Zag's Frags: Week 13b (Boise State vs Hawaii)

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Boise State Broncos v. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Where:  The Rock
When:  Friday Night, November 23, 2007, at 7:00 p.m. MT (ESPN 2)

The statistical tale of the tape gives Boise State a slight edge in this matchup.

 

 

Boise State

 

Category

 

Hawaii

 

Rank

Stats

Stats

Rank

1.067

488.7

Total Offense

523.9

1.000

1.147

200.5

Rushing Offense

77.4

2.970

1.549

288.3

Passing Offense

446.5

1.000

1.079

44.2

Scoring Offense

48

1.000

1.000

304

Total Defense

345.2

1.136

1.000

118.2

Rushing Defense

121.8

1.030

1.000

102.5

Pass Efficiency Defense

111.3

1.086

1.000

18.3

Scoring Defense

23.5

1.284

1.010

6.649

Zagco's ST Index

6.764

1.027

9.852

 

TOTALS

 

11.533

In the comparison of common opponents, Boise State comes out on top.  Zagco believes of the seven common conference opponents, Boise State 's wins are more impressive in 5 cases and Hawaii 's wins are more impressive in 2 cases.  Hawaii 's most impressive win was the win last week at Nevada .  Boise State 's most impressive win was the win at Fresno .

  • New Mexico State :  Boise State destroyed the Gaggies in Boise , 58-0.  The Broncos rolled up 604 yards of offense (371 passing, 233 running), and they gave up 89 yards (108 passing, -19 running).  Hawaii beat the Gaggies 50-13 in Hawaii .  Hawaii gained 494 total yards (425 passing, 67 running), and they gave up 442 yards (365 passing, 77 running).  On the strength of score and defensive performance, Boise State 's victory is more impressive.
  • Nevada :  Boise State edged Nevada in quadruple overtime in Boise , 69-67.  The Broncos gained 627 yards of offense (353 passing, 272 running), and they gave up 639 yards (243 passing, 396 running).  Hawaii beat Nevada 28-26 on a game-winning field goal at Reno .  Hawaii gained 430 total yards (379 passing, 51 running), and they gave up 350 yards (134 passing, 216 running).  Nevada almost won both games, and while Hawaii 's starting quarterback sat out, the game was also in Reno for Hawaii .  Thus, Hawaii 's road victory is more impressive.
  • Louisiana Tech:  Boise State beat La Tech in Ruston , 45-31.  The Broncos gained 465 total yards (328 passing, 127 running), and they gave up 463 yards (255 passing, 208 running).  Hawaii edged La Tech in Ruston , 45-44 in overtime.  Hawaii gained 593 total yards (548 passing, 45 running), and La Tech gained 410 yards (187 passing, 223 running).  Boise State 's victory is more impressive.
  • Fresno State :  Boise State beat Fresno in Fresno , 34-21.  The Broncos gained 440 total yards (158 passing, 252 running), and they gave up 352 yards (263 passing, 89 running).  Hawaii beat Fresno 37-30 in Hawaii .  Hawaii gained 547 total yards (410 passing, 137 running), and they gave up 391 yards (209 passing, 182 running).  Boise State 's road victory is more impressive.
  • San Jose Can You See:  Boise State destroyed San Jose in Boise , 42-7.  The Broncos gained 434 total yards (290 passing, 144 running), and they gave up 150 yards (100 passing, 50 running).  Hawaii edged San Jose in overtime 42-35 in San Jose .  Hawaii gained 601 total yards (545 passing, 56 running), and they gave up 344 yards (302 passing, 42 running).  Boise State 's victory is more impressive.
  • Utah State :  Boise State routed the Aggies in Logan , 52-0.  The Broncos gained 484 total yards (294 passing, 190 running), and they gave up 236 yards (154 passing, 82 running).  Hawaii beat Utah State 52-37 in Hawaii .  Hawaii gained 512 total yards (465 passing, 47 running), and they gave up 370 yards (247 passing, 123 running).  Utah State moved the ball against Hawaii , although the final score was closer than the balance of power in the game.  Boise State 's road victory is more impressive.
  • Idaho :  Boise State annihilated the Vandals in Boise , 58-14.  The Broncos gained 556 total yards (405 passing, 151 running), and they gave up 348 yards (212 passing, 136 running).  Hawaii crushed Idaho 48-20 in Moscow .  Hawaii gained 485 total yards (394 passing, 91 running), and they gave up 303 yards (213 passing, 90 running).  The Hawaii-Idaho game was sloppy, and Zagco thought Boise State looked somewhat flat against Idaho .  Both games were blowouts.  Zagco thinks, overall, Hawaii 's road victory is more impressive.

The fact of the matter, however, is that the past does not matter a whole lot.  Both teams are good teams, and Hawaii has found a way to win three very close road games.  Over the years, Boise State has also found itself in super close games on the road against lesser WAC teams.  There is something to be said for just winning, regardless of the score.  Zagco thinks it's a mistake to discount Hawaii as a team because of those close games against La Tech, San Jose State , and Nevada .

Hawaii 's strength is its receivers, primarily Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Jason Rivers, and C.J. Hawthorne.  The Rainbow Warriors have had 15 different players catch passes, but those 4 are their bread and butter.  It is likely that Hawaii will end up with 3 1,000 yard receivers this year.  Amazing.

  • Ryan Grice-Mullen has 85 catches for 1,159 yards and 10 touchdowns.
  • Davone Bess has 81 catches for 983 yards and 10 touchdowns.
  • Jason Rivers has 57 catches for 789 yards and 8 touchdowns.
  • C.J. Hawthorne has 48 catches for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns.

These dudes can flat out play.  Our pineapple-harvesting brothers in the Pacific have great hands, are fearless, and are just excellent after the catch.  They will pick you apart running those crossing routes. 

Zagco has been impressed with Colt Brennan—he's a great quarterback.  However, Zagco does not think he's playing at quite the level he was at last year.

COLT BRENNAN:  LAST YEAR v. THIS YEAR

YEAR

G

ATT.

CMP.

INT.

PCT.

YDS.

YPG

TD

EFF.

2006

14

559

406

12

72.6

5,549

396.36

58

186.0

2007

9

369

255

12

69.1

3,237

359.67

28

161.3

Zagco understands that Mr. Brennan has sat out a bit this year and that he has suffered from some injury issues.  His accuracy is slightly down this year (still very good, though), his yards per game are down, his interceptions are already at where he was last year after 14 games, and he's far behind his 58-touchdown pace.  Zagco believes that, in addition to his injuries, Hawaii 's offensive line is not as good this year, and he believes the loss of those two great big running backs from last year has been very hard for Hawaii . 

  • In 2006, Nate Ilaoa had 131 carries for 1,006 yards (7.6 yards per carry), averaging 76.2 yards rushing per game.  He also caught 67 passes for 837 yards (12.5 yards per catch), averaging 64.4 yards per game.  He scored 13 rushing touchdowns and 5 receiving touchdowns.  That dude was a LOT of offense.  Plus, he was a matchup nightmare.
  • In 2006, Reagan Mauia had 31 carries for 156 yards (4.9 yards per carry), averaging 11.8 yards rushing per game.  He also caught 10 passes for 109 yards (10.9 yards per catch), averaging 8.4 yards per game.  He scored 2 rushing touchdowns and 1 receiving touchdown.  He was not prolific, but he was huge and you had to account for him when he was in the game.

Hawaii has not been able to replace those guys.  They have spread the running around a bit this year, utilizing 4 primary backs.  Kealoha Pilares has 305 yards rushing, Leon Wright-Jackson has 225 yards rushing, Daniel "Nacho" Libre has 101 yards rushing, and Inoke Funaki has 71 yards rushing.  Colt Brennan also scrambles a bit (including some option-type runs), running for 143 yards this year.  Hawaii 's backs this year are not physical nightmares, though.  They are quick, slashing types.  They don't look half bad, but again, Zagco thinks Hawaii 's offensive line is just not as good as last year's tremendous line.

Hawaii 's defensive issues have been more apparent in WAC play.  They built up some impressive defensive numbers against a sub-par nonconference slate that makes Gene Bleymeier's scheduling philosophy seem Nietzschean.  In WAC games, Hawaii has given up 2,610 total yards, which is 114.6% of Boise State 's 2,277 yards.  Rushing defense-wise, both are about the same in conference, with Boise State giving up 942 yards and Hawaii giving up 953 yards.  Zagco believes that Boise State 's total and complete breakdown against Nevada was flukish, but he does not want to be accused of subjectively overstating Boise State 's defensive success against WAC teams.

The dirty little secret, however, is that Hawaii's high-powered offense has put up almost identical numbers to Boise State's lesser-credited offense against WAC teams.  Hawaii 's gained 3,662 yards of offense in WAC play.  Boise State has gained 3,610 yards against the same opposition.

In Zagco's evolving view, Boise State 's most powerful weapon is its receiving corps.  Jeremy Childs (a sophomore) is a burner, and he's a very savvy route runner and blocker, although he risks getting called for holds on some of his blocks.  He's caught 74 passes for 943 yards, and he's made some spectacular catches, including the Randy Moss-esque catch last week against Idaho in the second half.  Un-freaking-real!  Titus Young (a freshman) is also a burner, and Zagco swears he's busted at least 4 ankles this year with some of the wicked pissah moves he puts on defenders.  Ian Johnson has also developed as a serious pass-catching threat.  Very dangerous, because other teams often forget to cover to him.  The real serious physical mismatches, however, are Austin Pettis and Julian Hawkins.  Mr. Pettis (a freshman) is listed at 6'3" and 190, and he is clearly a serious matchup problem for defensive backs.  Mr. Hawkins (a junior) is listed at 6'3" and 229, and he also has shown us the ability to physically smother his defenders.

Last week, Boise State 's running game consisted of Ian Johnson.  Freshman D.J. Harper is out for the regular season.  Freshman Jeremy Avery is expected back this week.  If he is back, Zagco believes Boise State will have the running game it needs to hurt Hawaii . 

Zagco believes Boise State 's weaknesses and/or issues are as follows:  

  1. He does not believe our linebackers consistently defend the right holes on running plays.
  2. He is also concerned about the run-stuffing ability of the defensive linemen.
  3. Boise State 's safeties can get sucked up to protect against the run, because of problems stopping it up front.  Hawaii could exploit this with its draw game.
  4. Penalties have been an issue for Boise State this year, especially false start and holding calls.  This improved a bit last week, when the Broncos only got called 5 times.
  5. Taylor Tharp is not a runner.
  6. Ian Johnson seems a step slower, although he has put up good numbers this year in a slightly different role.  He has developed as a very good receiving back.  Zagco also suspects that changes in our blocking scheme up front have changed some things for Mr. Johnson.
  7. The defense has not scored a point this year.  They were also struggling to stop opponents in the red zone, but they stopped Idaho twice, and it is important to remember that they've only allowed opponents into the red zone 21 times this year, far less than any other WAC defense.

Zagco gives Hawaii an extra edge for playing this game at home.  Boise State has won 3 straight games in Hawaii , but it is clearly a tough place to play.  The crowd will be rocking, and Hawaii will come out like a spider monkey all jacked up on Mountain Dew.  If the Broncos thought the Vandals played with emotion, just wait…. 

The trick for Boise State will be to withstand the initial onslaught of emotion.  Think of the way Darth Sidious unleashed hell on Yoda, going all ninja on him by flipping through the air, shooting that Force Lightning at him, and whatnot.  Little Yoda took it all, but he came back….  Plus, Zagco maintains that Mace Windu outfought the Sith Master, showing superior skills with the Light Sabre, but he was betrayed by Anakin Skywalker.  Zagco will always believe that both Yoda and Mace Windu were more powerful than Darth Sidious, yet they did not defeat him.  Plus, one can never forget that Obi-wan Kenobi actually killed Darth Maul, and he could have killed Darth Vader.  Obi-wan was a great, great Jedi Master.

Anyhoo, the whole point is that we should not fear the Dark Side.  Once Hawaii has unloaded its magazine, it will be a battle of wills.  Plus, no matter what the score is at any given time, the Broncos must always know that Hawaii can score in a hurry and in quantity.  Nevada tried beating Hawaii with the clock last week, and they found out that Hawaii is better than the clock.  You have to beat the Rainbow Warriors by playing football for 60 minutes.  Chris Ault's approach in the final 2 minutes of that game demonstrated very poor judgment.

Hawaii is going to be looking for turnovers.  They will see how many freshman Boise State has playing (14 listed on the depth chart), and they will ratchet up the crowd noise, the smack, and the hits in an effort to make those young minds go all aflutter.  They will count on some of Boise State 's players losing themselves in the Hawaiian spirit and the bright lights of ESPN.  After all, it is Boise State 's streak of conference titles that is on the line.  All Hawaii needs is one or two mistakes.  Zagco also expects Hawaii to test Boise 's running defense with those draws.  They may run some conventional plays, but that's not going to win the game.  Watch out for those draws, however.  Boise State has relied on special teams to win the last two games in the series, and Zagco expects Coach Choate to have something special in mind this week for Hawaii .  However, Zagco thinks Hawaii 's special teams are good, especially that kicker who has nailed two clutch game-saving field goals from long distances.

This game is epic.  It's the best WAC matchup in years.  Zagco cannot remember a better matchup in the WAC at this time of the year.  All due respect to Hawaii and Boise State for great years. 

At the end of the game, Zagco thinks six things will stand out:

  1. Boise State 's receivers will cause problems for Hawaii ;
  2. A healthy Jeremy Avery and Ian Johnson will cause problems for Hawaii , gaining more than 200 yards rushing combined;
  3. Hawaii will not be able to get a running game going, although some draws will work;
  4. Boise State 's special teams will come up with 2 or 3 big plays;
  5. Hawaii's passing game will move the ball, but Boise State will get to Colt Brennan with some sacks and interceptions; and
  6. Hawaii will have more turnovers.

Boise State will defeat Hawaii .


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