or any recent) draft. But short of Harbaugh himself, it's hard to imagine any potential resource more helpful than a tutoe as advanced as Luck. And hey, if Kaepernick can teach Luck some of the play-fake magic he employed in the pistol, so much the better for the Cardinal.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:31 pm
By Eye on College Football Bloggers
Each week, the Eye on CFB team convenes Voltron- style to answer a pressing question regarding the wild, wide world of college football. This week's topic:
We're not NFL scouts. But we have watched most of the players taken in last weekend's draft for the past three or four years (or, in one particular high-profile case, one year). Based on what we saw during their college careers, which players do we believe were "steals" for the team that selected them? Which were "reaches" which went earlier than they should have?Tom Fornelli: I'll start with the reach because this is an easy answer to me: the very first player taken, Cam Newton.
This is not a dig on Newton personally, or the player he was at Auburn last season. The fact of the matter is that there wasn't a single quarterback in this draft class that I felt was worth a first-round pick. Yes, there were a lot of quarterbacks in this class who were good college quarterbacks, but as we have seen through many examples before, being a good college quarterback doesn't make you an good NFL quarterback. And for me, with the first overall pick -- when I have the opportunity to pick anybody I want, and have that person help my team immediately -- Newton is not the player I'd pick. I'm not saying that I don't believe it's possible that Cam can develop into a good NFL quarterback one day, but I do feel the odds of Newton becoming a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback are pretty slim. And if I'm going to take a quarterback with the first pick of the draft, he needs to give me the impression that he has that kind of potential.
As for the steal, there were a few players who I thought were really good picks for teams in later rounds. There was Green Bay getting Randall Cobb with the final pick of the second round, Da'Quan Bowers slipping to Tampa Bay in the second, and Ahmad Black going to Tampa as well in the fifth round. The biggest steal to me of all, though, was Baltimore picking up Indiana wide receiver Tandon Doss late in the fourth round. In my opinion, Doss may turn out to be one of the most dependable receivers in what was a very deep class this season. He does not have the size and wow factor that guys like A.J. Green and Julio Jones have, nor is he a burner, but he's got great hands and he's a very polished route runner. He's the type of receiver who isn't going to end up in the Hall of Fame, but should pick up a lot of big first downs, make some plays and be dependable for a lot of years. I watch Doss, and I see a player that can be what Hines Ward has been to Pittsburgh for so many years. To get that kind of player in the fourth round is the definition of a steal.
Adam Jacobi: I think to a large degree, Tom's right. I wouldn't go so far as to say there were no first-round QBs in this class, because guys like Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and even Newton have all shown a great deal of potential. But let's be honest: this wasn't really a great draft class to begin with. I thought there were only 15-20 first round-caliber guys on the board. But the first round is still 32 picks, no matter what, and I don't think there were 32 better draft picks to make before you got to Newton (or any other quarterback).
That said, yes, Cam Newton was a reach. Right now, Carolina is not a team that has the tools to let a quarterback succeed. They have needs all over the place, and if all they do is give up on Jimmy Clausen after one year so they can plug in Cam Newton instead ... well, they're still a team that doesn't have the tools to let the quarterback succeed. (It's like the Detroit Lions drafting Chuck Long and Andre Ware as first-rounders 20-25 years ago. You really think their failures had nothing to do with the crappy players surrounding them?) I'm of the philosophy that the No. 1 overall pick should be spent on a player with the best odds of making a high-level contribution immediately and repeatedly. That means wide receivers and all but the most experienced, productive quarterbacks are out, as are safeties, guards and centers. That's why I would have preferred to see a guy like Texas A&M's Von Miller go first.
As for steals, I'm going to say Nick Fairley dropping all the way to Detroit, where he can be paired with Ndamukong Suh on the interior defensive line. There isn't an NFC North team left that isn't going to have to dramatically retool its blocking strategy now because of that setup, and even that might not be enough to avoid a franchise quarterback getting broken in half this season. How in the world does Fairley fall to No. 13, past Christian Ponder, the real reach of the first round? Fairley didn't dominate the NFL combine, but you know what? Freakish combine measurements don't really matter for defensive tackles. It's whether they can shed blocks reliably and repeatedly at the next level, and based on the way Fairley performed not only during the season but especially in Auburn's biggest games, he's got the ability to do that. If there's a character concern, you know what? Let the rest of the locker room take care of that. That's where the veteran teammates are supposed to step in, not the scouts.
Outside of the first round, I really like the Sam Acho pick in the fourth round by the Cardinals. At 6'2" and 260, Acho's sort of an OLB/DE tweener as size goes, and he's going to be playing OLB in the Cards' 3-4 system after lining up at end at Texas. But he's fast and disruptive, and was plenty productive with the Longhorns, so he could definitely end up being a James Harrison- type terror for the Cardinals in a year or two.
TF: Not to get too far off the subject, but Adam brought up something that drives me crazy when it comes to the NFL and the way teams draft. All too often it seems like NFL teams become enamored with how a player performs in the combine while wearing shorts and a t-shirt. That's the reason Ponder got taken so early; without linemen closing in on him, he's really good at throwing a football. But it seems like they forget about what these players did while they were actually on a football field.
For instance, look at Acho. NFL teams see his size and they're not entirely sure what to do with him. They don't seem to pay as much attention to the fact that Acho was a kid that did his job on the field at Texas and did it well. He made plays. It's why I think Tampa got a steal in Florida's Black. For the last few years, Black was one of my favorite players to watch because he just had that knack for making things happen. However, all NFL scouts seemed to see was that he didn't have top-notch speed. Nevermind the fact that he played in the SEC -- which I believe is the home of that ESS EEE SEEE SPEEEED -- and played well.
Jerry Hinnen: I agree that the draft over-rewards potential and underrates production, which is why I never thought I'd see the day when an NFL team reached for the occasionally erratic run-first quarterback out of the gimmicky option offense, and stole the rifle-armed pocket statue with a former NFL play-caller for a coach. But as the draft day fates of Colin Kaepernick and Ryan Mallett illustrate, there's a first time for everything.
Let me first say this about Kaepernick: as a college quarterback, he was under appreciated, having accumulated an incredible 10,000 yards passing and 4,000 yards rushing over his four years at Nevada, the only quarterback in FBS history to do so. In 2011, he joined Tim Tebow and Newton as the only players in FBS history to run and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. Kaepernick was, simply, one of the most exciting, most fun, best college football players of his era.
But having watched him ever since he exploded onto the scene against Boise State in 2007's overtime classic, I can't say I ever saw him as a blue-chip NFL prospect. Kaepernick was always a substantially greater threat on the hoof than in the pocket, where his awkward throwing motion and come-and-go accuracy led to outings like his 12-for-23, 149-yard, two-interception clunker to open the 2009 season at Notre Dame, or the 14-for-26, 159-yard, four-turnover debacle at Hawaii that led to the Wolf Pack's only loss of 2011. The greatest strengths of Kaepernick's unique skill set -- his ball-fake jujitsu within the pistol, his surprising speed and agility as a ball-carrier, his ability to throw outside the pocket -- won't do much to make an already difficult transition from the pistol to an NFL offense any easier. Jim Harbaugh's right pinky knows more about quarterbacking in the NFL than I ever will, obviously, but I remain stunned Kaepernick went as a high second-rounder rather than a late-round flyer. (Which brings me to an aside in response to Tom: we can debate Newton all day, but if Kaepernick is the 36th overall pick, Newton -- in a different class athletically, more polished as a passer, proven in SEC competition -- is something akin to the negative-17th pick.)
But where Kaepernick never struck me as meant for NFL stardom (or even starterdom), Mallett is the sort of prospect whose very double-helixes probably unwind to spell out "PROFESSIONAL QUARTERBACK" under the microscope. 6'7", possessor of likely the strongest arm in college football, with his two years under former NFL head coach Bobby Petrino yielding better than 7,400 passing yards, better than 9 yards an attempt, and a 62-to-19 touchdown-to-interception ratio, Mallett couldn't have looked the part of a future NFL signal-caller any better either on the field or on paper. But of course he looked like something else in the headlines and gossip factories, thanks to those pesky drug admissions and work ethic rumors. But the facts are that Mallett was arrested just once at Arkansas (for public intoxication), was never suspended, and by all accounts enjoyed the respect of his teammates. Yes, he's a character risk, but so were plenty of players who went in the first and second rounds.
Were I in a quarterback-needy NFL team's shoes, I'd worry more about his penchant for forcing the spectacular throw when the easy one would do--but that's not the kind of worry that would have caused me to pass him up twice.
AJ: I can't say New England taking Mallett is a steal. He's on a spectrum where the high end is Drew Bledsoe and the low is Ryan Leaf, and nowhere in-between is a Super Bowl ring.
Chip Patterson: I'm not sure if it was one of the biggest "steals" of the draft, but seeing how highly rated Robert Quinn was on many boards, the Rams had to have been happy to grab him at No. 14. Quinn just got things going at North Carolina before he was suspended for his junior season during the NCAA investigation of the football program; he'd finished second in the ACC Defensive Player of the Year voting as a sophomore in 2009, just two years after battling back from brain surgery to remove a tumor. Quinn continued to impress throughout different stages of the process, but according to reports he was not cleared by several team doctors. Many teams were likely on the edge about Quinn because of the off-field activity at North Carolina, and may have just needed one more reason to bypass the budding defensive end. Battling back from brain surgery to all-conference honors seems more like a positive intangible than a negative one to me, but I'm not the one making the million dollar moves. (Yet.)
My colleagues have covered a fair share of the quarterbacks, so I'll point out the very next pick in the draft: Mike Pouncey. The Dolphins didn't want this pick, and in fact they tried desperately to trade down. Pouncey addresses a need and will likely be an immediate starter, but there's little about Pouncey's performance at Florida that makes him seem like a No. 15 pick. He was the highest drafted center since 1993, the kind of accolade that's usually placed on a uniquely talented individual. Pouncey will help the Dolphins' running game, especially with his experience as a pulling guard, but he does not stand out to me as a "unique talent." The Dolphins didn't make a huge mistake by drafting him, but it just doesn't seem like the best talent for the pick.
JH: See, I tend to think the point of a mid-first-round pick is to simply not make that "huge mistake," so I thought drafting a solid future pro (if not a future Pro Bowler) like Pouncey was a smart move. But looking back over this discussion, we're clearly all haters of one stripe or another.
Tags: A, Ahmad Black, Andre Ware, Arizona Cardinals, Auburn, Blaine Gabbert, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Christian Ponder, Chuck Long, Colin Kaepernick, Da'Quan Bowers, Detroit Lions, Drew Bledsoe, Eye on CFB Roundtable, Florida, Green Bay, Hawaii, Hines Ward, Indiana, J. Green, Jake Locker, James Harrison, Jim Harbaugh, Jimmy Clausen, Julio Jones, Miami Dolphins, Mike Pouncey, Ndamukong Suh, NFL Draft, NFL Draft, Nick Fairley, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Randall Cobb, Robert Quinn, Ryan Leaf, Ryan Mallett, Sam Ocho, San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay, Tandon Doss, Texas, Texas A&M, Von Miller
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:48 am
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Nevada shut down an anemic Boston College offense en route to a 20-13 win.
Offense: Rishard Matthews had two first-quarter scores, but the Nevada offense was uncharacteristically subdued today, largely due to three turnovers -- two interceptions and a lost fumble. Still, Nevada had to punt seven times (Nevada typically punts fewer than three times a game), and scored less than half its usual amount of points. Vai Taua was held in check, with 76 yards on 22 carries, and Colin Kaepernick had a positively pedestrian performance in this, his last game as a Wolf. 20-33 for under 200 yards and only one score usually won't cut it; Nevada was fortunate to be facing Boston College. Grade: C-
Defense: Nevada typically isn't thought of as a defensive powerhouse, but it's actually not that bad. From a total yardage standpoint, Nevada's pretty middle of the road, but the Wolf Pack only gives up about 22 points a game -- second only to Boise State in the pinball-scoreboard WAC. Tonight, Nevada was all over Boston College's rushing attack, giving up 30 yards on one rush and 34 yards on the other 24 rushes combined. The Wolf Pack secondary forced two interceptions from Chase Rettig and could have had three or four more; Rettig's passes were frequently deflected or otherwise found a defender's hands. Boston College had one drive of over 30 yards all day long. That's more than you can ask from a defense -- dropped interceptions aside. Grade: A-
Coaching: It's not exactly an indictment of Chris Ault if his players weren't amped up for today's game. BC was 7-5 in a very unimpressive ACC this season, and didn't look like a worthy opponent for the champion of a conference that boasted 10-win teams Nevada, Boise State, and Hawaii among its members. Moreover, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl came 36 days after Nevada's last game, so there's always going to be some rust with that long of a layoff -- as was evident during this game. But Nevada looked pretty well-prepared, and Ault's play calls were fine. They were conservative, sure, but conservative wins games when leading against an inferior opponent. Really, this game wasn't nearly as close as the seven-point margin would indicate; only the turnovers kept the game "in doubt," and last we checked, Ault wasn't the one giving the ball up. Play calling is more than "you should throw a touchdown here and not an interception," after all. Grade: B
Offense: Chase Rettig tries hard, and he tried hard for all four quarters today. Now, whenever it's necessary to mention that a player "plays hard," it's a safe assumption he just had a terrible game, and that's what happened here. Rettig's final stats were 14-34 for 121 yards and two interceptions, good for a 59.3 passer rating. Worse yet, he spent most of the game with a lower rating, and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that he stayed above three yards per pass attempt. And again, it could have been worse; Nevada should have had somewhere between three and five interceptions on the day. It didn't help that Andre Williams contributed a 30-yard rushing score and basically little else, of course, nor that the Eagle offense was painfully predictable (oh, we're getting to that). Still, this was a painfully bad offensive performance, to the point that head coach Frank Spaziani himself called it "anemic" during his halftime interview, and considering what gifts Nevada gave BC with its turnovers (an interception returned to the Nevada 6-yard line resulted in a field goal, for crying out loud), the Eagles really had no business scoring only 13 points. Grade: F
Defense: Aside from Boise State, Boston College might have the best front seven Nevada faced all year, and it was immediately evident. Nevada rushed for 114 yards, including 76 for Taua and 22 for Kaepernick. If it hadn't been for a 51-yard performance by Taua against Eastern Washington in a warmup at the beginning of the year, all three of those numbers would be season lows. All-American LB Luke Kuechly had an interception and a boatload of tackles for the Eagles, and BC frequently and reliably moved the point of attack backwards on defense when Nevada tried rushing the ball. The secondary struggled at times, though, especially on throws to the sideline. Grade: B
Coaching: Eagles fans were understandably upset with their team's play-calling, and rightfully so; it's infuriating to watch a straight-laced, run-run-third-and-long offense when the other team has a quarterback like Kaepernick and a fun system like Ault's pistol offense. The fact is, though, that Spaziani really doesn't have much talent on offense (especially with dynamic starting tailback Montel Harris still out with injury), and his defensive planning and second-half adjustments were praise-worthy. Boston College needs players on offense, plain and simple. Grade: C-
This practice of scheduling minor bowl games for January dates -- historically the province of only high-profile bowls -- could end today, and no college football fan would be upset. This bowl game was laughably bad, particularly when Boston College was on offense, and the fact that it comes on the eve of the national championship seems like cruel and unusual punishment. During the game, when the Kraft commercial featuring the dulcet-toned former homeless man Ted Williams finally aired, the prevailing sentiment on Twitter was that it was the unquestioned highlight of the game. It was that bad. At the very least, Boston College's defense helped get the game back to a one-possession contest, but this was the most lopsided seven-point game in recent memory. Thankfully, it's over, and real January football can be played. Grade: D- and only because it was close
Tags: ACC, Andre Williams, Boise State, Boston College, Bowl Grades, Chase Rettig, Chris Ault, Colin Kaepernick, Eastern Washington, Fight Hunger Bowl, Fight Hunger Bowl Grades, Fight Hunger Bowl Recap, Frank Spaziani, Hawaii, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Luke Kuechly, Montel Harris, Nevada, Rishard Matthews, Ted Williams, Ted Williams Commercial, Ted Williams Kraft, Vai Taua, WAC
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:44 am
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Posted on: January 8, 2011 12:35 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5), Jan. 9, 9 ET
Why You Should Watch: What? Do you want kids to starve or something? We're trying to fight hunger here, people. With football. Didn't you know that when you're starving, by watching football and diverting your body's attention, you keep it from eating itself. It's real science, look it up, I swear. Okay, so maybe the science is a little off, but there's still some other reasons to watch this game. First, it features a Nevada team that beat Boise State earlier this year and won the WAC. The Wolfpack aren't a bad team, and quite frankly, they're a fun team to watch. Finally, there's the fact that after this game, there's only one game left on the schedule. Get in one more college football game while you can, before the long, dark summer creeps in.
Keys to Victory for Nevada: The key to victory for Nevada is very tall and skinny, and when he runs, he reminds me of an ostrich. His name is Colin Kaepernick, and he's one of the more exciting quarterbacks in college football that a lot of people have never really had a chance to see. Just like in every game Nevada plays, how The Ostrich goes, so goes the team. And he could be facing one of his biggest tests of the season.
Kaepernick and the Wolfpack have one of the best rushing attacks in college football. In fact, they're ranked third nationally with 305.9 yards per game. Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua lead the attack. Well, in this game, they'll be going against the top rush defense in the country, as Boston College has only allowed 80 yards a game on the ground. Finding a way to be successful on the ground will be pivotal for the Wolfpack, because even though Kaepernick has improved as a passer, I'm not sure you want him being forced to drop back and throw too many times. Particularly when he's most effective throwing off of play action.
Keys to Victory for Boston College: The Eagles offense has been unreliable all season, scoring a meager 18.9 points a game. So, obviously, if Boston College is going to win this game, it can't afford to get into a shootout. Which means that the defense is going to have to stifle the Nevada ground game to have any shot.
Which means that the linebacking trio of Luke Kueckly, Mark Herzlich and Kevin Pierre-Louis will have to once again step up and keep the Eagles in this game. Of course, you can't win if you don't score points, so Boston College's offense will have to do something when it has the ball. The good news for BC is that running back Montel Harris is expected to play in this game after missing the last few weeks of the regular season with an injury. He's only 126 yards shy of becoming Boston College's all-time leading rusher. If Boston College wants to win this game, they're going to need Harris to set that mark.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is like: that potato chip you dropped on the ground without even noticing. You've spent the last few hours watching television with that bag of chips in your lap. Now the bag is empty, but you're still hungry. That's when you notice the chip sitting on the floor. It's got some lint on it, but still, you wonder. "Do I have another bag of chips in the cupboard?" No, and you don't plan on going shopping for more food right now either. So are you going to eat that chip? You're not sure how long it's been sitting there, and you haven't vacuumed in a while, so who knows what's gotten on to that thing since it's been down there. But you're hungry. What do you do? Are you going to eat it?
Posted on: December 6, 2010 7:20 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 10:10 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the nation's top senior quarterback, announced its 2010 winner today. Wisconsin signal-caller Scott Tolzien , who led the Badgers to an 11-1 record and a berth in the 2011 Rose Bowl, won the award today.
Now obviously, the pool for this award is always going to be diluted on account of it being limited to senior quarterbacks, and the tendency of high-level QB prospects to declare for the draft before their senior season only further weakens the available list of candidates. Tolzien won this award over a rather tepid list of finalists: Andy Dalton , Colin Kaepernick , Christian Ponder , and Ricky Stanzi.
Or, more to the point, Tolzien wasn't up against Cam Newton , Kellen Moore , Andrew Luck , Ryan Mallett , Dan Persa , or Brandon Weeden. And that's good for Tolzien, because his statistics and the context surrounding them are totally underwhelming. While Tolzien led all seniors with a 169.80 passing efficiency and 74.8 completion percentage, he was hardly the focal point of the offense or the main engine getting it into the end zone; Tolzien recorded just 16 passing touchdowns, compared to his team's otherworldly 46 rushing touchdowns (of which Tolzien had none). Tolzien's total yardage accounted for just 42.6% of Wisconsin's yards, which compares rather unfavorably to Colin Kaepernick's 57.7%. And yes, Wisconsin is ranked higher than Nevada and was involved in more blowouts in which Tolzien's services weren't needed ... but TCU just so happens to be ranked even higher than Wisconsin, was involved in many blowouts of its own, and Dalton's total yardage was still 51.6% of his Horned Frogs' total yards. Also, keep in mind Tolzien was facing a defense with eight men in the box basically all the time, thanks to Wisconsin's thundering ground game. That's a luxury Dalton and Kaepernick didn't enjoy, and they still outperformed Tolzien in every category except passing efficiency, where Tolzien's lead is utterly marginal.
Beyond this year, though, Tolzien's numbers scarcely fit the typical profile of a Unitas Award winner. Beginning in 1995, when noted option enthusiast Tommie Frazier won the award with Nebraska, the average passing touchdown total of the Unitas winner has been 32.5 TDs ... or basically twice that of Tolzien and his 16 touchdowns. The only winner in that timespan with fewer than seven more touchdowns than Tolzien was (no surprise) Frazier, and even he threw for 17 TDs his senior year.
It just seems, like John Clay inexplicably being named a Doak Walker finalist, as if Tolzien is being given this award in lieu of a team award, since Wisconsin is ranked fourth and hooray for that. And it's not as if Tolzien had a bad season, either; his performance against the Iowa defense, especially when he drove the team down the field for a touchdown in the third quarter with only Montee Ball healthy (and Ball lining up at wideout since Nick Toon was out, no less), was really a fantastic display of passing. But by and large, there's just no way Tolzien was a more deserving recipient of this award than Dalton or Kaepernick.
Tags: 2010 Unitas Award, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Big Ten, Brandon Weeden, Cam Newton, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Dan Persa, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Kellen Moore, Montee Ball, Nebraska, Nevada, Nick Toon, Ricky Stanzi, Ryan Mallett, Scott Tolzien, TCU, Tommie Frazier, Unitas Award, Unitas Award 2010, Unitas Award Finalists, Unitas Award Winner, Wisconsin