# Zag's Frags.. Week 10

BroncoCountry.com is proud to bring you 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 10

A WEEKLY LOOK AT WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL

Zagco's 47-7 on the year.

Below, Zagco's fans will find statistical measures that will make them want to rub their chins and squint their eyes in a knowing way, like scientists or professors who have stumbled upon a new paradigm that is both salient and multifarious.  Zagco, who enjoys cutting and pasting numbers into Excel and then doing crazy things with those numbers, has devised an elegant and simple measure of team strength in the WAC.  Zagco has only known how to use Excel for about a year or so, and he distinctly remembers thinking for the longest time that when his MBA professors would refer to "Excel," they meant that you had to be really, really good at whatever they were talking about.  Zagco's rankings are based on 8 widely reported statistical team categories, all of which Zagco took from the WAC's website:

1.                  Total offense;

2.                  Rushing offense;

3.                  Passing offense;

4.                  Scoring offense;

5.                  Total defense;

6.                  Rushing defense;

7.                  Pass efficiency defense; and

8.                  Scoring defense.

Zagco's method is to simply rank the teams 1-8 in each category, assigning tie numbers when appropriate.

But Zagco did not stop there.  Inspired by the volume knob in the cult classic "This is Spinal Tap," he actually created (MUST CREDIT ZAGCO!) a ninth statistical category, one that he calls "Zagco's Special Teams (ST) Ranking."  Zagco's ST Ranking is an index number of sorts with a base value of 10.  A ranking of "10" would be perfect, representing leadership in all 6 special teams categories included in the measure.  Higher numbers reflect a declining level of special teams play.  Those 6 categories are:

1.                  Kickoff returns;

2.                  Net punting;

3.                  Punt return average;

4.                  Field goal percentage;

5.                  PAT kicking; and

6.                  Net kickoff coverage.

Yes, there is duplication in some of the numbers used for each team (the subcategories of offense and defense), but Zagco likes duplication, because it reinforces what we already know, which is a good thing.

Zagco's overall statistical rankings (the lower rating number the better) of the WAC's teams are as follows:

Zagco's ST Ranking™ makes some important differences in the final rankings.  He will tell you that without it included, Boise State and Hawaii would be tied at the top.  Zagco, however, felt that special teams were important enough to be included with the key offensive and defensive measures.  Who could possibly construct an argument that special teams should not be included in the overall ranking of WAC teams?

There is probably a good argument that it should have even more influence than Zagco gives it (one-ninth of each team's overall rating).  If it did, Boise State 's lead would actually grow.

Plus, Zagco gave each of the six variables that constitute the final measure an equal weight, keeping them as objective as possible.  He is considering tweaking that a bit if he can find a good rationale for doing so.  Zagco also created "tiers" for each category, where the top 3 teams were ranked in the first tier, the second 3 teams were ranked in the second tier, and the bottom 3 teams were ranked in the third tier, and ties were assigned where appropriate.  Zagco felt that so many of the actual special teams numbers were so close between the teams, that it would be better to create tiers with less distance between the best and worst teams.  If anything, Zagco believes this helps the teams that are lower rated in the special teams categories.

Zagco is not, however, blinded by statistics.  He knows, from learning, that you must ask questions about statistics.  You can't just accept them at face value, because sometimes statistics will appear to show things that are not true.  Thus, while Zagco encourages his fans to take note of what the raw data shows us, he also urges that we all look deeper, search for trends, and understand what the coming weekend's atmosphere and unique circumstances will present.

In the predictions below, Zagco proudly presents tables that show you how each team matches up, based on the 9 statistical categories that constitute Zagco's WAC ranking for each team.  The grey shading shows where teams have an advantage (or tie), and the yellow shading at the bottom of each table shows the team that holds the overall advantage.

Rizzo and Chaka-kan made it back from Columbia with enough money to not only finance a remake of the classic Kurt Russell comedy "Used Cars," but also enough to possibly establish a mountain retreat for kids that are addicted to video games, which has been a dream of Chaka-kan's ever since he got back from his first Lord of the Rings Fan Club meeting.  He swears that it will be an oasis for video game-addicted kids to do other fun things, like read J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye " (his favorite book) and play Stratego.  Things seem to be settling down with both of them.

Rizzo had a great time at the game last week in Fresno with his cousin Linda Evangelista.  He ran into to one of his old Special Forces buddies, who was sitting on a sidewalk with braided hair and a tie-dyed t-shirt on.  He was talking to himself about Vietnam , and he told Rizzo and Linda that the world isn't the same.  The whole thing was sorta depressing for Rizzo, but Linda cheered everyone up by suggesting they pop in a Credence CD and go for some chocolate malts.  Lo and behold, they met the guy's old girlfriend (Peggy Sue) at the malt shoppe, and the two of them started making out and eventually took off in her Bug for Panama Beach .

Rizzo and Linda didn't do anything après game in Fresno , though, because they felt sort of out of place (black mambas and supermodels tend to cause a lot of unwanted attention), so they headed back down to SoCal and had some bubble tea in Venice .  They are planning to be up here by the end of the week for the San Jose Can You See game.  Chaka-kan is threatening to boycott the game, though, because he thinks the guy on the far left of the southwest entrance who checks bags being carried in by the fans is overzealous.  The entry experience for Chaka-kan reminds him of the time he was working for the Red Cross, crossing back and forth between East and West Berlin , dealing with those Stasi trainees who thought everyone was a spy or something.

The whole comeback album thing with England Dan and John Ford Coley is coming along too.  They just nailed Cutting Crew's "Died In Your Arms" in the studio last week, and they even cut a music video of it where they wore those skinny ties and some checkered Vans.  Rizzo now has them working on a remake of the Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones," which Rizzo thinks could become a huge hit for them.  Rizzo liked the whole "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" reference in last week's Frags, but when he thought about adding that to the list, Chaka-kan told him that Kenny Chesney already re-made it, which caused Rizzo to just hit the roof.

Nevada Wolf Pack v. New Mexico State Gaggies
Where:  Las Cruces , New Mexico
When:  Friday Night, November 2, 2007, at 6:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)

As you can see, each of these teams has a decided statistical advantage on offense.  Nevada, led by running back Luke Lippincott (161 attempts, 911 yards, 5.7 ypc, 10 touchdowns) and Crazy Legs Kaepernick (329 yards rushing), can bring an effective and punishing running attack to the table.  The Gaggies are horrible at defending the run.  On the flip side, Nevada lacks a passing defense, and anyone who saw them play an uninspired game against Idaho last week can attest, Nevada 's defensive backs were incapable of defending the pass without committing obvious interference.  New Mexico State can exploit Nevada 's weakness, but Zagco thinks the season-ending injury to Chris Williams, the superstar receiver that is a real gamer, hurts them as bad as Chase Hollbrook's earlier absence.  Overall, Zagco believes that Nevada 's advantages over New Mexico State 's defense are greater than the reverse.

Nevada , which is THIS close to getting called " Reno " again, did not look real great last week.  Crazy Legs has some problems passing the ball, and his running ability is not as impressive as it was against Fresno and Boise .  Nevada's rushing defense looked much better that it has all year, but that could be related more to the fact that they really focused on stopping Idaho's running game, which they did.  Give them some credit for shutting down the only real strength that Idaho had going into the game.

New Mexico State got mauled by Hawaii , and they just don't have much to play for this year, other than perhaps for a new coach.  Nevada is also at home, and Zagco is certain that the 10,000 or so fans who decide to show up will occasionally root for them, enough to get them over the hump.  Zagco is concerned about how Nevada will hold up to the pass, but he just doesn't think New Mexico State has enough of a running game to make Nevada play honest defense.  The Wolf Pack should be able to concentrate more on the pass against the Gaggies than they did against Idaho .

Nevada will defeat New Mexico State .

Utah State Aggies v. Fresno State Bulldogs
Where:  Fresno , Cali
When:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at 3:00 p.m. MT

Utah State is the worst team in the WAC.  They sucked last year too, but they did manage to stun Fresno in Logan .  In retrospect, however, Fresno was no good last year, so defeating the Cali Bulldogs at home was not as impressive as it seemed at the time.

Fresno 's only real concern in this game should be stopping Utah State 's running game, which isn't real great.  The Aggies will try to beat Fresno with the run, especially after seeing Boise State do it.  As good as Utah State 's superstar Kevin Robertson is (leading the WAC in all-purpose yards with 204.6 yards per game), he really is limited to special teams.  He can catch and run, but the Aggies don't have the quarterback to get him the ball as much as he should have it on offense.  Zagco suggests that Coach Guy consider direct snaps to Mr. Robertson.

This is a big test for Pat Hill and his boys.  The loss to Boise State at home has to be a HUGE disappointment, and they know that they will need a lot of help to challenge for a WAC title.  However, they can go bowling, and they need to show everyone that they will not fold their tent again after losing a WAC game.  The rushing yards they gave up to Boise State came in part from their own weaknesses, but they won't face a better one-two punch of running backs than what they got from Boise State 's freshman backups.  They should not be ashamed.

Zagco would not be surprised if Utah State keeps this game close.  It could be a fast game, with a lot of running by both teams.  As much as Zagco thinks Utah State could pull off a win, he was disappointed with their play against La Tech, and he thinks they are VERY close to giving up.

Fresno State will defeat Utah State .

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs v. Idaho Vandals
Where:  Moscow , Idaho
When:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at 3:00 p.m. MT

Louisiana Tech dominates every category, other than special teams.  Plus, the Southern Bulldogs looked solid last week on the road against Utah State .  There was no let down after the tough loss to Boise State .  Coach Dooley appears to have them focused, performing at a high level for their talent and experience, and they seem to be improving week-in and week-out.

Idaho , a school that just last week had to fire an instructor because they found out he was a registered sex offender, is hungry.  ("UI bans registered sex offender from teaching duties," Idaho Statesman, 10/27/2007.) The one possible strength they had—the running game—was stuffed last week by a Nevada team that had the worst rushing defense in the WAC.  Sadly, Vandal freshman running back Deonte Jackson finally started acting like a full-fledged Vandal last week when he took a potshot at Nevada 's defense:  "It kind of makes you lick your chops a little bit," Jackson said. "It's like seeing a big, fully cooked three-course meal right in front of you."  Coach Akey, the head Satan-worshipping cheat monkey, even got into the act too, claiming that his team was "dang hungry" and that they'd been "laying it on the line in front of God and everyone."  ("Idaho hopes to run over Nevada," Idaho Statesman, 10/27/2007.)  Clearly, someone needs to feed the monkeys in Moscow .

Well, now the Vandals return home where they can finally eat like Romans, and the biggest question in Zagco's mind is whether they'll get more than 8,000 people to show up.  La Tech is ready.  Idaho , with freshman quarterback Nathan Enderle back at the head of table, licking his fingers and eyeballing the cake, could present a bigger challenge for La Tech than the numbers indicate.  Zagco thinks he's got some good intangibles, but he also has three big problems:  (1) he locks in on his receivers; (2) he throws ducks downfield; and (3) he takes sacks and throws interceptions under pressure.  He can run, and he seems to keep himself fairly un-phased by his mistakes.

While La Tech's passing defense is not highly ranked, they do have two defensive backs with 4 interceptions apiece (Tony Moss and Weldon Brown).  La Tech is also +5 in turnovers, to -3 for Idaho .  Moreover, even though La Tech signal caller Zac Champion is not highly rated (7th in the WAC at 120.5 in efficiency), Zagco thinks he's solid playing within Coach Dooley's system.  Last week, against craptastic Utah State on the road, he went 23-29 for 230 yards.  He's also only thrown 6 picks on the year.  La Tech's one-two running attack is also solid, with Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter well over 500 yards apiece for the season.  Last week, they both went over the century mark.

Zagco thinks playing at home is an advantage for Idaho , even with a half empty tin can for a stadium.  Plus, Zagco believes that Idaho has not given up; they still play hard, but they're thin on bodies and talent.  They should also be very concerned with whatever happened to their rushing offense.  In the end, while the Vandals should put up a good fight, the Southern Bulldogs will get a second consecutive road win in the WAC with a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense.

La Tech will defeat Idaho .

San Jose Can You See Bulldogs v. The Wicked Witch of the North
Where:  The Blue
When:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. MT

Last year, after watching Boise State mount a stunning fourth quarter rally that included a 2-point conversion that looked an awful lot like "The Catch" (Joe Montana to Dwight Clark) and an up-the-gut punt return by Marty Tadman to put the Broncos in a position to win the game at the end with a field goal, Spartans head man Dick Tomey—a totally decent guy—proclaimed Boise State to be "the wicked witch of the north."  What a world!

This year, the Bay Area Spartans get to travel to the lair of the Wicked Witch of the North this year, no longer surrounded by their munchkin friends in Oz.  In Boise , they will be welcomed by flying monkeys wearing funny hats.  They will hear the jungle drums beating.  Water won't help.

On paper, this is a serious mismatch.  Boise State not only has the second best rushing offense in the WAC, but it also might have its first string running back return for this game.  Boise State 's three backs are the modern college equivalent of Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, and Jim Kiick.  Meanwhile, the Bronco defense seems to have righted its ship—it only looked shaky on Fresno 's first drive and at the end of the game.  Plus, it did not appear that there were any problems getting players into the game on defense, knowing their assignments.  Kudos to the coaches and players.  We've improved every week since Nevada , and that's all you can ask.  Good job, guys.

For all the wonderful things Boise State did last week, Zagco would like to focus on the negative:  We gave up 177 yards on 7 kick returns (25.29 ypr) and 95 yards on 4 punt returns (23.75 ypr).  Yikes!  This week's opponent, San Jose , has a punt returner, Dwight Lowery, near the top of the WAC's punt return standings who could take advantage of porous coverage.  Fresno 's Clifton Smith took advantage of it, getting 65 of those 95 yards in punt returns on one play in scoring Fresno 's second first quarter touchdown.  Former Boise State star quarterback Bart Hendricks opined that the touchdown return was a result of the gunner not keeping containment.   Bart's Blog:  I Like It 10/29/2007.  Zagco is not going to disagree with this expert assessment.  He would add, however, that it appeared that our gunner might have been held on the play, although he still needs to fight through that kind of crap.

San Jose Can You See doesn't appear to be well suited to exploit the kick return coverage issues.  Plus, we all know that Fresno 's special return teams are very solid, led by Bulldog return man extraordinaire A.J. Jefferson.  Now would be a good time for the Broncos to step it up in this phase of the game, because we have some future opponents that could REALLY exploit these weaknesses ( Hawaii and Utah State ).  In addition to Mr. Hendricks's diagnosis, Zagco also thinks that sometimes the players do not appear to be keeping their inside shoulders to the ball (as opposed to keeping in their "lanes," which is the old, outdated way of teaching kickoff and punt coverage).  We can clean up our special teams hiccups by focusing on disciplined execution.

Zagco's only other point of criticism from last week's game is that it also appeared that Taylor Tharp was holding the ball a bit too long at times.  It was hard to tell whether that was because of tight coverage.  Between interceptions and tucking the ball for a small gain or loss, Zagco will take the latter any time.  Overall, Mr. Tharp did a yeoman's job guiding the team at critical moments, and in leading the Broncos to another road victory, he deserves kudos for his leadership.

San Jose Can You See is led by veteran quarterback Adam Tafralis, who has been creeping upwards in the WAC efficiency ratings—he's now 5th overall with a 134.1 rating, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.  The emergence of two decent receivers has helped him a lot.  Kevin Jurovich averages 87 yards per game, and he's scored 5 touchdowns.  David Richmond averages 73.9 yards per game, and he's scored 3 touchdowns.  Those two guys have been coming along nicely, helping San Jose to find an occasional offensive identity.  The loss of those NFL-caliber receivers to graduation and running back phenom Yonus Davis to injuries has been extremely hard on San Jose 's offense.

As mediocre as San Jose appears on paper, everyone must remember that they gave Hawaii as big a scare as we got from them last year.  They should have won that game, but they collapsed down the stretch.  They also faded against Idaho , almost giving that game away.  San Jose appears to be a team that is just short on bodies, but we must respect them because Coach Tomey is no spring chicken and Adam Tafralis is a capable offensive leader.

Boise State looked pretty dang sharp last week.  Zagco's criticism of the special teams aside, he admits they looked awfully good.  The Broncos now get to come back home after a grueling, strange schedule.  They return to action on a traditional Saturday afternoon, giving them a much-needed extra day to recover.  Ian Johnson is expected to be back in action.

Zagco just doesn't think San Jose Can You See has what it takes to give the Broncos a real fight.  He thinks Coach Tomey is clever and everything, but he can only do so much.

Boise State will defeat San Jose Can You See.

POSTSCRIPT:

Hawaii 's Ratings:

Hawaii does not play this week, but Zagco decided to include their rankings.  As Zagco has said many times, Hawaii has a real problem with its running game.  Last year, Hawaii averaged 117.9 yards rushing per game, a figure that is 161.07% of this year's average, and a figure that would place them 6th in this year's standings.  Zagco also thinks that you cannot forget the shuffle pass running either—it counted as receiving yards, but it was basically running yards.  Hawaii is extremely solid, but where it lags behind Boise State is in rushing offense and special teams.

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

ZAG'S FRAGS: \r\n2007 WEEK 10\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

\r\n \r\nZagco's 47-7 on the year.  \r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nBelow, Zagco's fans will find statistical measures that will make them want to\r\nrub their chins and squint their eyes in a knowing way, like scientists or\r\nprofessors who have stumbled upon a new paradigm that is both salient and\r\nmultifarious.  Zagco, who enjoys\r\ncutting and pasting numbers into Excel and then doing crazy things with those\r\nnumbers, has devised an elegant and simple measure of team strength in the WAC. \r\nZagco has only known how to use Excel for about a year or so, and he\r\ndistinctly remembers thinking for the longest time that when his MBA professors\r\nwould refer to \"Excel,\" they meant that you had to be really, really good at\r\nwhatever they were talking about.  Zagco's\r\nrankings are based on 8 widely reported statistical team categories, all of\r\nwhich Zagco took from the WAC's website:\r\n\r\n

\r\n

1.                 \r\nTotal offense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

2.                 \r\nRushing offense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

3.                 \r\nPassing offense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

4.                 \r\nScoring offense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

5.                 \r\nTotal defense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

6.                 \r\nRushing defense;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

7.                 \r\nPass efficiency defense; and\r\n\r\n

\r\n

8.                 \r\nScoring defense.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nZagco's method is to simply rank the teams 1-8 in each category, assigning tie\r\nnumbers when appropriate.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

But\r\nZagco did not stop there.  Inspired\r\nby the volume knob in the cult classic \"This is Spinal Tap,\" he actually\r\ncreated (MUST CREDIT ZAGCO!) a ninth statistical category, one that he\r\ncalls \"Zagco's Special Teams (ST) Ranking.\" \r\nZagco's ST Ranking is an index number of sorts with a base value of 10. \r\nA ranking of \"10\" would be perfect, representing leadership in all 6\r\nspecial teams categories included in the measure. \r\nHigher numbers reflect a declining level of special teams play. \r\nThose 6 categories are:\r\n\r\n

\r\n

1.                 \r\nKickoff returns;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

2.                 \r\nNet punting;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

3.                 \r\nPunt return average;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

4.                 \r\nField goal percentage;\r\n\r\n

\r\n

5.                 \r\nPAT kicking; and\r\n\r\n

\r\n

6.                 \r\nNet kickoff coverage.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nYes, there is duplication in some of the numbers used for each team (the\r\nsubcategories of offense and defense), but Zagco likes duplication, because it\r\nreinforces what we already know, which is a good thing.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco's\r\noverall statistical rankings (the lower rating number the better) of the WAC's\r\nteams are as follows:\r\n\r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

Zagco's\r\nST Ranking™ makes some important differences in the final rankings. \r\nHe will tell you that without it included, \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n and \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n would be tied at the top.  Zagco,\r\nhowever, felt that special teams were important enough to be included with the\r\nkey offensive and defensive measures.  Who\r\ncould possibly construct an argument that special teams should not be included\r\nin the overall ranking of WAC teams?\r\n\r\n

\r\n

There\r\nis probably a good argument that it should have even more influence than Zagco\r\ngives it (one-ninth of each team's overall rating). \r\nIf it did, \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's lead would actually grow.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Plus,\r\nZagco gave each of the six variables that constitute the final measure an equal\r\nweight, keeping them as objective as possible.  He\r\nis considering tweaking that a bit if he can find a good rationale for doing so. \r\nZagco also created \"tiers\" for each category, where the top 3 teams\r\nwere ranked in the first tier, the second 3 teams were ranked in the second\r\ntier, and the bottom 3 teams were ranked in the third tier, and ties were\r\nassigned where appropriate.  Zagco\r\nfelt that so many of the actual special teams numbers were so close between the\r\nteams, that it would be better to create tiers with less distance between the\r\nbest and worst teams.  If anything,\r\nZagco believes this helps the teams that are lower rated in the special teams\r\ncategories.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n

Zagco\r\nis not, however, blinded by statistics.  He\r\nknows, from learning, that you must ask questions about statistics. \r\nYou can't just accept them at face value, because sometimes statistics\r\nwill appear to show things that are not true. \r\nThus, while Zagco encourages his fans to take note of what the raw data\r\nshows us, he also urges that we all look deeper, search for trends, and\r\nunderstand what the coming weekend's atmosphere and unique circumstances will\r\npresent.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

In\r\nthe predictions below, Zagco proudly presents tables that show you how each team\r\nmatches up, based on the 9 statistical categories that constitute Zagco's WAC\r\nranking for each team.  The grey\r\nshading shows where teams have an advantage (or tie), and the yellow shading at\r\nthe bottom of each table shows the team that holds the overall advantage.\r\n\r\n

\r\n
\r\n

\r\n  \r\n

\r\n
\r\n

Rizzo\r\nand Chaka-kan made it back from Columbia with enough money to not only finance a\r\nremake of the classic Kurt Russell comedy \"Used Cars,\" but also enough to\r\npossibly establish a mountain retreat for kids that are addicted to video games,\r\nwhich has been a dream of Chaka-kan's ever since he got back from his first\r\nLord of the Rings Fan Club meeting.  He\r\nswears that it will be an oasis for video game-addicted kids to do other fun\r\nthings, like read J.D. Salinger's \"The Catcher in the \r\n\r\nRye\r\n\r\n\" (his favorite book) and play Stratego.  Things\r\nseem to be settling down with both of them. \r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Rizzo\r\nhad a great time at the game last week in \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n with his cousin Linda Evangelista.  He\r\nran into to one of his old Special Forces buddies, who was sitting on a sidewalk\r\nwith braided hair and a tie-dyed t-shirt on. \r\nHe was talking to himself about \r\n\r\nVietnam\r\n\r\n, and he told Rizzo and Linda that the world isn't the same. \r\nThe whole thing was sorta depressing for Rizzo, but Linda cheered\r\neveryone up by suggesting they pop in a Credence CD and go for some chocolate\r\nmalts.  Lo and behold, they met the\r\nguy's old girlfriend (Peggy Sue) at the malt shoppe, and the two of them\r\nstarted making out and eventually took off in her Bug for \r\n\r\nPanama\r\n \r\nBeach\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Rizzo\r\nand Linda didn't do anything après game in \r\nFresno\r\n, though, because they felt sort of out of place (black mambas and supermodels\r\ntend to cause a lot of unwanted attention), so they headed back down to SoCal\r\nand had some bubble tea in \r\n\r\nVenice\r\n\r\n.  They are planning to be up here by\r\nthe end of the week for the San Jose Can You See game. \r\nChaka-kan is threatening to boycott the game, though, because he thinks\r\nthe guy on the far left of the southwest entrance who checks bags being carried\r\nin by the fans is overzealous.  The\r\nentry experience for Chaka-kan reminds him of the time he was working for the\r\nRed Cross, crossing back and forth between East and \r\nWest Berlin\r\n, dealing with those Stasi trainees who thought everyone was a spy or something.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

The\r\nwhole comeback album thing with England Dan and John Ford Coley is coming along\r\ntoo.  They just nailed Cutting\r\nCrew's \"Died In Your Arms\" in the studio last week, and they even cut a\r\nmusic video of it where they wore those skinny ties and some checkered Vans.  Rizzo\r\nnow has them working on a remake of the Counting Crows' \"Mr. Jones,\" which\r\nRizzo thinks could become a huge hit for them. \r\nRizzo liked the whole \"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)\" reference in\r\nlast week's Frags, but when he thought about adding that to the list,\r\nChaka-kan told him that Kenny Chesney already re-made it, which caused Rizzo to\r\njust hit the roof.  \r\n\r\n

\r\n
\r\n

\r\n  \r\n

\r\n
\r\n

\r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n Wolf Pack v. \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Gaggies
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nLas Cruces\r\n, \r\nNew Mexico
\r\nWhen:  Friday Night, November 2,\r\n2007, at 6:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

As\r\nyou can see, each of these teams has a decided statistical advantage on offense. \r\nNevada, led by running back Luke Lippincott (161 attempts, 911 yards, 5.7\r\nypc, 10 touchdowns) and Crazy Legs Kaepernick (329 yards rushing), can bring an\r\neffective and punishing running attack to the table. \r\nThe Gaggies are horrible at defending the run. \r\nOn the flip side, \r\nNevada\r\n lacks a passing defense, and anyone who saw them play an uninspired game\r\nagainst \r\nIdaho\r\n last week can attest, \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n's defensive backs were incapable of defending the pass without committing\r\nobvious interference.  \r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n can exploit \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n's weakness, but Zagco thinks the season-ending injury to Chris Williams, the\r\nsuperstar receiver that is a real gamer, hurts them as bad as Chase\r\nHollbrook's earlier absence.  Overall,\r\nZagco believes that \r\nNevada\r\n's advantages over \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's defense are greater than the reverse.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nNevada\r\n, which is THIS close to getting called \"\r\n\r\nReno\r\n\r\n\" again, did not look real great last week. \r\nCrazy Legs has some problems passing the ball, and his running ability is\r\nnot as impressive as it was against \r\nFresno\r\n and \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n\r\n.  Nevada's rushing defense looked\r\nmuch better that it has all year, but that could be related more to the fact\r\nthat they really focused on stopping Idaho's running game, which they did. \r\nGive them some credit for shutting down the only real strength that \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n had going into the game.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n got mauled by \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n, and they just don't have much to play for this year, other than perhaps for\r\na new coach.  \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n is also at home, and Zagco is certain that the 10,000 or so fans who decide to\r\nshow up will occasionally root for them, enough to get them over the hump. \r\nZagco is concerned about how \r\nNevada\r\n will hold up to the pass, but he just doesn't think \r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n has enough of a running game to make \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n play honest defense.  The Wolf Pack\r\nshould be able to concentrate more on the pass against the Gaggies than they did\r\nagainst \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nNevada\r\n will defeat \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n Aggies v. \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n Bulldogs
\r\nWhere:  \r\nFresno\r\n, \r\n\r\nCali
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at\r\n3:00 p.m. MT\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

\r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n is the worst team in the WAC. \r\nThey sucked last year too, but they did manage to stun \r\nFresno\r\n in \r\n\r\nLogan\r\n\r\n.  In retrospect, however, \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n was no good last year, so defeating the Cali Bulldogs at home was not as\r\nimpressive as it seemed at the time.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nFresno\r\n's only real concern in this game should be stopping \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's running game, which isn't real great. \r\nThe Aggies will try to beat \r\nFresno\r\n with the run, especially after seeing \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n do it.  As good as \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's superstar Kevin Robertson is (leading the WAC in all-purpose yards with\r\n204.6 yards per game), he really is limited to special teams. \r\nHe can catch and run, but the Aggies don't have the quarterback to get\r\nhim the ball as much as he should have it on offense. \r\nZagco suggests that Coach Guy consider direct snaps to Mr. Robertson.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

This\r\nis a big test for Pat Hill and his boys.  The\r\nloss to \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n at home has to be a HUGE disappointment, and they know that they will need a\r\nlot of help to challenge for a WAC title.  However,\r\nthey can go bowling, and they need to show everyone that they will not fold\r\ntheir tent again after losing a WAC game.  The\r\nrushing yards they gave up to \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n came in part from their own weaknesses, but they won't face a better one-two\r\npunch of running backs than what they got from \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's freshman backups.  They should\r\nnot be ashamed.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco\r\nwould not be surprised if \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n keeps this game close.  It could be\r\na fast game, with a lot of running by both teams. \r\nAs much as Zagco thinks \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n could pull off a win, he was disappointed with their play against La Tech, and\r\nhe thinks they are VERY close to giving up.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n will defeat \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\nLouisiana\r\n Tech\r\nBulldogs v. \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n Vandals
\r\nWhere:  \r\n\r\nMoscow\r\n, \r\nIdaho
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at\r\n3:00 p.m. MT\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

Louisiana\r\nTech dominates every category, other than special teams. \r\nPlus, the Southern Bulldogs looked solid last week on the road against \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.  There was no let down after the\r\ntough loss to \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n.  Coach Dooley appears to have them\r\nfocused, performing at a high level for their talent and experience, and they\r\nseem to be improving week-in and week-out.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n, a school that just last week had to fire an\r\ninstructor because they found out he was a registered sex offender, is hungry. \r\n("UI\r\nbans registered sex offender from teaching duties," Idaho Statesman,\r\n10/27/2007.) The one possible strength they had—the running game—was\r\nstuffed last week by a \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n team that had the worst rushing defense in the WAC. \r\nSadly, Vandal freshman running back Deonte Jackson finally started acting\r\nlike a full-fledged Vandal last week when he took a potshot at \r\nNevada\r\n's defense:  \"It kind of makes\r\nyou lick your chops a little bit," \r\n\r\nJackson\r\n\r\n said. "It's like seeing a big, fully cooked three-course meal right in\r\nfront of you."  Coach Akey, the\r\nhead Satan-worshipping cheat monkey, even got into the act too, claiming that\r\nhis team was \"dang hungry\" and that they'd been \"laying it on the line\r\nin front of God and everyone.\"  ("Idaho\r\nhopes to run over Nevada," Idaho Statesman, 10/27/2007.) \r\nClearly, someone needs to feed the monkeys in \r\n\r\nMoscow\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Well,\r\nnow the Vandals return home where they can finally eat like Romans, and the\r\nbiggest question in Zagco's mind is whether they'll get more than 8,000\r\npeople to show up.  La Tech is ready. \r\n\r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n, with freshman quarterback Nathan Enderle back at the head of table, licking\r\nhis fingers and eyeballing the cake, could present a bigger challenge for La\r\nTech than the numbers indicate.  Zagco\r\nthinks he's got some good intangibles, but he also has three big problems: \r\n(1) he locks in on his receivers; (2) he throws ducks downfield; and (3)\r\nhe takes sacks and throws interceptions under pressure. \r\nHe can run, and he seems to keep himself fairly un-phased by his\r\nmistakes.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

While\r\nLa Tech's passing defense is not highly ranked, they do have two defensive\r\nbacks with 4 interceptions apiece (Tony Moss and Weldon Brown). \r\nLa Tech is also +5 in turnovers, to -3 for \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n.  Moreover, even though La Tech\r\nsignal caller Zac Champion is not highly rated (7th in the WAC at\r\n120.5 in efficiency), Zagco thinks he's solid playing within Coach Dooley's\r\nsystem.  Last week, against\r\ncraptastic \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n on the road, he went 23-29 for 230 yards.  He's\r\nalso only thrown 6 picks on the year.  La\r\nTech's one-two running attack is also solid, with Patrick Jackson and Daniel\r\nPorter well over 500 yards apiece for the season. \r\nLast week, they both went over the century mark.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco\r\nthinks playing at home is an advantage for \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n, even with a half empty tin can for a stadium. \r\nPlus, Zagco believes that \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n has not given up; they still play hard, but they're thin on bodies and\r\ntalent.  They should also be very\r\nconcerned with whatever happened to their rushing offense. \r\nIn the end, while the Vandals should put up a good fight, the Southern\r\nBulldogs will get a second consecutive road win in the WAC with a balanced\r\noffense and an opportunistic defense.\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

La\r\nTech will defeat \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n \r\n

\r\n

San Jose Can You See Bulldogs v. The\r\nWicked Witch of the North
\r\nWhere:  The Blue
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at\r\n1:00 p.m. MT\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

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

\r\n

Last\r\nyear, after watching Boise State mount a stunning fourth quarter rally that\r\nincluded a 2-point conversion that looked an awful lot like \"The Catch\" (Joe\r\nMontana to Dwight Clark) and an up-the-gut punt return by Marty Tadman to put\r\nthe Broncos in a position to win the game at the end with a field goal, Spartans\r\nhead man Dick Tomey—a totally decent guy—proclaimed Boise State to be \"the\r\nwicked witch of the north.\"  What a\r\nworld!\r\n\r\n

\r\n

This\r\nyear, the Bay Area Spartans get to travel to the lair of the Wicked Witch of the\r\nNorth this year, no longer surrounded by their munchkin friends in Oz. \r\nIn \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n\r\n, they will be welcomed by flying monkeys wearing funny hats. \r\nThey will hear the jungle drums beating. \r\nWater won't help.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

On\r\npaper, this is a serious mismatch.  Boise\r\nState not only has the second best rushing offense in the WAC, but it also might\r\nhave its first string running back return for this game. \r\n\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n's three backs are the modern college equivalent of Larry Csonka, Mercury\r\nMorris, and Jim Kiick.  Meanwhile,\r\nthe Bronco defense seems to have righted its ship—it only looked shaky on \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n's first drive and at the end of the game. \r\nPlus, it did not appear that there were any problems getting players into\r\nthe game on defense, knowing their assignments. \r\nKudos to the coaches and players.  We've\r\nimproved every week since \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n\r\n, and that's all you can ask.  Good\r\njob, guys.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

For\r\nall the wonderful things \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n did last week, Zagco would like to focus on the negative: \r\nWe gave up 177 yards on 7 kick returns (25.29 ypr) and 95 yards on 4 punt\r\nreturns (23.75 ypr).  Yikes! \r\nThis week's opponent, \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n, has a punt returner, Dwight Lowery, near the top of the WAC's punt return\r\nstandings who could take advantage of porous coverage. \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n's Clifton Smith took advantage of it, getting 65 of those 95 yards in punt\r\nreturns on one play in scoring \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n's second first quarter touchdown.  \r\n\r\nFormer\r\n \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n star quarterback Bart Hendricks opined that the touchdown return was a result\r\nof the gunner not keeping containment. \r\n Bart's Blog: \r\nI Like It 10/29/2007.  Zagco\r\nis not going to disagree with this expert assessment. \r\nHe would add, however, that it appeared that our gunner might have been\r\nheld on the play, although he still needs to fight through that kind of crap.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

San\r\nJose Can You See doesn't appear to be well suited to exploit the kick return\r\ncoverage issues.  Plus, we all know\r\nthat \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n\r\n's special return teams are very solid, led by Bulldog return man\r\nextraordinaire A.J. Jefferson.  Now\r\nwould be a good time for the Broncos to step it up in this phase of the game,\r\nbecause we have some future opponents that could REALLY exploit these weaknesses\r\n(\r\nHawaii\r\n and \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n).  In addition to Mr. Hendricks's\r\ndiagnosis, Zagco also thinks that sometimes the players do not appear to be\r\nkeeping their inside shoulders to the ball (as opposed to keeping in their\r\n\"lanes,\" which is the old, outdated way of teaching kickoff and punt\r\ncoverage).  We can clean up our\r\nspecial teams hiccups by focusing on disciplined execution.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco's\r\nonly other point of criticism from last week's game is that it also appeared\r\nthat Taylor Tharp was holding the ball a bit too long at times. \r\nIt was hard to tell whether that was because of tight coverage. \r\nBetween interceptions and tucking the ball for a small gain or loss,\r\nZagco will take the latter any time.  Overall,\r\nMr. Tharp did a yeoman's job guiding the team at critical moments, and in\r\nleading the Broncos to another road victory, he deserves kudos for his\r\nleadership.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

San\r\nJose Can You See is led by veteran quarterback Adam Tafralis, who has been\r\ncreeping upwards in the WAC efficiency ratings—he's now 5th\r\noverall with a 134.1 rating, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. \r\nThe emergence of two decent receivers has helped him a lot. \r\nKevin Jurovich averages 87 yards per game, and he's scored 5\r\ntouchdowns.  David Richmond averages\r\n73.9 yards per game, and he's scored 3 touchdowns. \r\nThose two guys have been coming along nicely, helping \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n to find an occasional offensive identity.  The\r\nloss of those NFL-caliber receivers to graduation and running back phenom Yonus\r\nDavis to injuries has been extremely hard on \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n's offense.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

As\r\nmediocre as \r\nSan Jose\r\n appears on paper, everyone must remember that they gave \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n as big a scare as we got from them last year. \r\nThey should have won that game, but they collapsed down the stretch. \r\nThey also faded against \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n\r\n, almost giving that game away.  \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n\r\n appears to be a team that is just short on bodies, but we must respect them\r\nbecause Coach Tomey is no spring chicken and Adam Tafralis is a capable\r\noffensive leader.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n looked pretty dang sharp last week. \r\nZagco's criticism of the special teams aside, he admits they looked\r\nawfully good.  The Broncos now get to\r\ncome back home after a grueling, strange schedule. \r\nThey return to action on a traditional Saturday afternoon, giving them a\r\nmuch-needed extra day to recover.  Ian\r\nJohnson is expected to be back in action.  \r\n\r\n

\r\n

Zagco\r\njust doesn't think San Jose Can You See has what it takes to give the Broncos\r\na real fight.  He thinks Coach Tomey\r\nis clever and everything, but he can only do so much.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n will defeat San Jose Can You See.\r\n\r\n

\r\n

POSTSCRIPT:\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n's\r\nRatings:\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n does not play this week, but Zagco decided to\r\ninclude their rankings.  As Zagco has\r\nsaid many times, \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n has a real problem with its running game.  Last\r\nyear, \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n\r\n averaged 117.9 yards rushing per game, a figure that is 161.07% of this\r\nyear's average, and a figure that would place them 6th in this\r\nyear's standings.  Zagco also\r\nthinks that you cannot forget the shuffle pass running either—it counted as\r\nreceiving yards, but it was basically running yards. \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n is extremely solid, but where it lags behind \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n\r\n is in rushing offense and special teams.\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\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\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n

","mobileBody":"

ZAG'S FRAGS:  2007 WEEK 10\r\n

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

\r\n  Zagco's 47-7 on the year.  \r\n

\r\nBelow, Zagco's fans will find statistical measures that will make them want to\r\nrub their chins and squint their eyes in a knowing way, like scientists or\r\nprofessors who have stumbled upon a new paradigm that is both salient and\r\nmultifarious.  Zagco, who enjoys\r\ncutting and pasting numbers into Excel and then doing crazy things with those\r\nnumbers, has devised an elegant and simple measure of team strength in the WAC. \r\nZagco has only known how to use Excel for about a year or so, and he\r\ndistinctly remembers thinking for the longest time that when his MBA professors\r\nwould refer to \"Excel,\" they meant that you had to be really, really good at\r\nwhatever they were talking about.  Zagco's\r\nrankings are based on 8 widely reported statistical team categories, all of\r\nwhich Zagco took from the WAC's website:\r\n\r\n

1.                  Total offense;\r\n

2.                  Rushing offense;\r\n

3.                  Passing offense;\r\n

4.                  Scoring offense;\r\n

5.                  Total defense;\r\n

6.                  Rushing defense;\r\n

7.                  Pass efficiency defense; and\r\n

8.                  Scoring defense.\r\n

\r\nZagco's method is to simply rank the teams 1-8 in each category, assigning tie\r\nnumbers when appropriate.\r\n\r\n

But Zagco did not stop there.  Inspired by the volume knob in the cult classic \"This is Spinal Tap,\" he actually created (MUST CREDIT ZAGCO!) a ninth statistical category, one that he calls \"Zagco's Special Teams (ST) Ranking.\"  Zagco's ST Ranking is an index number of sorts with a base value of 10.  A ranking of \"10\" would be perfect, representing leadership in all 6 special teams categories included in the measure.  Higher numbers reflect a declining level of special teams play.  Those 6 categories are:\r\n

1.                  Kickoff returns;\r\n

2.                  Net punting;\r\n

3.                  Punt return average;\r\n

4.                  Field goal percentage;\r\n

5.                  PAT kicking; and\r\n

6.                  Net kickoff coverage.\r\n

\r\nYes, there is duplication in some of the numbers used for each team (the\r\nsubcategories of offense and defense), but Zagco likes duplication, because it\r\nreinforces what we already know, which is a good thing.\r\n\r\n

Zagco's overall statistical rankings (the lower rating number the better) of the WAC's teams are as follows:\r\n

\r\n

Zagco's ST Ranking™ makes some important differences in the final rankings.  He will tell you that without it included, \r\nBoise \r\nState and \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n would be tied at the top.  Zagco, however, felt that special teams were important enough to be included with the key offensive and defensive measures.  Who could possibly construct an argument that special teams should not be included in the overall ranking of WAC teams?\r\n

There is probably a good argument that it should have even more influence than Zagco gives it (one-ninth of each team's overall rating).  If it did, \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's lead would actually grow.\r\n

Plus, Zagco gave each of the six variables that constitute the final measure an equal weight, keeping them as objective as possible.  He is considering tweaking that a bit if he can find a good rationale for doing so.  Zagco also created \"tiers\" for each category, where the top 3 teams were ranked in the first tier, the second 3 teams were ranked in the second tier, and the bottom 3 teams were ranked in the third tier, and ties were assigned where appropriate.  Zagco felt that so many of the actual special teams numbers were so close between the teams, that it would be better to create tiers with less distance between the best and worst teams.  If anything, Zagco believes this helps the teams that are lower rated in the special teams categories.\r\n

\r\n

Zagco is not, however, blinded by statistics.  He knows, from learning, that you must ask questions about statistics.  You can't just accept them at face value, because sometimes statistics will appear to show things that are not true.  Thus, while Zagco encourages his fans to take note of what the raw data shows us, he also urges that we all look deeper, search for trends, and understand what the coming weekend's atmosphere and unique circumstances will present.\r\n

In the predictions below, Zagco proudly presents tables that show you how each team matches up, based on the 9 statistical categories that constitute Zagco's WAC ranking for each team.  The grey shading shows where teams have an advantage (or tie), and the yellow shading at the bottom of each table shows the team that holds the overall advantage.\r\n

\r\n

Rizzo and Chaka-kan made it back from Columbia with enough money to not only finance a remake of the classic Kurt Russell comedy \"Used Cars,\" but also enough to possibly establish a mountain retreat for kids that are addicted to video games, which has been a dream of Chaka-kan's ever since he got back from his first Lord of the Rings Fan Club meeting.  He swears that it will be an oasis for video game-addicted kids to do other fun things, like read J.D. Salinger's \"The Catcher in the \r\n\r\nRye\r\n \" (his favorite book) and play Stratego.  Things seem to be settling down with both of them.  \r\n

Rizzo had a great time at the game last week in \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n with his cousin Linda Evangelista.  He ran into to one of his old Special Forces buddies, who was sitting on a sidewalk with braided hair and a tie-dyed t-shirt on.  He was talking to himself about \r\n\r\nVietnam\r\n , and he told Rizzo and Linda that the world isn't the same.  The whole thing was sorta depressing for Rizzo, but Linda cheered everyone up by suggesting they pop in a Credence CD and go for some chocolate malts.  Lo and behold, they met the guy's old girlfriend (Peggy Sue) at the malt shoppe, and the two of them started making out and eventually took off in her Bug for \r\n\r\nPanama\r\n \r\nBeach\r\n .\r\n

Rizzo and Linda didn't do anything après game in \r\nFresno , though, because they felt sort of out of place (black mambas and supermodels tend to cause a lot of unwanted attention), so they headed back down to SoCal and had some bubble tea in \r\n\r\nVenice\r\n .  They are planning to be up here by the end of the week for the San Jose Can You See game.  Chaka-kan is threatening to boycott the game, though, because he thinks the guy on the far left of the southwest entrance who checks bags being carried in by the fans is overzealous.  The entry experience for Chaka-kan reminds him of the time he was working for the Red Cross, crossing back and forth between East and \r\nWest Berlin , dealing with those Stasi trainees who thought everyone was a spy or something.\r\n

The whole comeback album thing with England Dan and John Ford Coley is coming along too.  They just nailed Cutting Crew's \"Died In Your Arms\" in the studio last week, and they even cut a music video of it where they wore those skinny ties and some checkered Vans.  Rizzo now has them working on a remake of the Counting Crows' \"Mr. Jones,\" which Rizzo thinks could become a huge hit for them.  Rizzo liked the whole \"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)\" reference in last week's Frags, but when he thought about adding that to the list, Chaka-kan told him that Kenny Chesney already re-made it, which caused Rizzo to just hit the roof.  \r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nNevada\r\n Wolf Pack v. \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n Gaggies
Where:  \r\n\r\nLas Cruces\r\n, \r\nNew Mexico
\r\nWhen:  Friday Night, November 2,\r\n2007, at 6:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2)\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n

As you can see, each of these teams has a decided statistical advantage on offense.  Nevada, led by running back Luke Lippincott (161 attempts, 911 yards, 5.7 ypc, 10 touchdowns) and Crazy Legs Kaepernick (329 yards rushing), can bring an effective and punishing running attack to the table.  The Gaggies are horrible at defending the run.  On the flip side, \r\nNevada lacks a passing defense, and anyone who saw them play an uninspired game against \r\nIdaho last week can attest, \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n 's defensive backs were incapable of defending the pass without committing obvious interference.  \r\nNew Mexico \r\nState can exploit \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n 's weakness, but Zagco thinks the season-ending injury to Chris Williams, the superstar receiver that is a real gamer, hurts them as bad as Chase Hollbrook's earlier absence.  Overall, Zagco believes that \r\nNevada 's advantages over \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's defense are greater than the reverse.\r\n

\r\nNevada , which is THIS close to getting called \"\r\n\r\nReno\r\n \" again, did not look real great last week.  Crazy Legs has some problems passing the ball, and his running ability is not as impressive as it was against \r\nFresno and \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n .  Nevada's rushing defense looked much better that it has all year, but that could be related more to the fact that they really focused on stopping Idaho's running game, which they did.  Give them some credit for shutting down the only real strength that \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n had going into the game.\r\n

\r\nNew Mexico \r\nState got mauled by \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n , and they just don't have much to play for this year, other than perhaps for a new coach.  \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n is also at home, and Zagco is certain that the 10,000 or so fans who decide to show up will occasionally root for them, enough to get them over the hump.  Zagco is concerned about how \r\nNevada will hold up to the pass, but he just doesn't think \r\nNew Mexico \r\nState has enough of a running game to make \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n play honest defense.  The Wolf Pack should be able to concentrate more on the pass against the Gaggies than they did against \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n .\r\n

\r\nNevada will defeat \r\n\r\nNew Mexico\r\n \r\nState\r\n .\r\n

\r\nUtah \r\nState Aggies v. \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n \r\nState\r\n Bulldogs
Where:  \r\nFresno , \r\n\r\nCali
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at\r\n3:00 p.m. MT\r\n\r\n\r\n

\r\n

\r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n is the worst team in the WAC.  They sucked last year too, but they did manage to stun \r\nFresno in \r\n\r\nLogan\r\n .  In retrospect, however, \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n was no good last year, so defeating the Cali Bulldogs at home was not as impressive as it seemed at the time.\r\n

\r\nFresno 's only real concern in this game should be stopping \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's running game, which isn't real great.  The Aggies will try to beat \r\nFresno with the run, especially after seeing \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n do it.  As good as \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's superstar Kevin Robertson is (leading the WAC in all-purpose yards with 204.6 yards per game), he really is limited to special teams.  He can catch and run, but the Aggies don't have the quarterback to get him the ball as much as he should have it on offense.  Zagco suggests that Coach Guy consider direct snaps to Mr. Robertson.\r\n

This is a big test for Pat Hill and his boys.  The loss to \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n at home has to be a HUGE disappointment, and they know that they will need a lot of help to challenge for a WAC title.  However, they can go bowling, and they need to show everyone that they will not fold their tent again after losing a WAC game.  The rushing yards they gave up to \r\nBoise \r\nState came in part from their own weaknesses, but they won't face a better one-two punch of running backs than what they got from \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's freshman backups.  They should not be ashamed.\r\n

Zagco would not be surprised if \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n keeps this game close.  It could be a fast game, with a lot of running by both teams.  As much as Zagco thinks \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n could pull off a win, he was disappointed with their play against La Tech, and he thinks they are VERY close to giving up.\r\n

\r\nFresno \r\nState will defeat \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n .\r\n

\r\nLouisiana Tech Bulldogs v. \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n Vandals
Where:  \r\n\r\nMoscow\r\n, \r\nIdaho
\r\nWhen:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at\r\n3:00 p.m. MT\r\n\r\n \r\n

\r\n

Louisiana Tech dominates every category, other than special teams.  Plus, the Southern Bulldogs looked solid last week on the road against \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n .  There was no let down after the tough loss to \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n .  Coach Dooley appears to have them focused, performing at a high level for their talent and experience, and they seem to be improving week-in and week-out.\r\n

\r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n , a school that just last week had to fire an instructor because they found out he was a registered sex offender, is hungry.  ("UI bans registered sex offender from teaching duties," Idaho Statesman, 10/27/2007.) The one possible strength they had—the running game—was stuffed last week by a \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n team that had the worst rushing defense in the WAC.  Sadly, Vandal freshman running back Deonte Jackson finally started acting like a full-fledged Vandal last week when he took a potshot at \r\nNevada 's defense:  \"It kind of makes you lick your chops a little bit," \r\n\r\nJackson\r\n said. "It's like seeing a big, fully cooked three-course meal right in front of you."  Coach Akey, the head Satan-worshipping cheat monkey, even got into the act too, claiming that his team was \"dang hungry\" and that they'd been \"laying it on the line in front of God and everyone.\"  ("Idaho hopes to run over Nevada," Idaho Statesman, 10/27/2007.)  Clearly, someone needs to feed the monkeys in \r\n\r\nMoscow\r\n .\r\n

Well, now the Vandals return home where they can finally eat like Romans, and the biggest question in Zagco's mind is whether they'll get more than 8,000 people to show up.  La Tech is ready.  \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n , with freshman quarterback Nathan Enderle back at the head of table, licking his fingers and eyeballing the cake, could present a bigger challenge for La Tech than the numbers indicate.  Zagco thinks he's got some good intangibles, but he also has three big problems:  (1) he locks in on his receivers; (2) he throws ducks downfield; and (3) he takes sacks and throws interceptions under pressure.  He can run, and he seems to keep himself fairly un-phased by his mistakes.\r\n

While La Tech's passing defense is not highly ranked, they do have two defensive backs with 4 interceptions apiece (Tony Moss and Weldon Brown).  La Tech is also +5 in turnovers, to -3 for \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n .  Moreover, even though La Tech signal caller Zac Champion is not highly rated (7th in the WAC at 120.5 in efficiency), Zagco thinks he's solid playing within Coach Dooley's system.  Last week, against craptastic \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n on the road, he went 23-29 for 230 yards.  He's also only thrown 6 picks on the year.  La Tech's one-two running attack is also solid, with Patrick Jackson and Daniel Porter well over 500 yards apiece for the season.  Last week, they both went over the century mark.\r\n

Zagco thinks playing at home is an advantage for \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n , even with a half empty tin can for a stadium.  Plus, Zagco believes that \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n has not given up; they still play hard, but they're thin on bodies and talent.  They should also be very concerned with whatever happened to their rushing offense.  In the end, while the Vandals should put up a good fight, the Southern Bulldogs will get a second consecutive road win in the WAC with a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense.\r\n

La Tech will defeat \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n .\r\n

\r\n

San Jose Can You See Bulldogs v. The Wicked Witch of the North
Where:  The Blue
When:  Saturday, November 3, 2007, at 1:00 p.m. MT\r\n

\r\n

Last year, after watching Boise State mount a stunning fourth quarter rally that included a 2-point conversion that looked an awful lot like \"The Catch\" (Joe Montana to Dwight Clark) and an up-the-gut punt return by Marty Tadman to put the Broncos in a position to win the game at the end with a field goal, Spartans head man Dick Tomey—a totally decent guy—proclaimed Boise State to be \"the wicked witch of the north.\"  What a world!\r\n

This year, the Bay Area Spartans get to travel to the lair of the Wicked Witch of the North this year, no longer surrounded by their munchkin friends in Oz.  In \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n , they will be welcomed by flying monkeys wearing funny hats.  They will hear the jungle drums beating.  Water won't help.\r\n

On paper, this is a serious mismatch.  Boise State not only has the second best rushing offense in the WAC, but it also might have its first string running back return for this game.  \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n 's three backs are the modern college equivalent of Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, and Jim Kiick.  Meanwhile, the Bronco defense seems to have righted its ship—it only looked shaky on \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n 's first drive and at the end of the game.  Plus, it did not appear that there were any problems getting players into the game on defense, knowing their assignments.  Kudos to the coaches and players.  We've improved every week since \r\n\r\nNevada\r\n , and that's all you can ask.  Good job, guys.\r\n

For all the wonderful things \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n did last week, Zagco would like to focus on the negative:  We gave up 177 yards on 7 kick returns (25.29 ypr) and 95 yards on 4 punt returns (23.75 ypr).  Yikes!  This week's opponent, \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n , has a punt returner, Dwight Lowery, near the top of the WAC's punt return standings who could take advantage of porous coverage.  \r\nFresno 's Clifton Smith took advantage of it, getting 65 of those 95 yards in punt returns on one play in scoring \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n 's second first quarter touchdown.  \r\n\r\nFormer\r\n \r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n star quarterback Bart Hendricks opined that the touchdown return was a result of the gunner not keeping containment.   Bart's Blog:  I Like It 10/29/2007.  Zagco is not going to disagree with this expert assessment.  He would add, however, that it appeared that our gunner might have been held on the play, although he still needs to fight through that kind of crap.\r\n

San Jose Can You See doesn't appear to be well suited to exploit the kick return coverage issues.  Plus, we all know that \r\n\r\nFresno\r\n 's special return teams are very solid, led by Bulldog return man extraordinaire A.J. Jefferson.  Now would be a good time for the Broncos to step it up in this phase of the game, because we have some future opponents that could REALLY exploit these weaknesses (\r\nHawaii and \r\n\r\nUtah\r\n \r\nState\r\n ).  In addition to Mr. Hendricks's diagnosis, Zagco also thinks that sometimes the players do not appear to be keeping their inside shoulders to the ball (as opposed to keeping in their \"lanes,\" which is the old, outdated way of teaching kickoff and punt coverage).  We can clean up our special teams hiccups by focusing on disciplined execution.\r\n

Zagco's only other point of criticism from last week's game is that it also appeared that Taylor Tharp was holding the ball a bit too long at times.  It was hard to tell whether that was because of tight coverage.  Between interceptions and tucking the ball for a small gain or loss, Zagco will take the latter any time.  Overall, Mr. Tharp did a yeoman's job guiding the team at critical moments, and in leading the Broncos to another road victory, he deserves kudos for his leadership.\r\n

San Jose Can You See is led by veteran quarterback Adam Tafralis, who has been creeping upwards in the WAC efficiency ratings—he's now 5th overall with a 134.1 rating, 12 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions.  The emergence of two decent receivers has helped him a lot.  Kevin Jurovich averages 87 yards per game, and he's scored 5 touchdowns.  David Richmond averages 73.9 yards per game, and he's scored 3 touchdowns.  Those two guys have been coming along nicely, helping \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n to find an occasional offensive identity.  The loss of those NFL-caliber receivers to graduation and running back phenom Yonus Davis to injuries has been extremely hard on \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n 's offense.\r\n

As mediocre as \r\nSan Jose appears on paper, everyone must remember that they gave \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n as big a scare as we got from them last year.  They should have won that game, but they collapsed down the stretch.  They also faded against \r\n\r\nIdaho\r\n , almost giving that game away.  \r\n\r\nSan Jose\r\n appears to be a team that is just short on bodies, but we must respect them because Coach Tomey is no spring chicken and Adam Tafralis is a capable offensive leader.\r\n

\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n looked pretty dang sharp last week.  Zagco's criticism of the special teams aside, he admits they looked awfully good.  The Broncos now get to come back home after a grueling, strange schedule.  They return to action on a traditional Saturday afternoon, giving them a much-needed extra day to recover.  Ian Johnson is expected to be back in action.  \r\n

Zagco just doesn't think San Jose Can You See has what it takes to give the Broncos a real fight.  He thinks Coach Tomey is clever and everything, but he can only do so much.\r\n

\r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n will defeat San Jose Can You See.\r\n

POSTSCRIPT:\r\n

\r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n 's Ratings:\r\n

\r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n does not play this week, but Zagco decided to include their rankings.  As Zagco has said many times, \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n has a real problem with its running game.  Last year, \r\n\r\nHawaii\r\n averaged 117.9 yards rushing per game, a figure that is 161.07% of this year's average, and a figure that would place them 6th in this year's standings.  Zagco also thinks that you cannot forget the shuffle pass running either—it counted as receiving yards, but it was basically running yards.  \r\nHawaii is extremely solid, but where it lags behind \r\n\r\nBoise\r\n \r\nState\r\n is in rushing offense and special teams.\r\n

\r\n