Pack’s special teams have bad day against Hawaii
Nevada coach Chris Ault was still seething a day after two of the special teams units had terrible games against Hawaii.
The kick-off coverage team allowed 26.4 per return, and the failure to handle punts three different times forced Nevada to start drives in the shadow of the goalline.
“As poor on special teams as we’ve been,” Ault told reporters before Monday’s practice at Wolf Pack Park. “Kick-off coverage and punt return. We gave them a short field which puts pressure on your defense. We had to start at the 1, 2 and 5 on offense. That stuff shouldn’t be happening.
“They were bad kicks (punts). They let the ball roll right past them. It’s ridiculous.”
One of the returns, a 45-yarder by Malcom Lane early in the second half led to a touchdown and a 24-17 Hawaii lead. The Warriors never trailed again.
“We watched a little film,” said ex-Douglas star Andy McIntosh, a member of the kick coverage unit. “Guys weren’t doing what they should be doing. It wasn’t one guy.
“We’d been doing pretty well for the first six weeks. Nobody says anything about that, but then you have one bad week. It’s definitely disappointing to see that happen.”
One of the kick-offs by Brett Jaekle went out of bounds, giving Hawaii great field position at its own 40. Fortunately, Nevada’s defense held on that play. Jaekle blamed himself for some of the poor performance.
“It starts with me,” he said. “It wasn’t so much that I didn’t kick the ball far enough, it’s that I wasn’t kicking it to the right spot. The first one even went out of bounds. It makes it hard on the defense.”
The punt return problems were especially puzzling since Nevada did such a great job against Utah State. Tim Grasso didn’t exactly boom the ball, but Nevada players let the ball bounce, and that proved disastrous. It almost seemed that Nevada players were afraid to make a play on the ball once it started bouncing.
The first error forced Nevada to start at its 5 and led to a punt. On the next drive, Nevada started at its own 2 and punted without getting a first down. In the fourth quarter, Hawaii downed a punt at the Nevada 1, and again Nevada had to punt without getting a first down.
Certainly it’s something Nevada hopes to clean up during the bye week.
THE BCS PICTURE
Undefeated Boise State is getting plenty of love from computers, but not as much from humans, according to Benson.
Benson said that the computers have the 7-0 Broncos ranked seventh in the country, while the human pollsters have Boise State at No. 11. The Broncos must stay unbeaten to have a shot at a BCS game, and any non-guaranteed conference (WAC, Mountain West and Conference USA) must be in the top 12 in the BCS rankings as well.
“Boise State’s scheduling philosophy is very sound and puts them in position to make runs like this,” Benson said.
Currently, the Broncos are ranked behind Utah but ahead of Tulsa in the battle for a BCS bid. Utah still has games left against TCU and BYU, while Boise State has tough games against New Mexico State (this weekend), Nevada (Nov.22) and Fresno State (Nov.29).
Benson said there is a provision in place that would allow two non-BCS schools to go to the BCS if conference winners from guaranteed conferences aren’t ranked high enough. He also said that he doesn’t foresee a change in the system based on a one-year situation.
“The system is set up where it’s been good for us,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “I haven’t given it ( a change) a lot of thought.”
New Mexico State was missing six players when it lost to Idaho last weekend. Coach Hal Mumme said the injuries were suffered in the loss to San Jose State.
Mumme said one starting tackle had to switch to the other side, and the starting center also was out. Three key skill players – running back Marquell Colston plus wide receivers Wes Neiman and Marcus Anderson – all missed the game, and Mumme doesn’t believe he’ll have any of the six injured players back for the Boise State game this week.
STRATEGY PAYS OFF
Utah State had tremendous success getting its runners to the perimeter against Fresno State, and that was because of line-up changes made by coach Brent Guy.
Guy started his second unit which consisted of Robert Hill and Tariq Polley at tackles, Funaki Asisi and Phillip Gapelu at guards and David Disman at center. All are redshirt freshman with the exception of Polley, who is a junior.
“We started different guys on the offensive line,” Guy said. “We went with quicker, athletic guys so we cold stretch them out. We were still able to run the read zone option game.”
Disaster struck, however, as Disman blew out his medial collateral ligament as did Ryan Tonnemacher, who replaced him. Both are out for the season. Brennan McFadden is slated to start at center this weekend.
According to the Herald-Journal in Logan, the other four spots will be determined by who performs best at practice.
Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander, Fresno State kicker Kevin Goessling and Idaho defensive end Josh Shaw were named the conference’s offensive, special teams and defensive players of the week.
Alexander threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns in the second half to lead Hawaii past Nevada, 38-31. Alexander’s game-winning pass to Malcom Lane came with 20 seconds left in the game.
Shaw racked up 10 tackles in the Vandals’ 20-14 upset over New Mexico State. Shaw also forced a fumble.
Goessling, who cost Fresno State games against Wisconsin and Hawaii earlier this year, kicked three field goals against Utah State, including a 58-yarder as time expired in a 30-28 win.
“Kevin was a guy everybody wanted to hate for a couple of games,” FSU coach Pat Hill said. “Utah State called a timeout. He came over to the sidelines, and coach (John) Baxter asked him if he had a spot picked out. He pointed to a guy with a coat and tie on. If it hadn’t of hit the next (behind the goal posts), he would have hit that guy in the chest.”
Benson, who attended the game, said that with the velocity of the kick that it would have been good from 65 yards.
The 58-yarder was the second-longest in the country this season.
FRESHMAN EXCELS FOR VANDALS
Princeton McCarty, a freshman running back, enjoyed a career day against New Mexico State, rushing for 161 yards on 15 carries in Idaho’s 20-14 victory. McCarty scored on a 54-yard run in the first quarter.
McCarty has rushed for 366 yards and two scores on 52 carries. He’ll certainly see continued action with output like that.
Coach Robb Akey likes McCarty because of his ability to turn every play into a big play.
The youngster did draw Akey’s ire when he made a special teams mistake.