Saturday, October 10, 2009

What we learned, week 6

Air Force: 17-20 loss v. TCU. Gotta hand it to the Falcons here-- they played gutsy football, and were admirably unrelenting. TCU pushed them around pretty consistently until the last quarter, but AFA hung in there, clearly wanting it more. The Falcons, led by backup QB Connor Dietz, forced three turnovers, which kept the game close. Two of those came in the redzone, preventing TCU drives of 58 and 68 yards from turning into 14 points for the Frogs. But in the end, Air Force's lines were brilliant. AFA sacked Andy Dalton three times, and in conjunction with a remarkably inhospitable Mother Nature, demoralized the Horned Frogs. Key stat: AFA completed 7 of 18 passes, including one halfback pass for a TD. When AFA's passes keep a defense honest, its running game can excel. AFA ran for 287 yards, or 240 more than TCU's average allowed in the season's first four games.

BYU: 59-21 win at UNLV. It's still not the pass-first, pass-second, and pass-third BYU that we've all grown to know and love/hate, but it certainly was efficient. The Cougars ran well over half the time, garnering almost seven ypc. Hall didn't throw any interceptions, and completed 75% of his passes. The defense was stout and opportunistic, grabbing three UNLV passes and holding the Rebs for under three ypc. Key stat: seven Cougars grabbed multiple passes. BYU is on cruise control, looking world-class against the dregs of its schedule.

Colorado State: 17-24 loss v. Utah. This one has to hurt just a smidge more than an average conference loss. CSU gave up 14 points on turnovers and seven more on a 47-yard TD pass in the last 19 minutes of the game. In the end, it was a shootout and Utah has better horses than CSU for that kind of game. The Utes outgained CSU only 0.4 ypc on average; CSU didn't convert nearly as many third downs as Utah, but that may not have mattered were it not for the interceptions. Key stat: Leonard Mason has broken out; he ran for 130 yards on 24 carries against the Utes' formerly-fearsome rush defense. Colorado State, despite its three-game skid, is a rising threat in the conference. Expect another loss at TCU this week, before the win-loss column turns again toward the Rams' favor.

New Mexico: 37-13 loss at Wyoming. Well, maybe those breakthrough hopes that accompanied the Lobos solid performance against Texas Tech last week might have come with a force majeure clause; snow, ice, wind, and cold weather dogged New Mexico in Laramie, icing the southern team's ground game (UNM couldn't best 2 ypc). Add critical penalties (8 for 64 yards), and a couple interceptions, and suddenly New Mexico is staring at 0-6. Key stat: again the Lobos were abysmal on 3rd or 4th down, converting only 4 of 17. This week's performance, notwithstanding the elements, was the very picture of uninspired football. Coach L had better light a fire under his players in a hurry, or he'll become easier and easier to replace, much sooner than expected.

San Diego State: bye.

TCU: 20-17 win at Air Force. The Wimple acknowledges ignorance about how inclement (in this case extremely cold) weather affects football players and plays. It was 19 degrees, with a wind and drizzle at 5:30 PM gametime in Colorado Springs on Saturday. Add a sour week in practice previously, and probably TCU is lucky have escaped with a win and only a two-spot drop in the AP poll (the Frogs rose a spot in the coaches' poll). Key stat: TCU's o-line allowed three sacks. That hasn't happened since... since... (still checking). The Frogs need to bounce back into dominant form: for example, not allowing three sacks, and not fumbling in the red zone. If TCU indeed does bounce back, this win will end up looking like the CSU win last season. If not, it'll look like BYU's New Mexico win last season: prelude to the fall.

UNLV: 21-59 loss v. BYU. This is getting awfully repetitive: UNLV gave away the crown jewels, or the line of scrimmage, and lost by a ton. BYU outgained UNLV on average 4.4 more ypc., and held the ball ten more minutes than the Rebels. And that's not as bad as it's been for the Rebels this season! Hopes for a turnaround in Las Vegas under Coach Sanford have fled. Key stat: BYU scored 14 points off drives it began by intercepting the Rebels. This would have been a close game had those points gone to UNLV instead.

Utah: 24-17 win at Colorado State. Utah looked fairly flat for about 40 minutes, and then turned on its jets. Terrance Cain connected with David Reed for a 47-yard TD pass 4 minutes before the fourth quarter, and it was all Utah from then until the end. Robert Johnson picked off three Grant Stucker passes, ending each of CSU's remaining drives. Cain engineered touchdowns off two of those INTs, leading Utah to his most impressive victory this season. Key stat: Eddie Wide ran for just over 100 yards on 17 tries. The Utes may not miss Matt Asiata as much as they'd feared.

Wyoming: 37-13 win v. New Mexico. The Cowboys proved an inhospitable host to the Lobos, forcing New Mexico to play one-dimensionally. UNM couldn't manage 2 ypc, while Wyoming executed a very balanced attack. Carta-Samuels led the snowy show, passing adequately (only 50%, but 3 TDs, 0 INTs) but running well. He tallied 54 yards on 10 carries, while freshman Alvester Alexander and Brandon Stewart chugged for 128 yards on 29 carries, and 2 TDs. Key stat: again the Lobos were abysmal on 3rd or 4th down, converting only 4 of 17. Key stat: Wyoming converted almost half of its third and fourth downs (45%). Add stiff run defense, and it appears Wyoming has vacated the conference's basement about a year sooner than expected.

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