Tag:Nevada
Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:48 am
 

Bowl Grades: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Nevada shut down an anemic Boston College offense en route to a 20-13 win.

Nevada

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

Boston College

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-

Final Grade

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


Posted on: January 10, 2011 3:44 am
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Posted on: January 8, 2011 12:35 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

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 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 6, 2010 7:20 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 10:10 pm
 

Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien wins Unitas Award

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.

[Check out the rest of the awards and nominees here.]

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.



Posted on: December 4, 2010 8:30 pm
 

Auburn dominates second half, off to Glendale

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We asked at halftime if the Hail Mary from Cam Newton to Darvin Adams had done enough to erase the cavalcade of mistakes from Auburn in the second quarter, mistakes that had seemed to hand momentum back to South Carolina and undone a dominant first quarter from the Tigers.

The answer over the second 30 minutes appeared to be a resounding "Oh goodness yes," as Auburn cruised to an overwhelming 56-17 victory in the SEC Championship Game. Spencer Lanning missed a 42-yard field goal on Carolina's first drive of the half, wasting a 10-play, 50-yard march, and from there it was nothing but Auburn. Newton scored on a one-yard plunge to cap a 75-yard drive on Auburn's ensuing possession, and the rout was on, starting with this T'Sharvan Bell pick-six of Stephen Garcia:



That put Auburn up 42-14, and from there the only question was what kind of stats Newton might finish with to put the finishing touches on his Heisman campaign, which by every indication will result in his becoming the third Auburn Tiger to win the award. The answer: 17-of-28, 335 yards, and 4 touchdowns in the air, 14 carries for 73 yards and 2 scores on the ground. In the process, he became the No. 1 quarterback in the country in pass efficiency and just the second player ever to both run and pass for 20 touchdowns in a season. (Tim Tebow , of course, was the first; just a little while later, Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick becaee the third.) While the discussions about Newton's now NCAA-approved eligibility and his father's transgressions will no doubt continue apace, the discussion of who has been college football's most dominant player this season is over.

Up next for the Tigers: the BCS National Championship Game against Oregon, where they will seek to become the fifth consecutive SEC team to lift the crystal football. The game promises to become the highest-scoring national title game -- by a wide margin-- in the BCS's history, as even in victory (one that featured another stout second-half performance defensively), Auburn's 20 first downs and 5.2 yards-per-carry allowed likely didn't do that much to convince viewers they'll be able to slow down the Ducks.

But after today -- and the 56 points and 589 total yards -- it's also worth wondering at this point if anyone, much less Oregon, can stop Newton and the Gus Malzahn machine now that the NCAA has not. When even your Hail Mary's are working, it's safe to say every last cylinder is hitting. When the BCS title game kicks off Jan. 10, we strongly suggest we all buckle up.

Posted on: November 30, 2010 1:02 pm
 

WAC: Brotzman kick missed

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Before last weekend, only Boise State fans and a few college football diehards would have known the name Kyle Brotzman . But after the dependable senior shockingly missed a pair of short field goals that helped doom his Broncos to a 34-31 loss and knocked them out of the national title debate, Brotzman found himself the subject of highlight reels and water-cooler discussion coast-to-coast.

Unfortunately, this being the 21st-century and all, Brotzman also quickly found himself dealing with online threats and taunts from disgruntled "fans." Would it have made Brotzman (or his antagonists) feel any better to know that he had actually made his critical kick at regulation's end, which sailed tantalizingly close to the unusually-short uprights at Nevada 's Mackay Stadium and had many Bronco supporters claiming the refs had botched the call? Maybe. But according to the WAC offices, Brotzman won't have that solace, either :
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said Brotzman’s miss at the end of regulation was reviewed Sunday by Jim Blackwood, the WAC’s supervisor of officials.

Brotzman’s kick sailed wide right, although it was above the upright, which made for a tricky call.

“The conclusion we’ve reached and the statement I’m making right now is the correct call was made and the kick was not good,” Benson said.

Benson said the play was not reviewable during the game because the ball went above the uprights. Kicks that go below the uprights are reviewable.
Whether you love or hate the Broncos, there's little question that it's a shame (and more than a little unfair) that a sterling and uplifting career, one that began as a walk-on, has to end with Brotzman becoming the Buckner-esque face of Boise's failure to get over the national-title hump.

But here's something that really might make him feel a little better: this Facebook page , titled "The Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman," which now has some 26-27,000 messages of support for the embattled kicker. It's a nice reminder that while some fans are always going to take their football a little too seriously, they're also always going to be in the vast, vast minority.

Posted on: November 29, 2010 4:53 pm
 

Thanks TCU: Mountain West BCS bid may not be dead

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The idea of an athletics program from deep in the football-obsessed heart of Texas playing in a basketball-driven conference centered in the Northeast megalopolis seems weird enough. But what might be even weirder about TCU 's move to the Big East is that their current undefeated season will help both their new league hold onto their BCS automatic bid ... and their former conference home in the Mountain West in their effort to do the same. The New York Times ' Pete Thamel explains :
The Big East is locked into the B.C.S. through the 2013 season, as it is included in the television and bowl contracts. The automatic qualification criteria for the B.C.S. after 2014 have not been determined. If the Big East were subject to a review of its part performance, T.C.U.’s 2010 season would count for the Big East in that review.

Here is where things get bizarre. T.C.U.’s 2010 regular season will also go toward the Mountain West’s bid toward gaining automatic qualification status for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, which will be evaluated in December 2011 ...

The cycles overlap because the conferences created a new evaluation period to coincide with the television contract. To do that, they overlap for two years, according to the B.C.S. executive director, Bill Hancock.
With the Horned Frogs safely in the fold, barring a total collapse on their part and a total failure on the part of the rest of the league to improve on their dreadful 2010 (remember that Cincinnati went undefeated as recently as last season) it seems unlikely the Big East will be in any real danger of losing their automatic bid.

The bigger question is what happens with the Mountain West, who has been derided in many corners today as a glorified WAC 2.0 after gaining Boise State , Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii but losing bellwethers Utah , TCU, and BYU . Thanks to the overlap in evaluation periods, however, the league appears to have a fighting chance at getting their long-awaited auto-bid after all. The combination of TCU's (as well as Utah's) excellent 2010 seasons combined with Boise's three-year 36-2 run back to 2008 (which Thamel explains will also count in the MWC's calculations) should give them a solid foundation. The new-look MWC middle class of rapidly-improving San Diego State , Air Force , and the three other WAC refugees will, at the least, be a substantial upgrade on the middle class of the old WAC and maybe even the current MWC if the Aztecs, Wolf Pack, and Warriors can build on their current success.

Will that be enough? It's probably still too early to say. But it's also too early to say, as many have in the wake of TCU's decision, that the MWC's dream of ascending to the ranks of the automatic qualifying conferences is dead just yet.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com