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October 4, 2007(1) Boise State (0-0, 3-1) hosts New Mexico State Sunday night... RB Ian Johnson was the WAC's offensive player of the week after rushing for 111 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns in a win over Southern Mississippi... he also had a career-best 80 yards receiving... in the midst of playing 5 of first 6 games on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium... BSU has rushed for 794 yards on the ground this year, but only given up 358.
Player Watch: Freshman safety Jeron Johnson continues to lead the team in tackles with 28, including half a sack. In fact, 3 of BSU's top-4 tacklers are defensive backs (Johnson, Tadman, Scandrick).
By the Numbers: If BSU is going to score on Sunday, odds are high it's going to be on the ground. The Broncos lead the WAC in rushing touchdowns (12) while New Mexico State has given up the most rushing touchdowns in the conference (11).
(2) Hawai'i (2-0, 5-0) faces winless Utah State at home...coming off, if you can call it this, an ugly 48-10 win over Idaho that saw Colt Brennan throw a career-high 5 interceptions... Brennan now has 6 picks for the season... WR Jason Rivers has moved to within 36 receptions of the all-time WAC record... Brennan is just 13 TD passes from the all-time NCAA mark.
Player Watch: DB Myron Newberry was the WAC defensive player of the week following his 2-interception performance at Idaho, including one returned for a touchdown.
By the Numbers: Though it's partially a product of playing a pair of 1-AA teams, Hawai'i's defense has only given up 94 points (18.8/game) this season-- 44 of them to Louisiana Tech.
(3) Fresno State (1-0, 2-2) at Nevada on Saturday... won a defensive slugfest over Louisiana Tech in their WAC opener last weekend... Fresno was actually out-gained by Tech in the game... the defense finished the night with 7 sacks... they still lead the WAC in pass defense at barely over 118 yards per game through the air... junior quarterback Tom Brandstetter is averaging nearly 200 yards per game passing with 3 interceptions through 4 games.
Player Watch: DE Tyler Clutts had 9 tackles and 3.5 sacks last weekend... and wasn't the WAC's defensive player of the week. He's the conference's top active sack-artist with 17.5 over his career.
By the Numbers: Statistical oddity-- Fresno's 17-6 win over LaTech last weekend was accomplished without a 100-yard rusher or passer. Brandstetter threw for 92 yards and Lonyae Miller rushed for 50 yards.
(4) Nevada (0-0, 2-2) hosts Fresno State in a key WAC matchup... got a strong showing from sophomore QB Nick Graziano against UNLV as he completed 20-of-38 passes for 330 yards and 3 scores... the 'Pack have won 2 straight after opening with 2 straight losses... RB Luke Lippincott is 4th in the WAC in rushing (80 yards/game).
Player Watch: WR Kyle Sammons is 2nd on the team with 10 receptions, none bigger than the 43-yard score he hauled in with less than 30 seconds to play to beat UNLV on Saturday.
By the Numbers: Nevada ranks last in the WAC in total defense, giving up 430.2 yards per game. Of particular concern is the 5.4 yards per carry opponents are getting on the ground against the Pack's defensive front.
(5) New Mexico State (0-0, 3-2) at Boise State on Sunday night (ESPN)... Paul Young made a 37-yard field goal in the closing seconds last weekend to beat 1-AA Arkansas-Pine Bluff... NMSU expects to have receivers Derek Dubois, AJ Harris, Nick Cleaver, and running back Jeremiah Johnson back for the BSU game... all four missed the Pine Bluff game for various reasons... Brandon Allen now has caught a pass in 36 straight games, tied for the longest streak in the nation.
Player Watch: Will he or won't he? Mum seems to be the word on the status of QB Chase Holbrook, who was injured last weekend. Players have indicated in the media that they think he's fine while head coach Hal Mumme is being quite coy on the topic.
By the Numbers: Turnover margin is aweful. Just 6 takeaways with 16 giveaways (-10). No chance to compete in the WAC unless that improves. A lot.
(6) Louisiana Tech (0-2, 1-3) at Mississippi... solid 1st half against Fresno State (led 6-0 at the break), not-so-good 2nd half (lost 17-6)... WR Phillip Beck had 8 receptions for 68 yards... Tech's passing offense has generated just 548 yards through 4 games... their longest pass completion on the year remains just 20 yards.
Player Watch: Beck, who leads Tech with 16 receptions, had the team's single-game high in receiving yards (68) in the loss to Fresno.
By the Numbers: One thing Tech doesn't do is give the ball away. Just 5 giveaways thusfar (3 fumbles, 2 INTs), which leads the conference.
(7) San Jose State (1-0, 2-3) hosts Idaho... QB Adam Tafralis had his best game of the season last weekend, completing 25-34 passes for 330 yards and 4 scores... WR David Richmond continues to pick up steam for SJSU, grabbing 5 more balls for 69 yards... K Jared Strubeck missed both of his field goal attempts last weekend, a 21-yard try and a 32-yard try... he's just 2-7 on field goals for the season.
Player Watch: LBs Matt Castelo and Demetrius Jones combined for 27 tackles last weekend, including 3.5 for loss. The duo, by a fairly wide margin, are SJSU's top two tacklers with over 100 combined already on the season.
By the Numbers: The Spartans had 15 rushing yards... fifteen... against 1-AA UC Davis last weekend on 26 attempts, a paltry 0.6 yards/carry average. They didn't lose much off the rushing total in sack yardage either, as Davis only mustered 2 sacks for 14 yards.
(8) Idaho (0-1, 1-4) at San Jose State... the Vandals picked off golden boy Colt Brennan 5 times last weekend, but unfortunately Nathan Enderle threw 5 interceptions of his own... Enderle is on the shelf for at least a couple of weeks after having surgery on his hand... TE/H-Back Eddie Williams is developing into an offensive weapon for the Vandals, he scored twice against the Warriors (1 reception, 1 end-around) and leads the team with 19 receptions.
Player Watch: Senior QB Brian Nooy (rhymes with "boy") gets his window of opportunity with Enderle out for the Vandals. He's just 4-8 for 27 yards so far this season, but maybe an entire week of work with the 1st-team offense will help him, and Idaho, against San Jose.
By the Numbers: Sticking with our turnover theme, call this a good-news/bad-news stat-- Idaho leads the WAC in takeaways (18) and giveaways (17), good for a +1 turnover differential.
(9) Utah State (0-1, 0-5) at nationally-ranked Hawai'i... came up empty on 2 red-zone chances in surprisingly competitive 34-18 loss to Utah... got a solid-- and smart-- game out of QB Leon Jackson, completing 17 of 24 passes without a turnover... Aggies keep finding ways to stay in games, but can't find a way to win.
Player Watch: WR/KR Kevin Robinson continues to lead the WAC in all-purpose yards (201/game) and he's tied with teammate Aaron Lesue for 3rd in the conference at 27.6 yards per kick return.
By the Numbers: Maybe the number of the season for Utah State: the Aggies are averaging just 3 yards per carry on offense, but giving up 5.1 per attempt on defense. That forces lots of 2nd and 3rd-and-longs and Utah State is only coverting 24 percent of their 3rd-down chances. Only one team-- Oklahoma-- has really blown them out.