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

—————————–

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

3 Things & a Question (Post Game)

3 Things

1.) Grant Hedrick might have an issue when it comes to playing upper level talent.

HDStat123

Courtesy of espn.com

You can decipher this information anyway you would like. For me, the biggest concern is not even the turnovers (and that is a concern). The concern for me is the inability to get the ball in the endzone. When playing top-level teams, especially in the offense driven world we live in now, the QB must get the ball in the endzone period. Grant has played against 4 top-level teams and he has scored 5 total touchdowns through the air. That is not going to cut it period.

2.) Jay Ajayi is the real deal.

JayAjayi

Courtesy of espn.com

Jay did everything in his power to keep Boise State in this game. He ran the ball very well, and he led the team in receptions. Many took to Twitter last night to look for the positive in the game. Jay Ajayi was the most positive thing you can take away. He never quit, he never stopped playing at 100%. Jay Ajayi is going to destroy the Mountain West Conference if he keeps up that attitude. Touching the ball 32 times in a game worries me a little bit, but if anybody is built for that, it is Jay Ajayi.

3.) The defense is going to be very good

OleMiss

courtesy of espn.com

All you have to do is look at those numbers and you understand what I am saying. Despite the team getting beat late in the 4th. The defense showed up and kept Boise State in this game. They did their best to match turnover-4-turnover, and dominated the run game. Marcel Yates style was very clear – they go hard, and they are very aggressive. The ball-hawking mentality of the secondary and linebackers was a sight to be seen. Not to mention the huge upgrade in tackling we saw in this game compared to every game last season. If I walked away from anything else last night positively it was that we have a defense that resembles the “glory days”.

1 Question?

yes-wait-wtfIf you were like me last night you started on a big high. “Yes we are back!” you saw the shifts, the motions, the trick-plays, and you felt like we are here to stay. Then, time went on and you walked away going…”What just happened?” So much of last night was confusing, are we that bad? Or are we actually better? Was the game really what the score said? Why didn’t Finley play during cleanup duty? The biggest question for me though remains what are we on offense? We started looking like the traditional shifts & motions offense, and we ended looking like the Robert Prince offense. So what are we going to be? I asked Ian Johnson last night on Twitter about he felt about the offense and seemed encouraged.

But even with Ian Johnson giving it a positive outlook, I am still just not sure. I still cringe when I watch us fall into a rhythm of bubble screens and read-option plays. However, maybe that is what we are? Maybe we are just a mixture of everything. It does keep Boise State hard to prepare for and it makes the team more dynamic in theory. I guess only time will tell, but for now, we still walk away questioning what are we really?

 

BTN Predictions, Week 1: Ole Miss Rebels

Predictions LogoCollege football is here! It’s game week, time for some homerish/somewhat realistic predictions from the BTN staff. Feel free to post your prediction below in the comments section.

Jeremy

I’m a Boise State alum, therefore I’m obligated to predict a victory. I will also take the typical “head/heart” approach to predicting, because I’m just like that.

I’ve made it clear this off-season, I’m suffering from fan PTSD after last year’s debacle of an opener in Seattle. Like most Bronco fans, I honest to God expected a close game, and instead was proven to be terribly wrong. That nightmare has left me cautious about this game in Atlanta. I’ll go on record with dreaming of a Boise State 23-20 win with Hedrick leading a late 4th quarter drive for the win, but my head says the Rebels win 33-14, this task being too much too soon for Harsin and his young team. Please 2014 Boise State Broncos, make my dream come true.

Tami

Let’s hope for more VT and less UW, Jeremy. Both teams have weaknesses that are offset by strengths on the other side of the ball. It’s going to come down to the basics – turnovers. time of possession, and execution. Hate boiling it down to those almost cliches, but it’s the truth. If Ole Miss starts completing rapid fire passes in the middle of the field and gets their tempo going as planned, it’s going to be a long night for Boise. If the Broncos defense can help eat up some clock for the offense without allowing points, the boys in blue (orange?) have a chance. The wildcard is going to be energy. The Rebels are apparently prepping by watching last season’s game film and feel like this should be a good day for them. The Broncos aren’t going to look much like last season’s game film and have been chomping at the bit for months to go hit somebody. The tiny homer in my heart believes that the ol’ Bronco Magic might be back with this team, and thus the guys are going to escape Atlanta with our miracle mojo intact, courtesy of Dead Center Dan Goodale’s foot:  Broncos 27 – Rebels 24.

(Editors Note:  Tami also asked a local psychic what might happen in this game.  You can read about that here.)

Noel

I’ll get right to the point: THE BRONCOS WIN 28-24. The key to victory will be the aggressiveness of the defensive backfield.  I predict 2 interceptions with at least one going for 6 in the game. I have this gut feeling that the boys will have what was missing the last 2 years. They’ll have the spark and motivation that they had in Atlanta 3 years ago.  I expect a heavy dose of Jay, Matt Miller catches at least 8 passes and Shane Williams-Rhodes will break a long touchdown.  I expect the future to be excessively attacked on both sides of the ball.

I know what you’re thinking.  That’s a total homer pick. Yep. I’m a homer!

Heath

I am a lot like Jeremy here, the whole diehard alum thing makes the pick tricky. The more I work on my “5 Keys & 1 Prediction” article the more trouble I have with this. My heart says Boise State jumps on them early and holds on late. My head says we come out and struggle and fight to make it close. So here is my prediction – I am going Boise State 31 – Ole Miss 28. I am just gonna go with my heart and my belief this coaching staff is better this year, than what we had last year. I am not saying that statement discrediting anything Petersen was or is. I just think last year the entire team was in a funk, the coaches had checked out and the players fed off that. This year, our guys are motivated, and they have tons to prove. Hopefully, it all starts here.

Derek

This game all comes down to the offensive line play in my opinion.  We have a young group there, and our two returning starters are playing at different positions. If these youngsters have gelled in fall camp and can both protect Grant and make holes for Jay, we will be in good shape.  If they struggle, Jay will have a bad day and Grant will be pressured and more likely to turn the ball over.  Unfortunately, I think our O-line struggles in this game, but I think their’s does as well, making for a low scoring affair.  However the Boise D shows that they are back to the Marcel Yates way, and gives our team a chance.  Dan Goodale hits the game winner as time expires for a 20-17 Boise State win.

Gage:

Before I can get to my prediction, I feel as these 3 questions will provide insight on what outcome to expect (based on the answers) in the Georgia Dome: Can Boise State’s inexperienced offensive live create enough holes for Jay Ajayi and the rushing attack to set up the passing game? Will Boise State’s defense be able to match Ole Miss’s speed and force turnovers. Is Grant Hedrick able to make the big play when needed? Those are the 3 things I’ll be using as an indicator for when gauging my in game confidence-you should too.

I’m hard pressed to not pick Ole Miss, they are the manifest-solid SEC team. They will be stout on defense as most SEC teams are, and put VERY LARGE men in the trenches to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball; another staple of a SEC team. Conversely, it is presumed the Broncos biggest weakness this year will be their O-line and D-line.

But….. You didn’t think I could really pick Ole Miss did you…. Call it what you want, Homer-ism most suitably, but I believe in the luster that has been shining out of Boise, Idaho since the Broncos rallied the former troops led by Brian Harsin (could be the new helmets though). Furthermore, I think Harsin, Sanford, and Yates have prepared a strong concoction of Boise State’s previous playbook and combined it with the new material they learned coaching elsewhere. Or just simply, It’ll be them using this motto “Embrace the Past but Attack the Future”.

 Boise State 31 – Ole Miss 27

 

There you have it Bronco Nation!  What do you think will be the outcome?  Post in our comments or hit us up on Twitter @TheBTN.

 

Ask A Psychic: More Ole Miss Predictions

A few months ago, my friend Danny (@unstoppabull360 on Twitter) informed me that he is psychic. Since I’m an open-minded kind of chick, I let him read my palm and he’s got it pretty spot on so far. However, he is a Vandal sympathizer so… you choose your level of belief.

Anyway, even though he is more of a console gamer than a hardcore football guy, he does seem to have a passing interest so I asked him a few questions about our upcoming contest with Ole Miss.

Let’s cut right to the chase. Who is going to win? Boise State or Ole Miss?

Lets clarify a few things first: Boise is not a state. (Ed note: /me rolls eyes) I’m pretty sure you have to have something to offer the world other than blue grass (stick that in your craw Kentucky). And if you don’t believe me ask Rhode Island. Although an entire state vs an old miss does seem a bit one-sided. Nevertheless! Here is my prediction: Ole Miss

 

If Boise loses, how will the fan base react?

The fan base will react the way any fan base would react: still sitting on the floor of your linoleum based kitchen. Honestly, fans are handy but very uneventful. Really, The fans will not let the first loss get to them and will be as spirited as ever.

 

If Ole Miss loses, will they lose the next week as well?

Hell if they miss once, they’ll miss again. Why would you even put that in your name? Boise State victims rarely learn from their mistakes: Ole Miss will lose their second game if they lose the first.

 

Will Boise end up in the top 25 next week with a win?

Top 25 what? Teams who are abusive to the elderly? Schools with the highest number of geology majors? No they will not.

 

Orange chrome helmets. Lucky or no?

Obviously not! That guy is getting shot at! If I was wearing a big orange bulls-eye on my head I wouldn’t call that lucky, I’d call that suicidal! No luck from the helmet, sorry.

 

Bonus Vandal Question – Idaho is expected to lose by 35 to Florida on Saturday. Will this loss be only kinda demoralizing or completely destroy the Vandal’s season?

Of course, no response on that one. Typical.

 

I’m pretty sure my good friend Danny is almost completely wrong with his predictions, but with as close as this game seems like it will be he’s got as much of a shot of getting it right as any of us. Only time will tell…and that game is coming on fast. Go Broncos! #ATF!