Zag's Frags.. Week 12a

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 12

Copyright Zagco

 A WEEKLY LOOK AT WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE FOOTBALL

The phenomenon that is Zagco is 55-7 on the year, a winning percentage which now exceeds the record marks he achieved last year.  Zagco's accuracy, precision and ability to make the difficult seem simple are testaments to human evolution and his burgeoning abilities in The Force.  Zagco makes no claims to perfection, but he does not shy away from his brand as the preeminent expert on WAC football that will always deliver the highest quality analysis to his fans and secret admirers. 

He once again shuns away the Vegas casinos and other suitors who seek his expertise in matters of sports betting.  Zagco says unto them:  "Put your phones and e-mail accounts away!  Go away, you denizens of gambling lust!  Zagco's talents elude your greedy desires."

This week, there have been no major changes in Zagco's overall WAC strength index, which is an extremely advanced statistical index of critical measures of team achievements, which Zagco explained in excruciating detail in last week's Frags. 

Notably, Boise State put a little more distance between itself and Hawaii and the other top-half teams.  San Jose and Utah State flip-flopped at the bottom of the rankings, and Zagco believes San Jose should move up one more slot this week.  San Jose actually beat Idaho , which is slightly ahead of the Bay Area Spartans in the strength index.  Zagco believes San Jose 's overall ratings are pulled down by its ridiculous early non-conference schedule.  Zagco tweaked the presentation of his strength index by using percentages instead of the raw index number.  Thus, as shown below in the Week 12 Index column, Boise State is at the top with 100% and Hawaii is in second place, 86.93% as strong overall as Boise State .  Zagco thinks this is an easier format to understand and more visually pleasing.

TEAM

WEEK 11

 INDEX

WEEK 12

INDEX

Boise State Broncos

100%

100%

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

89.43%

86.93%

Nevada Wolf Pack

76.00%

73.60%

Fresno State Bulldogs

71.29%

70.87%

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

71.27%

70.41%

New Mexico State Gaggies

61.24%

60.79%

Idaho Vandals

55.68%

60.61%

San Jose State Spartans

33.91%

56.51%

Utah State Aggies

36.12%

42.30%

 

Rizzo says that he and Chaka-kan "intend" to come up to Boise on Friday so that they can watch the big game on Saturday.  Zagco, however, is suspicious of whether they really will, because ever since Rizzo heard Idaho Senator Larry Craig (a rabid Idaho Vandal fan) say he "intends to resign," it's been fair game in Rizzo's mind to deceive his friends and supporters with clever wordsmithing.  If Zagco can pass any wisdom along to his fans, it is to never, ever put your full trust in a black mamba.

Anyhoo, Zagco's faithful readers will remember "Vandy," the trusting and heartbroken cocktail waitress from the Corner Club in Moscow who continues to grieve the sudden departure of former Vandal head coach Dennis Erickson for the sunny skies in Tempe .  Since his trip to Moscow when he penned a heartfelt song for Vandy after he listened to her story, Zagco has received numerous calls and e-mails from her. 

Vandy's trying to come to grips with feelings of abandonment and rejection.  Zagco's tried explaining to her that the Vandals would have been just as crappy with Dennis Erickson at the helm.  He's pointed out that Coach Erickson's departure has helped with the whole "jail overcrowding" issue in Latah County .  Alas, Vandy has found little solace in Zagco's words.

This prompted Zagco to try a different approach.  Earlier in the week, Zagco took Rizzo and Chaka-kan up to Moscow in his 1966 Chevy pickup, where we proceeded straight to the Corner Club in a "no holds barred" effort to jumpstart the healing process by having a "brainstorm session/collaboration" with Vandy.  We were going to write a new song for her.

After much discussion, we decided to focus on Coach Erickson's last week in Moscow, when unbeknownst to Vandy and others, Coach Erickson was frequently speaking over the telephone with ASU Athletic Director Lisa Love (Zagco is not making this name up), hammering out the terms of his new employment.  As it turns out, Vandy is a former member of the University of Idaho marching band, and she suggested that we include the marching band "wall of sound" in this new composition, which we have named "Lush."

Following are the lyrics, along with a hyperlink to an eerily similar song named "Tusk" by Fleetwood Mac, ironically featuring the USC marching band.  Zagco intends to discuss the possibility of a retroactive copyright lawsuit with a significant punitive damage component with his legal advisors at the conclusion of the football season.  Meanwhile, Zagco invites you to click on the link as you follow along with the words, imagining a young Stevie Nicks tossing around a baton in those sweeping, flowing get-ups she was always wearing:

Lush

(Intro of rhythmic drums beating)

Why don't you ask him if he's going to stay?

Why don't you ask him if he's going away?

Why don't you tell me what's going on?

Why don't you tell me who's on the phone?

Why don't you ask him what's going on?

Why don't you ask him who's the latest on his throne?

 
D
on't say Lisa Love to me!

Just tell me that you want me!


Lush! Lush! Lush! Lush!

Lush! Lush! Lush! Lush!

Lush! Lush! Lush! Lush!

Lush! Lush! Lush! Lush!

Lush!

Fleetwood Mac - Tusk

 

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors v. Nevada Wolf Pack
Where:  The Biggest Little City in the World
When:  Friday Night, November 16, 2007, at 9:00 p.m. MT (ESPN 2)

The statistical tale of the tape reveals several things.  First, Hawaii leads in all key categories, except for rushing offense.  Hawaii doesn't really have a running game; they have a draw game, which is strictly meant to keep defenses from cheating too much against the pass.  However, as we saw last week with Fresno early in the game, Hawaii 's draw attack can hurt.  Second, Hawaii 's lead in total offense is not real big.  Nevada has a heck of a rushing attack, which will be its biggest weapon in this game, both in terms of its ability to score points and in keeping Hawaii 's offense off the field.  Third, Nevada has a terrible rushing defense, but we should discount this problem somewhat because Hawaii simply does not beat people running the ball.  Fourth, as close observers of WAC football have seen, Nevada 's passing defense, while not statistically horrible (6th in the WAC), appears incapable of covering receivers without interfering with them.  They better get their act together Friday night, because this is a weakness Nevada cannot afford against the Rainbow Warriors.

 

Hawaii

 

Category

Nevada

Rank

Stats

Stats

Rank

1.000

534.3

Total Offense

494.4

1.075

2.882

80.3

Rushing Offense

231.4

1.000

1.000

454

Passing Offense

263

1.726

1.000

50.2

Scoring Offense

37.3

1.257

1.151

344.7

Total Defense

417.4

1.393

1.000

111.3

Rushing Defense

208.8

1.876

1.087

111.4

Pass Efficiency Defense

136.2

1.329

1.241

23.2

Scoring Defense

36.7

1.963

1.036

6.798

Zagco's ST Index

7.449

1.120

11.395

 

TOTALS

 

12.738

 

Hawaii brings its BCS dreams to the Biggest Little City in the World for all to see on a Friday night, although the time of the game makes one wonder if any east coast people will tune in to see them play.  Nevada , meanwhile, is still smarting from its quadruple overtime loss to Boise State , and it would like nothing more than to knock off Hawaii .

Nevada 's bread and butter is its quarterback, Colin "Crazy Legs" Kaepernick, and its running back, Luke Lippincott.  Mr. Lippincott leads the WAC in rushing with 117.1 yards per game.  He's a tough runner.  Crazy Legs is the 3rd rated quarterback in the WAC, but he has not put up prolific passing numbers (178.3 passing yards per game, 13 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions).  Crazy Legs is, however, a dangerous running quarterback (465 rushing yards, 8 touchdowns, and 7 yards per carry).  Nevada 's best weapons are perfectly geared to exploit Hawaii 's main weakness, its rushing defense.  Plus, having a running game should limit Hawaii 's touches and keep its offense from getting into the frenetic pace and musical rhythm that give the Rainbow Warriors its mojo.

Meanwhile, June Jones' apprentice, Colt Brennan, went down in a frightening collision with a Fresno defender last week.  Zagco thought the hit looked legal, but it sure was a scary blow.  Zagco implores quarterbacks to quit trying to be the next Vince Young and start sliding foot first into those kinds of runs.  At press time, it is unknown whether Mr. Brennan will play on Friday night.  Hawaii 's detractors smell trouble brewing for our pineapple-loving friends.

However, one must remember that when Obi-Wan Kenobi defeated Darth Maul, the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, found another apprentice.  Where there is one, there is ALWAYS another.  Hawaii has backup quarterback Tyler Graunke.  Mr. Graunke has quality real game experience.  His efficiency rating is higher than Mr. Brennan's (164.94 versus 161.18).  He has thrown 72 passes and completed 44 of them, for a completion percentage of 61.1%.  He's thrown 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.  Mr. Graunke should not be discounted as some kind of backwards hat-wearing, clipboard-carrying, hand signal-making backup hack.  He can play.  Zagco doubts his scrambling ability, however.

Hawaii 's game depends upon its receivers.  Disrupt them and you will beat them.  Let them run around on those underneath crossing routes and you'll lose.  Either Mr. Graunke or Mr. Brennan can get them the ball.

Zagco is skeptical of picking either team.  As a home game for Nevada , conventional wisdom would dictate a home field advantage for the underdogs.  However, who here among us has ever seen Nevada , at least in recent memory, with anything resembling a home field advantage?  Not Zagco.  Hawaii , on the other hand, has really struggled in two WAC road games against La Tech and San Jose Can You See.  Even Idaho put up some points against them in a sloppily played game.  Zagco does not respect Nevada 's passing defense, and he does not respect Hawaii 's rushing attack.  Hawaii has a good rushing defense statistically, but look what Fresno did to our pineapple-picking brothers:  Fresno ran for 182 yards.  Plus, Hawaii benefits from other teams trying to play catch-up ball by passing instead of running.  Zagco has also observed that Hawaii 's defense seems to run out of gas after starting out like a spider monkey all jacked up on Mountain Dew.

Let's examine some other comparisons:

  • Hawaii defeated La Tech 45-44 in overtime in Ruston .  Nevada has not played them.
  • Hawaii defeated Idaho 48-20 in Moscow .  Nevada beat Idaho 37-21 in Reno , but it was close until late in the game.  Edge to Hawaii .
  • Hawaii defeated Utah State 52-37 in Honolulu .  Nevada beat Utah State in Logan 31-28.  Edge to Hawaii .
  • Hawaii defeated New Mexico State 50-13 in Honolulu .  Nevada defeated New Mexico State 40-38 in Reno .  Edge to Hawaii .
  • Hawaii defeated Fresno State 37-30 in Honolulu .  Nevada lost to Fresno 49-41 in Reno , rallying from a huge deficit to make the game appear close.  Edge to Hawaii .

This is tough call.  Zagco believes Nevada will run the ball effectively against Hawaii .  He also believes that Hawaii will struggle on the road, as it does traditionally.  Zagco is not sold on Nevada being an upper echelon team, but he is impressed with its commitment to the running game.  Hawaii will have more trouble with Nevada 's running game than Fresno 's.  However, Zagco cannot get past Hawaii 's incredible receiving crew—those guys can play ball and create incredible momentum.  He's also alarmed by Nevada 's defense, even though the stats say they're not half bad.  This game should be a track meet.

Zagco is going to count on two things happening:  (1) Hawaii will forget to bring its Tiki Taboo, thus making them far less "spider monkey" than they are at home, especially early in the game when they like to bring out the shock and awe; and (2) Nevada 's offensive line and running game will control the clock.  Zagco has a gut feeling….

Nevada will defeat Hawaii .

Utah State Aggies v. New Mexico State Gaggies
Where:  Las Cruces , New Mexico
When:  Saturday, November 17, 2007, at 12:00 noon MT (Altitude)

In a game that will help to determine which WAC team is the crappiest, Utah State travels down to Las Cruces to face off against its former Sun Belt Conference rivals.  On paper, New Mexico State holds leads in most categories.  The Gaggies have a big edge in total offense, which results from its vastly superior passing attack.  Neither team can run the ball to save its life.  Both teams have crappy defenses.  Utah State 's only weapon is its return man, Kevin Robertson.  To Zagco , Utah State looked like a team that gave up last week.  New Mexico State also looked fantastically crappy against San Jose Can You See.  

 

Utah State

 

Category

 

New Mexico State

 

Rank

Stats

Stats

Rank

1.493

270.8

Total Offense

421

1.212

1.963

117.9

Rushing Offense

91.5

2.529

2.969

152.9

Passing Offense

329.5

1.378

1.625

18.8

Scoring Offense

24.7

1.508

1.509

452.1

Total Defense

433.3

1.446

1.823

202.9

Rushing Defense

159.5

1.433

1.500

153.7

Pass Efficiency Defense

147.7

1.441

1.979

37

Scoring Defense

36.9

1.973

1.033

6.778

Zagco's ST Index

7.358

1.109

15.894

 

TOTALS

 

14.029


Zagco will rely on New Mexico State 's offense and the home field advantage.

New Mexico State will defeat Utah State .

San Jose Can You See Spartans v. La Tech Bulldogs
Where:  Ruston , Louisiana
When:  Saturday, November 17, 2007, at 5:00 p.m. MT

This game is tough.  Zagco respects Coach Tomey for what he has been able to do this year with a team that lost a lot of talent last year, lost its best running back early in the first game, and had to open with three straight BCS opponents on the road.  He's kept them from falling apart.  They beat New Mexico State last week by a healthy margin, far more impressive than Zagco envisioned.

La Tech has also been on the upswing, even though they got worked last week by yet another bizarrely scheduled BCS opponent (LSU).  La Tech's biggest problem this year has been its schedule.  They very nearly knocked off Hawaii , and they forced Boise State to play into the fourth quarter before succumbing.

 

San Jose State

 

Category

 

La Tech

 

Rank

Stats

Stats

Rank

1.388

327.1

Total Offense

357

1.332

2.843

81.4

Rushing Offense

165.6

1.397

1.848

245.7

Passing Offense

191.4

2.372

1.612

19.5

Scoring Offense

21.2

1.578

1.354

405.7

Total Defense

397.5

1.327

1.491

165.9

Rushing Defense

130.3

1.171

1.198

122.8

Pass Efficiency Defense

125.7

1.226

1.610

30.1

Scoring Defense

29.6

1.583

1.119

7.438

Zagco's ST Index

7.087

1.075

14.461

 

TOTALS

 

13.061

 

The numbers point to a La Tech win.  The fact that the game is in Ruston also bodes well for the Southern Bulldogs.  La Tech will rely on its solid one-two punch at running back.  Patrick Jackson (807 yards) and Daniel Porter (576 yards) give La Tech a potent, ground control attack, and La Tech's defense is also solid and frustrating.  San Jose Can You See lacks a running game of any kind, so it will rely on its veteran quarterback Adam Tafralis.  In the end, Zagco sees the Bay Area Spartans being one weapon short of a win.

La Tech will defeat San Jose Can You See.

 

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