Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Year in Review

Wake Forest (3-9, 1-7 -7 ACC)
The Original Forecast: Wake went 5-7 in '09, but with key players from that unit moving, including star QB Riley Skinner, they were expected to suffer some fall off. In saying that, they had an okay OOC schedule, and Grobe has been successful with first-year QBs before, so a better record wouldn't be a surprise.

The Outcome: Well, it's hard to be wrong when you give vague predictions, but 3-9 is more in keeping with what I suspected for the season. They started brightly enough, blowing out Presbyterian, then beating Duke in a 54-48 duel. That's when things got ugly. They lost their next nine games, most of them blowouts, before topping equally embattled Vanderbilt to finish the season on a somewhat high note. On offense, their passing game was very poor, finishing with less yardage than their running game, a stat usually reserved for option teams. But the Demon Deacons threw 302 passes, most of them (241) by freshman Tanner Price. He gained 1349 yards and 7 TDs against 8 picks, but most of them were quick passes. He ran for 4 TDs, but wasn't really a threat on the ground. That spot was reserved for Josh Harris, who gained 720 yards and 7 TDs on just 125 carries. The receivers didn't help much, with the top two (Chris Givens and Devon Brown) combining for just 74 catches, 816 yards and 5 TDs. Losing 60% of their offensive line hurt, but only scoring but only scoring 132 points in your losses is unacceptable. The defense couldn't stop the run or the pass, and allowed a 47% third down conversion rate, meaning they didn't get off the field much. Despite this, they had some good performers on the defensive side of the ball. DE Kyle Wilber made up for in speed what he lacked in size and had a decent season, with 6 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. MLB Matt Woodlief rounded out his career with 57 tackles, 11.5 for loss. Safety Alex Frye had 55 tackles and 3 picks. While these guys, and others, made some big plays, they were few and far between for a small defense that needed to get off the field often to avoid being pounded by ACC opponents that liked to pound the ball. This was a rebuilding season, but coach Jim Grobe usually gets the most out of his players and won't be satisfied with the lack of competition they displayed.

Best Game: Thrashing a Presbyterian squad who was poor even in FCS play, doesn't count, and the basketball-esque game against Duke was exciting, but bordered on silly at times. Beating Vandy was a good scalp though, despite the fact they had their own struggles. It was one of their better defensive performances, despite allowing 443 yards. This was Deacon football at it's finest - bend but don't break; don't turn the ball over; take advantage of every opportunity; and keep the score close to pull it out at the end. Well, maybe not the last one in this case, but you get the drift. Price only threw for 73 yards, but ran for a score. Harris was the big play guy as usual, running for 138 yards (a 74 yarder too!) and a TD. Commodores' QB Jared Funk, threw for 277 yards, but it took him 61 attempts to do it, and his only TD pass came in the 4th quarter when the game was essentially out of reach. The defense also had two picks, and the special teams chipped in with two blocked punts, ensuring short fields for the struggling offense. One of a few bright spots in an otherwise poor season.

Worst Game: After winning their first two games behind an offense that appeared to be potent, and having beaten Stanford 24-17 last year, the Deacons must have fancied their chances again this season. They were wrong, getting blasted 68-24 behind 5 TDs from Andrew Luck. Luck threw for 207 yards and 4 TDs and also ran one in from 52 yards (!). In a defensive performance that was even worse than the previous week against Duke, the Cardinal ran at their leisure, totaling 303 yards and 6 TDs on the ground alone. Price threw for just 76 yards and a pick, although he did manage 65 yards and a score on the ground. The Cardinal had to punt just once in a game that was effectively over at halftime with the score 41-10. A bad sign of things to come.

89. Western Michigan (6-6, 5-3 MAC)
The Original Forecast: The Broncos looked to be able to move the ball through the air behind QB Alex Carder and some talented receivers, but didn't appear to have a capable running back. The defensive line was a bug question mark, and they lacked playmakers in the back seven. A relatively easy OOC schedule and a weak MAC had the Broncos looking like a bowl team, but probably not a division champ.

The Outcome: Not an awful season, as they finished 3rd in the West with a 5-3 record. The OOC schedule turned out to be their undoing, beating just Nicholls State. Carder was excellent for the most part, throwing for 3334 yards and 30 TDs against 12 interceptions. He was more mobile than Hiller and also ran in 6 TDs. He was sacked 30 times though, as the line struggled. The running game picked up the pace in the last few games, but was poor for the most part, allowing opponents to tee off on Carder. Jordan White (94-1378-10) and Juan Nunez (91-1032-10) were outstanding targets at receiver. The defense wasn't great, but did enough to hold opponents to 23.8 points per game. This is slightly misleading, as both their wins and losses tended to be lopsided. Rover Jamail Berry was expected to be a playmaker and didn't disappoint with 94 tackles, 9 for loss. He also came up with 5 turnovers. He wasn't the only one making plays though - SS Mario Armstrong and corner Lewis Toler both had 5 picks, while LB Dex Jones and DE Paul Hazel combined for 12 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. This all bodes well for the future, as this is a young Bronco team, but they did fall just short of a bowl game despite being eligible.
Best Game: They didn't beat anyone of note, but any time you put 56 on anyone, it's impressive, even if it is Akron. Carder was exceptional, completing 17 of 24 passes for 372 yards and 5 TDs, with Nunez and White combining for 14 catches for 360 yards and the 5 scores. The ground game, managed 137 yards and a TD, while the defense had an pick-six. They even took a kickoff back all the way. The defense came up with 3 turnovers and held the Zips to 274 yards. Akron's only TD was a direct result of the Broncos' sole turnover, a 57 yard fumble return by linebacker Bryan Wagner.

Worst Game: The Broncos were beaten by better teams for the most part, so it should be hard to pick their worst game. Except for one - rivals Central Michigan, who went 3-9 this year. What was even more galling was the fact that they led 22-13 going into the 4th quarter before being shut out the rest of the way. Carder threw for 272 yards and 3 scores, and Nunez and White had a combined 22 catches for 252 yards and the 3 scores. The running game mustered a solid 158 yards, led by Brandon Fields 71, but couldn't run the clock down when it mattered. CMU could only manage 73 yards on the ground, but QB Ryan Radcliff had one of his best games of the season, throwing for 300 yards and 2 TDs. Cody Wilson caught 12 of those for 185 yards and a score. The Bronco defense, which was great in the early going and even had a safety, couldn't come up with stops when it mattered most. If the Broncos wanted to win one game all season, it was this one. A tough loss.

88. Indiana (5-7, 1-7 Big 10)
The Original Forecast: The Hoosiers seemed to be a team on the rise with fan support higher than it had been in recent years. An easy OOC schedule and a solid offense led by QB Ben Chappell had them looking good for a bowl game, as long as they could pull off some in-conference victories. Easier said then done in the tough Big Ten.

The Outcome: Well, 4-0 outside the conference as predicted, but they could only beat a struggling Purdue team to leave them just short of a bowl. They had some close games such as Iowa and Northwestern, but the defense and lack of a running attack hurt them in the long run. Ben Chappell rounded out a decent career with 3295 passing yards and 24 TDs against just 9 picks, but he couldn't do it all himself. His receivers were solid, but no real big play guy emerged. Damarlo Belcher, Tandon Doss and Terrance Turner combined for 208 catches for 2219 yards and 14 TDs, and there were also some decent performances off the bench. The leading rusher was Trea Burgess with just 352 yards and 3 TDs. Darius Willis was meant to pick up where he left off in '09, but was injured after starting brightly with 278 yards and 4 TDs in the first four games. The defense was a sieve all season, coming with just 13 turnovers and 15 sacks. There were some okay performers, with SLB Tyler Repogle leading the way with 87 tackles, 6 for loss, while Jeff Thomas was second with 82 tackles, 7.5 for loss, and also had 2 interceptions. Big plays were few and far between and the leaky defense damned the Hoosiers to another quiet post-season, costing coach Bill Lynch his job.

Best Game: The final game of the season saw a 34-31 win over Purdue that wasn't their most impressive statistical performance, but saw the Hoosiers break a 12-game conference losing streak as well as their first win at Purdue since '96. Ben Chappell had a fine game to cap off his career, throwing for 330 yards and 3 TDs, with Doss catching all three. The running game was still poor, but the defense shut down the Boilermakers ground attack (their strength) and came up with the game-winning pick in overtime, allowing reliable kicker Mitch Ewald the chance to win the game.

Worst Game: They had some big losses, but one stands out ahead of the pack - an 83-20 shellacking to Wisconsin. Everything went wrong for the Hoosiers: Chappell went out in the first half, although he wasn't making much of a difference; his backup Dusty Kiel completed just 1 of 7 and had a pick returned for a score; the offense also contributed 2 lost fumbles and made just 4 of 14 third downs; and the defense couldn't stop the Badgers' running game, even without star John Clay. Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien completed 15 of 18 passes for 181 yards and 3 TDs, while RBs Monte Ball and James White combined for 311 yards and 5 TDs. The sole bright spot for Indiana was Nick Turner gaining 103 yards on the ground, but the game was too far out of reach for the running game to help them out. In a word - appalling.

87. Purdue (4-8, 2-6 Big 10)
The Original Forecast: Like most teams, the Boilermakers had a couple of glaring issues going into the season. One was a poor secondary that was likely to leak points, leaving it up to the offense to outscore them. This leads to the other question mark - was Miami transfer Robert Marve ready to step in and lead them to a bowl game. They were capable (thanks in part to an easy OOC schedule), they just needed Marve to fulfill his immense potential.

The Outcome: After struggling in the first three games (2-1 start), Marve was lost for the season against Toledo and his backup, dual-threat Rob Henry, struggled to put points on the board. He threw for 996 yards and 8 TDs, against 7 picks, and also led the team with 547 yards and 4 TDs. The second leading rusher was Dan Dierking, who ran for 529 yards and 3 TDs, but despite his efforts he was not the kind of back to carry an offense. Losing star runner Ralph Bolden prior to the season did them no favors either. Injuries hurt the receivers too, with '09 top receiver Keith Smith getting knocked out in week 2, and no-one stepping up to replace him. On defense, they were pretty tough against the run, and weren't awful against the pass. They only managed 10 interceptions, but came up with a solid 33 sacks. Corner Ricardo Allen had a decent season with 73 tackles and 3 picks, but the defensive star was All-American DE Ryan Kerrigan, who had 13.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. He inspired the rest of the defense to perform above expectations, but the struggling offense meant wins were few and far between. An unlucky and disappointing season.

Best Game: There weren't many, but the 28-17 win over beleaguered Minnesota was their most comprehensive of the season. Henry had one of his better games, throwing for 163 yards and a score and rushing 57 yards and 3 more. Dierking kept things moving on the ground with 126 yards. The defense kept the Gophers under wraps until the last quarter, when Weber threw 2 TDs. The secondary allowed 214 yards, but he completed just 20 of 45 attempts and also threw 2 picks. A fine all-round performance.

Worst Game: Purdue were beaten soundly by some quality teams, but the 44-10 hammering at the hands of a mediocre Illinois squad was a disaster. With Henry nursing a finger injury, backup Sean Robinson managed just 52 yards and a TD through the air, and the offense made just 2 of 14 3rd downs. The running attack came up with 153 yards, but 57 came on one play. With the offense misfiring the defense failed to stop the Illini. QB Nathan Scheelhaase had his best game of the season throwing for 195 yards and 4 TDs, and also rushing for 118 yards. The game was essentially over at halftime, with Illinois sporting a 37-0 lead. A tough loss for a team that caught few breaks this season.

86. Duke (3-9, 1-7 ACC)
The Original Forecast: One big question mark heading into the season was whether Sean Renfree could come close to emulating 2009 star Thaddeus Lewis. Getting some kind of running game to support him was a priority too. One thing was sure and that was the defense wasn't strong enough to hold every week up in a tough ACC. They had the talent to win 5 games, thanks to a relatively easy OOC schedule, although a bowl game was unlikely.

The Outcome: Not quite the season they were hoping for. Renfree turned out to be pretty good, throwing 3131 yards and 14 TDs (and four on the ground), although with 17 picks. He only threw 2 interceptions in the last five games though, and got better over the course of the season. His receivers' stats dipped due to his early struggles, although the top three still combined for 180 catches, 2195 yards and 9 TDs. TE Cooper Helfet missed a few games, but showed promise with 34 catches for 380 yards and 2 scores. The running game was okay, but couldn't be counted on when the passing game struggled. Desmond Scott led the way with 530 yards and 3 TDs, while backup QB Brandon Connette had 321 yards and 8 TDs in spot duty. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't score enough points to overcome a poor defense that ranked 109th in points allowed. They were equally inept against the run and the pass, despite the efforts of OLB Adam Kromah, who had 129 tackles with 9.5 for loss. With four losses by less than eight, a slightly better performance from the defense could have got them closer to bowl eligibility. After showing some improvement over the last two seasons, this year was something of a setback.

Best Game: Even some of their wins don't deserve to be here, but the 34-31 victory over Navy was one of their better performances. Renfree was outstanding as the Blue Devils raced out to a 31-7 third quarter lead. He completed 28 of 30 passes for 314 yards and a score, and also ran in 2 touchdowns. The defense held Navy's vaunted rushing attack to 148 yards, and though they came back in the fourth quarter behind the passing of Ricky Dobbs, it was too little too late as Duke held on for the win. A good job all round in an otherwise tough season.

Worst Game: Duke took some bad beatings from some decent teams, but the 35-21 loss to Army was not only one they should have won, but the score flattered the Blue Devils. They had five turnovers, four of which led to TDs by the Black Knights. Renfree threw 3 picks and finished with 261 yards and 2 TDs, but most of this came in the last quarter with the game out of reach. Conner Vernon caught 8 passes for 129 yards and a score. QB Trent Steelman completed 4 of 6 passes for 85 yards and 2 TDs, and ran for 62 yards and another TD, as Army took advantage of every opportunity afforded them in racing out to a 35-7 lead.

85. Minnesota (3-9, 2-6 Big Ten)
The Original Forecast: The Gophers were something of a mystery going into the season. They had bowl potential thanks to a reasonable OOC schedule, but needed their offense and defense to step it up from the previous year. With a tough conference schedule, they had the look of Big 10 cellar dwellers, but could beat any of the second tier teams.

The Outcome: After opening up with a close won over a Middle Tennesse team who were missing their star QB, they proceeded to lose 9 in a row before pulling out the last two to finish second from bottom in the league. Only two of these losses were by less than a TD, with one of them to FCS squad South Dakota. On the flip side though, most of their games were within two scores, and they scored at least 17 in all but 2 games. QB Adam Weber was solid for the most part, throwing for 2679 yards and 20 TDs with just 9 interceptions. The running game wasn't especially good, but DeLeon Eskridge and Duane Bennett combined for 1227 yards and 10 TDs. The receivers had their moments, with Da'Jon McKnight leading the way with 48 catches for 750 yards and 10 TDs. The defense struggled to stop the run, but was decent against the pass. MLB Gary Tinsley was top tackler with 90, and had 9.5 for loss. Coach Tim Brewster was fired midway through the season and replaced by interim coach Jeff Horton.

Best Game: At the end of a tough season, Minnesota took on a disappointing but still tough Iowa team in a battle for the Floyd if Rosedale Trophy. The result was a 27-24 victory for the Gophers, and was all the more impressive for the manner of the victory. The defense was key, holding Hawkeye QB to 127 yards and limiting their running game to just 91 yards. For Minny, Weber threw for just 164 yards, but made enough plays to allow an impressive running attack to win the game for them. Eskridge and Bennett combined for 158 yards and 2 scores, including the game winner with under 5 minutes left in the game. A nice end to a bad season.

Worst Game: The 52-10 loss to Ohio State was an example of how everything can go wrong for a team in one game. Weber only threw for 162 yards and an interception, to go along with 2 fumbles, while their biggest threat was Eskridge, who ran for a hard earned 79 yards and Minny's only TD. For the Buckeyes, QB Terrelle Pryor threw for 222 yards and 2 TDs, and also ran for 55 yards and a score. Dan Herron was the leading rusher with 114 yards and a TD, while receiver DeVier Posey pulled in 6 passes for 115 yards and a score. Just to highlight the futility of the afternoon, Jordan Hall of OSU had a 70 yard punt return, and Minnesota also had a blocked punt and fumble returned for six points. Terrible.

84. Toledo (8-5, 7-1 MAC)
The Original Forecast: The Rockets entered the season with a lot of youth at key positions, including Austin Dantin at QB. This was expected to hinder them especially early in the season and their OOC schedule was tough. If the defense could make some plays, Toledo could make a bowl game, but it remained a big question mark.

The Outcome: The defense had three games where it was appalling, bit for the most part was rock solid. Against Arizona, Boise State and Northern Illinois they allowed 163 points. In the other 10 games, they allowed 208. The two linebackers were the heart of the defense, with Archie Donald making 146 stops and 3 interceptions, while Dan Molls has 143 tackles, 5.5 for loss with 5 sacks and another 3 picks. Dantin did struggle at QB, throwing for 1254 yards and just 7 TDs against 8 picks, although he did run for 292 yards and 8 TDs. He missed the last four games of the season with a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Terrance Owens who threw for 1244 yards and 13 TDs against just 5 interceptions. Adonis Thomas was the leading rusher with 1098 yards and 8 TDs, and second leading receiver with 31 catches for 372 yards and 2 TDs, while receiver Eric Page led the way with 99 catches for 1105 yards and 8 TDs. Finishing second in the MAC West to an impressive Northern Illinois squad and beating Purdue makes this a reasonably successful season, although the bowl loss to Florida International must leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Best Game: One week after getting blown out 65-30 by Northern Illinois, the Rockets bounced back by thrashing Bowling Green 33-14. Owens threw for 225 yards and 2 TDs, with Page catching 9 for 111 yards and a score. Page also threw a 35 yard TD pass. Adonis Thomas was the key player though, with 163 yards on the ground, including an 81 yard TD scamper. The defense allowed just 35 yards rushing and intercepted QB Matt Schilz twice, while holding him to 219 yards and a TD in 30 completions. The defense ended up with 4 sacks and 4 turnovers in a fine all round performance.

Worst Game: With first place in the MAC West on the line, the Rockets defense picked a bad day under-perform, allowing the Huskies to run riot in a 65-30 shellacking. QB Chandler Harnish threw for 162 yards and a score and also ran for 149 yards and another TD, while RB Chad Spann had 70 yards and 3 TDs. After falling behind 28-0 at halftime, the Toledo offense started to clink a little. Thomas was their biggest threat with 152 yards and 2 scores on just 10 carries. Owens completed just 18 0f 38 for 186 yards with 2 TDs and an interception. A bad day at the office that showed how far the Rockets were from really competing for the West crown.

83. Louisiana Tech (5-7, 4-4 WAC)
The Original Forecast: The Bulldogs entered the season with a new coach (Sonny Dykes) and a new offensive philosophy, moving from a pro-style offense to a spread-passing attack. This was likely to cause some issues as the current cast of players were recruited for the old style. Keeping defensive co-ordinator Tommy Spangler around ensures some continuity on that side of the ball, but the ability of the defense to keep the team in games was doubtful. A repeat of '09's 4 win season was likely.

The Outcome: Not a bad prediction, with LT coming up with 5 wins. However, the defense struggled in both aspects of the ball despite the efforts of SS Chad Boyd, who had 80 tackles and 4 picks, and DE Matt Broha, who 5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. The offense was decent, especially on the ground where Lennon Creer led the team 1181 yards and 10 TDs, most of which came over the latter half of the season. QB Ross Jenkins was solid again this year, throwing for 1760 yards and 12 TD against 6 interceptions, but he missed time through injury and his backups were less than stellar, combining for 816 yards and just 3 TDs against 9 picks. The offensive line was good too, allowing just 17 sacks in addition to opening holes for the backs. The top two receivers combined for 92 catches, 962 yards and 6 TDs, but a big-play threat was lacking. Not a terrible season, considering the circumstances, and a 4-3 finish spurred by the rushing attack has to leave Dykes feeling good about the future.

Best Game: Most of their wins were courtesy of the offense, and they beat nobody of note, so their best all round performance was the 24-6 victory against Utah State. Jenkins had a quiet day with just 147 yards, a TD and an interception, but Creer gained 120 yards and 2 TDs and was nicely complemented by receiver Tim Molton, who had 93 yards on 8 carries and 3 receptions for 44 yards and a score. Unfortunately, Molton sustained a knee injury late in the game and didn't play again this season. The defense was the talking point though, holding the Aggies to just 6 points. QB Diondre Borel managed just 73 yards on 14 completions, while the running attack mustered a hard earned 122 yards. The coverage teams were also on form, continually leaving the with Aggies poor field position. A sign of things to come?

Worst Game: They had some bad losses, but the inability to stop Hawaii's passing attack in their 41-21 loss was a disgrace. Warrior QB Bryant Moniz threw for 532 yards and 4 TDs, with Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas combining for 28 receptions, 414 yards and all 4 TDs. Hawaii only ran for 115 yards, but they didn't need to run the ball. Jenkins wasn't bad for the Bulldogs, throwing for 215 yards and 2 TDs, with one pick, but they couldn't get much going in the running attack. A tough lesson on how to throw the ball.

82. Rutgers (4-8, 1-6 Big East)
The Original Forecast: Despite a number of questions on offense heading into the '09 season, the Scarlet Knights still managed a 9-4 season, with the help of an easy OOC schedule. The majority of those questions still hadn't been resolved going into 2010, but the defense (and another easy OOC) was expected to carry them to a bowl yet again.

The Outcome: Despite losing to Tulane, the Knights started brightly enough with a 4-2 record, before falling apart down the stretch and losing their last six games. The defense wasn't awful, but struggled down the stretch trying to compensate for an anemic offense. OLB Antonio Lowery led the team with 108 tackles, 8.5 for loss, but DE Alex Silvestro was the star of the show with 9 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Despite only coming up with 8 picks, they came up with 14 fumble recoveries and had an excellent +7 turnover margin. Ball security was one of the few good points of the offense. The running game, which has been excellent in recent years, managed 100.9 yards a game at a dire 2.7 yards per carry. Injuries were a factor here, and the three top rushers were actually designated as receivers initially. QB Tom Savage struggled early after showing promise last season, and lost his job to freshman Chas Dodd, who was okay, throwing for 1637 yards and 11 TDs with 7 picks. However, he's not ready to carry the team on his own and it hurt the offense. Despite the struggles in the passing game, Mark Harrison had a nice season with 44 catches for 829 yards and 9 TDs. Despite the concerns on offense, the Knights had expectations of going bowling again, so the season has to be a major disappointment.

Best Game: Back in the early days of the season when things were going well, Rutgers posted a 27-24 comeback over a solid Connecticut team. Chas Dodd was the hero in his first start, throwing for 322 yards and 2 TDs, and could have had even more if not for drops. The Huskies held their running game to 88 yards, but receivers Harrison and Jeremy Deering combined for 8 catches, 214 yards and 2 TDs. The defense was solid too. Jordan Todman ran for 123 yards and a score, but 66 came on one play. QB Cody Endres could only manage 153 yards passing, with a TD and a pick. UConn also scored on a 100 yard kick return by Nick Williams, but Joe Lefeged returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to set up a TD. Aside from a couple of big plays, Rutgers were outstanding, and showed some mettle with a 10 point comeback in the waning minutes.

Worst Game: In a tough season, a number of losses could fit in here, but the 40-13 loss to a resurgent Louisville team stings more for their futility as they fell behind 28-0 quickly. Cardinal QB Justin Burke only threw 11 passes, but completed 9 for 138 yards and 2 TDs and was replaced late by Will Stein who also threw a TD. Bilal Powell ran for 123 yards and a score, and also caught both TD passes. Chas Dodd completed just 14 of 32 passes for 177 yards and 2 picks, and was sacked nine times. His last interception was returned for a score by Johnny Patrick. Jordan Thomas and Jeremy Deering did combine for 171 yards and 2 TDs, but that was about the only highlight for Rutgers in a disappointing game.

81. Idaho (6-7, 3-5 WAC)
The Original Forecast: The Vandals shocked everyone by winning 8 games in '09, but no-one was expecting them to repeat the feat. They had a potentially explosive offense, but the defense was suspect at best. They were very capable of winning 9 games, but only if the defense kept their part of the deal.

The Outcome: One season after surprising the football world by winning eight games, they early did it again, winning six and losing two more by a total of five points. They managed this with a running attack that ranked 118th in the country, led by Deonte' Jackson's 442 yards and 4 TDs. Nathan Enderle did his best to carry the load, throwing for 3314 yards and 22 TDs, although he threw 16 interceptions (5 against Nebraska). Brian Reader got some decent game time, and threw for 568 yards and 5 TDs, with just one pick. Injuries hindered the receiving corps, meaning 8 players caught more than 20 passes. Eric Greenwood led the way with 741 yards and 6 TDs on 46 catches. The defense was certainly opportunistic, coming up with an excellent 30 turnovers, but struggled to stop anyone by traditional means, like tackling. There were some exceptions: WLB Robert Siavii led the team with 91 tackles, 13.5 for loss; Tre'Shawn Robinson had 80 tackles with 10 for loss; while DE Aaron Lavarias had 7 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. But as suggested in the preview, the defense struggled to come up with enough stops, and it cost the defense another bowl shot.

Best Game: In the absence of signature wins, I usually go for solid all round victories, and Idaho's 28-6 defeat of Utah State fits the bill. Enderle threw for 243 yards and 3 TDs, and a pick, with Greenwood catching 4 for 114 yards and 2 of the scores. Jackson led the way on the ground with 62 yards and a TD. For the Aggies, QB Diondre Borel only completed 14 of 35 passes for 103 yards, and 2 interceptions. He wasn't helped by a receiving corps that dropped a number of passes. Derrvin Speight was their biggest threat with 80 yards on the ground. A fine job on offense and defense.

Worst Game: Getting beaten by a decent Nevada team this season wasn't a surprise for Idaho, what was shocking was the manner of the 63-17 loss. Nevada racked up 844 yards (yep, you read it right) and moved the ball at will on the ground and through the air. QB Colin Kaepernick had a career day passing, throwing for 320 yards and 5 TDs. Running backs Vai Taua, Mike Ball and Lampford Mark combined for 330 yards and 2 TDs on just 33 carries. Rishard Matthews was the top receiver with 7 catches for 151 yards and 2 scores. For the Vandals, Enderle completed just 15 of 34 passes for 224 yards and a score, and ran for another, while the running attack mustered just 68 yards. Four fumbles, including one on special teams ensured Idaho had no shot of staying pace in a disgraceful performance by the defense.


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