Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PWtW Week 2 Preview

"A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well."
~Sir Francis Bacon

For his work in pioneering what we now call the scientific method and his other contributions to philosophy, politics and literature, Bacon is rightly viewed as one of the Western world's brightest minds. You'd also have a hard time picking a better man's name to be associated with the greatest and tastiest of all meats.

Bacon, however, was not a follower of college football. Forgiving this enormous character flaw of his, let's try to check out this week's opponent without totally fouling up his good name.

Colorado State Rams

How appropriate it is that the Pack squares off against the Rams with revenge on their minds and then to have Sir Bacon enlighten us on how revenge keeps our wounds green. As in "green and gold." Gag.

It is absolutely true that revenge is often hollow and not worth the time and energy required to exact it. But when your favorite team completely embarrasses themselves beyond explanation or reproach against what turned out to be a horrendously underwhelming opponent, it's not easy to simply shrug off the whole experience with a casual "Oh fiddlesticks! That shouldn't have happened. C'est la vie."

Coach Ault's players are normally very careful when they discuss opposing teams with the media. But seeing Kaep's honesty on how he and his teammates are approaching this game in the above link is very insightful as to how hard they took the loss in Fort Collins last year. Taking his words at face value, no one in the Wolf Pack locker room will be looking ahead to Cal next week, and that's where revenge can (hopefully) serve a practical purpose.

The visitors being led by true freshman QB Pete Thomas (above) are a little younger but not much different than the squad the Pack previously lost to. The offense will get them into a few more jams than it will get them out of, and the defense is surprisingly stout in spite of the offense's suckitude. They put up 3 points and 245 yards of offense against a Colorado team that may or may not be decent at last, and those teams' combined yardages were about equal to Nevada's total offense by itself last week (552 to 553, respectively).

True, Nevada surrendered its share of big plays and touchdown drives to an FCS team, but the defensive game plan was fairly conservative on the whole (As evidenced by Dontay Moch's lack of involvement on even the most pedestrian blitzes the defense ran). Also true is the Rams' inability to produce big plays of their own or even cross the goal line, but that could be attributed to a true freshman's first collegiate start. It's safe to assume that both teams will be putting forth better all-around efforts than they did last week.

Best-Case Scenario

Nevada rips CSU a new orifice and fills it with a whole year's worth of pent up rage. The offense continues to have its way with most every defense it encounters, scoring lots of points and spreading the ball around in a truly balanced attack. The defense significantly improves its tackling and does exactly what it should against an offense that's still unsure of itself. Kick and punt returns put the Pack in great field position more often than not. Penalties all around are limited.

Worst-Case Scenario

CSU "physically handles" the Pack once again all the way to another frustrating loss. Thomas matures at a phenomenal rate and lights up a thin secondary already reeling from Corbin Louks's knee injury. Kaep and Co. fail to hold on to the ball long enough to score often enough to remain in the game. The "conservative game plans" against EWU turn out to be actual mediocrity and inability. In other words, a play-for-play, mistake-for-mistake repeat of last year's effort.

Ultimately, the question at the heart of this game is whether the Rams can improve enough from Week 1 to Week 2 to overcome Nevada's revenge-minded players and home field advantage. And the short answer is "Probably not." Later in the year this CSU team might be fully capable of handing the Pack a bona fide upset loss. But the handicaps of a freshman QB in his first true road game this early in the season with the stigma of ten straight losses accompanying most of his teammates will likely be too much to overcome.

You know the old adage "Revenge is a dish best served cold"? It turns out our friend Sir Bacon died after he allegedly contracted pneumonia while studying how freezing meat could help to preserve it. And to that, I respectfully say "Suck it, Francis."

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