Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Filler #8: New Mexico State

So we're done celebrating Memorial Day weekend here in northern Nevada and it actually snowed in a few places. This is usually the time when I make some contrived reference to Nevada weather and how unpredictable it is, but I'm too cold and too angry right now to do that. Instead, I'll just have to console myself with the merciful end of the Slog Through Red October, which is finally within typing distance.

New Mexico State Aggies

Remember back when I alluded to the Lobos as only the second-worst team in the state of New Mexico historically? Of course you do. As you can guess, these poor dopes are the first-worst. Between the Aggies, Lobos and their neighbors in El Paso, there's just something about being along the Rio Grande that seems to doom your football program to have a losing overall record and little postseason success.


Scoring: 15.7 points per game (117th)
Rushing: 129.1 yards per game (89th)
Passing: 167.4 yards per game (99th)
Total: 296.5 yards per game (112th)
1st Downs: 16.9 per game (102nd)
3rd Down Conversions: 30.0% (118th)
Red Zone Conversions: 79.2% (84th)


Scoring: 39.5 points per game (115th)
Rushing: 207.1 yards per game (110th)
Passing: 246.3 yards per game (t-103rd)
Total: 453.3 yards per game (112th)
Sacks: 9.0 (119th)
Tackles for Loss: 42.0 (119th)
Turnover Margin: -6 (t-86th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 1 (t-113th)
Kickoff Returns: 24.4 yards per return (17th)
Punts: 37.0 yards per punt (116th)
Punt Returns: 5.9 yards per return (95th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 1,410 and 16 - Total kickoff return yards and number of kickoff returns of 30 or more yards, respectively, for senior-to-be return specialist and wide receiver Taveon Rogers last year, the latter of which was the most of any player in the country; 16-58 - The Aggies' overall record since joining the WAC in 2005, the conference's worst record in that time frame; 50 and 5 - Number of years and months, as of today, which have passed since the last time New Mexico State played in a bowl game, a 20-13 win over Utah State in the Sun Bowl.

Just how long ago was the Aggies' last bowl appearance? It was New Year's Eve of 1960 -- gas was 31 cents a gallon, the United Nations had only 99 members and Ralph Macchio's glorious conception was still nearly a year away. Oh, and New Mexico State had just completed a perfect 11-0 season in which they finished ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll. It's at this point that facts like those cease to be amusing bits of trivia and they instead become sad, strange testaments to the longest running absence between bowl appearances in college football history.

When Hal Mumme was brought to Las Cruces in 2005, he quickly gained notoriety for engineering insanely productive passing offenses, still managing to lose a ton of games in spite of said offenses and looking vaguely like a coked out Michael Douglas with a towel fetish. Then DeWayne Walker replaced him in 2009, and he's trying out the quaint tactic of building up a balanced offense coupled with a sound defense. We make fun of teams like New Mexico State all the time on here, but given that Walker has already shown more tact and class in two years than Mumme ever showed in twice that time, we have no problem wishing him luck.

For many new head coaches, the third year is about the time when real, tangible improvements start to get reflected in the win and loss columns. And to the Aggies' credit, they return enough players on both sides of the ball to warrant such positive thoughts. Seven starters each on offense and defense return, and the only departing player of real note productivity-wise is NFL draft pick Davon House at corner. This was a team whose inexperience at key positions showed all throughout last year, and gained enough experience to warrant (nonetheless cautious) optimism for a few more wins in 2011.

Well that's that. The Slog Through Red October is finally complete, and now the more intriguing WAC summaries can begin. So grab your custom gang-appointed vests and artfully tussle up your hair for next week's entry on Hawai'i.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The "G Word"

Here it is, folks: the "lost entry" I alluded to in the Summer Filler for New Mexico. It's not quite the same entry that was so cruelly taken away from me that week, but it's the most faithful reproduction I could put together. Hopefully you'll enjoy it.

For many of you -- particularly those of Italian descent -- "the G word" refers to "Guido," an ethnic slur and source of consternation and debate among Italian-Americans. But today, I'd like to submit to you another "G word" most commonly used among sports fans which unequivocally needs to be retired, or at least replaced with something better. Like the more well-known word, it's also often used as a put down, with more than a hint of condescension beneath the surface. I'll let dictionary.com pull up the curtain here for me:

gim`mick (gim-ik) noun - 1. an ingenious or novel device, scheme or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal. 2. a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal...3. a hidden mechanical device by which a magician works a trick or a gambler controls a game of chance.

Incidentally, a hand-off out of a zone read fits that third definition pretty well, don't you think?

Yeah, we've all heard this word used to describe the pistol offense before, and it seems to have once again come into common use since Colin Kaepernick's draft selection by the 49ers. We'd be some of the richest fans in the land if we had a nickle for every time a national columnist or ESPN talking head used the words "gimmick" or "gimmicky" to describe Nevada's offense. It's a term seemingly as old as the sport itself, and Nevada is not the first -- nor will be the last -- to have it directed at them.

But herein lies the first problem of using the word "gimmick" to describe a way of doing things in college football, or any other sport for that matter: it's ignorant of the sport's evolution over its history. The people who call the pistol "gimmicky" today are the same people who would've called the spread, shotgun, single-wing or even the forward pass gimmicks when they were first introduced. The word implies that there's only a select few "acceptable" ways of doing things on the field, with no room for creativity or deviation of any kind. Apparently, across 120 different FBS programs in college football, there's absolutely no reason to try anything different or differentiate yourself from other programs in any way -- who knew?

According to many Cal fans, this was the result of a "gimmicky" offense the Bears had never seen before...or because Mike Mohamed didn't play...or because it was on a Friday night...or because of the altitude...or because the tide wasn't out yet...or because the players were all on their periods at the same time...

That last point segues perfectly into my next one. Take another look at that first definition of the word: "...especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal". This would limit the number of programs who use gimmicks in some way to EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM IN THE ENTIRE FRIGGIN' NATION!!! The pistol is no more a gimmick in attracting attention to Nevada football than Boise State's blue turf is in attracting attention to theirs (but for the record, Nevada's is MUCH cooler). The same thing can be said for the Fresno State "V", Oregon's infamous football uniforms and Auburn's network of boosters skilled in leaving wads of cash in discrete places (allegedly). In case you hadn't noticed, recruiting players to your program is all about "attracting attention and increasing appeal". If you're going to call the pistol a gimmick, fine, but apply it equally to everything which fits the definition and not just to the quirky offense you don't know or care enough about to understand.

And that last sentence leads me to the final reason why the "gimmick" label has to go: it's convenient. It's an easy way by which casual fans and self-proclaimed experts alike can quickly absolve themselves of the task of learning more about it. Rather than find out exactly why the pistol has worked for Nevada, they simply call it a gimmick and use the label as a means of downplaying what it has been able to do. It speaks to laziness on the part of the person saying it, and rather than making them look more informed, it has the opposite effect.

So to recap why we should stop calling things in college football "gimmicks" or "gimmicky":

~ It's ignorant of the sport's history
~ It's ignorant of what a gimmick really is
~ It makes you yourself look ignorant when you use the word

Not much else to it, really. If you want to be a trendsetter amongst your friends, put some thought into crafting a more respectable name for innovations like the pistol. But if you don't mind looking or sounding like these idiots...

...then by all means, keep saying "gimmick".

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Filler #7: Fresno State

So it's after May 21st, 2011 and we were all spared the Rapture that was supposed to have taken place on Saturday night. Is it wrong that I kinda sorta half-expected it to happen? After all, wouldn't it have been just our luck as Wolf Pack fans to have our one win over Boise State in the last decade immediately followed by a worldwide, Biblical cataclysm of death? Maybe this means we CAN have nice things once in a while!

Fresno State Bulldogs

If the Bulldogs are playing a BCS team, chances are good that they'll come out with the focus and intensity of soldiers on a mission. But often against the teams they're expected to beat, they can't seem to recapture that same fire. They've also shown an unfortunate knack for coming apart as their seasons wind down. In a way, Fresno State is to college football what Stephen King is to horror stories: their set-ups are awesome, but their pay-offs are crap.


Scoring: 29.0 ppg (t-48th)
Rushing: 150.6 ypg (65th)
Passing: 220.0 ypg (61st)
Total: 370.6 ypg (70th)
1st Downs: 19.3 pg (64th)
3rd Downs Converted: 35.4% (93rd)
Red Zone Conversions: 84.8% (41st)


Scoring: 30.0 ppg (83rd)
Rushing: 158.5 ypg (66th)
Passing: 208.8 ypg (46th)
Total: 367.2 ypg (59th)
Sacks: 35.0 (t-12th)
Tackles for Loss: 84.0 (t-34th)
Turnover Margin: -11 (t-111th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 6 (t-77th)
Kickoff Returns: 22.5 ypr (45th)
Punts: 37.4 ypp (110th)
Punt Returns: 9.3 ypr (44th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 2.69 - Number of sacks per game the Bulldogs averaged in 2010, tied with Arkansas for 13th in the country; 16.0 and 93 - Number of tackles for loss and their yards, respectively, that Chris Carter accounted for in his final season; 15 - Number of fumbles lost by the Bulldogs last year, tied for 108th in the country.

There's been a pivotal moment in each of the last few seasons where the Bulldogs seem to have just thrown up their hands and said "Screw this." Last year it was after they came up short against the Pack, when they got shut out by Boise, squeaked by Idaho and Illinois and then got spiritually de-pantsed by Northern Illinois. In the year before, it was a beatdown in Reno that set the stage for two more close wins and a flat, uninspiring bowl loss to Wyoming. And in the year before that, a close road loss to Louisiana Tech led to losses in three of their next five games, capped off by their first New Mexico Bowl loss to Colorado State. For a program with so many wins against BCS competition, they seem to have a lot of trouble grasping the concept of "finishing what you start."

The stats tell the story of a team that was exceptional in a few areas (sacks and tackles for loss) mediocre in most others and sub-par in the rest. Their offense was capable of being good, and their defense was capable of being exceptional, but they still had a lot of trouble holding on to the ball and keeping teams out of the end zone, respectively. Turnovers, in particular, seem to have played a big role in unraveling the team in each of their five losses. Even with a final record of 8-5, it was still evident that they couldn't...quite...get...over...the hump, a problem that should be all too familiar to us.

Gone are Ryan Colburn at quarterback, tight end Vince Pascoe (not to be confused with Bear Pascoe -- I looked it up) and a stunning four out of five starters along the offensive line. The situation is only slightly less pressing on defense, where the aforementioned Carter, Cornell Banks (nose tackle), Ben Jacobs (middle linebacker), Desia Dunn (corner) and Lorne Bell (strong safety) all depart. The skill players who do return, like Jamel Hamler, Robbie Rouse and Logan Harrell, will be relied upon early and often for this team, particularly as Derek Carr gets acclimated to being the new starting quarterback. Even so, they still probably have enough talent to at least be in the mix for the WAC title.

If the Slog Through Red October were a video game, next week's team would be the Gigantic Main Boss Monster of Suck: New Mexico State.

Friday, May 20, 2011

If I Made the Schedules...

I'm not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. I know this may shock and appall some of you to hear, but it's true. In spite of what I can often convince myself of, I especially don't know what goes into running a successful collegiate athletic department. I suspect it's a lot like dating multiple women at once or running a drug ring in that it looks like heaps of fun from the outside, but is actually much harder than it looks once you go into it at the ground level.

I can imagine the same is true for crafting a football schedule. Today's mid- to lower-level BCS team at the time an agreement is signed could become tomorrow's Top 15 behemoth when the actual game rolls around. There's a certain amount of calculated risks that must be taken to put together the ideal slate of games. It must be logically structured for the sake of helping your team to realize its full potential. It certainly should NOT consist of stepping out for weekly tilts against top-level competition early in the year without a reprieve of any kind. Who would ever put together a schedule like that? Even I know that would be profoundly stupid.

That's why I'm devoting this entry to a few teams I'd like to see the Pack play a series with in the future. They're not arranged in any particular order and no matter how much rationalizing I may do, the ultimate criterion for putting them on here is still "Because I want to, consarn it!".


They're two time zones apart and it probably wouldn't make much sense logistically for either team, but in Pistol Whipping Land I am the Dictator for Life. In spite of their coaches constantly getting poached, Tulsa's been a very solid team the last few years -- particularly on offense -- and I think it'd be a fun series.


Here's a series I've wanted to see happen since before their Pac-12 invitation came down. Utah has the kind of athletic program that Nevada should seek to emulate, be it the BCS bowl wins in football or the Final Four appearances in basketball. And it'd be a pretty easy trip for fans of both teams as well. For Utah, at least, it would also make a lot more sense than another series with San Jose State would.


The only meeting between the Horned Frogs and Wolf Pack was back in 2000 and...it didn't go well. And as far as resources, fan support and on-field success go, TCU is still a good deal farther ahead of Nevada eleven years later. But as Nevada's recruiting presence in Texas begins to increase, it would make sense to try to get a series or two with some Texas teams, even if their mascot does resemble a freakish Pokemon/human hybrid like Super Frog here.

Ole Miss

Would Nevada have a shot at beating an SEC team on the road? Couldn't tell you. Would an SEC team even agree to a series with a team from the Mountain West in the first place? I have no idea. The only reason I put the Rebels on this list is for the selfish reason of wanting to see the pre-game experience that is The Grove. It's been talked about and ballyhooed so much across college football that it's gotten to the point where I feel like I HAVE to see it for myself. And I'm just talking about the tailgating that goes on there -- no distracting scenery for this blogger. None whatsoever. No sir. None at all.


Why the hell hasn't this series happened yet?! It's not the fact that they've only played each other thirteen times, or the fact that all of them have been in California, or even the fact that the last game between these teams was in 1931 -- it's the principle of the matter, damn it! Especially in this time of high travel expenses, quality teams that are four hours apart have no business avoiding each other like they have the Plague. If Cal can afford to come down out of their trees and grace us Renoites with their smelly presence, then so can the Robber Barons!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Filler #6: New Mexico

I had an entry all lined up and scheduled to be posted last Friday morning, but due to some difficulties beyond my control, that entry was deleted by this hosting service. It was a good one, too, and I'm sad I won't be able to bring it to you. Maybe I'll be able to recall it by memory at a later date, but for now, I'll just have to settle for the second episode in my Slog Through Red October four-part saga. Joygasm.

New Mexico Lobos

Former Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was brought to Albuquerque in 2009 to replace Rocky Long and -- for lack of a better phrase -- it's pretty much been all downhill for the Lobos since then. In spite of his (apparent) recruiting prowess, they've gone 2-22 in Locksley's first two seasons, fielding some of the most inept offenses and defenses in the country in that time.


Scoring: 15.8 ppg (116th)
Rushing: 108.4 ypg (106th)
Passing: 167.4 ypg (99th)
Total: 266.1 ypg (120th)
1st Downs: 15.7 pg (t-112th)
3rd Downs Converted: 32.2% (109th)
Red Zone Conversions: 84.0% (46th)


Scoring: 44.3 ppg (120th)
Rushing: 250.2 ypg (120th)
Passing: 218.8 ypg (57th)
Total: 469.0 ypg (119th)
Sacks: 11.0 (t-116th)
Tackles for Loss: 55.0 (t-108th)
Turnover Margin: -12 (t-115th)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 5 (t-82nd)
Kickoff Returns: 23.5 ypr (24th)
Punts: 39.6 ypp (84th)
Punt Returns: 2.3 ypr (119th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 9.58 - number of tackles per game senior-to-be linebacker Carmen Messina averaged last year, 26th in the country; 31.4 - average margin of defeat in the Lobos' 11 losses last year; 6 - total number of games the Lobos have won since shutting out Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl.

When the best thing you can say about the Lobos is that they aren't the worst team in the state of New Mexico historically, you can probably deduce there's not much to discuss about them back in the present. To give you a unique idea of how truly bad this team has been, here's a link to the Google Images search I performed on the aforementioned Messina. Notice how the best image I could find of him from last season -- gang-tackling a TCU running back -- compares to the next-best images you'll see: standing with his helmet off during practice and limping off the field with an injury. Truly a fitting metaphor for how far this program has fallen of late.

Granted, the Lobos aren't really known as a world-beating program anyway, as evidenced by their lack of a single conference championship since 1964. But they were at least adequate with the occasional bits of greatness sprinkled here and there -- this was the same program that gave the football world Brian Urlacher and the 3-3-5 defense, after all. They're actually not much different than Nevada in many ways, but the two programs have gone in very different directions since that fateful December afternoon in Albuquerque in 2007.

Locksley will no doubt be under a lot of pressure to perform in this coming season, and he'll have relatively few personnel questions to answer first. The biggest area of concern will be on the offensive line, where three starters are gone from a unit that already had a lot of trouble generating offense and protecting its young quarterbacks. Two wide receivers and a fullback also depart, and that's fortunately where the major losses appear to end. The defense's only losses of note are end Seth Johannemann, tackle Peter Gardner, linebacker Cody Neely and safety Brian Hill, the latter two of which were both back-ups. This team has the makings of a put-up-or-shut-up season for its beleaguered coach -- if they want to get back to the .500 plateau, it will have to be with this group, or Locksley's own lox could be cooked.

We're halfway done with the Slog Through Red October, and a brief respite is on the horizon: Fresno State, the least terrible quarter of this crimson quartet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Summer Filler #5: NSU

Take another look at Nevada's 2011 football schedule. After having the reaction that's become standard by this time -- swearing out loud and violently punching the person closest to you -- what's the first thing you notice about it? There's a lot of red congregating around the month of October, isn't there? Much like with repeat criminals or Larry the Cable Guy fans (often one and the same), no good can be expected when this many red teams share the same confined space, even when spread out over four weeks. And in the case of these four, it produces a quantum singularity of pure suckitude -- a "red hole" -- right in the middle of the season.

I can already hear some of you: "Fresno State almost beat Nevada last year. They didn't start sucking until after that game." Be that as it may, for convenience's sake, they're guilty by association today. "What about all the good things in this world that are red, like Santa Claus or the Red Cross?" Very true, but you know who else likes red? Satan and communists.

That's why I'm enlisting the help of Tom Clancy submarine commander Marko Ramius to help me navigate this treacherous stretch of calendar. He defected to the U.S., has a submarine that's nearly undetectable, and was once played by Sean Connery -- what's not to love?

"Lenin'sh beard! It'sh a red hole! Take evashive action, you panshiesh! And why doesh everyone on thish shub shpeak with a phony Russian ackshent eckshept me?!"

NSU Rebels

If Rebel football were an environmental disaster, it would be a tire fire. No one knows exactly when it started burning, but that's pretty much all it's ever done and will likely continue to do for the foreseeable future. And that toxic black smoke coming from Sam Boyd Stadium billowed thicker than ever last year, with a new coach, young team, new offense and brutal schedule each playing a part in reducing the Rebels to rubbery kindling.


Scoring: 18.4 ppg (110th)
Rushing: 103.3 ypg (109th)
Passing: 170.9 ypg (98th)
Total: 274.2 ypg (118th)
1st Downs: 15.7 pg (t-112th)
3rd Downs Converted: 34.1% (t-103rd)
Red Zone Conversions: 83.3% (t-50th)


Scoring: 39.7 ppg (116th)
Rushing: 222.7 ypg (116th)
Passing: 227.8 ypg (t-77th)
Total: 450.5 ypg (109th)
Sacks: 12.0 (t-113th)
Tackles for Loss: 48.0 (117th)
Turnover Margin: -1 (t-61st)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 11 (t-44th)
Kickoff Returns: 23.3 ypr (28th)
Punts: 37.0 ypp (114th)
Punt Returns: 7.7 ypr (67th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 224 - Number of kick return yards sophomore-to-be Marcus Sullivan racked up in the season finale against San Diego State, a UNLV record; 8 for 170 - Number of receptions and receiving yards senior-to-be Phillip Payne had, respectively, against Nevada last year, both career highs; 3-32 - The Rebels' record in road games since 2005.

One thing you'll notice very quickly with three of the next four teams I'm profiling is that they're all pretty much interchangeable. Look at an offensive or defensive statistical category and there's a high likelihood that NSU, New Mexico and New Mexico State were all clustered at the bottom nationally in it last year. The only difference with the Rebels is that Bobby Hauck's second season on tap isn't nearly as far along in the "rebuilding process" the three teams have all been stuck in of late.

And if Paul Myerberg over at the Pre-Snap Read is to be believed (check out his blog more often if you don't already), then this year will likely be more of the same for the Rebels. Sure, with Marcus Sullivan returning kicks and a couple of wins posted over some even worse D-1 teams (something San Jose State can't boast) it wasn't all bad. It was more like "still predominantly bad with a peephole-sized ray of hope for comfort." The Rebels just haven't been able to find a coach that can build them up to respectability since John Robinson's first few years -- they make a hire that sounds good at the time, but who can't get things going quickly enough and is inevitably replaced four or five years later by another coach who believes he'll succeed where nearly everyone else has failed. The cycle then starts over, and friend and foe alike are left to wonder why they can't seem to get it right.

The Rebels lose quarterback Omar Clayton, three starting offensive linemen and a few other back-ups on offense. Meanwhile, a defense that was already porous to begin with is poised for significant turnover: tackle Isaako Aaitui, ends Preston Brooks and Daniel Mareko, safety Alex De Giacomo, corner Mike Grant and all three starting linebackers must be replaced. It took the team's dearly departed previous coach four years to get his players fully installed and up to a level where they started showing flashes of real potential. If that timeline for development stays true this time around, then another year of hardship is probably on the way for the Rebels, prompting our traditional response to such news.

The Slog Through Red October continues next week with Los Lonely Lobos de New-o Mexico-o.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Opposing Spring Game Round-up

Spring practices across the country are officially dunzo, and rather than update you on them as they transpired, I decided to lump them all into one entry. Consider it equal parts convenience and prior laziness on my part.

~ Oregon - The Green team beat the White 16-0 in a game defined by defense.

~ San Jose State - Improved passing was the story of the day in a 21-7 win for the White team over the Blue.

~ Texas Tech - Seth Doege cemented his status as the QB to beat heading into summer and fall.

~ Boise State - The Bronco offense was held to 277 total yards in their spring game.

~ UNLV - Questions abound for what will still be a young Rebel team next year.

~ New Mexico - In a rare spring game blowout, the Silver beat the Cherry 41-0.

~ Fresno State - Derek Carr's performance at his last spring practice of the year evidently had more than met the eye.

~ New Mexico State - Andrew Manley and Taveon Rogers led the way for an Aggie offense hopefully on the upswing.

~ Hawai'i - Through numerous replacements on both sides of the ball, defense was the story for the Warriors.

~ Louisiana Tech - The Bulldogs may have a new starting quarterback after Colby Cameron threw for five touchdowns in their spring game.

~ Utah State - A couple of receivers stood out for the Aggies.

~ Idaho - Vandal spring practices ended on a high note.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Summer Filler #4: Boise State

Since it ain't my style to boast on other people's blogs and a healthy amount of time has passed since Pack Friday, I may as well take this opportunity to indulge in a little belated bravado:

"AWW HELL YEAH, BABY!! WOO!! How do you like them apples, Bronco fans? HOW DO YOU LIKE 'EM?! 'Best Team Ever'? I don't THINK SO!! 'National Champions' my ASS!! We put up with ten years' worth of your crap and guess what? You ain't never gonna live THIS ONE down! Now the shoe's on the other foot, ya smug, self-righteous pricks! Hurts, doesn't it?! From Pasadena on New Year's Day to Las Vegas before Christmas! And don't EVER forget who put you there! Who's your daddy?! CHRIS MOTHERFUCKIN' AULT, THAT'S WHO!!"

Ahem. Let us now move forward.

Boise State Broncos

Like Coen Brothers movies or U2 albums, a sub-par season by Boise State's own standards is still pretty damn good to the rest of us. The Broncos spent the majority of their season in top fifteens, be it in national rankings or a host of statistical categories. Though it came up short for reasons we all know, the fact remains that this program will likely stay at or near this same level of excellence for at least another year.


Scoring: 45.1 ppg (2nd)
Rushing: 200.2 ypg (21st)
Passing: 321.1 ypg (6th)
Total: 521.3 ypg (2nd)
First Downs: 25.1 pg (8th)
Third Downs Converted: 49.0% (11th)
Red Zone Conversions: 85.3% (38th)


Scoring: 12.8 ppg (2nd)
Rushing: 103.8 ypg (7th)
Passing: 150.9 ypg (4th)
Total: 254.7 ypg (2nd)
Sacks: 48.0 (t-1st)
Tackles for Loss: 109.0 (2nd)
Turnover Margin: +8 (t-22nd)

Special Teams

Touchbacks: 9 (t-58th)
Kickoff Returns: 23.6 ypr (23rd)
Punts: 42.9 ypp (32nd)
Punt Returns: 12.7 ypr (16th)

Some Numbers to Ponder: 507 - yards of total offense Kellen Moore accounted for in a game against Hawai'i last year; 5,901 - combined career receiving yards of departing wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis AND the total number of points the Broncos have scored since 2000, the most of any team in the country in that time; .818 - Boise State's overall winning percentage since 1997, also the highest of any team in the country in that period.

What can you honestly say about Boise State football that hasn't already been said dozens of times before? They get it done on offense, they get it done on defense, they get it done on special teams, and more often than not, they get it done in big games on big stages. They can annoy the ever-loving hell out of you if you root for anyone else, but if you're a fan, they're likely the center of your universe.

And why not? They play an appealing brand of confident, mistake-free football that deserves respect in spite of how stupid they sometimes look while doing it. They're the kind of team that you have to beat entirely on your own, as they don't make enough stupid mistakes to give their opponents even a sliver of unconditional hope. In the time they've shared the WAC with Nevada, they've been like the Ned Flanders to our Homer Simpson: gratingly chaste and perfect in so many ways that you can't help but gloat a little bit on the occasions that they do fall from grace.

After winning gobs of games with what seemed like a perpetually young team for a couple of years, the Broncos finally sustained some losses at key positions after the 2010 season. This is most evident on defense, where end Ryan Winterswyk, MIKE linebacker Derrell Acrey, nickel back Winston Venable, cornerback Brandyn Thompson (I call "illegal use of a superfluous 'y'", by the way) and safety Jeron Johnson all depart. Aside from the aforementioned duo of Young and Pettis, the offense's only other losses of note are linemen Will Lawrence and Matt Slater and back-up running back Jeremy Avery. Kicker, punter and all-around object of pity Kyle Brotzman rounds out the losses.

We should all know by now that no matter who they lose from one year to the next, the Broncos will likely remain very good. But with that said, it'll still be interesting to see the composition of next year's team coming off of what was supposed to have been their "best team ever" the prior year.

Tune in for another Summer Filler next week when we begin the Slog Through Red October. Our first patsy? The Nevada Southern Rebels.