Tag:Bowl Grades
Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:49 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 11:50 pm
 

Bowl Grades: SDCU Poinsettia Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

San Diego State proved to be too much for Navy in a 35-14 victory.

San Diego State


Offense: Aside from the third quarter, the only quarter in which the Aztecs failed to score, there really wasn't much to complain about on offense. The Aztecs used a balanced attack against an overwhelmed Navy defense, and the trio of Ryan Lindley, Ronnie Hillman and Vincent Brown proved to be way too much for Navy to handle.  Brown had 7 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter.  He'd finish the night with 8 catches and 165 yards, though he could have had over 200 yards and another touchdown had he not let a pass slip through his hands in the fourth quarter.  Lindley completed 18 of his 23 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns, and also displayed an excellent ball fake on play-action passes.  Some of the best I've ever seen, to be honest.  Still, the star of the show was Hillman, who rushed for 228 yards and 3 scores, and even caught a touchdown pass that helped put the game away.  All in all it was a very impressive performance. Grade: A

Defense: I had some concerns about how the SDSU defense would hold up against Navy's option attack, but like the offense, the defense was also impressive.  They showed strong discipline all night in stopping Navy, and though they allowed two touchdowns in the second quarter, did not allow a single point in the other three.  Yes, the Aztecs gave up some deep passes, but holding a Navy offense that averaged 31 points a game this season to only 14 points is a remarkable feat.  Grade: A

Coaching: Brady Hoke and his staff came into this game knowing where Navy's weaknesses were and attacked them out of the gate.  Navy simply could not stop Lindley and Brown in the first quarter and became so determined to keep that passing game in check that the Aztecs had no problem opening up big holes for Hillman up front.  It was also obvious that the coaching staff spent a lot of time preparing the defense for Navy's option attack, and while they didn't have a perfect game on defense, the Aztecs played better than expected.  Grade: A

Navy


Offense: While you can't really tell by looking at the final score, Navy didn't play all that bad on offense. Ricky Dobbs rushed for over 100 yards and a score, and threw for 147 more and another touchdown.  The sole Navy turnover came late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.  The problem was that Navy's offense couldn't sustain its offense long enough on drives, and stalled a few times at midfield and in the red zone.  In fact, Navy's chances of winning basically died when, trailing 21-14 on its first drive after halftime, the Middies failed to convert on a fourth and goal.  it was probably the best drive of the game that Navy had, and it couldn't muster any points out of it.  You don't win a lot of games when that happens.  Grade: C+

Defense: Here is where the problems really came for Navy. As good as this team has been this season, the fact is that talent wise, the Midshipmen just couldn't match up with the Aztecs on defense.  Without a secondary strong enough to line up and play man-to-man on a regular basis, the Aztecs picked apart the zone defenses.  Up front the Aztec offensive line just proved too much for Navy's front four, as the defensive line never pressured Lindley much and were gashed by Hillman.  Grade: D-

Coaching: It's pretty hard to blame Ken Niamutulolo and his coaching staff for anything that happened in this game.  it's not as if Navy played an undisciplined game or had a bad game plan.  The fact of the matter was San Diego State had a better plan and executed it to near perfection on the night.  Some nights you just get beat no matter what you do, and this was one of those nights. Grade: B-

Final Grade: Going into this game I was expecting a bit of a shootout.  I wasn't sure that the Navy defense would be able to stop the Aztecs, and I questioned whether or not SDSU could stop Navy's option.  As we've gone over, San Diego State did stop Navy.  Still, even though the final margin was 21 points, this game wasn't that big of a blowout.  That being said, there wasn't a whole lot of drama in the fourth quarter either, so it's hard to give this game much higher than an average score.  Final Grade: C+
Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:53 am
 

Bowl Grades: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Boise State overcame a sluggish first half to shut down the Utah Utes, 26-3.

Boise State

Offense: The Broncos committed an uncharacteristic four turnovers tonight, and that doesn't count the blocked field goal or the dropped pass on a fake punt. And yet, Kellen Moore still threw for well over 300 yards and got over 200 yards on the ground from his running backs. Moore and Austin Pettis combined for 11 completions, 145 yards, and a score -- all of which were bigger numbers than the Utah passing game accomplished altogether (Pettis also threw a two-yard completion to himself, which was as silly as it sounds). And while Boise didn't convert 10 of its 18 3rd downs, only one resulted in a punt, and that was a masterful 47-yard directional punt out of bounds. Still, the low point total could have been disastrous. Grade: B-

Defense: Utah quarterback Terrence Cain struggled all day long against the Boise defense. While some of those struggles were exacerbated by mental mistakes by his receivers -- more on that in a bit -- he also faced constant pressure from the Broncos' front four, often forcing sacks or quick and errant throws. Utah would only manage eight first downs on the entire day, and even the Utes' short-field drives (five of which started past the Utah 40) were by and large fruitless. Grade: A

Coaching: At times, Chris Peterson was a little too cute with his playcalling, and it led to potential problems for the Broncos. Most notably, we're talking about Peterson's fake punt reverse pass that ended up being thrown to punter/placekicker/scapegoat Kyle Brotzman , who was open on the play but displayed zero receiving acumen as he tried to catch the pass with his stomach. There's a reason not to throw these guys the ball, y'know. But even after that dropped pass and all the groaning by people reminiscing about Brotzman's awful night against Nevada last month, Peterson never hesitated calling his kicker's number, and that's commendable. Grade: B+

Utah

Offense: It's hard not to fall into the familiar "A's for winners, F's for losers" model of game grading, especially when dealing with a starting quarterback who's seen limited action this year like Terrence Cain. Cain started in place of injured Jordan Wynn and underwhelmed, as his final numbers bear out: 10/24, 93 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 14 rushes, 19 yards, 0 TD, one fumble lost. And yet, Cain had several good throws come up empty; the announcers estimated that six of Utah's 14 incompletions were on dropped passes (some of which were unconscionable), a pass to inside the 5-yard-line was called back on a dubious illegal downfield receiver, and a touchdown pass was waved off after an easy holding call. Cain could have done better; his supporting cast didn't give him much help, though, and that's clearly a problem when facing a defense like Boise's. Grade: D+

Defense: Give the Utah D some credit; by and large, it held the Boise rushing attack in check. If it weren't for that 84-yard run by Doug Martin to open up the Broncos' scoring, Utah would have given up just 118 yard on 36 carries, a 3.3-yard average. That's ordinarily very good! It's just, Martin's run did happen, and it changed the momentum of the game. Boise State's 26-second touchdown drive to cap the first half didn't help Utah much either. But other than those two quick strikes, the Utes largely held the Broncos in check. Boise's 26 points, in fact, were the least it had scored in any game this year. Not a bad performance, and that doesn't include the turnovers forced. Grade: B-

Coaching: It's tough to hang too much of the blame for Utah's struggles on Kyle Whittingham tonight; after all, he wasn't the one out there committing penalties or dropping passes. Still, though, his playcalling left a little to be desired; too often, Cain would drop back on first down, something the Boise State pass rush and linebackers were routinely ready for. Matt Asiata , Eddie Wide III , and Shaky Smithson each had a rush for over 20 yards on the day, yet the three players combined for only the same amount of carries (14) as Cain had on the day. That's not putting the offense in position to make plays. Grade: C

Final Grade

This could have been a good game, but Utah spent so, so much time blowing opportunities in new and exciting ways (fumbling in Boise territory, committing backbreaking penalties, making Cain face over 10 yars on all but a couple of his third downs, etc.) that once Boise State was up 16-3, the game just felt over. That's a departure from Boise State's usual bowl play, which routinely features 60-minute, one-possession contests, but c'mon; the Broncos even tried handing the Utes a big lead in the first half and Utah couldn't capitalize. It's too bad such a high-profile game turned into such a snoozer (I have literally fallen asleep three times since starting this article), but Boise State is a very good team, and this is what very good teams do to sloppy teams. Grade: C-


Posted on: December 19, 2010 2:56 am
 

Bowl Grades: New Mexico Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Final score: BYU 52, UTEP 24

BYU

Offense: We'd wanted to see BYU get Jake Heaps rolling early, and did he ever. The freshman quarterback continued his hot streak from the last month of the regular season with another four-touchdown effort, and the running back tandem of J.J. DiLuigi and Joshua Quezada kept the chains moving late, combining for 199 yards on 35 carries and two second-half touchdowns. The Cougar offense rolled to 31 points on its first five possessions and never looked back en route to BYU's greatest scoring output in its bowl history. Grade: A

Defense: On UTEP's first five possessions, the Miners managed one first down: a 12-yard pass on their first play from scrimmage of the entire game on a drive that went nowhere. Even on UTEP's one scoring drive of those five, the drive went backwards 13 yards and resulted in a 52-yard field goal. Don't read too much into the Miners' eventual point total of 24 points; all three touchdowns came on deep passes and the last two were with the game well out of reach. Grade: B+

Coaching: Bronco Mendenhall faced a not-insignificant challenge in motivating his players to put the frustrations of a 6-6 regular season behind them and get focused for a 6-6 opponent from Conference USA in a bowl whose concept seems like some weird parody of serial excess, like CSI: Topeka or Backgammon With The Stars. But the Cougars came out firing and completely outclassed their opponent, and Jake Heaps avoided any regression to his early 2010 self in shredding the Miner defense. Grade: A

UTEP

Offense: One of our keys to success for UTEP was seeing QB Trevor Vittatoe connect with star receiver Kris Adams for big plays, and on that front, the two most certainly delivered; Vittatoe found Adams for 153 yards on three catches -- all touchdowns -- over the course of the game. Problem was, none of them brought the Miners to within any less than 21 points, and if Adams wasn't burning his man deep, he wasn't doing much of anything ... and neither was the rest of the Miner offense. Joseph Banyard , a reserve tailback who saw his role diminish with the team over the course of the year, was the Miners' leading rusher -- with two carries for 11 yards. Vittatoe was sacked so often that the Miners ended up with negative rushing yardage. The bombs to Adams are cool, but that's not a sustainable offense. Grade: D

Defense: Obviously, giving up 31 points in the game's first five possessions isn't a formula for success, and the game was pretty well lost when it was 31-3. And yet, UTEP wasn't completely out of the game when the second half began, trailing 31-10 and carrying a bit of defensive momentum after forcing a punt and getting an interception on the last two possessions of the first half. Then the Cougars grinded out a 14-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a touchdown to open the second half, and that was pretty much that. 52 points given up is, pardon the term, indefensible. Grade: F

Coaching: It'd be easy to fault UTEP coach Mike Price for not getting any points out of his team's last drive of the first half; the Miners drove to BYU's 3-yard line and had five snaps in the red zone before time ran out on the half and BYU took its 31-10 lead into the locker room. Really, though, that's a call that has to be made; there's little difference between a 31-10 deficit and a 31-13 deficit after you've sent the message to your offense that you don't trust them to get a touchdown nine feet away from BYU's end zone. Sometimes, the right call doesn't work. So while we won't bury Price for that decision, it does seem as if he should catch a little heat for his team getting savaged on national television and continuing its bowl winless streat to 43 years. Maybe things go differently if Vittatoe connects with Adams on the final play of that first half and the Miners only have to make up a 14-point deficit at the break, but instead that number was 21, and it never got lower for the rest of the game.

Final Grade

Once BYU got off and rolling to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, it was pretty clear that UTEP wasn't going to overcome its deficiencies on both sides of the ball, and the remaining 45 minutes of dominance were little more than a foregone conclusion. It wasn't a good game by any stretch, the listed attendance of 32,000+ was about twice the amount of people actually in the stands, and the favored team rolled to an easy victory. All the same, it takes more nerve than we've got to really complain about a bowl game with 76 total points scored, especially one to kick the whole postseason off, so perhaps some charity is in order for this one. Grade: C-

Posted on: December 19, 2010 1:18 am
 

Bowl Grades: New Orleans Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Final score: Troy 48, Ohio 21

Troy

Offense: How good was the Troy offense? QB Corey Robinson was 21-27 for 262 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Um, that was at the half. Troy led at the break 38-7, and scored on every possession until the fourth quarter. Jerrel Jernigan and Tebiarus Gill combined for all five of Troy's touchdowns, and eventually combined for 144 yards from scrimmage. The Trojans would eventually register 602 yards from scrimmage, even after the reserves found their way onto the field. This is an easier A than Geology 101. Grade: A+

Defense: The Trojans did give up 21 points, but allowed only 99 yards on 30 rushes and four first downs on 12 third down conversion attempts. Ohio's offense was mostly stifled while the game was in any semblance of doubt. An interception by Jimmy Anderson in Troy territory set the tone for the game, and the Trojans never looked back. Grade: B

Coaching: Larry Blankeny put his team in a position to win by playing to his team's strengths. The Trojan offense is fast-paced and designed to highlight Robinson's accuracy, and the playcalling put the ball in Jernigan's hands in a variety of ways; Jernigan's first touchdown came out of a keeper from the Wildcat formation, and Jernigan would finish with three rushes on the day. Blankeny had his team fired up for the game, and the difference in effort was readily apparent throughout the first half -- at which point the game was pretty well decided. Grade: A

Ohio

Offense: The Ohio offense features a two-headed attack at quarterback; Boo Jackson is the better passer, while Phil Bates is the more athletic ball-carrier. Bates, in fact, threw one pass for the entire game; it was the Anderson interception on Ohio's second play from scrimmage mentioned earlier. So while Jackson threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns, almost none of it came in a first half that saw precisely one possession achieve a first down. Grade: D

Defense: The Bobcats did not play defense. Grade: INCOMPLETE

Coaching: What Frank Solich was thinking by staying conservative in the first half, even as Troy was running the Bobcats out of the Superdome, is beyond us. During the first two plays of each of the Bobcats' first half possessions, the Bobcats ran on 10 of 13 plays (the final drive of the half was one play long); those 10 rushes resulted in 10 yards and no first downs. Sure, the passing was 1-3 for six yards and an interception, but the message from Solich was clear: he had a formula, and he was sticking to it. It was a very ill-advised message to send, as it put Ohio out of any position to win. Grade: F

Final Grade

It would be unfair to give a failing grade to a game that featured such a well-functioning offense in the first three quarters AND a surprise giant manbeard courtesy of punter Will Goggans (above) in the fourth. There were aspects of the game that were fun to watch, even though the endgame drama had been sucked out of the Superdome by the end of the Trojans' fourth possession. Jerrel Jernigan is going to get a chance to succeed in the NFL, and we hope he makes the most of it; embarrassing the Ohio defense isn't exactly difficult to do, but he was the most athletic player on the field all the same, and some of the moves he made in stride were Sunday-worthy. It's just a shame that between the television audience and the laughably sparse Superdome crowd, probably under 100,000 people actually got to watch him. Still, this game was as anti-climactic as the first two, so we must grade sternly so as to send a message to the rest of the bowls: this will not do. Grade: D-

Posted on: December 18, 2010 9:09 pm
 

Bowl Grades: Humanitarian Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Final Score: Northern Illinois 40  Fresno State 17

Northern Illinois


Offense - The Huskies set the tone on offense early, as they weren't in Boise just to have a good time, but win a football game.  The Huskies drove into Fresno territory on their first drive, and went for it on fourth down.  They didn't convert, but the message was sent.  After that failure, just about everything clicked.  I thought NIU would attack Fresno on the ground more, but Chandler Harnish had a nice day through the air as well.  Harnish finished the day with 378 total yards, 301 of which came through the air, and had 3 total touchdowns.  Chad Spann rushed for 91 yards and two scores to add to his school record of 22 rushing touchdowns this season.  All in all, Northern finished with 40 points and 505 yards.  Grade: A

Defense - While the offense provided more than enough points, the defense didn't let up much either.  The Huskies held Fresno State to 350 total yards and picked up six sacks.  The Huskies gave up a touchdown on Fresno's first drive of the game, and another late in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand.  Grade: A

Coaching - Tom Matucewicz was filling in for Jerry Kill in this game, and it was the first time he served as a head coach on any level.  He did an excellent job.  Not only was his team prepared for this game, but they had a solid game plan and executed it. On offense they attacked Fresno's weaknesses and even went after the Bulldogs strengths succesfully.  Grade: A

Fresno State


Offense - Maybe it's the blue turf, but Fresno State's offense just doesn't seem to show up inside the city limits of Boise, Idaho.  After being shutout by Boise State earlier this season, the Bulldogs only mustered 17 points against NIU.  Ryan Colburn had a decent game, throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns, but a lot of those yards came when the game was out of hand.  Not having Robbie Rouse at 100 percent -- Rouse played the game with his left hand in a cast -- definitely played a role in the struggles.  Grade: C-

Defense - You know who else didn't show up?  The Fresno defense.  The Bulldogs didn't look interested in trying to stop anybody from the get go, and because of that, they didn't.  NIU averaged 9.0 yards per play on Saturday night.  That's nearly a first down on every snap.  Grade: F

Coaching - It was obvious to anybody paying attention that Fresno State didn't want to be in this game.  For the third straight year Pat Hill's team laid an egg in a bowl game.  There's a reason Hill is now 0-6 against non-AQ teams in bowl games and 4-1 against BCS teams: unless Fresno State is playing a "big time" team, Hill and his boys just don't care. It's a shame.  Grade: F

Final Grade


Five of the last six years the Humanitarian Bowl game down to the closing minutes.  That simply just wasn't the case this season, as Northern Illinois showed up looking to win, and Fresno State looked like it wanted to be anywhere but Boise.  It's because of this that this game wasn't incredibly enjoyable to watch, and will likely be forgotten about in the coming weeks.  Still, NIU's performance and attitude keeps the game from getting a terrible grade.  Grade: C+
 
 
 
 
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