Thursday, September 17, 2009

What we learned: Week 2

The OOC Tally: 11-6 overall, 3-5 v. the cartel, 2-2 v. '08 bowl teams, 5-0 v. 2A teams.
(2008 tally: 10-4 overall, 2-3 v. the cartel, 1-1 v. '07 bowl teams, 4-1 v. 2A teams;
2007 tally: 7-8 overall, 3-7 v. the cartel, 0-5 v. '06 bowl teams, 1-0 v. 2A teams.)

Air Force: 13-20 loss at Minnesota. The Falcons scared the bejeebers out of a larger Minnesota team, and lost in the face of a nearly flawless performance from Gopher QB Weber. The Falcons couldn't disrupt the Adam Weber-Eric Decker connection (10 receptions, 113 yards), including three key first down catches by Decker in the second half. AFA sunk its own boat when Minnesota returned a fumble for a touchdown late in the game. Key stat: AFA got zero touchdowns from 13 tries in the redzone.

BYU: 54-3 win at Tulane. Letdown? Who said anything about a letdown after the thriller at OU last week? Oh: the Wimple did? Well, not this week; not these Cougars. BYU got rolling slowly (the Cougars only led 3-0 starting the second quarter) but finished with 527 yards, giving up only 162. Probably the most important event of the day was another injury along BYU's offensive line. Braden Hansen (Jason Speredon's replacement) will miss up to a month rehabbing his ACL; sophomore Marco Thorson replaces him. Key stat: no one BYU receiver caught more than 3 passes, and eight receivers caught more than one.

Colorado State: 24-23 win v. Weber State. There may be no moral victories in football, but CSU came about as close as possible to giving one to Weber State. The 2A team converted 13 of 23 3rd and 4th downs, while CSU converted none; the 2A team held the ball fully sixteen minutes longer than CSU. How did Colorado State win? The Rams were +2 for turnovers, including a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Key stat: 23 rush attempts for only 63 yards-- a measley 2.7 yards per carry. That's not going to cut it, and the Rams hope Shelley Smith's return (which is exactly when?) will be (a) soon, and (b) bolster that poor showing.

New Mexico: 10-44 loss v. Tulsa. It would be hard to imagine a worse start to this season than the Lobos particular version of 0-2. Fans had such high hopes for the many returners and new players. Instead they got another dose of ineffective quarterbacking from senior Donovan Porterie and young B. R. Holbrook. Demond Dennis looked very pedestrian at tailback, again. While Tulsa tore through the Lobos' D, the formerly proud New Mexico running game only managed 2.2 yards per carry. Key stat: zero offensive touchdowns in 2009. Still.

San Diego State: 35-19 win v. Southern Utah. That's more like it: Ryan Lindley, Vincent Brown, and Brandon Sullivan led the Aztecs to their first win under Brady Hoke. The offensive line was sharp, the defense swarming; next comes an incrementally more difficult test: doing the same on the road against a bottom-tier 1A team. Key stat: SDSU converted 8 of 14 third and fourth downs. Sustained drives cure a multitude of ills in football, and that medicine was sorely needed in San Diego.

TCU: 30-14 win at Virginia. The Frogs are not showing any more than they must so far, and didn't need to show much to beat the Cavaliers. Jerry Hughes was unstoppable, as were his three new starting brethren on the line (and their backups); after a slow start, Dalton was excellent, going 10-10 and four rushes for 28 yards to finish the game. Key stat: five different Frogs had seven or more rushes, and four had multiple receptions. That's spreading the ball around-- and not even showing off the new passing attack about which Frog fans have heard (but not seen) so much.

UNLV: 21-23 loss v. Jaquizz Rodgers. (OK, ok, "Oregon State.") As much as the Wimple loves UNLV, it appears to be time to narrow the eyes and admit that the Rebs' upgrade on defense failed. UNLV could not stop Jaquizz Rodgers. All Rodgers did was carry the ball 26 times for 166 yards and a TD, and catch it ten times for 65 more yards. And when it counted most-- up by one, third down, less than a minute left, the opponent deep in its own territory, the Rebs gave up a pass intereference penalty on that gave the aforementioned Mr. Rodgers the chance to get the Beavers into field goal range, which he promptly did. Key stat: backup QB Mike Clausen roared into the game after starter Omar Clayton nursed a hurt knee, and promptly led UNLV on two touchdown drives, taking the lead for the first time in the game. That said, the Wimple resigns from the Rebel fanclub until UNLV finds a run defense that can stop at least a Sunday school class.

Utah: 24-14 win at San Jose State. One expects a bumpy ride when breaking in a new QB, and Saturday was a stomach-turner for Ute fans. Utah didn't pull away until the fourth quarter, and may have lost Matt Asiata for a week or two in the process. Whether the offense has gelled enough to continue their nation-leading winning streak becomes a pointed question at Oregon this week. Key stat: SJSU managed only 1.0 yards per carry. Perhaps Koa M'isi's return was the spark the Ute D needed to reclamp opponents on the ground.

Wyoming: 10-41 loss v. Texas. It looked surprisingly even at halftime: Texas only up 13-10. But by then Colt McCoy and the Longhorns had adjusted to the altitude and reeled off the game's remaining 28 points. But green shoots abound in Wyoming. Eleven Cowboys caught passes; Carta-Samuels looked almost good as the backup true freshman. The defense, in a truly impossible situation, played manfully. Key stat: Wyoming complete 23 passes (out of 50). Improvement there is sure to happen, and will become lethal late this season.

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