We're seeing a lot of the same frustrations with Jake Heaps that we saw during fall practices. His progressions are very good and quick, but he's simply missing on too many of his passes. This is something that should get rectified with getting more reps and it's frustrating that he hasn't been able to get them up to this point.
Heaps missed on what would have been three easy touchdown passes and didn't convert some key third-down conversions. But even though he missed badly on too many passes, it's easy to see his potential, and it's subsequently easy to believe that he'll be very good and accurate as he gets some more reps.
Running Backs: B
The running backs were again the best part of the offense, as J.J. Di Luigi again proved to be very effective in both running and catching the football. Joshua Quezada got some good work and showed well on three runs for 15 yards, although he still needs work on his route running.
Bryan Kariya fared okay, and again provided very good blocking during passing downs, while Zed Mendenhall proved to be a punishing lead-blocker out of the backfield.
Wide Receivers: C
McKay Jacobson finally was able to assert himself, although you'd still like to see him catch the ball more than the four times he got it Saturday. Cody Hoffman again proved to be the most effective option on the field, while both Luke Ashworth and Spencer Hafoka accounted for some unfortunate and ill-timed dropped passes.
Tight Ends: C-
They were again very quiet, with Marcus Mathews accounting for their one reception. The blocking was good though from Austin Holt, Devin Mahina and Mike Muehlmann. Overall, this group is non-existent as good and ready options in the passing tree.
Offensive Line: B-
The run-blocking was adequate for the most part, as they proved to get a good push on most running plays. The pass-blocking was great overall, although several jailhouse blitzes by Nevada led to stalled drives. Matt Reynolds again slugged through some injuries while Braden Brown had his hands full most of the night in providing good protection from his right side.
Defensive Line: C+
They all had a subpar first half, but filled in relatively well when Romney Fuga was lost after a very cheap blindside chop to the knees by #62 on Nevada. Vic So'oto accounted for the best plays from this group, while Eathyn Manumaleuna filled in well for Fuga at nose tackle during the second half.
This group made some key plays, but overall proved to be somewhat effective on the edges but ineffective defending the run up the middle. Shane Hunter made a very good play on a key fourth-down play in the first half before giving way to Zac Stout, who saw almost exclusive reps during the second half.
Jameson Frazier played a very solid game from his weak side position, which probably was why we saw very little of Kyle Van Noy. In the middle it appears as if inside linebacker coach Paul Tidwell is leaning toward Stout and Austen Jorgensen to get the majority of reps from now until the end of the season.
After neutralizing Andrew Rich's effectiveness by having him play at free safety, coaches quickly adjusted early in the game by switching him back to his normal strong safety spot. Rich was again very effective and the pass coverage up the middle was very good for the most part.
They also did well in limiting Colin Kaepernick to any outrageous gains by containing and tackling him. Travis Uale saw a lot of reps at free safety and was much improved after his bad performance against Florida State.
They were beat a few times, but as a whole they defended very well in not allowing many big plays to the outside of the base coverage. Brian Logan gutted it out and played for most of the game.
Special Teams: B+
Kick coverages were again outstanding, and the kick and punt return game was good throughout the ball game. J.D. Falslev was inserted as the punter early in the game and coaches might want to scrap that option, as he only netted two yards on his first collegiate punt.
The scheme in defending Kaepernick was solid, and overall the offensive play-calling was good save for a couple of head-scratchers. Most notably among the head-scratching calls was sending Bryan Kariya to run it wide on a critical fourth-and-four play. Late in the game they ran Di Luigi up the middle on third-and-goal, which also left fans scratching their heads as that was followed up by a field goal attempt.
Overall there are some positives to be taken from Saturday's game. It's going to take more time than most of us thought, but this team should show some good improvement as they prepare for the 2011 season.