Another overhyped Nevada-BSU game
Over the past four years the story has read the same way for the Wolf Pack: Boise State comes into the annual matchup as the hot team with every “analyst” worth his over-sized paycheck selecting Nevada as the team to possibly spoil the Bronco’s hopes of an undefeated season. However, minutes after kickoff the hope, just like the hype and hoopla come crashing down. Friday’s result was no different.
Nevada showed that is was still the team that lost to opponents that could be classified lower than pond scum: Notre Dame (6-6) and Colorado State (3-9). Great, the Wolf Pack showed some offense and continued to run the ball well with 242 yards on the way to a 44-33 loss to No. 6 Boise State, but it was obvious that the Broncos wanted them to run. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the Broncos’ focal point on defense as they spied him all night, limiting him to 31 yards on 16 attempts, and showed that his passing ability hasn’t improved since his first year at the Nevada helm. He threw for 141 yards on 12 of 22 passing, hardly numbers that will scare defensive coordinators.
His lackluster passing, though, shouldn’t be a surprise. When asked before the season what he has done to improve as a passer during the offseason, he implied that it was just mainly getting repetitions. Reps are great, and every athlete needs them to improve. But it is becoming clear that he needs more. Passing has been the only knock on an a player that could become the most prolific quarterback Nevada has ever seen.
Could it be this year’s crop of wide receivers who are far less talented than years before? Sure, maybe a little. The Boise defense was able to sit on the underneath routes all night, never fearing for a pass to go over its head and lead to a big play. But it’s more likely that it’s Kaepernick.
Although Kaepernick threw for nearly 3,000 yards last year, much of it can be attributed to his lofty passing attempts. In his final three games he threw the ball 142 times for 1,008 yards. But he completed just 67 or 47.2 percent of the time. Sure he looked great against Idaho (19 for 24, 243 yards, two TDs) last year, but that was a Vandal team that made Western Michigan look like they were the maize and blue.
Kaepernick has completed more than 20 passes just once this season. But that stat didn’t seem to affect the Wolf Pack as it ran the ball to eight straight wins. But at some point, some one was going to stop the ground game and who better than the Broncos to do that?
After the game Nevada coach Chris Ault said 8-4 teams “are a dime a dozen,” but that championship teams are special. Considering Ault, in his latest stint with the Pack, hasn’t lead Nevada to anything better than a 9-3 season in which it won a share of the Western Athletic Conference title, does that make Ault a “dime a dozen” coach? Perhaps it’s time for Ault to hang up his coaching hat for the final time and pass the reigns on to some one who can develop a once-in-a-generation player like Kaepernick could be and some one who can recruit and build a defense that won’t give up 35 points to Colorado State, which hasn’t scored more than 29 points since or even won a game for that matter.
Now, Nevada is on the wrong side of a 10-game losing streak to Boise State and preparing for another meaningless bowl.
The Broncos on the other hand are rubbing elbows with the BCS where they will likely find a game against the Atlantic Coast Conference champion and another $9 million payday.