Since OBNUG wasn't really doing the whole "blog bets" thing this year....WHEW, we did a little Q and A with them instead.
Here is what they had to say before the game, and here is our postgame reactions to that.
1. We've read a lot of Boise fans stating that the 4-2-5 is Boise's base defense and is the "spread killer". Recently it was pointed out that against Oregon this year and against Nevada last year, the Bronco defense did not use it's base defense and that instead ran a lot of 6-1 cover zero. Do you think that is true and what do you expect them to do this year? Also, why do you think fans say that the Pistol is a spread offense? A lot of Nevada fans feel that it has evolved into a power running game with Wing-T and triple option principles.
I have not heard anything about the Broncos playing a 6-1 against Oregon and Nevada. Lies! Lies, I tell you. Who are the six and who is the one? It might seem like a 6-1 since the linebackers are so sold out to the run, but that is nowhere near the alignment. Also, the Broncos rarely play a cover zero defense. It is more often a combo zone based upon the short and wide sides of the field. I could see a single-safety zone against Oregon or Nevada with everyone else playing short zones underneath, but a cover zero? Rarely.
Don't get me wrong. The idea of a 6-1 is very intriguing to me, but if the Broncos were to have played a 6-1 against either Oregon or Nevada, I would have known about it because the Idaho Statesman would have written about it. Oh wait. I'm confusing the Idaho Statesman with the imaginary newspaper that writes about things I care about. And has Sally Forth cartoons.
Today, I covered a new wrinkle that the Broncos might use on Friday (http://www.obnug.com/2009/11/25/1173544/can-the-boise-state-defense-slow). It's a base 3-4 look or, as your friends might call it, a "6-1 cover zero." The Broncos play a defensive end at outside linebacker, bring their nickelbacker into the box at the other OLB, and move a defensive tackle out to defensive end. It is the same personnel as the 4-2-5 but a different alignment based on what the offense shows.
No matter how the Broncos line up, I think that a lot of elements from last year's defensive strategy will remain in play. I see Boise State putting a defensive back on Kaepernick. I see the Broncos pinching the interior lineman and flooding linebackers up the middle to take away the dive. I see TFLs and sacks and turnovers. I have 40/80 vision and may need corrective lenses.
As far as Nevada's spread goes, here's the deal: How do you define a "spread" offense? If we are being really particular about it, a "spread" offense is simply an offense that spreads its players across the line of scrimmage. As such, any three-WR base offense is a "spread" offense, and Nevada runs a "spread" offense. Boise State's 4-2-5 works against the "spread" because it replaces a slow linebacker with a faster linebacker/safety hybrid who matches up better with a third receiver without giving much away in run support.
What Nevada does from the spread is where the real debate lies. I would totally buy into the power running game angle because I think that is really the intent and purpose of the Pistol and it is the M.O. of this Nevada team. To be considered a power running team, it doesn't matter what formation you run from so long as you can run at will over an opponent. Ipso facto, Nevada's a power running team.
(I'm not quite sold on the "Wing-T" theory since it is a formation rather than a play. The triple option I'll buy, provided there are indeed three options on a particular play.)
Post game response: Boise is who we thought they were. As many times as we saw Iloka firing up from the safety position to make a tackle on Taua (like the first two plays of the game) and saw safety Jerone Johnson and corner Kyle Wilson up in Kaep's gril on run support, it was obvious that Boise sold out to stop the run and the read option. Nevada looked good for a little bit in the first half throwing the ball and it lead to a couple of 2nd quarter scores. In the end, a team who's only thrown 37 times in it's last 3 games combined isn't likely to come out slingin it consistently for 4 quarters of football against the leagues best defense.
2. Someone recently pointed out that they felt Boise was actually better last year than this year and used WAC points allowed as their basis. The numbers are 22 ppg this season vs. 12 ppg last season. Do you think that last years defense was better or is this years WAC better from top to bottom?
I think both are true. Last year's defense was an all-time beast of a unit that was more dominant than any Bronco defense in school history. Don't bother checking that statement with facts; I didn't. The WAC teams on the Broncos' schedule this season are some of the best opponents that the conference has ever had. I think this is a direct correlation to the fact that Brent Guy, Tom Brandstater, and Taylor Bennett are no longer in the conference.
Boise State's defense would have challenged the 2008 version if it had been able to play up to the potential it showed in this year's Oregon game. Obviously, that has not happened. Whether it be mental lapses, breakdowns in fundamentals, or whatever, this year's defense just hasn't been as out-of-this-world good as last year's. How much worse have they been? Marginally. And let me be clear that being worse than last year's defense is not that bad. The defense that takes the field against Nevada on Friday night will be, in my estimation, the best one that the Wolf Pack have seen this year.
Post game response: Boise's defense may well have been the best we faced this season. For Nevada to have scored 33 points against them in their house is a solid guage of just how far the offense had come from the 35-0 shutout at Southbend to start the season. Up next: Work on the passing portion of the pistol offense to compliment the dominating run game it generates.
3. Kellen Moore is having a fantastic season for you guys but recently got left off of the Davey O'Brien finalists. Boise State is in a position that even with a win this Friday they may find themselves left out of the BCS picture, again. How frustrated are you with the hideous orange and blue colors your team wears that prevents you from being the chic pick in any event? And also how frustrated are you with your AD for not scheduling at least one more Oregon quality opponent this season? Are you in favor of the 2-1 games (whatever it takes to get us in the ring with the big boys) or are you in the "we've proved ourselves and why should we have to settle for anything other than 1-1 deals" camp? It was rumored that BSU wanted $1M recently to play someone big. True? Thoughts?
College football is the devil, and no matter how Jesus films I ship to its address, it will always be the devil. I have given up trying to find a way for the Broncos to succeed in this backwards-thinking mess of a sport. If Boise State schedules tougher opponents, the BCS will find new ways to screw the Broncos over. It is a never-ending cycle of disappointment, anger, and depression, followed by my running giddily into the open arms of the NHL playoffs.
Instead, I've chosen to focus on the virtues of the Boise State football team and celebrate the privilege of rooting for one of the best all-around teams in the country. That's why a Bronco loss on Friday will pretty much end me. Until the NHL playoffs, that is.
Post game response: The Bronco's may well just slide into the BCS as an at-large with the no show that Oklahoma St pulled today. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.
4. You have an interesting situation brewing that you might not be aware of. Earlier this year you picked ESPN's Graham Watson as your public enemy number one. You had Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick as a close second. Graham Watson is picking you guys to win this game. Colin Kaepernick is playing you in this game. If Kaepernick has a monster game and Boise St doesn't win.....Do you fault the person who jinxed you or the person directly responsible? Does Watson remain your #1 enemy? Does Kaepernick take over? What if Ault pulls a Blount and sucker punches Pete after the game? Does he take over?
My site has been about one or two years behind in each of its Public Enemy choices. The first one was Dan Hawkins, well after he had already spurned the Broncos for greener pastures. The Graham Watson choice would have been much better in 2008, rather than in 2009.
Officially, Watson retains her title until the new PE#1 is crowned next spring. Unofficially, I've been hating Craig James pretty bad for about a month or two. If Kaepernick has a monster game and then votes the Broncos No. 18 in his poll, he might give James a run for his money.
Post game response: We were honestly just hoping and praying that it would be the Ault punch to Peterson's face that happened. There's always next year.
5. Speaking of Kaepernick; he along with Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott became the first trio of players ever in the NCAA to rush for 1,000 yards in the same season on the same team. They did it in 11 games. How impressive of a stat is that and what do you set the over/under for rush yards allowed by Boise in order for Boise to win this game? What do you think the over/under for Boise State's pass yardage is in order for Nevada to win this game. What is the over/under on number of "trick plays" (I.E. half back pass, fake punt/fg, onside kick, etc) attempted in this game?
Congratulations! You did it! World's best backfield! Good job, everybody. [/Elf'd!]
Here are my predictions.
Over/under on rush yards allowed for Boise State to win: 250. Nevada got under 150 last year and came close to pulling out the W. I've seen the Broncos withstand some pretty big ground games this season, so I'm thinking this defense (and offense) can handle at least 250.
Over/under on pass yards allowed for Boise State to win: 200. If Kaepernick gets hot, I think Boise State is in trouble. Passing yards can keep the Wolf Pack in the game, provided they don't turn the ball over. If Kaepernick gets over 200, a game we shall have.
Over/under on trick plays: 70. I consider every play run from the Pistol formation a "trick play."
Post game response: OBNUG called this one pretty spot on. We were just under 250 rushing (242) and Kaep was under 200 (141). It was still a game, regardless but we could have used a little more of both in the second half and the turnover that OBNUG so kindly mentioned was a momentum changer.
6. One last question: When you look back on the season, where do you feel this game ranks in order of difficulty and importance? Some were calling the Oregon game the biggest in Bronco Stadium history. Does this one surpass that?
The Oregon game will always remain the biggest game of the season. Pat Forde was there. Duh.
However, I think that this game might be the most important WAC game at the stadium in several years. The Wolf Pack will be the most serious threat to Boise State's conference reign since Colt Brennan's Hawaii teams. Those games always had a special feel. This one does, too.
Post game response: Although it was a huge game and turned out to be fairly close in the second half, the initial down pour of Boise points gave the game a feel of it never really being the battle it was billed to be. It's too bad. Had Nevada kicked off and forced them to earn the points through a long drive like they did on Boise's second scoring drive, it may have given the entire game a different feel. Instead it just gave it a hopeless feel.