Mountain West Recap: 700 TOTAL YARDS!!!!

It happens every late summer in August without fail. That large pitcher of kool-aid is passed around from fan to fan, every team believes this could be “their year”. The practices are tougher, the players are better, all is well in the month of August. Week 1 in the Mountain West is over, and of the 12 teams in the conference, very few are still passing around that pitcher of kool-aid. Week 1′s Mountain West games stretched across four days from Thursday-Sunday, here’s how things played out…

Thursday

Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13 – Determining how this game went really comes down to your preference. Some will see the glass as half empty, others half full. The Bronco defense lived up to the off-season belief that they would play with a fire under Marcel Yates. Only down 6-7 in the 4th quarter, albeit struggling mightily with the Rebel defense, the Broncos looked like they might steal this one. Injuries to Tyler Horn and Donte Deayon allowed the floodgates to open, and it was all over very quickly. Hedrick had a night to forget with 4 INTs as the offense struggled in the red zone. Ajayi performed well, but turnovers and failed red zone trips hurt the offense.

San Jose State 42, North Dakota 10- The Spartans, who have surprised in recruiting as of late, held the North Dakota Fighting Sioux we don’t have a name’s to under 250 total yards on offense, and QB Blake Jurich impressed in his debut going 22/25, 250 passing yards, and 3 TDs. Maybe there is life after Fales for the Spartans.

Friday

Colorado State 31, Colorado 17 – The Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver was a game of momentum swings. The Buffs grabbed it early, opening the game up 10-0 and exposing the Rams secondary. A late TD from Dee Hart, the Rams newly-minted Alabama transfer, gave momentum back to the Rams going into halftime. That is all McElwain and the Rams needed to take hold of this game. RBs Dee Hart and Treyous Jarrells led a rushing attacked that gashed the Buffs for 266 rushing yards on the way to a 2-TD “blowout” in Denver. Impressive game from McElwain’s club, who are now as a result being touted as a MW favorite.

Arizona 58, UNLV 13 – There isn’t much to recap with this result. The Rebels held their own for about 10 minutes to start this game, but eventually Anu Solomon took over. The brand new Wildcats QB went off for 425 passing yards, 50 rushing yards, and 4 TDs. Devante Davis may be the MW’s best WR, and it looked like it in this game, but that’s about the only positive I can find for the Rebels.

Saturday

Air Force 44, Nicholls State 16 – Mountain West fans, meet Jacobi Owens. The sophomore RB from Las Vegas made a big impact in the Falcons opener vs. Nicholls State, going for 233 rushing yards on 23 carries. QB Kale Pearson returned from injury to contribute to the Falcons offensive onslaught. Obviously it may be too early to declare Air Force is back, considering Nicholls State would lose to just about any FBS school by 28 points, but this is a positive start for fly boy Calhoun.

Nevada 28, Southern Utah 19 – Considering the Wolf [SPACE] Pack are a darkhorse to win the MW for some, this was an underwhelming result for Reno. While the veteran-laden defense did their part, by all accounts the Nevada O-Line is still a liability on this team. The score was only 7-0 Pack at the half, not what you’re looking for vs. an FCS program. The offense eventually flipped the switch and rolled the Thunderbird defense, but overall a 9-point win over an FCS team doesn’t exactly scream “MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMPIONSHIP HERE WE COME!!!”.

Wyoming 17, Montana 12 – I watched this game via the MW stream available at themw.com. Bohl’s offense looked NDSU caliber on their first drive, establishing a very impressive power run game. QB appeared to be an issue for the Cowboys, as they simply could not finish drives with Kirkegaard throwing the ball. Despite two lightening delays, the Cowboy defense maintained an aggressive edge all day. A 17-12 win over an FCS school is certainly nothing impressive, but the Pokes showed flashes of what Bohl brings to the table. 2014 may be a struggle with a brutal schedule, but I liked what I saw from Wyoming. Give Bohl time, Cowboy fans.

San Diego State 38, Northern Arizona 7 – Not gonna lie, I did not watch this game. Quick look at the box score suggests the Aztecs didn’t exactly blow the lid off of the Lumberjack defense, but a 38-7 win over Northern Arizona is much better than what happened in their last encounter with an FCS program.

USC 52, Fresno State 13 – What else can be said for Fresno after Week 1? They couldn’t replace Derek Carr effectively at all (both QBs finished with less than 100 passing yards), and the defense gave up an astounding 700 total yards (!!!) to USC, who clearly weren’t feeling the effects of a drama-filled week. Lots of time to turn things around, but the schedule won’t get any easier for this team. At least Lord Derek Carr is making positive news.

Courtesy of espn.com

Courtesy of espn.com

UTEP 31, New Mexico 24 – Like many of you, it’s almost impossible to watch ALL of the Mountain West games each week, and this one fell under the box score watching category. I’m guessing the game only lasted 45 minutes or so, considering the Miners and Lobos combined for 740 rushing yards (!!!). Cole Gautsche is still at New Mexico, and rushed for 184 yards in the losing effort. UTEP, led by former Boise State OL coach Sean Kugler, gave the ball to RB Aaron Jones who in return rushed for 237 yards. Defense was optional in Albuquerque. Great win for UTEP, but bad loss for the Lobos. This program loaded up on JUCO transfers to make a run in year #3 of the Bob Davie era, and so far not so good.

Washington 17, Hawaii 16 – Pete in purple, that will take some getting used to. The perplexed grimace on his face, the same one you make when you can’t figure out why students at Idaho keep falling off balconies, on the other hand, is all too familiar. No getting around it, this game was the Mountain West shocker of the weekend. The Huskies were favored by as much as 21.5, and didn’t come anywhere near covering that spread. The predictable Husky offense was dominated by a Hawaii front led by sophomore Kennedy Tulimasealii (get used to hearing that name). The Huskies were out-gained 424-336 in total yards against a team that went 1-11 last fall, and while Hawaii looks MUCH improved, this was a bad showing for Chris Petersen. Mental mistakes and missed field goals are the only thing standing between Petersen and a shocking loss to Hawaii. Still, feel free to jump on the bandwagon that started in Pago Pago, America Samoa. RB Joey Iosefa is leading UH to what could be a surprise season in the MW.

Sunday

Tennessee 38, Utah State 7 – Nobody in the MW received more positive hype this preseason than the blue Aggies and Chuckie Keeton #ChuckieForHeisman. The Vols are inexperienced, having lost all starters on both lines, and are still very much rebuilding as a program. The Aggies, despite having similar problems with inexperience, were expected to compete due to the phenomenal abilities of one Charles Keeton. What ensued was not expected, even from the biggest Aggie haters. 244 total yards and an abysmal performance overall from the Aggie offense, including Keeton was the culprit to this 7-38 beat down. Add injury to insult, star LB Kyler Fackrell sustained a knee injury that could have him missing time, potentially lots of time. Nothing went right in this game for Utah State. Both lines were not enforcing their will on their opponent like in the past, and the skill positions sucked. Even Chuckie Keeton looked slow. There is still lots of time to turn things around, but the Aggies took a shot to the ego, and possibly a shot to their defensive potential if Fackrell is done. [UPDATE] Fackrell done for the season with ACL tear

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Next up….Week 2.

What to watch…..Friday night serves up a treat with Nevada hosting Washington State on ESPN. No rest for the weary, as Fresno State has to travel to Utah, and Hawaii will take on a second Pac-12 opponent as well in Oregon State. The late Saturday night game on ESPN2 between Boise State and Colorado State is being hailed by some as the game that could decide the Mountain Division. Can’t wait.

Make it out to Albertson’s Stadium! Harsin and this team deserve a raucous crowd. Go Broncos!!!

Attack the Opponent – Colorado State Rams

The Mountain West conference had a rough few days, opening with a .500 win percentage after the first weekend of play. However, the only team that played a power 5 opponent and won was Colorado State, against in-state rival Colorado. The Buffs aren’t exactly the top of the Pac – they haven’t had a winning season since 2005. The Rams fans seem to be jacked up on this win – using it as additional proof that the Broncos are going to be taken down this week.

Now, the Rams do have some things working in their favor. Their D held the Buffs to 134 yards rushing, but weren’t as successful against the pass, allowing 241 yards. On the offensive side, Dee Hart (transfer from Bama) and Treyous Jarrells combined for 260 yards on the ground, strengthening what was already a decent Mountain West ground attack in 2013. They also have the first win out of the way, and against their instate rivals. The only issue is that those rivals just aren’t a very good team, Pac affiliation or no.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 10.57.24 AM You know it’s true, Ram Boy. No sad face!

One thing the Broncos had going for them the other night in Atlanta was defense. Now, Ole Miss wasn’t performing spectacularly. Bo Wallace was getting picked off like his passes were dandelions in a T-Ball outfield. I just find it doubtful that CSU can come up with another nearly 400 yard game on Boise State like happened last season. On the ground, I do think that the Rams are going to get their yards. Boise’s DL looked fairly strong against Ole Miss, but CSU does have strength in that RB stable.  However, if Boise’s linemen can get enough disruption in an SEC backfield to cause 3 interceptions and 3 sacks, what on earth is CSU, a team that gave up a sack and an int to Colorado of all teams going to do? This could be the best kind of way for the Broncos to open their home slate – with a spectacular defensive show.

????????????????????????????????????????? Dr. Bo and Dr. Nick…both Ole Miss Alumni?

There are some things that are going to have to be done on the offensive side for Boise State that aren’t really opponent specific. Being able to finish drives and get in the end zone is of utmost importance right now. If the Broncos don’t figure out how to make that happen, it’s going to be a very long season. Grant Hedrick has to be better at reading the field and making good choices, or Shane Williams-Rhodes is going to end up without a head at some point. Do we have WR’s other than Williams-Rhodes and Matt Miller? There are many questions to be answered in the coming weeks.

Let’s start with answering some against CSU. Grant WENT OFF during this game last year for 5 TD’s, and it appears that the Rams are still working with a weakened pass D. If that is the case and Grant doesn’t go all Zabransky Head Case on us after the loss to Ole Miss, the Rams could be in real trouble. This game will be a fight, no doubt. We’re not going back in time to the days when we whipped everybody in the MWC by 40. CSU has a strong run attack, a pretty good run D, and the kind of confidence that beating up your big brother can bring.

goatfight

CSU/CU game highlights, as performed by goats.

Is that going to be enough to win in Boise, late on a Saturday night? Doubtful. Boise is still the cream of the MWC, despite a few message boards and media outlets crying that it’s all doom and gloom. The Rams are going to have to come up with some big offense that I just don’t think they have. As long as Boise’s offense actually executes the flashes it showed last week, it will confound MWC defenses far and wide.

Come get some, Rams. We need a cupcake to snack on, but it looks like we’re having lamb chops instead.lamb chop

This Week at the Diggity’s – Kick Off 2014 “I’m a Hotty. What’s a Toddy?”

It’s that time of year again – FOOTBALL SEASON. And it’s the first Bronco Game Week of the year. So what exactly does that mean? You get a fresh, new “This Week at the Diggity’s”! Ready? Here it goes. Oh, and let’s “EMBRACE THE PAST” with some to get you started!

We are now located in Eugene, Oregon and as of 1 PM Pacific on August 24th, I don’t have ESPN….Speaking of Eugene, I’m not a big fan of all the coverage they give to the Ducks around here. Where are my Broncos?….Hey 49ers! How do you drop a Billi on a stadium but not get some decent grass on the ground?….I’m excited about college football this year. Since I will have a different TV provider, I’ll get the Pac12 Network. More football for me….Apparently, Ole Miss has a hashtag on Twitter this week for the game. It’s #BoiseStateHateWeek. Isn’t there enough hate in Mississippi already?….And I read some of their tweets. Ole Miss fans aren’t very original. They mention potatoes. A lot. Not funny….I’ll say it loudly – PRESEASON NFL IS UNWATCHABLE – There. Yes even in the week 3 “dress rehearsal”….I won’t name any Managing Editors’ names but apparently if 2 media members ask for an interview, you’re “big time”. But you know I’m just giving you a hard time, right?….Good to see that The Biggest Loser is going for the ratings by helping out former pro athletes that “let themselves go”. Why help normal people anymore?….Ah cable person. You’ll be here between 12 & 2 really means 5:30. That’s “I’ll be ready in 5 minutes” time-keeping!….Eugene is weird. Two girls yelling at a bus driver – that just happened. Not on the bus though. It happened about 50 feet away from the bus. Epic!….The commercial with James Harden, Charles Barkley, & Scottie Pippen is amazing. “The Greatest Chicago Bull” of all time. What does Luc Longley think of that commercial?….Since we live in Eugene now, we’re bombarded with Ducks information. And, since Corvallis is close, we get Beavers crud too. They both scheduled up to start the year – Oregon with South Dakota and OSU with Portland State. The PAC12 is all about getting that first win. At least Washington plays Hawaii, right?….Migraines stop all progress. I’m pretty sure that’s what stopped Napoleon….Pizza Hut is introducing a bacon and cheese stuffed crust. We are pretty much at the pinnacle of pizza construction. Everybody else can stop trying.

Hopefully, you’re as excited as we all are here at the Diggity’s!

Mrs. Diggity & I

Mrs. Diggity & I

5 Keys & 1 Prediction: Boise State vs. Ole Miss

Logo_zps624b2167The season is here, and so are “5 Keys”. Except this season I am adding a little more to the fun. This year I will be giving the 5 keys to the game as well as 1 prediction I will make each week.

5 Keys to the game Boise State vs Ole Miss

1.) If you have been reading any of the preseason publications then one name is repeated when Boise State is talked about. That name is Jay Ajayi, and for all the right reasons. Jay is perhaps the most physically gifted RB to have ever played for Boise State. He has the size and speed of an “SEC” tailback. And that size and speed will be needed against Ole Miss. With Jay, I fully expect Boise State to get back to the “run the ball first” mentality.  Now Jay Ajayi doesn’t have to go all Ian Johnson vs Oregon State on Ole Miss for us to win (though that would be great). He does though need to keep the defense honest. 20+ carries for 80 yards and a touchdown would be a great start to the season. If Jay can have a steady game like that Boise State should be able to compete from start to finish.

2.) Grant Hedrick has to be more than just a serviceable QB. Last season Grant had solid numbers and managed the game. This year, he has to take a major step and be a play maker. Grant has the athleticism and the talent to be a star his senior year. His first step to doing that would be getting a huge win against Ole Miss. For this to happen, Grant has to make plays on 3rd down passing situations. It is easy to make the check down pass and punt. But as we have seen in the past, it takes a QB who can make the throw down the field in those situations to win the early tests to start the season. If Grant can start this season off converting on 3rd down, Boise State will win this game.

3.) Can we start fast might be the most important key/question of them all. I feel like this game, if nothing else gives us a strong advantage to start fast. We know Ole Miss has no idea what we are bringing to the table. Because of this we should have the opportunity to score some points and build momentum in our favor early. If this happens, I fully expect Ole Miss to fight back into the game. But putting the Rebels up against the wall early could go a long way for the Broncos on their way to a win.

4.) Boise State has to get pressure on the QB. If this does not happen, I can’t stress enough how ugly this game could get. I believe Yates will bring pressure with blitzes, specifically, I expect to see some corner-blitzes. But the pressure that is more important here is coming from the defensive line. With Demarcus Lawrence gone to the NFL the question is going to be who is our new premier pass-rusher? The first game of the season would not be a bad time for somebody to step into that role. If Boise State can get pressure on Wallace, it will go a long way in helping our secondary deal with threats like Laquon Treadwell.

5.) Here I am going with the X-factor, SWR, Shane Williams-Rhodes. Nobody on Boise State, or perhaps college football has a skill-set quite like SWR. Yes he is small, but he is also impossible to prepare for. The best part about this prediction, is Bryan Harsin loves to have unique weapons like Rhodes. I imagine we will see Rhodes in some fly-sweep situations, some slot-routes, and maybe even some old school Vinny Peretta like run/pass option stuff. Rhodes might not make or break this game, but he has to play a vital role for the Broncos to win. I said it last year plenty, Rhodes wasn’t used to his full skill-set. This year with Harsin back in town, I have no doubt Rhodes will be put into positions to make plays.

1 Prediction

If you follow me on Twitter you might have already seen me call my shot on this. But my prediction is on what we can expect to see from our offense. Now, I could be completely wrong on this, and I admit it is 100% a somewhat educated guess. But based on what we have heard, and seen in bits and pieces. I am starting to think the offense we see vs Ole Miss resembles what we saw against Georgia in 2011, a lot. We will see shifts, and motions, pistol reads, and power formations. However, we will also see a hybrid no-huddle/huddle offense. When the momentum is on our side, I can see us rushing to the line and calling plays. When the game needs to be slowed down and talked about, I can see us huddling. Staying unpredictable and dictating the way the game is played seems to fit this staff well.

Attack The Opponent: Ole Miss Rebels

Researching Ole’ Miss is a bit like observing a distant planet. 1562 miles, two time zones, a bunch of humidity, almost zero history, and a complete lifestyle difference are between Boise and Oxford. get some!

The old (probably) drunk guy dancing though, that is universal.

The year that Idaho became a state, Ole’ Miss was just forming their first athletic department. Boise wouldn’t field a football team for another 39 years after Mississippi boys first touched toe to grass in 1893. A storied program for sure, but the game coming up next Thursday has nothing to do with pedigree, conference affiliation, tenure, recruiting rankings, political leanings, or anything else outside of the 2014 Broncos and Rebels. The only people who know exactly who that is are with the programs, and the rest of us are left to wonder, wait, and fret. The Rebels are counting on tempo and speed to win this game. They love to throw nice little short passes, and a whole lot of them. Here’s their returning QB Bo Wallace’s stats from last season:

Set school records for total offense (3,701 yards) and completions (283) in a season … Completed 283 of 437 passes for 3,346 yards (third-most in school history) with 18 TDs and 10 INTs … Ranked third in the SEC and 26th nationally in both total offense (284.7 ypg) and passing (257.4 ypg) …

Yanno, just setting school records for total offense and completions, completing a good-but-not-that-good 65% of his passes for 18 TD’s. This is 7 yd per attempt though. They also scored 30 ppg last season. So, Boise’s D must be ready to defend the corner and not be afraid to hit somebody or fight for position coming over the middle to be able to intercept a few of those passes. The Rebel’s defense could be ridiculous, or it could be overblown SEC hype. There are 5 Rebel’s defenders on the All SEC watch-lists, the most notable being Pre-Season 2nd team All American Robert Nkemdiche. Or, as Broncos fans have seen before, this could be a bunch of SEC bluster and hype and the boys in orange could run them ragged and confused before halftime.

All of this remains to be seen, and exactly what we’ve all been waiting an entire off-season for. Rebels fans are apparently excited for the match-up, but talking a great big game as well. Both teams have pros and cons. Ole Miss has had strong recruiting classes recently and is coming off a reasonable performance last season, and Boise’s team is an unproven commodity with all the uncertainty in the program. Everything changed for the Broncos in December, and while those inside the program are telling us all the correct things it’s scary to not know what to expect. On the other hand,  Ole Miss has some questions in their run game – the guy listed at the top of the depth chart, I’Tavius Mathers, started exactly one game for the Rebels last season. Boise State will likely be deepest on defense, with a ton of experience in the secondary and a whole bunch of big, strong defensive linemen who are learning from what might be the best combo of knowledge, personality, and moustache on the coaching staff, Steve Caldwell. Boise State is of course going to live and die on the legs and ball control of Jay Ajayi and Grant Hedrick, but with the return of a fast paced, extend the field throwing game, this whole thing is going to be about which team can exploit the other’s weaknesses and really control the time of possession. Both teams can score prolifically in the correct defensive conditions, and both defenses look like they could be tough, at least on paper. Dead Center Dan Goodale needs to be as accurate as ever, and special teams had better be ready to go right off the bat. We might have a track meet on our hands next Thursday. We might also have a defensive battle.

I don’t doubt that Boise can put at least 28 points on the board, but can the guys hold the Rebels under that total? Vegas has Boise as ten point dogs, and while there are a few outlets calling for a return to the kind of winning everyone remembers out of Boise, most of the national consensus is that Boise is going to fall back to obscurity very quickly due to a whole bevy of excuses that Boise State fans are dutifully slicing and frying into Bronco Nation Brand Shoulder Chips. Screen Shot 2014-08-23 at 7.59.24 PM

Now available in Dill Pickle flavor.

There are a few things I need to see out of this game to be happy. First, I need to know that the Boise offense is unpredictable, prolific, and accurate. I would like to see a working, nasty blitz. Would love to see lots of tight end participation in the offense, and just one nice deep ball to a flying orange blur of Dallas Burroughs. I need Matt Miller to make a one handed catch in the back corner of the end zone. I need interceptions from the safeties and jarring hits from Jeremy Ioane. Antoine Turner needs to get a sack so I can be irrationally happy for him for a while.

This game could be the return of the sense of balance in the universe that Bronco Nation has been missing, or a tipping point where the bandwagon gets much lighter. Ole Miss has a lot to prove too. Recruiting rankings and conference affiliation can only carry a team so far, eventually the wins have to come or Coach Freeze is going to have to answer some questions. Their team seems like the type that could have discipline issues and leave a mass of flags and fan’s broken dreams in their wake. While this may not be the marquee game of the night, it certainly is the most intriguing. Hotty Toddy indeed, Rebels. Put on your blazers, ties, and sundresses, sip your bourbon, and get ready to watch that cute little team out of the Mountain West give you the fight of your team’s figurative lives opening weekend. Oh, and if Ole Miss happens to lose? It would be nice if they wouldn’t turn around and lose horribly to Vandy the week after. Strength of Schedule and all that.

Isn’t football great? I missed football. Let’s never have an off-season like that again. Attack_hug