Zag's Frags

BroncoCountry.com is proud to bring you the 2007-08 season's first edition of Zag's Frags.. musings and WAC football predictions from the irrepressible, irreverent and sometimes irrational Zagco. From Honolulu to Ruston, Moscow to Las Cruces and beyond, Zagco tells you exactly what you need to know about what is happening this week in the WAC.

ZAG'S FRAGS:  2007 WEEK 1
Copyright Zagco

A WEEKLY LOOK AT WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL

A Spectacular WAC Pre-Season Overview and Week 1 Predictions

IN A WORLD where Big Sports Media pays prognosticators a king's ransom to make unreliable weekly predictions in college football, Zagco—a sexy Forrest Gump type who has lately taken to calling himself "Happy Fun Ball"—toils for free, yet delivers money shot after money shot, giving his all, like a San Francisco hooker on a Wednesday night, for the benefit of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) fans and observers.

Zagco says unto all you college football fans:  "Come on Barbie, let's go party!"

The other day, when Zagco was discussing the idea of doing his weekly WAC column in the format of a "Podcast" with his friend Rizzo, a nicely dressed black mamba who fancies clove cigarettes and Baywatch re-runs, Rizzo's assistant, a water buffalo named Chaka-kan, mentioned that some new-ish readers and potential listeners might not be familiar with Zagco.  Chaka-kan urged that we briefly outline some of Zagco's background and his core beliefs so that we can all avoid any messy misunderstandings. 

Rizzo and Zagco, both of whom were crashing from sugar highs at the time brought on by a weeks' steady diet of root beer and Hostess fruit pies, were not in positions to disagreeably argue with a water buffalo and, thus, concurred.  Chaka-kan, as you will come to know, has a way of sounding sooooo convincing and logical.  It can be a bit disarming.  Plus, Chaka-kan has had some struggles with temper control and back acne that have made us all a little suspicious and wary.  Usually, it's best to go along with his urgings.

Anyhoo, Rizzo is technically Chaka-kan's boss, and he is imbued with some killer poison and is very, very fast, but he tends to lead more by example.  Zagco met Rizzo and Chaka-kan back when he was picking coffee beans in Honduras , spending his nights in remote Contra camps partying like a rock star into the wee hours of the mornings.  (As an aside, it was rather unusual for the Contras to let in a Gringo back in those days, but Zagco has always had a way about him; an air of confidence that puts others at ease.  Plus, they thought Zagco was an arms dealer, a misunderstanding that he did nothing to dispel, although he never sold them any weapons other than some homemade wrist rockets that he convinced them were actually solar-powered rocket launchers.)

Anyhoo, Rizzo and Chaka-kan came sauntering into camp one night after some of the line soldiers started firing off mortars at a neighboring nudist colony that was playing an old Carly Simon LP at a volume that was, quite frankly, a bit too loud for everyone's comfort, but that's a whole nuther story…. At the time, Zagco was passing around some Jell-O shots and everyone was Go-Go dancing to an old Sly and the Family Stone record.  Needless to say, it was rather disappointing to all of us to see a black mamba and a water buffalo show up uninvited, without any money or beer.

Well, by the time the night was over, Zagco, Rizzo, and Chaka-kan were sipping some Sanka from metal mugs and eating those little white powdery doughnuts while sitting atop a huge rock outcropping (don't ask).  They'd become the best of friends.  It was up on that rock outcropping, looking out at the dense jungle foliage below, that we discovered that we all shared a passion for college football, which seemed really ironic at the time. 

The next day, the three of us left the camp in a rusty old El Camino we borrowed from mustachioed Generalissimo Cortez de Soto Ponce de Leon Sanchez (probably a fake name).  The car had an old 8-track tape player and a copy of the Eagles' signature recording Hotel California, which seemed sooooooo appropriate at the time.  On our way through the jungle we picked up two nuns wearing dark blue robes and a hitchhiking blonde American woman in Jimmy Choos who told us that her name was Joan Wilder and said she wrote romance novels.  What-ever!

We headed straight into town, bought matching white seersucker suits and straw hats and some checkered Vans slip-ons (the only new shoes we could find), and Zagco turned in his two weeks' notice to his employer, who got pissed and fired him on the spot with a months' severance pay in return for Zagco's signature on an agreement to not sue for sexual harassment and punitive damages, a matter than Zagco's lawyers have advised him to not discuss any further.  The three of us spent the "severance" pay (the agreement prevents us from calling it "settlement" money) renting a small yacht and partying like Columbian drug lords with the Brazilian women's crew team up and down the Yucatan Peninsula for a couple weeks.  We even invited aboard a National Geographic crew that was working on a story about the Mayans or something, but Rizzo got mad at them after a couple days and kicked them off after he caught them stealing our bottled water.  Day after day, the girls would incessantly sing that old 70's song about pina coladas, which grew tiresome until Chaka-kan got them to occasionally sing some old English drinking songs!  Man, was that whole thing fun, but we all smelled like coconut oil for about two months!

Anyhoo, at heart, Zagco is about freedom and the little guy.  He strives to exude a vibe that could be best compared to that of the early 1980's Middle American rock band Survivor—patriotism, optimism, positive thinking, fast cars, diners, and kicking Commie butt. 

As mentioned above, and as a tip of the hat to the geniuses at Saturday Night Live, Zagco has recently started calling himself "Happy Fun Ball." He is a Boise State Broncos fan who began penning a weekly column called "Zag's Frags" last year about Western Athletic Conference football.  The Zagco persona is basically a Seinfeldian version of Don Rickles jacked up on Ding Dongs and Yoo Hoos, with a subtle touch of doctrinaire Lutheranism.

As Zagco's regular readers know, his weekly WAC picks are almost always correct—last year, he was accurate 88.57% of the time and had a streak of 29 consecutive accurate predictions.  Zagco's famous winning streak was snapped in the wee hours of morning, on the last play of the last regular season game played, when the Beavers of Oregon State actually appeared to make Hawaii's Colt Brennan quiver in fear like a fwightened wittle bunny wabbit on the final play, similar in many respects to the brief moment when Mace Windu, utilizing his unique fighting style that draws elements from the Dark Side, had Darth Sidious on the ledge high above the seedy street level of Coruscant before the traitorous Anakin Skywalker stepped in to save the Sith Lord.

Many of you fans remember how our Corporate Web Slavemaster, Scout, Inc., tried to censor Zagco last year, even going so far as to remove one of his columns from the site when he called Utah State's offense "gay."  Zagco is NOT anti-gay, and he apologized to gay people for associating them with Utah State 's offense.  Scout, which is a member of Big Sports Media, fears Zagco and is always trying to keep him down, because while they are off "evaluating" players and assigning recruiting stars to them in what appears to be a completely random fashion, Zagco and his advisors have been able to outflank them. 

Zagco is about the people; the regular sports fans—the proverbial "little guy/gal" who loves his or her sports.  No matter how hard Scout and the other Big Sports Media try to keep Zagco down, he promises you fans that he will not sacrifice the principles of liberty, freedom, and truth in his never-ending effort to bring unvarnished sports information and opinion to you.

Anyhoo, during the off-season, when so many of us have been counting down the days until the impending blockbuster motion picture "Iron Man," starring Robert Downey, Jr., is released, it has come to Zagco's attention that he has, at various times, offended some of you.  This makes Zagco sad—vewy, vewy sad. 

Zagco sometimes says things that sound harsh and perhaps overly-inclusive in terms of his patented, sweeping, epic-like condemnations.  Zagco has a bit of the Old Testament in him.  He even asks questions that should, perhaps, best go un-asked.  He can make people, especially people who fancy themselves bigwigs and muckity-mucks in their chosen fields, feel very—shall we say—"uncomfortable." 

You know who you are….

Alas, unto you real Bronco fans who have been offended a time or two by Zagco, he says unto you to remember that this is all for fun and games.  For you other WAC fans, don't take things personally—Zagco means well.  And, for you scatological Vandal fans who have had your feewings huwt and have pwivatwy e-maiwed Zagco wif insults and thweats, Zagco would like to say, in his best Eric Cartman voice:  "Screw you guys!  Losers! HAHAHHA!!!"

Zagco has been contemplating the new season from the comfort of a spacious deck overlooking Deer Lake , an idyllic setting in the woods and hills north of Spokane , Washington .  This is the place where Zagco goes to relax and where the ladies in Zagco's life can drink that cheap "Blush" wine-in-a-box and nag him to death about chores they want him to do, making him feel like a fwightened wittle bunny wabbit.  To Zagco, who mostly just wants to be left alone with his Mr. Pibb and his Vanity Fair magazine, there are few things more relaxing in life than hanging out at a mountain lake where you can take your baths in the cold lake water on sunny mornings.

Anyhoo, during Zagco's relaxing vacation, he assembled some brief, yet thoughtful and very special words of wisdom for the fans of all nine WAC schools:

1.         Boise State :  Hey now, put down the "Miracles Happen" karaoke CD and Fiesta Bowl DVD highlights (that includes the YouTube links)!  Quit worrying about whether Zach Efron (!) will be cast to play Z in the Boise State movie.  Let Spiderpig go.  Stop crying!  Go hug your dollies.  

2.         Hawaii :  The rest of the WAC is now fully aware that you are, in fact, the Sith Lord, Darth Pineappleus.  The Jedi Masters are scrambling to figure out a way to fight back.  It is now time for you to unleash the Full Power of the Dark Side of the Force.  HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!  Seriously, thought, outside of potential issues with the running game and replacing last year's stellar offensive line, including the center, the Rainbow Warriors are in great shape for a run at an unbeaten record and a BCS bowl game (unless the voters punish them for a schedule that would make even Boise State blush).  Coach June Jones, who looks an awful lot like Count Dookoo, is salivating over the prospect of finally winning something meaningful while running the Run-n-Shoot offense, which is his life's work.  In addition to Colt Brennan, the puking quarterback, Zagco looks for his favorite Rainbow Warrior, receiver Davone Bess, to have a huge year.

3.         Reno :  Chris Ault, the man who invented the "Pistol Offense," has rebuilt Reno into a respectable football team, yet you Reno fans show him no respect!  Reno averaged only 16,728 fans last year (104th in the nation).  That's pathetic for a pretty good team with a big stadium and a metropolitan area!  Until you guys start acting like a real football program, you'll always be " Reno " and not the " University of Nevada."

4.         Idaho :  You guys are as resilient as cockroaches!  Rather than moping around and pouting when your hallowed former coach from the 1980's—Dennis Erickson—ditched you last year, you just put your noggins together and hired a man who, during his hiring press conference, told the world that he named his kids "Jack" and "Daniels" and who, as a defensive coordinator, took the Washington State defense from a national ranking of 19th in his first year, to rankings of 53rd, 106th, and 81st!!! Seriously. That's the kind of thing that only a committee of jocular Vandal boosters, lawyers and lobbyists could conceive and rationalize as they blow away tax money like Saudi oil princes playing baccarat in a hookah bar, as the rest of world looks on in stunned, bemused disbelief It's a, errr, great day to be a Vandal, huh!?! Meanwhile, enrollment continues to decline and academics suffer on your isolated, rural campus, and the most you can do to fight off those cancers is to build a satellite technical college campus in a town near the Canadian border and spend more taxpayer money on a half-baked marketing campaign centered on a four-word slogan that sounds like the name of an LP released by a hippie/folk music act in about 1969:  "Open Spaces, Open Minds."  Have another PBR, you Satan-worshipping cheat monkeys!

5.         Fresno State :  This is a make-or-break year for Coach Pat Hill.  Fresno better start caring about more than the two or three BCS games they play each year.  You gotta bring it EVERY GAME!  It's about consistency, gentlemen; if Fonzie taught the world anything, it's that being cool is not a part-time job.

6.         San Jose Can You See:  Dick Tomey—a totally decent guy—has done a nice job with the Bay Area Spartans.  We'll see if the fans stick with it this year through the brutal early part of the schedule.  They also have to travel to the lair of the "Wicked Witch of the North," which is what Coach Tomey christened Boise State last year after suffering a heartbreaking loss.  (The flying monkeys await your arrival, Coach Tomey.)  Seriously, though, this is a team that Zagco feels has been roundly underestimated by many prognosticators.  If they can keep their spirits up after the first four games on the road (at ASU, at Kansas St. , at Stanford, at Utah St. ), watch out for these guys!

7.         New Mexico State:  Hal Mumme—a poor man's Jerry Tarkanian  who doesn't chew on a towel but actually appears to use one on the sidelines to wipe away his glistening snot during games—had the Aggies going pretty good once in awhile last year, but they still managed to under-perform in several games.  Unlike defensive wizard Jerry Tarkanian, Mumme doesn't know or appear to care a lick about defense.  Still, they are a big team and are LOADED with returning starters on both sides of the ball (17).  Zagco thinks it's fair to expect them to have a winning record and to challenge for the conference title until late in the season.  Do not underestimate this team.  

8.         Utah State :  The Logan Aggies were simply, phenomenally craptastic last year—Zagco thought they had the weirdest, lamest, and most difficult to explain offense ever.  It was like a wishbone offense with no options and lots of wishes.  It sucked.  Well, Coach Guy went out and hired former Mean Green head coach Darrell Dickey as his new offensive coordinator.  Whaaaa….?!?!  Seriously, people, if you were having problems with your offense, where do you think Coach Dickey shows up on the list of possible fixes?  Hmmm.  Let's see:  (1) an Air Raid/spread style of offense; (2) the West Virginia/Florida spread option; or (3) Darrell Dickey's running offense from UNT.  Folks, this is not a good sign for Utah State .

9.         Louisiana Tech:  Your schedule is not as ridiculous as last year, but you are still going to struggle, even with your new coach.  You're young, you're small, and you still have very difficult travel issues.  The fan base appears thoroughly disinterested.  It's still rebuilding time in Ruston .

WAC Facts

The average player in the WAC weighs 230.02 pounds.  The biggest team in the WAC is San Jose State , which averages 234.67 pounds per player.  The Bay Area Spartans, New Mexico State and Reno are the three biggest WAC teams.  The smallest team is Louisiana Tech at 226.67 pounds.  La Tech, Idaho , and Utah State are the smallest WAC teams.  Boise State , Hawaii , and Fresno are in the middle.

New Mexico State has the highest standard deviation of weight at 51.34 pounds.  The lowest standard deviation is Fresno State 's 38.92 pounds.  The average standard deviation in the WAC is 44.19 pounds, and Hawaii , San Jose State and New Mexico State are all above the average.

"Standard deviation," which is basically the average distance from the mean, is a critical performance measure.  Zagco knows this because top business academicians at Boise State have told him so.  A high standard deviation means you have lots of variability, and variability is not good.  There are a number of possible explanations for the standard deviation measure in this case, but one thing is certain:  A high standard deviation is really, really bad.

Zagco believes three things can explain high standard deviations of weight for WAC teams:  (1) excessive recruiting of hobbits and giants, thus evidencing a lack of standardization and focus in recruiting; (2) a sub-par conditioning program; and (3) those crazy, dangerous fad diets you hear about every week on Oprah.

The average WAC team lists 7 players over 300 pounds.  The most is 12 by New Mexico State , and the fewest is 2 by Boise State .  Conversely, the average WAC team lists 28.44 players under 200 pounds.  The most is 36 by La Tech, and the least is 10 by Reno .

New Mexico State lists the biggest player in the WAC at 358 pounds, Eddie Tautolo, a freshman offensive lineman from American Samoa .  Congratulations, Eddie!  Suspiciously, New Mexico State also lists the itsy-bitsiest player in the WAC at 149 pounds, Brian Mead, a freshman wide receiver from Clovis , New Mexico , who was recently seen climbing up the water spout.

The youngest team in the WAC is Utah State at 2.11 ("1" = freshman; "2" = sophomore; "3" = junior; "4" = senior).  The oldest WAC team is Hawaii at 2.63.  The average WAC team is 2.28.  The oldest WAC teams include Hawaii , San Jose State , New Mexico State, and Idaho .  Ironically, even though Idaho is one of the older teams in the WAC with the second fewest freshman and sophomores, it also has the distinction of having the fewest seniors (15).  The Vandals continue to be an enigma wrapped up in a puzzle.

The average attendance in the WAC is 22,139.89.  That figure is boosted considerably by the WAC's three flagship schools— Boise State , Fresno State , and Hawaii , all of which exceed 30,000.  Boise State 's average attendance actually exceeds stadium capacity, yet there is still nothing concrete announced in the way of adding a significant number of seats for the common man (a new press box and luxury and box suites are currently being added for Big Sports Media and rich, fancy people).  Idaho , Utah State , and Louisiana Tech are very serious drags on the WAC's attendance figures.  

WAC teams will play in 109 games this year.  Oddly, Hawaii plays only 12 games, 2 of which are against I-AA teams.  Hawaii 's non-conference slate includes I-AA Northern Colorado, MWC bottom-feeder UNLV, I-AA Charleston Southern, and a December 1st game against a respectable Washington team.  You would think Hawaii would want to showcase itself in more games against better competition in this year of BCS talk for the Rainbow Warriors, but apparently Hawaii 's Athletic Director felt that it would be better to set up the schedule in a way that would make Boise State 's Athletic Director, Gene Bleymeier, proud.  (Pat Hill, the Butters of WAC football coaches, must be just kicking himself in the ass watching Boise State and Hawaii run away with all the glory with those schedules!)

Those 108 games take place on 24 different dates, all of which fall on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, making the WAC seem tawdry and desperate in its willingness to do it anywhere, anytime.  The only other college football conference that is more flexible than the WAC is the Mountain West Conference (MWC), which has actually scheduled marquee games on Thursday afternoons when Oprah's on and people are still at work, televised on channels like Hallmark, Oxygen, and a channel that is only available in Branson , Missouri and in Lichtenstein.  Seriously.

In an apparent fit of rage over ESPN's requests to play games on nontraditional days of the week, the MWC actually signed a television contract specifying these kinds of scheduling and television terms a couple years ago, succumbing to promises of fame and wealth that were made to them by the nicely dressed black mamba named Rizzo, who was smoking a clove cigarette at the time, while his assistant, the water buffalo named Chaka-kan, played harmonica in the background.  The whole thing was surreal, especially when the BYU delegation showed up unannounced wearing black suits.  If it wasn't for the University of Utah delegation demanding that the deal be finalized so that they could all leave to attend a global warming speech by Al Gore, it is highly unlikely that the elaborate ruse of a snake and a water buffalo running a cable television network that desperately wanted to televise MWC games could have withstood the withering questioning that was already underway by the San Diego State president.

Zagco understands that top lawyers in Utah have been hired by the same MWC school presidents who knowingly and willfully authorized the contract to figure out how to undo it in an arguably legal, yet clever, way!  Meanwhile, Rizzo and Chaka-kan are spending the loot in Monte Carlo with Morgan Fairchild and Charlie Sheen's ex-wife Denise Richards, who is reportedly crazier than a three-dollar bill but still deserves kudos for her performance in Wild Things.  They are also secure from lawsuit or prosecution,  because the feds gave them use and transactional immunity in return for some testimony about an investment banker that fronted them some spending cash to look legit for the MWC folks in return for one-third cut—apparently, this banker has a pretty shady background that interested the feds a lot more than this little caper.  Anyhoo, this whole television contract/lawyers/Denise Richards thing is an excellent example of how Big Education too often uses its money and time to do stupid things that they then have to un-do.  Meanwhile, students are charged $150 a pop for textbooks that have more typos than any English 101 paper ever written.

In fairness, the vast majority of the WAC's games (90, or 82.57%) take place on the traditional Saturday, after morning cartoons are over.  Nontraditional games include 4 WAC teams playing on 2 different Thursdays, 12 teams playing on 6 different Fridays, and 3 WAC teams playing on 2 different Sundays.  Boise State plays 5 nontraditional games, the most in the WAC.  Idaho and La Tech are the only WAC teams without any nontraditional dates on their schedules.  As we have learned, WAC games can be re-scheduled at the request of ESPN during the season, so there is still hope that we will be the first conference to have a game played on a Monday afternoon.

Week 1 Picks

Weber State Wildcats v. Boise State Broncos
Where:  The Blue
When:  Thursday, August 30, 2007

Spurning the suggestion of the University of Oregon to play this game in Egypt , the Broncos return to the field of play on the Blue against their old Big Sky Conference rival with a new quarterback, a new slate of receivers, and a somewhat new defensive front. 

In his 2007 college football spectacular magazine (a good read), Phil Steele calls for Boise State to "once again [be] one of the top teams in the country."  Zagco agrees that Boise State has the talent it needs to remain an upper echelon team, but so much of its potential success will depend on how well the coaches have developed our new quarterback and how well the new receiving group does its job, both of which are considerable wildcards at this point.

At press time, Bush Hamden is the frontrunner to be the new quarterback.  Many Bronco fans have been hearing lots of good things about Bush for a long time, and Zagco is excited about him, although normally Zagco does not trust people with two last names.  Athlon's college football magazine called him "strong-armed, emotional," which sounds good, sorta like one of those male soap opera stars with the long hair and pirate's eye patch.  Hey, whatever!  We Bronco fans are used to having high maintenance quarterbacks.  Get him a psychiatrist and a bottle full of Lithium!  Zagco doesn't care if he's a diva and crazier than a hoot owl, as long as he doesn't screw the pooch!

The Broncos have the lowest number of returning starters in the WAC with eleven. However, that is a deceiving number because Vinny Peretta (WR), Pete Cavender (OL), and Phillip Edwards (DL) have all been starters and/or played key roles for Boise State .  Moreover, several other potential starters have seen a fair amount of playing time.  Zagco is also extremely excited about our stable of freshman scat backs.

The players that Zagco is going to be watching the closest this year for Boise State will be:  (1)  The fastest man on the team, cornerback Kyle Wilson, who Zagco is going to begin calling "Fright Night," conjuring up images of when former Arizona Wildcat Mitchell "Fright Night" Freedman brought down Ryan Leaf by jumping on him like a spider; (2) whichever freshman scat back becomes our number 2 carrier; (3) the Eye-talian Stallion, the exciting Vinny Peretta, who can run the ball out of the backfield and line up at wideout, and has shown great hands as a receiver (remember his catch v. Boston College); and (4) Jeremy Childs, one of Boise State's most heralded recruits, whose one-armed catch against Reno last year was freakin' awesome and is EXACTLY the kind of Jedi Kung Fu the Broncos are going to need this year to counter Hawaii's powers.  You know guys like Ian Johnson, Marty Tadman, Nick Shlekeway and Mr. Ryan Clady (God bless him) will bring it every single week.  We can also expect Ian Johnson to put on some weight now that he's married.  Finally, we should also be able to fairly expect a now experienced Mike T. Williams, a lightning fast defensive end, to bring it EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

Zagco's biggest concerns about Boise State are: 

1.         Will the quarterback play within the plan, avoiding too much freelancing?

2.         Will the new receiving group run good routes and have good hands?  We had problems with both of these issues two years ago, when we had a talented but new group of receivers.

3.         Will we avoid any major drop-off in our run-stuffing ability on defense? The loss of players like Korey Hall and Andrew Browning have many Bronco observers concerned about whether we will be able to control the line of scrimmage as well as we have in the recent past.  We can afford a bit of a drop-off, but Zagco thinks that our entire defensive scheme depends on a stiff front line.

4.         Last year, Boise State took the foot off the pedal in the New Mexico State, Hawaii, and Oklahoma games, turning blowout wins into freakishly close games.  That's a problem that must end.  There's no excuse for this team to go through those Keystone Cops-ish moments.  New Mexico State and Hawaii exploited craptastic defensive secondary play and a lack of pressure up front, whereas Oklahoma exploited mistakes in special teams and offense.  It was comical watching Hawaii hit Davone Bess and others on shallow crossing route after shallow crossing route against a completely clueless secondary.  The Broncos cannot stop playing until the clock reads 0:00 at the end of the fourth quarter.

5.         How will Orlando Scandrick, a very talented and physical corner, react to being called out a bit this summer by his coach, Marcel Yates?  Orlando, or "O," has, at times, seemed to lose his temper on the field, and he always seems to let one big play per game get by him.  He's better than that.  We'll see….

The purple-clad Wildcats of Weber State will undoubtedly come onto The Blue all jacked up on Mountain Dew, ready to go all spider monkey on us.  Zagco's never liked the Wildcats.  You can't trust them.  Their Alabama transfer quarterback will be hoping to show his Alabama-level talent, but it won't be long before he realizes that he's not in Tuscaloosa .  Zagco expects Weber to try to run a ball control offense that takes time off the clock, testing Boise State 's new-ish defensive front.  They might even test O on the long ball, just to see if he's in the game.  About the most we can hope for in this game is that we play with fluidity and gain some confidence in the hearts and minds of our new starters.  Boise State will show some rust and make some mistakes, but in the end the Broncos should win this game with ease.

Boise State will defeat Weber State.

Southeast Louisiana v. New Mexico State Aggies
Where:  Las Cruces , New Mexico
When:  Thursday, August 30, 2007

One of Zagco's rules is that he does not pick teams with directions in their names, especially I-AA teams.  There are some peculiar and very, very specific exceptions to this rule, none of which applies in this case.

New Mexico State has 17 returning starters, 10 on offense and 7 on defense.  They are the second biggest team in the WAC.  Quarterback Chase Holbrook is back, as is Justine Buries, a good running back that was injured last year.  Prolific receiver Chris Williams is also back.  At times, New Mexico State looked very potent last year, and you know that Hal Mumme is the kind of guy that just wants to pour on the offense whenever he can, like a liquored-up lawyer at a strip club with a pocket full of dollar bills.  If they simply improve as you would expect a team with 17 returning starters to improve, they will be a force in the WAC.  Moreover, Zagco thinks the early part of their schedule (Southeast La at home, archrival New Mexico on the road, and archrival UTEP at home) is actually somewhat favorable and could really catapult the Aggies in terms of confidence.  The prognosticators and doubters should be wary of New Mexico State .

New Mexico State will defeat Southeast Louisiana .

UNLV Runnin' Rebels v. Utah State Aggies
Where:  Logan , Utah
When:  Thursday, August 30, 2007

Zagco hates calling games like this:  Two crappy teams playing each other in what could only be described as the Pillow Fight of the Week. 

We WAC fans know that Utah State sucked last year, even with Charles Nelson Riley at quarterback (who is gone this year on a mission).  They simply were outmanned and had no offensive style.  They were stupid and gross.  It was like watching Paula Abdul's reality show.

Anyhoo, with respect to UNLV—these are not the Runnin' Rebels that we all used to love, with studs like Freddie Banks, Armon Gilliam, Jarvis Bassnight, Greg Anthony, Mark Wade, Larry "Grandmama" Johnson, Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon, Moses Scurry, and Freddie the Fixer lighting it up.  God, Zagco loved watching those teams!  These modern Rebels don't even KNOW what the "Amoeba Defense" is, and they surely don't play with the same relentless pace and supreme confidence of the Rebels of days gone by.  Sad.

These football Rebels suck.  They were 2-10 last year, including blowout losses to Hawaii on the road and Reno at home.  They have 14 starters back, but so what?!  They might suck a little less this year.  They pin their hopes on Rocky Hinds, a quarterback transfer from USC that was okay last year but hardly lived up to the hype (54% completions, 8 TD's, 13 INT's).

Utah State welcomes back its ENTIRE defense.  The Logan Aggies also have 8 guys back on offense, including athletic but mistake-prone quarterback Leon Jackson.  Given the hiring of Coach Darrell Dickey, however, it is doubtful that the Logan Aggies will allow Leon to throw the ball much.  It is always a real question mark whether it is good news when a really crappy team has lots of returning players.  Zagco foresees a grind-it-out approach on offense, and a somewhat tougher, stingier defense.

This game is a hard one to call.  If the game was in Vega$, Zagco would pick the Runnin' Rebels.  However, since the game is in Logan , Zagco feels that the home field advantage and the magic of the Darrell Dickey UNT Running Offense will be just enough to carry them to victory, assuming that Freddie the Fixer hasn't gotten involved….

Utah State will defeat UNLV.

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors v. Northern Colorado
Where:  Honolulu , Oahu
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Rainbow Warriors open up with a warm-up game against I-AA Northern Colorado.  Hawaii will, obviously, roll to an easy victory, and Zagco believes it is possible that the green and silver and black and white-clad Hawaiians could hang half a hundred on them.  This game should catapult Hawaii into the first part of its schedule, which includes games at La Tech, at UNLV, and back home for a donnybrook versus I-AA Charleston Southern, which should not be confused with Charleston Northern.

The only conceivable weaknesses in Hawaii's armor include the offensive line, where the all-world center from last year moved on to the NFL.  Zagco believes the center position is a lot more critical than most fans realize, as the entire game of football begins between the legs of the center.  Anyone who saw Hawaii play last year knows how dominant that line was, how in charge of blocking assignments the center was, and how much time they gave Colt Brennan.  Hawaii does have two great players back on the o-line, including a dude named Hercules, but Zagco still feels that if Hawaii has an undoing this year, it will be the o-line.

The other possible weakness is in the running back position, where replacing the freakishly big and multi-faceted Nate Ilaoa (7.6 yards per carry, a very good receiver, and an extremely punishing blocker and runner) will be difficult, even with some talented backs in the wings.  Hawaii 's defense has never been great, but it is physical and will be good enough to give them a very good shot at an unbeaten season.

Hawaii will defeat Northern Colorado .

Sacramento State Hornets v. Fresno State Bulldogs
Where:  Fresno , California
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fresno State was not a good football team last year.  People thought they were going to be good, but after about the mid-point of the season, it was obvious that Fresno State was pretty crappy.  Zagco thought they looked slow, uninspired, and very disjointed on offense when he saw them play in person on the Blue in Boise .  Of course, Fresno 's offense has never been real exciting or inventive.

In all honesty, Zagco does not really expect much from Fresno this year.  The Bulldogs only have 11 starters coming back, including quarterback Tom Brandstater.  On defense, the Bulldogs have 4 starters back.  Yet, Fresno always has one the best recruiting classes in the WAC, and Pat Hill has certainly proven that he can get his team motivated for big games.  The primary problem for Fresno is mental—they have a deep, passionate belief that only the 2 or 3 big BCS games on their annual schedule matter.  They just don't know how to fire themselves up to win a conference title (the last sole conference title they won was in 1989).  The bottom line is that Fresno is an unknown quantity—don't bet your life's fortune on this team doing anything in particular, because they could be anything from really crappy to pretty good.

But let's not get carried away with the future—the here and now is Sacramento State , a crappy Big Sky Conference team.  No issues— Fresno can afford to play uninspired football and still win.

Fresno State will defeat the Hornets.

San Jose Can You See v. Arizona State Sun Devils
Where:  Tempe , Arizona
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

This should be a heck of a game.  Dick Tomey, who coached Arizona back in the "Desert Swarm" days, goes up against Dennis Erickson, who now leads the Sun Devils.  Two old coots with their hands still on the controls, like watching Grandpa drive the Buick down to the barbershop and the local saloon for an afternoon pick-me-up so that he can come home and chase Grandma around the living room before having some French onion soup and falling asleep in the recliner during a re-run of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman!  As long as these guys remember to take their garlic pills and Bean-O before the game, this match up should be a real donnybrook!

As Zagco said earlier, do not underestimate San Jose .  They won 9 games last year, including a bowl win and defeating their arch-rival Fresno State for the first time in 12 years.  They have 7 offensive and 8 defensive starters back.  Quarterback Adam Tafralis was third in the WAC in passing efficiency, and that scat back Yonus Davis (1,007 yards) is the real deal—that dude can do some crazy stuff.  Zagco is a BIG Yonus Davis fan.  Let's hope he keeps his grades in order.  Plus, everyone knows that Dick Tomey can coach defense.

Arizona State , a very talented but underachieving team under Dirk Koetter, has 9 returning offensive starters and 5 returning defensive starters.  Dennis Erickson will no doubt add some talented thugs and ratchet up the dirty play-o-meter, sorta like how the Cat in the Hat brings Thing 1 and Thing 2 into everything he does.  Of course, unlike the Cat in the Hat, Dennis makes other people clean up his messes.

This is tough.  Zagco thinks San Jose is going to put up a real fight, and he would really like to see them win.  He thinks they could win this game.  Dick Tomey has some tricks up his sleeves, and he knows how to slow down a game.  He had Boise State 's coaching geniuses confused as hell last year until they finally figured out that screens would work against Tomey's defense.  At the end of the day, however, Zagco thinks the home field advantage and the Pac-10 caliber talent and klieg lights will prove too much for San Jose .

Arizona State will win.

Reno Wolfpack v. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Where:  Lincoln , Nebraska
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

Well, Zagco doesn't have Reno 's lanky Jeff "the Schnauz" Rowe to kick around anymore.  This year, the Pistol will be run by a new quarterback, most likely Nick Graziano, a name that conjures up images of a bit player from Laverne & Shirley.  They have a couple experienced receivers back, including a big target in Marko Mitchell.  Defensively, the Pack has linebacker Ezra Butler back, who is considered by many to be the WAC's pre-season defensive player of the year.  They've got several bodies back on D.  Overall, however, Zagco just doesn't see Reno improving in terms of record this year, as the conference overall will be better and Reno 's schedule is extremely difficult.

The Huskers seemed to improve a bit last year, but they are nowhere near being close to what they were when the Big Red Machine ruled college football.  They have 11 starters back, and most of them were key contributors.  They also will have the talented Arizona State transfer Sam Keller as their signal caller.  They appear ready to challenge for the Big 12 North again, although Zagco is still skeptical of Coach Bill Callahan's dinosaur-like "West Coast" offense.  We'll see….

The Huskers will defeat Reno in Lincoln.

University of Northcentral Idaho v. Southern Cal
Where:  SoCal
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

New Vandal coach Rob Akey actually called this game a "warm up" game for the Vandals when he was interviewed at the WAC summer conference in San Jose .  Seriously.  Somebody get the man another Jack and Coke.

That's right, folks:  The Vandal coach called the USC game a "warm up" game for Idaho .  Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.  Sexy time!!!!!!  MEMO TO VANDAL FANS:  You may commence with the French kissing and the disco dancing with your sisters.

Last year, when the Vandals re-hired Dennis Erickson, which made bar owners throughout the Palouse area very enthusiastic, Idaho 's Athletic Director—the excitable Rod Spears—announced to the world in a press conference:  "We're on the verge of something special."

The Vandals, who are no strangers to the art of expressing delusional thinking and hyperbolic braggadocio in small soundbites, were indeed on the verge of something special:  The world learned after the season was over that the Vandals managed to successfully harbor a fugitive felon from the State of Oregon 's Most Wanted List.  Genius!  There's no better hiding place than as a player on the Vandal roster. 

In addition to harboring felony fugitives from justice, the Vandals' long-since-pickled former coach led them to a 4-8 record with the second worst offense and fourth worst defense in the WAC. 

Alas, not wanting to let go of a crappy season, the Idaho and national sports media have been agog with reports that the Vandals have had 17 players kicked off or leave the team for various reasons.  The mass defection of athletes from Moscow crossed over into other sports as well, adding up to probably somewhere north of 30 athletes cut loose or otherwise gone.  Vandal Athletic Director Rod Spears even issued a press release calling out one of the players that left the school.  That's the Vandal way—stab your former athletes in the back!  It was ugly, and everyone was stabbing everyone else in the back, like an old episode of Dallas or Dynasty.  Then, of course, there's been the whole cocaine/drugs/criminal thing that has been real ugly up there and has involved some court testimony and convictions that have cast a very, very dark cloud over the Vandal football team.  It's scary and sad.

Word is that the Vandals under Coach Akey are going to run a one-back offense that will include some option, which sounds good because they will need options.  Plus, Coach Akey can explain the option to his players by telling them that it's sorta like what you go through before settling on your final plea bargain.

It sounds sorta like Coach Akey is jumping on the spread option bandwagon.  The defense may also run some 3-4 due to the extremely thin depth chart for defensive linemen. 

The Vandals are also replacing 24 letterman, the most in the WAC, and once again they have to completely re-invent the wheel.  At press time, it appears that a redshirt freshman quarterback, Nathan Enderle, will lead the Vandals this year.  Returning linebackers David Vobora and Jo Artis Ratti should be their best players, with diminutive and talented corner Stanley Franks being a pest in the backfield.  Zagco hasn't been worried about a Vandal cornerback since his old school mate Virgil Paulsen roamed the backfield for the Vandals, picking off passes right and left.  Alas, even in their glory years as a pretty good I-AA team, the Vandal defense has never been something to worry much about.

As Athlon reported in its Western college football magazine, no one worries about Idaho 's running game.  Other than one nice run against Boise State 's fifth stringers three years ago in mop-up time of a 65-7 rout, Jason Bird has never really fit into the "Vandal attack."  He should have transferred to I-AA Idaho State where his talents could have been better used.  JC running back Brian Flowers has talents, but so does everyone else in a Shanghai saloon.

USC is the consensus number 1 team in America , with 10 (!) returning defensive starters and 5 returning offensive starters, including signal caller John David Booty.  USC is soooooooo much better than Idaho that it's not even funny to Zagco…..  Well, it's sorta funny.  Anyhoo, if USC can wake itself up enough to play, they'll win.  Zagco does not expect much from this game.  It will be more surprising to Zagco if USC shows up motivated and steps on the gas, than it will be if the Trojans sleepwalk their way to an uninspiring victory.

Southern Cal will win, but it should be a good "warm up" game for Coach Akey and the Vandals.

La Tech Bulldogs v. Central Arkansas
Where:  Ruston , Louisiana
When:  Saturday, September 1, 2007

Zagco does not just willy-nilly pick La Tech to win football games, but in this case, with a visiting directional school that just moved up to Division I-AA as a member of the Southland Conference, it's too hard to resist casually picking the southern Bulldogs to win.

La Tech is the smallest team in the WAC.  They are also one of the youngest teams in the WAC on average, and they have the most freshman and sophomores (64).  Traditionally, the southern Bulldogs play silly schedules that involve travel assignments that would test the Ibiza-to-Miami Beach-to-Santa Monica willpower of jetsetters like Paris Hilton.  In many ways, the schedule is not as bad this year, but it will still test them, and they are forced to play the easiest WAC games ( Idaho and Utah State ) on the road.

Even though the Bulldogs are the youngest team in the WAC, they still welcome back 16 starters, including 10 on defense.  This bodes well for them, although it is unlikely to help much when they face the offensive juggernauts in the WAC.  They also welcome back 2 running backs that gained over 5 yards per carry.

La Tech also must learn the ways of Derek Dooley, the new head man who is the son of former Georgia coaching legend Vince Dooley.  New Coach Dooley also has a strong football pedigree that includes being Nick Saban's assistant head coach at LSU.   Zagco thinks this team could surprise a team or two this year.  For its opener, it will find a way to run and defense itself to victory over a decent I-AA team.

La Tech will defeat Central Arkansas .

All content ©2007 BroncoCountry.com/Scout.com.


Bronco Country Top Stories

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ZAG'S FRAGS: \r\n2007 WEEK 1
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Copyright Zagco\r\n\r\n
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\r\n

A WEEKLY LOOK AT WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL \r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

A Spectacular WAC Pre-Season Overview and Week 1 Predictions\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

IN A WORLD where Big Sports Media\r\npays prognosticators a king's ransom to make unreliable weekly predictions in\r\ncollege football, Zagco—a sexy Forrest Gump type who has lately taken to\r\ncalling himself \"Happy Fun Ball\"—toils for free, yet delivers money shot\r\nafter money shot, giving his all, like a San Francisco hooker on a Wednesday\r\nnight, for the benefit of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) fans and observers.

\r\n

Zagco says unto all you college football fans: \r\n\"Come on Barbie, let's go party!\"

\r\n

The other day, when Zagco was discussing the idea of doing his weekly WAC\r\ncolumn in the format of a \"Podcast\" with his friend Rizzo, a nicely dressed\r\nblack mamba who fancies clove cigarettes and Baywatch re-runs, Rizzo's\r\nassistant, a water buffalo named Chaka-kan, mentioned that some new-ish readers\r\nand potential listeners might not be familiar with Zagco. \r\nChaka-kan urged that we briefly outline some of Zagco's background and\r\nhis core beliefs so that we can all avoid any messy misunderstandings. 

\r\n

Rizzo and Zagco, both of whom\r\nwere crashing from sugar highs at the time brought on by a weeks' steady diet\r\nof root beer and Hostess fruit pies, were not in positions to disagreeably argue\r\nwith a water buffalo and, thus, concurred.  Chaka-kan,\r\nas you will come to know, has a way of sounding sooooo convincing and logical. \r\nIt can be a bit disarming.  Plus,\r\nChaka-kan has had some struggles with temper control and back acne that have\r\nmade us all a little suspicious and wary.  Usually,\r\nit's best to go along with his urgings.

\r\n

Anyhoo, Rizzo is technically\r\nChaka-kan's boss, and he is imbued with some killer poison and is very, very\r\nfast, but he tends to lead more by example. \r\nZagco met Rizzo and Chaka-kan back when he was picking coffee beans in \r\n\r\nHonduras\r\n\r\n, spending his nights in remote Contra camps partying like a rock star into the\r\nwee hours of the mornings.  (As an\r\naside, it was rather unusual for the Contras to let in a Gringo back in those\r\ndays, but Zagco has always had a way about him; an air of confidence that puts\r\nothers at ease.  Plus, they thought\r\nZagco was an arms dealer, a misunderstanding that he did nothing to dispel,\r\nalthough he never sold them any weapons other than some homemade wrist rockets\r\nthat he convinced them were actually solar-powered rocket launchers.)

\r\n

Anyhoo, Rizzo and Chaka-kan came\r\nsauntering into camp one night after some of the line soldiers started firing\r\noff mortars at a neighboring nudist colony that was playing an old Carly Simon\r\nLP at a volume that was, quite frankly, a bit too loud for everyone's comfort,\r\nbut that's a whole nuther story…. At the time, Zagco was passing around some\r\nJell-O shots and everyone was Go-Go dancing to an old Sly and the Family Stone\r\nrecord.  Needless to say, it was\r\nrather disappointing to all of us to see a black mamba and a water buffalo show\r\nup uninvited, without any money or beer.

\r\n

Well, by the time the night was\r\nover, Zagco, Rizzo, and Chaka-kan were sipping some Sanka from metal mugs and\r\neating those little white powdery doughnuts while sitting atop a huge rock\r\noutcropping (don't ask).  They'd\r\nbecome the best of friends.  It was\r\nup on that rock outcropping, looking out at the dense jungle foliage below, that\r\nwe discovered that we all shared a passion for college football, which seemed really\r\nironic at the time. 

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The next day, the three of us\r\nleft the camp in a rusty old El Camino we borrowed from mustachioed\r\nGeneralissimo Cortez de Soto Ponce de Leon Sanchez (probably a fake name). \r\nThe car had an old 8-track tape player and a copy of the Eagles'\r\nsignature recording Hotel California, which seemed sooooooo appropriate at the\r\ntime.  On our way through the jungle\r\nwe picked up two nuns wearing dark blue robes and a hitchhiking blonde American\r\nwoman in Jimmy Choos who told us that her name was Joan Wilder and said she\r\nwrote romance novels.  What-ever!

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We headed straight into town,\r\nbought matching white seersucker suits and straw hats and some checkered Vans\r\nslip-ons (the only new shoes we could find), and Zagco turned in his two\r\nweeks' notice to his employer, who got pissed and fired him on the spot with a\r\nmonths' severance pay in return for Zagco's signature on an agreement to not\r\nsue for sexual harassment and punitive damages, a matter than Zagco's lawyers\r\nhave advised him to not discuss any further. \r\nThe three of us spent the \"severance\" pay (the agreement prevents us\r\nfrom calling it \"settlement\" money) renting a small yacht and partying like\r\nColumbian drug lords with the Brazilian women's crew team up and down the\r\nYucatan Peninsula for a couple weeks.  We\r\neven invited aboard a National Geographic crew that was working on a story about\r\nthe Mayans or something, but Rizzo got mad at them after a couple days and\r\nkicked them off after he caught them stealing our bottled water. \r\nDay after day, the girls would incessantly sing that old 70's song\r\nabout pina coladas, which grew tiresome until Chaka-kan got them to occasionally\r\nsing some old English drinking songs!  Man,\r\nwas that whole thing fun, but we all smelled like coconut oil for about two\r\nmonths!

\r\n

Anyhoo, at heart, Zagco is about\r\nfreedom and the little guy.  He\r\nstrives to exude a vibe that could be best compared to that of the early\r\n1980's Middle American rock band Survivor—patriotism, optimism, positive\r\nthinking, fast cars, diners, and kicking Commie butt. 

\r\n

As mentioned above, and as a tip\r\nof the hat to the geniuses at Saturday Night Live, Zagco has recently started\r\ncalling himself \"Happy Fun Ball.\" He is a Boise State Broncos fan who began\r\npenning a weekly column called \"Zag's Frags\" last year about Western\r\nAthletic Conference football.  The\r\nZagco persona is basically a Seinfeldian version of Don Rickles jacked up on\r\nDing Dongs and Yoo Hoos, with a subtle touch of doctrinaire Lutheranism.

\r\n

As Zagco's regular readers\r\nknow, his weekly WAC picks are almost always correct—last year, he was\r\naccurate 88.57% of the time and had a streak of 29 consecutive accurate\r\npredictions.  Zagco's famous\r\nwinning streak was snapped in the wee hours of morning, on the last play of the\r\nlast regular season game played, when the Beavers of Oregon State actually\r\nappeared to make Hawaii's Colt Brennan quiver in fear like a fwightened wittle\r\nbunny wabbit on the final play, similar in many respects to the brief moment\r\nwhen Mace Windu, utilizing his unique fighting style that draws elements from\r\nthe Dark Side, had Darth Sidious on the ledge high above the seedy street level\r\nof Coruscant before the traitorous Anakin Skywalker stepped in to save the Sith\r\nLord.

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Many of you fans remember how our\r\nCorporate Web Slavemaster, Scout, Inc., tried to censor Zagco last year, even\r\ngoing so far as to remove one of his columns from the site when he called Utah State's offense \"gay.\"  Zagco\r\nis NOT anti-gay, and he apologized to gay people for associating them with \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's offense.  Scout, which is a\r\nmember of Big Sports Media, fears Zagco and is always trying to keep him down,\r\nbecause while they are off \"evaluating\" players and assigning recruiting\r\nstars to them in what appears to be a completely random fashion, Zagco and his\r\nadvisors have been able to outflank them. 

\r\n

Zagco is about the people; the\r\nregular sports fans—the proverbial \"little guy/gal\" who loves his or her\r\nsports.  No matter how hard Scout and\r\nthe other Big Sports Media try to keep Zagco down, he promises you fans that he\r\nwill not sacrifice the principles of liberty, freedom, and truth in his\r\nnever-ending effort to bring unvarnished sports information and opinion to you.

\r\n

Anyhoo, during the off-season,\r\nwhen so many of us have been counting down the days until the impending\r\nblockbuster motion picture \"Iron Man,\" starring Robert Downey, Jr., is\r\nreleased, it has come to Zagco's attention that he has, at various times,\r\noffended some of you.  This makes\r\nZagco sad—vewy, vewy sad. 

\r\n

Zagco sometimes says things that\r\nsound harsh and perhaps overly-inclusive in terms of his patented, sweeping,\r\nepic-like condemnations.  Zagco has a\r\nbit of the Old Testament in him.  He\r\neven asks questions that should, perhaps, best go un-asked. \r\nHe can make people, especially people who fancy themselves bigwigs and\r\nmuckity-mucks in their chosen fields, feel very—shall we\r\nsay—\"uncomfortable.\" 

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You know who you are….

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Alas, unto you real Bronco fans\r\nwho have been offended a time or two by Zagco, he says unto you to remember that\r\nthis is all for fun and games.  For\r\nyou other WAC fans, don't take things personally—Zagco means well. \r\nAnd, for you scatological Vandal fans who have had your feewings huwt and\r\nhave pwivatwy e-maiwed Zagco wif insults and thweats, Zagco would like to say,\r\nin his best Eric Cartman voice:  \"Screw\r\nyou guys!  Losers! HAHAHHA!!!\"

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Zagco has been contemplating the\r\nnew season from the comfort of a spacious deck overlooking \r\nDeer\r\n \r\nLake\r\n, an idyllic setting in the woods and hills north of \r\n\r\nSpokane\r\n, \r\nWashington\r\n\r\n.  This is the place where Zagco goes\r\nto relax and where the ladies in Zagco's life can drink that cheap \"Blush\"\r\nwine-in-a-box and nag him to death about chores they want him to do, making him\r\nfeel like a fwightened wittle bunny wabbit. \r\nTo Zagco, who mostly just wants to be left alone with his Mr. Pibb and\r\nhis Vanity Fair magazine, there are few things more relaxing in life than\r\nhanging out at a mountain lake where you can take your baths in the cold lake\r\nwater on sunny mornings.

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Anyhoo, during Zagco's relaxing\r\nvacation, he assembled some brief, yet thoughtful and very special words of\r\nwisdom for the fans of all nine WAC schools:

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1.         \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n:  Hey now, put down the \"Miracles\r\nHappen\" karaoke CD and Fiesta Bowl DVD highlights (that includes the YouTube\r\nlinks)!  Quit worrying about whether\r\nZach Efron (!) will be cast to play Z in the \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n movie.  Let Spiderpig go. \r\nStop crying!  Go hug your\r\ndollies.\r\n \r\n

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2.         \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n:  The rest of the WAC is now fully\r\naware that you are, in fact, the Sith Lord, Darth Pineappleus. \r\nThe Jedi Masters are scrambling to figure out a way to fight back. \r\nIt is now time for you to unleash the Full Power of the Dark Side of the\r\nForce.  HAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!! \r\nSeriously, thought, outside of potential issues with the running game and\r\nreplacing last year's stellar offensive line, including the center, the\r\nRainbow Warriors are in great shape for a run at an unbeaten record and a BCS\r\nbowl game (unless the voters punish them for a schedule that would make even\r\nBoise State blush).  Coach June\r\nJones, who looks an awful lot like Count Dookoo, is salivating over the prospect\r\nof finally winning something meaningful while running the Run-n-Shoot offense,\r\nwhich is his life's work.  In\r\naddition to Colt Brennan, the puking quarterback, Zagco looks for his favorite\r\nRainbow Warrior, receiver Davone Bess, to have a huge year.\r\n

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3.         \r\nReno\r\n:  Chris Ault, the man who invented\r\nthe \"Pistol Offense,\" has rebuilt \r\nReno\r\n into a respectable football team, yet you \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n fans show him no respect!  \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n averaged only 16,728 fans last year (104th in the nation). \r\nThat's pathetic for a pretty good team with a big stadium and a\r\nmetropolitan area!  Until you guys\r\nstart acting like a real football program, you'll always be \"\r\nReno\r\n\" and not the \"\r\n\r\nUniversity\r\n of \r\nNevada.\"

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4.         \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n:  You guys are as resilient as\r\ncockroaches!  Rather than moping\r\naround and pouting when your hallowed former coach from the 1980's—Dennis\r\nErickson—ditched you last year, you just put your noggins together and hired a\r\nman who, during his hiring press conference, told the world that he named his\r\nkids \"Jack\" and \"Daniels\" and who, as a defensive coordinator, took the\r\nWashington State defense from a national ranking of 19th in his first\r\nyear, to rankings of 53rd, 106th, and 81st!!! Seriously. That's the kind of thing that only a committee of jocular Vandal boosters, lawyers and lobbyists\r\ncould conceive and rationalize as they blow away tax money like Saudi oil\r\nprinces playing baccarat in a hookah bar, as the rest of world looks on in\r\nstunned, bemused disbelief It's a, errr, great day to be a Vandal, huh!?! Meanwhile,\r\nenrollment continues to decline and academics suffer on your isolated, rural\r\ncampus, and the most you can do to fight off those cancers is to build a\r\nsatellite technical college campus in a town near the Canadian border and spend\r\nmore taxpayer money on a half-baked marketing campaign centered on a four-word\r\nslogan that sounds like the name of an LP released by a hippie/folk music act in\r\nabout 1969:  \"Open Spaces, Open\r\nMinds.\"  Have another PBR, you\r\nSatan-worshipping cheat monkeys!\r\n

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5.         \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n:  This is a make-or-break year for\r\nCoach Pat Hill.  \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n better start caring about more than the two or three BCS games they play each\r\nyear.  You gotta bring it EVERY GAME! \r\nIt's about consistency, gentlemen; if Fonzie taught the world anything,\r\nit's that being cool is not a part-time job.\r\n

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6.         \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n Can You See:  Dick Tomey—a totally\r\ndecent guy—has done a nice job with the Bay Area Spartans. \r\nWe'll see if the fans stick with it this year through the brutal\r\nearly part of the schedule.  They\r\nalso have to travel to the lair of the \"Wicked Witch of the North,\" which is\r\nwhat Coach Tomey christened \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n last year after suffering a heartbreaking loss. \r\n(The flying monkeys await your arrival, Coach Tomey.) \r\nSeriously, though, this is a team that Zagco feels has been roundly\r\nunderestimated by many prognosticators.  If\r\nthey can keep their spirits up after the first four games on the road (at ASU,\r\nat \r\n\r\nKansas St.\r\n\r\n, at Stanford, at \r\n\r\nUtah St.\r\n\r\n), watch out for these guys!\r\n

\r\n

7.         New Mexico State: \r\nHal Mumme—a poor man's Jerry Tarkanian \r\nwho doesn't chew on a towel but actually appears to use one on the\r\nsidelines to wipe away his glistening snot during games—had the Aggies going\r\npretty good once in awhile last year, but they still managed to under-perform in\r\nseveral games.  Unlike defensive\r\nwizard Jerry Tarkanian, Mumme doesn't know or appear to care a lick about\r\ndefense.  Still, they are a big team\r\nand are LOADED with returning starters on both sides of the ball (17). \r\nZagco thinks it's fair to expect them to have a winning record and to\r\nchallenge for the conference title until late in the season. \r\nDo not underestimate this team.\r\n \r\n

\r\n

8.         \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n:  The Logan Aggies were simply,\r\nphenomenally craptastic last year—Zagco thought they had the weirdest, lamest,\r\nand most difficult to explain offense ever. \r\nIt was like a wishbone offense with no options and lots of wishes. \r\nIt sucked.  Well, Coach Guy\r\nwent out and hired former Mean Green head coach Darrell Dickey as his new\r\noffensive coordinator.  Whaaaa….?!?! \r\nSeriously, people, if you were having problems with your offense, where\r\ndo you think Coach Dickey shows up on the list of possible fixes? \r\nHmmm.  Let's see: \r\n(1) an Air Raid/spread style of offense; (2) the West Virginia/Florida\r\nspread option; or (3) Darrell Dickey's running offense from UNT. \r\nFolks, this is not a good sign for \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.\r\n

\r\n

9.         \r\n\r\nLouisiana\r\n\r\n Tech:  Your schedule is not as\r\nridiculous as last year, but you are still going to struggle, even with your new\r\ncoach.  You're young, you're\r\nsmall, and you still have very difficult travel issues. \r\nThe fan base appears thoroughly disinterested. \r\nIt's still rebuilding time in \r\n\r\nRuston\r\n\r\n.\r\n

\r\n

WAC Facts\r\n\r\n

\r\n

The average player in the WAC weighs 230.02 pounds. \r\nThe biggest team in the WAC is \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n, which averages 234.67 pounds per player.  The\r\nBay Area Spartans, \r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n and \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n are the three biggest WAC teams.  The\r\nsmallest team is Louisiana Tech at 226.67 pounds. \r\nLa Tech, \r\nIdaho\r\n, and \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n are the smallest WAC teams.  \r\nBoise State\r\n, \r\nHawaii\r\n, and \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n are in the middle.

\r\n

New Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n has the highest standard deviation of weight at 51.34 pounds. \r\nThe lowest standard deviation is \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's 38.92 pounds.  The average\r\nstandard deviation in the WAC is 44.19 pounds, and \r\nHawaii\r\n, \r\nSan Jose\r\n \r\nState\r\n and \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n are all above the average.

\r\n

\"Standard deviation,\" which\r\nis basically the average distance from the mean, is a critical performance\r\nmeasure.  Zagco knows this because\r\ntop business academicians at \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n have told him so.  A high standard\r\ndeviation means you have lots of variability, and variability is not good. \r\nThere are a number of possible explanations for the standard deviation\r\nmeasure in this case, but one thing is certain: \r\nA high standard deviation is really, really bad.

\r\n

Zagco believes three things can\r\nexplain high standard deviations of weight for WAC teams: \r\n(1) excessive recruiting of hobbits and giants, thus evidencing a lack of\r\nstandardization and focus in recruiting; (2) a sub-par conditioning program; and\r\n(3) those crazy, dangerous fad diets you hear about every week on Oprah.

\r\n

The average WAC team lists 7\r\nplayers over 300 pounds.  The most is\r\n12 by \r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n, and the fewest is 2 by \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.  Conversely, the average WAC team\r\nlists 28.44 players under 200 pounds.  The\r\nmost is 36 by La Tech, and the least is 10 by \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n.

\r\n

\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n lists the biggest player in the WAC at 358 pounds, Eddie Tautolo, a freshman\r\noffensive lineman from \r\n\r\nAmerican Samoa\r\n\r\n.  Congratulations, Eddie! \r\nSuspiciously, \r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n also lists the itsy-bitsiest player in the WAC at 149 pounds, Brian Mead, a\r\nfreshman wide receiver from \r\n\r\nClovis\r\n, \r\nNew Mexico\r\n\r\n, who was recently seen climbing up the water spout.

\r\n

The youngest team in the WAC is \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n at 2.11 (\"1\" = freshman; \"2\" = sophomore; \"3\" = junior; \"4\" =\r\nsenior).  The oldest WAC team is \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n at 2.63.  The average WAC team is\r\n2.28.  The oldest WAC teams include \r\nHawaii\r\n, \r\nSan Jose State\r\n, \r\nNew Mexico\r\n State, and \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n.  Ironically, even though \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n is one of the older teams in the WAC with the second fewest freshman and\r\nsophomores, it also has the distinction of having the fewest seniors (15). \r\nThe Vandals continue to be an enigma wrapped up in a puzzle.

\r\n

The average attendance in the WAC\r\nis 22,139.89.  That figure is boosted\r\nconsiderably by the WAC's three flagship schools—\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n, \r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n, and \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n, all of which exceed 30,000.  \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's average attendance actually exceeds stadium capacity, yet there is still\r\nnothing concrete announced in the way of adding a significant number of seats\r\nfor the common man (a new press box and luxury and box suites are currently\r\nbeing added for Big Sports Media and rich, fancy people). \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n, \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n, and Louisiana Tech are very serious drags on the WAC's attendance figures.\r\n\r\n 

\r\n

WAC teams will play in 109 games\r\nthis year.  Oddly, \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n plays only 12 games, 2 of which are against I-AA teams. \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n's non-conference slate includes I-AA Northern Colorado, MWC bottom-feeder\r\nUNLV, I-AA Charleston Southern, and a December 1st game against a\r\nrespectable \r\n\r\nWashington\r\n\r\n team.  You would think \r\nHawaii\r\n would want to showcase itself in more games against better competition in this\r\nyear of BCS talk for the Rainbow Warriors, but apparently \r\nHawaii\r\n's Athletic Director felt that it would be better to set up the schedule in a\r\nway that would make \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's Athletic Director, Gene Bleymeier, proud. \r\n(Pat Hill, the Butters of WAC football coaches, must be just kicking\r\nhimself in the ass watching \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n and \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n run away with all the glory with those schedules!)

\r\n

Those 108 games take place on 24\r\ndifferent dates, all of which fall on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,\r\nmaking the WAC seem tawdry and desperate in its willingness to do it anywhere,\r\nanytime.  The only other college\r\nfootball conference that is more flexible than the WAC is the Mountain West\r\nConference (MWC), which has actually scheduled marquee games on Thursday\r\nafternoons when Oprah's on and people are still at work, televised on channels\r\nlike Hallmark, Oxygen, and a channel that is only available in \r\n\r\nBranson\r\n, \r\nMissouri\r\n\r\n and in Lichtenstein.  Seriously.

\r\n

In an apparent fit of rage over\r\nESPN's requests to play games on nontraditional days of the week, the MWC\r\nactually signed a television contract specifying these kinds of scheduling and\r\ntelevision terms a couple years ago, succumbing to promises of fame and wealth\r\nthat were made to them by the nicely dressed black mamba named Rizzo, who was\r\nsmoking a clove cigarette at the time, while his assistant, the water buffalo\r\nnamed Chaka-kan, played harmonica in the background. \r\nThe whole thing was surreal, especially when the BYU delegation showed up\r\nunannounced wearing black suits.  If\r\nit wasn't for the University of Utah delegation demanding that the deal be\r\nfinalized so that they could all leave to attend a global warming speech by Al\r\nGore, it is highly unlikely that the elaborate ruse of a snake and a water\r\nbuffalo running a cable television network that desperately wanted to televise\r\nMWC games could have withstood the withering questioning that was already\r\nunderway by the San Diego State president.

\r\n

Zagco understands that top\r\nlawyers in \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n\r\n have been hired by the same MWC school presidents who knowingly and willfully\r\nauthorized the contract to figure out how to undo it in an arguably legal, yet\r\nclever, way!  Meanwhile, Rizzo and\r\nChaka-kan are spending the loot in \r\n\r\nMonte Carlo\r\n\r\n with Morgan Fairchild and Charlie Sheen's ex-wife Denise Richards, who is\r\nreportedly crazier than a three-dollar bill but still deserves kudos for her\r\nperformance in Wild Things.  They are\r\nalso secure from lawsuit or prosecution,  because\r\nthe feds gave them use and transactional immunity in return for some testimony\r\nabout an investment banker that fronted them some spending cash to look legit\r\nfor the MWC folks in return for one-third cut—apparently, this banker has a\r\npretty shady background that interested the feds a lot more than this little\r\ncaper.  Anyhoo, this whole television\r\ncontract/lawyers/Denise Richards thing is an excellent example of how Big\r\nEducation too often uses its money and time to do stupid things that they then\r\nhave to un-do.  Meanwhile, students\r\nare charged $150 a pop for textbooks that have more typos than any English 101\r\npaper ever written.

\r\n

In fairness, the vast majority of\r\nthe WAC's games (90, or 82.57%) take place on the traditional Saturday, after\r\nmorning cartoons are over.  Nontraditional\r\ngames include 4 WAC teams playing on 2 different Thursdays, 12 teams playing on\r\n6 different Fridays, and 3 WAC teams playing on 2 different Sundays. \r\n\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n plays 5 nontraditional games, the most in the WAC. \r\n\r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n and La Tech are the only WAC teams without any nontraditional dates on their\r\nschedules.  As we have learned, WAC\r\ngames can be re-scheduled at the request of ESPN during the season, so there is\r\nstill hope that we will be the first conference to have a game played on a\r\nMonday afternoon.

\r\n

Week 1 Picks\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Weber\r\n \r\n State\r\n Wildcats v. \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Broncos
\r\nWhere:  The Blue
\r\nWhen:  Thursday, August 30, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Spurning the suggestion of the \r\nUniversity\r\n of \r\nOregon\r\n to play this game in \r\n\r\nEgypt\r\n\r\n, the Broncos return to the field of play on the Blue against their old Big Sky\r\nConference rival with a new quarterback, a new slate of receivers, and a\r\nsomewhat new defensive front. 

\r\n

In his 2007 college football\r\nspectacular magazine (a good read), Phil Steele calls for \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n to \"once again [be] one of the top teams in the country.\" \r\nZagco agrees that \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n has the talent it needs to remain an upper echelon team, but so much of its\r\npotential success will depend on how well the coaches have developed our new\r\nquarterback and how well the new receiving group does its job, both of which are\r\nconsiderable wildcards at this point.

\r\n

At press time, Bush Hamden is the\r\nfrontrunner to be the new quarterback.  Many\r\nBronco fans have been hearing lots of good things about Bush for a long time,\r\nand Zagco is excited about him, although normally Zagco does not trust people\r\nwith two last names.  Athlon's\r\ncollege football magazine called him \"strong-armed, emotional,\" which sounds\r\ngood, sorta like one of those male soap opera stars with the long hair and\r\npirate's eye patch.  Hey, whatever! \r\nWe Bronco fans are used to having high maintenance quarterbacks. \r\nGet him a psychiatrist and a bottle full of Lithium! \r\nZagco doesn't care if he's a diva and crazier than a hoot owl, as\r\nlong as he doesn't screw the pooch!

\r\n

The Broncos have the lowest\r\nnumber of returning starters in the WAC with eleven. However, that is a\r\ndeceiving number because Vinny Peretta (WR), Pete Cavender (OL), and Phillip Edwards (DL) have all been starters and/or played key roles for \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.  Moreover, several other potential\r\nstarters have seen a fair amount of playing time. \r\nZagco is also extremely excited about our stable of freshman scat backs.

\r\n

The players that Zagco is going\r\nto be watching the closest this year for Boise State will be: \r\n(1)  The fastest man on the\r\nteam, cornerback Kyle Wilson, who Zagco is going to begin calling \"Fright\r\nNight,\" conjuring up images of when former Arizona Wildcat Mitchell \"Fright\r\nNight\" Freedman brought down Ryan Leaf by jumping on him like a spider; (2)\r\nwhichever freshman scat back becomes our number 2 carrier; (3) the Eye-talian\r\nStallion, the exciting Vinny Peretta, who can run the ball out of the backfield\r\nand line up at wideout, and has shown great hands as a receiver (remember his\r\ncatch v. Boston College); and (4) Jeremy Childs, one of Boise State's most\r\nheralded recruits, whose one-armed catch against Reno last year was freakin'\r\nawesome and is EXACTLY the kind of Jedi Kung Fu the Broncos are going to need\r\nthis year to counter Hawaii's powers.  You\r\nknow guys like Ian Johnson, Marty Tadman, Nick Shlekeway and Mr. Ryan Clady (God\r\nbless him) will bring it every single week. \r\nWe can also expect Ian Johnson to put on some weight now that he's\r\nmarried.  Finally, we should also be\r\nable to fairly expect a now experienced Mike T. Williams, a lightning fast\r\ndefensive end, to bring it EVERY SINGLE PLAY.

\r\n

Zagco's biggest concerns about Boise\r\nState are: 

\r\n

1.         Will the quarterback\r\nplay within the plan, avoiding too much freelancing?

\r\n

2.         Will the new\r\nreceiving group run good routes and have good hands? \r\nWe had problems with both of these issues two years ago, when we had a\r\ntalented but new group of receivers.

\r\n

3.         Will we avoid any\r\nmajor drop-off in our run-stuffing ability on defense? The loss of players like\r\nKorey Hall and Andrew Browning have many Bronco observers concerned about\r\nwhether we will be able to control the line of scrimmage as well as we have in\r\nthe recent past.  We can afford a bit\r\nof a drop-off, but Zagco thinks that our entire defensive scheme depends on a\r\nstiff front line.

\r\n

4.         Last year, \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n took the foot off the pedal in the New Mexico State, Hawaii, and \r\n\r\nOklahoma\r\n\r\n games, turning blowout wins into freakishly close games. \r\nThat's a problem that must end.  There's\r\nno excuse for this team to go through those Keystone Cops-ish moments. \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n and \r\nHawaii\r\n exploited craptastic defensive secondary play and a lack of pressure up front,\r\nwhereas \r\n\r\nOklahoma\r\n\r\n exploited mistakes in special teams and offense. \r\nIt was comical watching \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n hit Davone Bess and others on shallow crossing route after shallow crossing\r\nroute against a completely clueless secondary. \r\nThe Broncos cannot stop playing until the clock reads 0:00 at the end of\r\nthe fourth quarter.

\r\n

5.         How will Orlando Scandrick, a very talented and physical corner, react to being called out a bit\r\nthis summer by his coach, Marcel Yates?  Orlando,\r\nor \"O,\" has, at times, seemed to lose his temper on the field, and he always\r\nseems to let one big play per game get by him. \r\nHe's better than that.  We'll\r\nsee….

\r\n

The purple-clad Wildcats of Weber\r\nState will undoubtedly come onto The Blue all jacked up on Mountain Dew, ready\r\nto go all spider monkey on us.  Zagco's\r\nnever liked the Wildcats.  You\r\ncan't trust them.  Their \r\nAlabama\r\n transfer quarterback will be hoping to show his Alabama-level talent, but it\r\nwon't be long before he realizes that he's not in \r\n\r\nTuscaloosa\r\n\r\n.  Zagco expects Weber to try to run\r\na ball control offense that takes time off the clock, testing \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's new-ish defensive front.  They\r\nmight even test O on the long ball, just to see if he's in the game. \r\nAbout the most we can hope for in this game is that we play with fluidity\r\nand gain some confidence in the hearts and minds of our new starters. \r\n\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n will show some rust and make some mistakes, but in the end the Broncos should\r\nwin this game with ease.

\r\n

Boise State will defeat Weber State.

\r\n

Southeast Louisiana\r\n v. \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Aggies
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nLas Cruces\r\n, \r\nNew Mexico
\r\nWhen:  Thursday, August 30, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

One of Zagco's rules is that he\r\ndoes not pick teams with directions in their names, especially I-AA teams. \r\nThere are some peculiar and very, very specific exceptions to this rule,\r\nnone of which applies in this case.

\r\n

New Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n has 17 returning starters, 10 on offense and 7 on defense. \r\nThey are the second biggest team in the WAC. \r\nQuarterback Chase Holbrook is back, as is Justine Buries, a good running\r\nback that was injured last year.  Prolific\r\nreceiver Chris Williams is also back.  At\r\ntimes, New Mexico State looked very potent last year, and you know that Hal\r\nMumme is the kind of guy that just wants to pour on the offense whenever he can,\r\nlike a liquored-up lawyer at a strip club with a pocket full of dollar bills. \r\nIf they simply improve as you would expect a team with 17 returning\r\nstarters to improve, they will be a force in the WAC. \r\nMoreover, Zagco thinks the early part of their schedule (Southeast La at\r\nhome, archrival \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n\r\n on the road, and archrival UTEP at home) is actually somewhat favorable and\r\ncould really catapult the Aggies in terms of confidence. \r\nThe prognosticators and doubters should be wary of \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.

\r\n

\r\nNew Mexico State\r\n will defeat \r\nSoutheast Louisiana\r\n.

\r\n

UNLV Runnin' Rebels v. \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Aggies
\r\n
Where:  \r\n\r\nLogan\r\n, \r\nUtah
\r\nWhen:  Thursday, August 30, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco hates calling games like\r\nthis:  Two crappy teams playing each\r\nother in what could only be described as the Pillow Fight of the Week. 

\r\n

We WAC fans know that \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n sucked last year, even with Charles Nelson Riley at quarterback (who is gone\r\nthis year on a mission).  They simply\r\nwere outmanned and had no offensive style.  They\r\nwere stupid and gross.  It was like\r\nwatching Paula Abdul's reality show.

\r\n

Anyhoo, with respect to UNLV—these\r\nare not the Runnin' Rebels that we all used to love, with studs like Freddie\r\nBanks, Armon Gilliam, Jarvis Bassnight, Greg Anthony, Mark Wade, Larry\r\n\"Grandmama\" Johnson, Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon, Moses Scurry, and Freddie\r\nthe Fixer lighting it up.  God, Zagco\r\nloved watching those teams!  These\r\nmodern Rebels don't even KNOW what the \"Amoeba Defense\" is, and they\r\nsurely don't play with the same relentless pace and supreme confidence of the\r\nRebels of days gone by.  Sad.

\r\n

These football Rebels suck. \r\nThey were 2-10 last year, including blowout losses to \r\nHawaii\r\n on the road and \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n at home.  They have 14 starters\r\nback, but so what?!  They might suck\r\na little less this year.  They pin\r\ntheir hopes on Rocky Hinds, a quarterback transfer from USC that was okay last\r\nyear but hardly lived up to the hype (54% completions, 8 TD's, 13 INT's).

\r\n

Utah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n welcomes back its ENTIRE defense.  The\r\nLogan Aggies also have 8 guys back on offense, including athletic but\r\nmistake-prone quarterback Leon Jackson.  Given\r\nthe hiring of Coach Darrell Dickey, however, it is doubtful that the Logan\r\nAggies will allow \r\n\r\nLeon\r\n\r\n to throw the ball much.  It is\r\nalways a real question mark whether it is good news when a really crappy team\r\nhas lots of returning players.  Zagco\r\nforesees a grind-it-out approach on offense, and a somewhat tougher, stingier\r\ndefense.

\r\n

This game is a hard one to call. \r\nIf the game was in Vega$, Zagco would pick the Runnin' Rebels. \r\nHowever, since the game is in \r\n\r\nLogan\r\n\r\n, Zagco feels that the home field advantage and the magic of the Darrell Dickey\r\nUNT Running Offense will be just enough to carry them to victory, assuming that\r\nFreddie the Fixer hasn't gotten involved….

\r\n

Utah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n will defeat UNLV.

\r\n

Hawaii\r\n Rainbow Warriors v. \r\nNorthern Colorado
\r\nWhere:  \r\nHonolulu\r\n, \r\nOahu
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

The Rainbow Warriors open up with\r\na warm-up game against I-AA Northern Colorado. \r\n\r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n will, obviously, roll to an easy victory, and Zagco believes it is possible\r\nthat the green and silver and black and white-clad Hawaiians could hang half a\r\nhundred on them.  This game should\r\ncatapult \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n into the first part of its schedule, which includes games at La Tech, at UNLV,\r\nand back home for a donnybrook versus I-AA Charleston Southern, which should not\r\nbe confused with Charleston Northern.

\r\n

The only conceivable weaknesses\r\nin Hawaii's armor include the offensive line, where the all-world center from\r\nlast year moved on to the NFL.  Zagco\r\nbelieves the center position is a lot more critical than most fans realize, as\r\nthe entire game of football begins between the legs of the center. \r\nAnyone who saw Hawaii play last year knows how dominant that line was,\r\nhow in charge of blocking assignments the center was, and how much time they\r\ngave Colt Brennan.  Hawaii does have\r\ntwo great players back on the o-line, including a dude named Hercules, but Zagco\r\nstill feels that if Hawaii has an undoing this year, it will be the o-line.

\r\n

The other possible weakness is in\r\nthe running back position, where replacing the freakishly big and multi-faceted\r\nNate Ilaoa (7.6 yards per carry, a very good receiver, and an extremely\r\npunishing blocker and runner) will be difficult, even with some talented backs\r\nin the wings.  \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n's defense has never been great, but it is physical and will be good enough to\r\ngive them a very good shot at an unbeaten season.

\r\n

\r\nHawaii\r\n will defeat \r\nNorthern Colorado\r\n.

\r\n

Sacramento\r\n \r\n State\r\n Hornets v. \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Bulldogs
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n, \r\nCalifornia
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Fresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n was not a good football team last year.  People\r\nthought they were going to be good, but after about the mid-point of the season,\r\nit was obvious that \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n was pretty crappy.  Zagco thought\r\nthey looked slow, uninspired, and very disjointed on offense when he saw them\r\nplay in person on the Blue in \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n\r\n.  Of course, \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n's offense has never been real exciting or inventive.

\r\n

In all honesty, Zagco does not\r\nreally expect much from \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n this year.  The Bulldogs only have\r\n11 starters coming back, including quarterback Tom Brandstater. \r\nOn defense, the Bulldogs have 4 starters back. \r\nYet, \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n always has one the best recruiting classes in the WAC, and Pat Hill has\r\ncertainly proven that he can get his team motivated for big games. \r\nThe primary problem for \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n is mental—they have a deep, passionate belief that only the 2 or 3 big BCS\r\ngames on their annual schedule matter.  They\r\njust don't know how to fire themselves up to win a conference title (the last\r\nsole conference title they won was in 1989). \r\nThe bottom line is that Fresno is an unknown quantity—don't bet your\r\nlife's fortune on this team doing anything in particular, because they could\r\nbe anything from really crappy to pretty good.

\r\n

But let's not get carried away\r\nwith the future—the here and now is \r\n\r\nSacramento\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n, a crappy Big Sky Conference team.  No\r\nissues—\r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n can afford to play uninspired football and still win.

\r\n

Fresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n will defeat the Hornets.

\r\n

San Jose\r\n Can You See v. \r\n\r\nArizona\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Sun Devils
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nTempe\r\n, \r\nArizona
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

This should be a heck of a game. \r\nDick Tomey, who coached \r\n\r\nArizona\r\n\r\n back in the \"Desert Swarm\" days, goes up against Dennis Erickson, who now\r\nleads the Sun Devils.  Two old coots\r\nwith their hands still on the controls, like watching Grandpa drive the Buick\r\ndown to the barbershop and the local saloon for an afternoon pick-me-up so that\r\nhe can come home and chase Grandma around the living room before having some\r\nFrench onion soup and falling asleep in the recliner during a re-run of Dr.\r\nQuinn, Medicine Woman!  As long as\r\nthese guys remember to take their garlic pills and Bean-O before the game, this\r\nmatch up should be a real donnybrook!

\r\n

As Zagco said earlier, do not\r\nunderestimate \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n.  They won 9 games last year,\r\nincluding a bowl win and defeating their arch-rival \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n for the first time in 12 years.  They\r\nhave 7 offensive and 8 defensive starters back. \r\nQuarterback Adam Tafralis was third in the WAC in passing efficiency, and\r\nthat scat back Yonus Davis (1,007 yards) is the real deal—that dude can do\r\nsome crazy stuff.  Zagco is a BIG\r\nYonus Davis fan.  Let's hope he\r\nkeeps his grades in order.  Plus,\r\neveryone knows that Dick Tomey can coach defense.

\r\n

Arizona\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n, a very talented but underachieving team under Dirk Koetter, has 9 returning\r\noffensive starters and 5 returning defensive starters. \r\nDennis Erickson will no doubt add some talented thugs and ratchet up the\r\ndirty play-o-meter, sorta like how the Cat in the Hat brings Thing 1 and Thing 2\r\ninto everything he does.  Of course,\r\nunlike the Cat in the Hat, Dennis makes other people clean up his messes.

\r\n

This is tough. \r\nZagco thinks \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n is going to put up a real fight, and he would really like to see them win. \r\nHe thinks they could win this game.  Dick\r\nTomey has some tricks up his sleeves, and he knows how to slow down a game. \r\nHe had \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's coaching geniuses confused as hell last year until they finally figured out\r\nthat screens would work against Tomey's defense. \r\nAt the end of the day, however, Zagco thinks the home field advantage and\r\nthe Pac-10 caliber talent and klieg lights will prove too much for \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n.

\r\n

Arizona\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n will win.

\r\n

Reno\r\n Wolfpack v. \r\n\r\nNebraska\r\n\r\n Cornhuskers
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nLincoln\r\n, \r\nNebraska
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Well, Zagco doesn't have \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n's lanky Jeff \"the Schnauz\" Rowe to kick around anymore. \r\nThis year, the Pistol will be run by a new quarterback, most likely Nick Graziano, a name that conjures up images of a bit player from Laverne &\r\nShirley.  They have a couple\r\nexperienced receivers back, including a big target in Marko Mitchell. \r\nDefensively, the Pack has linebacker Ezra Butler back, who is considered\r\nby many to be the WAC's pre-season defensive player of the year. \r\nThey've got several bodies back on D. \r\nOverall, however, Zagco just doesn't see \r\nReno\r\n improving in terms of record this year, as the conference overall will be\r\nbetter and \r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n's schedule is extremely difficult.

\r\n

The Huskers seemed to improve a\r\nbit last year, but they are nowhere near being close to what they were when the\r\nBig Red Machine ruled college football.  They\r\nhave 11 starters back, and most of them were key contributors. \r\nThey also will have the talented \r\n\r\nArizona\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n transfer Sam Keller as their signal caller. \r\nThey appear ready to challenge for the Big 12 North again, although Zagco\r\nis still skeptical of Coach Bill Callahan's dinosaur-like \"West Coast\"\r\noffense.  We'll see….

\r\n

The Huskers will defeat \r\nReno\r\n in \r\n\r\nLincoln.

\r\n

\r\nUniversity of Northcentral\r\n \r\n Idaho\r\n v. \r\nSouthern Cal
\r\nWhere:  SoCal
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

New Vandal coach Rob Akey\r\nactually called this game a \"warm up\" game for the Vandals when he was\r\ninterviewed at the WAC summer conference in \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n.  Seriously. \r\nSomebody get the man another Jack and Coke.

\r\n

That's right, folks: \r\nThe Vandal coach called the USC game a \"warm up\" game for \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n.  Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice. \r\nSexy time!!!!!!  MEMO TO\r\nVANDAL FANS:  You may commence with\r\nthe French kissing and the disco dancing with your sisters.

\r\n

Last year, when the Vandals\r\nre-hired Dennis Erickson, which made bar owners throughout the Palouse area very\r\nenthusiastic, \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n's Athletic Director—the excitable Rod Spears—announced to the world in a\r\npress conference:  \"We're on the\r\nverge of something special.\"

\r\n

The Vandals, who are no strangers\r\nto the art of expressing delusional thinking and hyperbolic braggadocio in small\r\nsoundbites, were indeed on the verge of something special: \r\nThe world learned after the season was over that the Vandals managed to\r\nsuccessfully harbor a fugitive felon from the State of \r\n\r\nOregon\r\n\r\n's Most Wanted List.  Genius! \r\nThere's no better hiding place than as a player on the Vandal roster. 

\r\n

In addition to harboring felony\r\nfugitives from justice, the Vandals' long-since-pickled former coach led them\r\nto a 4-8 record with the second worst offense and fourth worst defense in the\r\nWAC. 

\r\n

Alas, not wanting to let go of a\r\ncrappy season, the \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n and national sports media have been agog with reports that the Vandals have had\r\n17 players kicked off or leave the team for various reasons. \r\nThe mass defection of athletes from \r\n\r\nMoscow\r\n\r\n crossed over into other sports as well, adding up to probably somewhere north\r\nof 30 athletes cut loose or otherwise gone. \r\nVandal Athletic Director Rod Spears even issued a press release calling\r\nout one of the players that left the school. \r\nThat's the Vandal way—stab your former athletes in the back! \r\nIt was ugly, and everyone was stabbing everyone else in the back, like an\r\nold episode of \r\n\r\nDallas\r\n\r\n or Dynasty.  Then, of course,\r\nthere's been the whole cocaine/drugs/criminal thing that has been real ugly up\r\nthere and has involved some court testimony and convictions that have cast a\r\nvery, very dark cloud over the Vandal football team. \r\nIt's scary and sad.

\r\n

Word is that the Vandals under\r\nCoach Akey are going to run a one-back offense that will include some option,\r\nwhich sounds good because they will need options. \r\nPlus, Coach Akey can explain the option to his players by telling them\r\nthat it's sorta like what you go through before settling on your final plea\r\nbargain.

\r\n

It sounds sorta like Coach Akey\r\nis jumping on the spread option bandwagon.  The\r\ndefense may also run some 3-4 due to the extremely thin depth chart for\r\ndefensive linemen. 

\r\n

The Vandals are also replacing 24\r\nletterman, the most in the WAC, and once again they have to completely re-invent\r\nthe wheel.  At press time, it appears\r\nthat a redshirt freshman quarterback, Nathan Enderle, will lead the Vandals this\r\nyear.  Returning linebackers David Vobora and Jo Artis Ratti should be their best players, with diminutive and\r\ntalented corner Stanley Franks being a pest in the backfield. \r\nZagco hasn't been worried about a Vandal cornerback since his old\r\nschool mate Virgil Paulsen roamed the backfield for the Vandals, picking off\r\npasses right and left.  Alas, even in\r\ntheir glory years as a pretty good I-AA team, the Vandal defense has never been\r\nsomething to worry much about.

\r\n

As Athlon reported in its Western\r\ncollege football magazine, no one worries about \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n's running game.  Other than one\r\nnice run against \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's fifth stringers three years ago in mop-up time of a 65-7 rout, Jason Bird\r\nhas never really fit into the \"Vandal attack.\" \r\nHe should have transferred to \r\n\r\nI-AA\r\n \r\nIdaho\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n where his talents could have been better used. \r\nJC running back Brian Flowers has talents, but so does everyone else in a\r\n\r\n\r\nShanghai\r\n\r\n saloon.

\r\n

USC is the consensus number 1\r\nteam in \r\n\r\nAmerica\r\n\r\n, with 10 (!) returning defensive starters and 5 returning offensive starters,\r\nincluding signal caller John David Booty.  USC\r\nis soooooooo much better than \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n that it's not even funny to Zagco…..  Well,\r\nit's sorta funny.  Anyhoo, if USC\r\ncan wake itself up enough to play, they'll win. \r\nZagco does not expect much from this game. \r\nIt will be more surprising to Zagco if USC shows up motivated and steps\r\non the gas, than it will be if the Trojans sleepwalk their way to an uninspiring\r\nvictory.

\r\n

\r\nSouthern Cal\r\n will win, but it should be a good \"warm up\" game for Coach Akey and the\r\nVandals.

\r\n

La Tech Bulldogs v. \r\nCentral Arkansas
\r\n
Where:  \r\n\r\nRuston\r\n, \r\nLouisiana
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, September 1, 2007\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco does not just willy-nilly\r\npick La Tech to win football games, but in this case, with a visiting\r\ndirectional school that just moved up to Division I-AA as a member of the\r\nSouthland Conference, it's too hard to resist casually picking the southern\r\nBulldogs to win.

\r\n

La Tech is the smallest team in\r\nthe WAC.  They are also one of the\r\nyoungest teams in the WAC on average, and they have the most freshman and\r\nsophomores (64).  Traditionally, the\r\nsouthern Bulldogs play silly schedules that involve travel assignments that\r\nwould test the Ibiza-to-Miami Beach-to-Santa Monica willpower of jetsetters like\r\nParis Hilton.  In many ways, the\r\nschedule is not as bad this year, but it will still test them, and they are\r\nforced to play the easiest WAC games (\r\nIdaho\r\n and \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n) on the road.

\r\n

Even though the Bulldogs are the\r\nyoungest team in the WAC, they still welcome back 16 starters, including 10 on\r\ndefense.  This bodes well for them,\r\nalthough it is unlikely to help much when they face the offensive juggernauts in\r\nthe WAC.  They also welcome back 2\r\nrunning backs that gained over 5 yards per carry.

\r\n

La Tech also must learn the ways\r\nof Derek Dooley, the new head man who is the son of former \r\n\r\nGeorgia\r\n\r\n coaching legend Vince Dooley.  New\r\nCoach Dooley also has a strong football pedigree that includes being Nick Saban's assistant head coach at LSU.  \r\nZagco thinks this team could surprise a team or two this year. \r\nFor its opener, it will find a way to run and defense itself to victory\r\nover a decent I-AA team.

\r\n

La Tech will defeat \r\nCentral Arkansas\r\n.

\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

All content ©2007 BroncoCountry.com/Scout.com.\r\n

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