Barely 70 days after making his college debut, Air Force sophomore Jacobi Owens is on the verge of 1,000 rushing yards.
This sudden emergence, nearly unprecedented in Falcons history, isn’t even something Owens’ running backs coach saw coming.
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“Not going into it, I didn’t,” coach Ben Miller said. “I knew he had a chance. What he’s done is just work every day to get to that point and has just consistently been the best guy in practice. Because really he had nothing but scout team from last year and then practice in spring ball and August to go from, and he was consistently day in and day out the best one. And he’s continued to do that throughout the season, too.”
Owens has rushed for 988 yards in his debut season. In team history only Dee Dowis and Pat Evans have rushed for 1,000 yards as sophomores. Dowis was a quarterback and Evans was a fullback, so Owens would be the first sophomore tailback to break that barrier.
It’s hard to gauge where Owens’ emergence ranks on the list of factors in Air Force’s turnaround season – the play of the defense and of quarterback Kale Pearson certainly come to mind first – but it’s impossible to ignore the team’s 5-0 record in games in which Owens has run for 100 yards.
Air Force’s rushing attack ranks eighth in the nation at 282.4 yards per game, and Owens ranks 18th individually with his 988 yards.
Owens knew the running game was critical on Saturday, as Air Force (7-2, 3-2 Mountain West) ran for 386 yards in crushing UNLV 48-21.
“It was super important,” Owens said after running for 135 yards and a touchdown in his hometown. “Running the ball is our offense, essentially. We can’t pass if we can’t run the ball. Establishing the run game was actually the most important thing of the day.”
Air Force is still alive in the hunt for the Mountain West title, though it will need some help. The Falcons can control only the three games they play, starting with a home game against Nevada on Saturday.
But along the way, the team figures to enjoy watching this sophomore crack an important statistical barrier with 12 more yards.
“It’s fun,” Miller said. “We haven’t concentrated on numbers or anything like that, but that’s a fun milestone. Hopefully he can get it.”
Next game: vs. Nevada, noon MT Saturday, Root Sports
Notable: WR Garrett Brown returned to practice Monday after not traveling to UNLV because of a hamstring injury. LB Jordan Pierce, SS Weston Steelhammer and RB Jacobi Owens missed practice Monday, but all are expected to play against Nevada. Air Force is 4-0 at home this season. The Falcons have scored 90 points in their two meetings with Nevada, but are 1-1 in those games. Air Force’s average time of possession of 32:36 is the best in the Mountain West. PK Will Conant has connected on 14 straight field goal attempts, an Air Force record for one season.
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette
Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates tried schematic fixes first.
That just caused confusion.
Then he tried personnel changes.
The Broncos removed seniors Corey Bell and Blake Renaud — two of their most productive players and, in Bell’s case, the defensive captain — in the second half of Saturday’s wild game at New Mexico and replaced them with two first-year players.
Sophomore safety Chanceller James and redshirt freshman linebacker Joe Martarano helped spark the Broncos to a 60-49 victory.
“If you think the scheme is right, then you have to do some personnel changes,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “That’s not a knock on anybody else. That’s part of the game. Those guys (who were replaced) were fantastic. They weren’t in, but they were supportive. We were able to make enough plays from those changes to slow it down.”
The Broncos allowed 42 points and 417 rushing yards in the first half. They allowed seven points and 88 rushing yards in the second half.
Martarano finished second on the team with eight tackles. James added three tackles, including a fourth-down stop that allowed the Broncos to turn a four-point lead into 11 in the closing minutes.
Bell, third on the team in tackles going into the game, did not have a tackle. Renaud, who was sixth, made one.
“That’s the one thing about option football — you have to be disciplined and fit your gaps,” Yates said. “Everybody has a gap, everybody has to do their job and when certain guys aren’t doing their job or not fitting it right or not in the right place or guessing, you can get creased a little bit.”
At halftime, coaches drew up the necessary corrections on a dry-erase board. They emphasized some movement of the defensive linemen at the snap, to slow down the interior run plays.
But they didn’t ask the players to do anything different than they had practiced during the week, coaches said.
“That’s what people would think, that it was an adjustment, but honestly there were no adjustments,” Yates said. “That’s probably the frustrating thing, to give up 42 points in the first half and then come back and give up seven in the second half and not make any adjustments at all. I mean, I didn’t change the scheme and I didn’t change what I was calling. We just had guys fitting their gaps and doing their job.”
Next game: vs. San Diego State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: Boise State’s next game, at Wyoming, also will kick at 8:15 p.m. — the Broncos’ fifth start after 8 p.m. this season. The Broncos have earned a minimum TV bonus of $1.6 million, though. Boise State senior kicker Dan Goodale was named the MW special teams player of the week. It was the first such honor for the Broncos since the week before Kyle Brotzman’s infamous missed field goals in 2010 at Nevada. Boise State has won 11 straight home games, all by double digits, since losing to San Diego State in 2012 on the Blue. Boise State had four penalties for 24 yards last week. New Mexico had five for 50. It was the first time since the season opener against Ole Miss that Boise State was the least-penalized team in a game. “What we’ve been doing for penalties in practice hopefully will pay off,” Harsin said.
— Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
COLORADO STATE Jim McElwain fully expected Colorado State’s football program to get into the top 25 and contend for conference titles when he took over as coach nearly three years ago.
So he’s not surprised that his Rams (9-1, 5-1 Mountain West) moved into the national rankings at No. 23 in the Associated Press media poll and No. 25 in the Amway Coaches’ Poll. The surprise, he said Monday, is how quickly the turnaround has occurred.
The continuity in the coaching staff, with only one change in assistants in three years, and commitment of the players, has sped up the process, McElwain said at his weekly news conference.
The Rams aren’t just in the top 25 for the first time since the start of the 2003 season, they’re off to their best start since 1994. And, with just three weeks left in the regular season, they’re one of only a handful of teams not in one of the five power conferences with a chance to play their way into the Cotton, Fiesta or Peach Bowl as the top-ranked champion from one of the other five conferences -- American Athletic, Mid-American, MW, Sun Belt and Conference USA.
“Getting people to kind of notice Colorado State University on a national level is something that our administration brought us in here to put us on that national scope,” McElwain said. “We’re probably there a little early in the maturation of the organization, and we’ve got a long ways to go. And yet it’s very satisfying to see what these guys have put in to get there.”
Conference USA leader Marshall (9-0, 5-0), ranked No. 21 in both the AP and coaches’ polls, is the only team outside of a Power Five conference ranked ahead of the Rams this week. Neither CSU nor Marshall was ranked in the top 25 last week by the College Football Playoff committee, which will determine which champion from a conference outside of the Power Five gets that bowl bid. The CFP committee will put out new rankings Tuesday evening.
That big-time bowl game is only a possibility for the Rams, though, if they win the MW title. And the only way they can even get into the championship game to play for that title is by winning their final two games, Nov. 22 vs. Mexico (3-6, 1-4) and Nov. 28 at Air Force (7-2, 3-2), and having Boise State (7-2, 4-1) drop one of its final three -- at home Saturday vs. San Diego State (5-4, 3-2), Nov. 22 at Wyoming (4-6, 2-4) and at home Nov. 29 against Utah State (7-3, 4-1).
The Rams, in other words, could finish 11-1 and not win the conference title.
McElwain is fully aware of the possibility and says if that’s the case, the Rams will have no one but themselves to blame. Their 37-24 loss Sept. 6 at Boise State gives the Broncos the Mountain Division title should both teams finish 7-1 in league play
“There’s nothing we can do about it,” McElwain said. “We didn’t win that game, so you can’t cry over spilt milk. You just control what you can control, and that’s going out and finishing these last two ballgames with the same effort and same passion that we’ve been playing with, and then we get to see what happens.”
Next game: vs. New Mexico, Nov. 22
Notable: WR Rashard Higgins still leads all FBS players with his 1,280 receiving yards and 13 touchdown catches despite missing last Saturday’s win over Hawaii with a shoulder injury. Higgins is expected back by the New Mexico game. CSU has won 15 of its past 18 games since, a record surpassed only by Florida State (18-0), Michigan State (16-2) and Marshall (16-2). QB Garrett Grayson set CSU’s single-season record for touchdown passes with 26 after throwing four in the win over Hawaii. Grayson also holds single-season school records for completions (297 in 2013), passing yards (3,696 in 2013) and career records for completions (622), passing yards (8,208) and touchdown passes (58). — Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
New Mexico will sorely miss sophomore linebacker Dakota Cox's 12.9 tackles per game.
Even more, perhaps, the Lobos will miss Cox's leadership and football IQ.
Cox, who ranked No. 2 nationally in total tackles per game, was lost for the rest of the season with a knee injury — believed to be a torn ACL — late in last week’s 60-49 loss to Boise State in Albuquerque.
"Typical Dakota Cox," coach Bob Davie said. "He was throwing his body around late in that football game on (Boise State's) very last series of the game. He got injured over on the sidelines, really on an effort play.
"It's going to be surgery. It's going to be a long rehab."
There's no replacing Cox, who had almost twice as many tackles as the No. 2 UNM player, strong safety David Guthrie, on the stat sheet. But, Davie said, the defense will adjust as best it can.
Junior Mike Arredondo has been listed all season as Cox's backup, but has logged precious little playing time other than on special teams. Instead of moving Arredondo into Cox's "mike" linebacker spot, UNM will move redshirt freshman Kimmie Carson from the "will" to the mike. Junior Ryan Langford, who has been splitting time with Carson, will start at the will.
It is, Davie said, far from an ideal solution. Both Carson and Langford, a junior college transfer, are in their first year of FBS competition.
"That's a major problem," Davie said, "because we've not gotten the (desired) execution out of either one of those guys at the will, to be honest. We've gotten some great effort, but now we have two young guys, and both those young guys are in the game."
Next game: at Utah State, 2 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNews
Notable: Having looked at all available angles, frame by frame, Davie said at his Tuesday news conference that he saw no indisputable evidence that UNM quarterback Lamar Jordan failed to reach the first-down marker on a crucial fourth-and-2 play in the fourth quarter against Boise State. The play, ruled a first down on the field, was reversed by the replay official.Davie said he wasn’t suggesting that the reversal cost UNM a victory. “Boise beat us, Boise deserved to beat us,” he said. “... (But) the only people that say that it was indisputable, and there was concrete evidence that that call should be overturned, was the Mountain West Conference. To me, that’s a bit of a slap in the face.” ... Junior running back Jhurell Pressley is expected to miss Saturday's game at Utah State with a sprained ankle suffered late in the first half of the Boise State game. New Mexico also will be missing quarterback Cole Gautsche (foot), nose guard Cole Juarez (knee), cornerback Isaiah Brown (hamstring), all starters, as well as nickel back Devonta Tabannah and defensive end Randy Williams, both key backups, due to concussion symptoms. The Lobos also are without senior running back Crusoe Gongbay, who was the team's leading rusher before being lost for the season with a foot injury on Oct. 4 at UTSA. Davie noted that Utah State is playing its No. 4 quarterback, true freshman Kent Myers. "There's certainly no whining (about injuries)," Davie said. "... We're dealing with it."
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
Utah State’s once extremely deep linebacking corps is now so thin, the injuries are even affecting the run game.
Utah State coach Matt Wells said Monday that Nick Vigil, a linebacker who ranks fifth on the team with 33 carries for 118 yards, will see only limited carries in the future.
“We can’t run him 23 times like I’d like,” Wells said.
At this point, Vigil is needed more on defense than offense with fellow linebacker LT Filiaga joining the list of players out for the season with injuries.
Filiaga, who ranks third on the team with 61 tackles, injured his Achilles tendon in the Aggies’ 20-3 win over Wyoming.
Vigil, who only played the first half against Wyoming for precautionary reasons due to a hamstring injury, is listed as day-to-day this week as is outside linebacker Torrey Green, who injured his ankle against Wyoming.
The Aggies (7-3, 4-1) host New Mexico (3-6, 1-4) on Saturday.
“We just have to rise up and figure out another way to win,” Wells said.
The Aggies have lost nine starters to season-ending injuries. That list includes three other linebackers in Tavaris McMillian (shoulder), Kyler Fackrell (knee) and Alex Huerta (shoulder). Junior La’Bradford Harold is listed as Filiaga’s backup but juniors Anthony Green and Jarom Baldomero have also received more playing time. Baldomero had a career-high six tackles against Wyoming. “He is smart and is in the right place at the right time,” Wells said of Baldomero. “Torrey, Nick, Zach (Vigil) they are all going to have to man up inside.”
Next game: vs. New Mexico, 2 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNews
Notable: Even though they are just 3-6, the Lobos have done well on the road this season, with all three wins coming away from home. The Lobos lost to Air Force just 35-31 in their only other road game. Such results caught the attention of Wells, who said he believes the Lobos “band together,” on the road. “Sometimes there’s a good mindset on the road,” Wells said. “Some teams have it and some teams don’t. This team seems to have it.” Injuries are helping the Aggies create some interesting statistics as Utah State is the only team in the nation with five players who have at least two touchdown passes. Sophomore Darell Garretson has eight, senior Craig Harrison has three, freshman Kent Myers has three and Chuckie Keeton has two. Receiver Ronald Butler has two as well. USU’s offense has turned the ball over six times in the last seven games, but so far teams aren’t capitalizing on the turnovers as the Aggies’ defense has denied opponents any points off those mistakes.
— Lya Wodraska, The Salt Lake Tribune
Red-zone offense is an area the Cowboys (4-6 overall, 2-4 Mountain West) need to work on during their bye week.
Wyoming got only one field goal in two red-zone trips in its 20-3 home loss to Utah State last Friday. Penalties, dropped passes and two fourth-quarter interceptions deep in Utah State territory stalled or halted scoring drives. Wyoming outgained Utah State in terms of total yardage 363-356, had six more first downs, ran 25 more plays and had nearly a 10-minute advantage in time of possession.
The Cowboys have scored touchdowns 14 of 28 times inside the red zone this season.
"We have to make those plays, and that's been a consistent issue with us this season," offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. "Fifty percent touchdown-wise is not a number that's good enough to be successful."
Wyoming's defense continues to be a patch-work group due to injuries at numerous areas, but after allowing 178 first-quarter yards to Utah State, along with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown where it fell behind 17-0, it allowed only 178 yards the rest of the game and held its fifth opponent to 20 points or less this season.
"We're encouraged from the standpoint everybody is learning how to fight, learning how to scrap and learning how to compete for four quarters," defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said.
The Cowboys are off this week, and must win their final two games to become bowl eligible.
Next game: vs. Boise State, Nov. 22
Notable: Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, an All-MW pick last season and preseason all-conference selection in the summer, has 25 tackles, four sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss in his last four games. ... True freshman Brian Hill had 122 yards against Utah State, and is the first freshman running back to have three 100-yard games in a season since Wynel Seldon in 2005. What sets Hill apart is he's had three consecutive 100-yard games. ... Coach Craig Bohl did not attend Monday's weekly news conference so he could be with his mother in Lincoln, Neb. She underwent a medical procedure. ... Wyoming will play its third straight game on ESPN2 next week against Boise State, and it will have earned $1.3 million in appearance bonuses this season for playing on ESPN2.
— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Fresno State went about things differently against San Jose State, leading with the run rather than relying too much on a passing game that had struggled much of the season.
With quarterback Brian Burrell back in the starting lineup the Bulldogs came out and rushed the football on their first eight plays over two series and ended up gaining 232 rushing yards on 53 plays, which is a season high against FBS opponents. That led to the highest percentage of run plays in a game this season.
Junior Marteze Waller had an average of 15.8 carries in the first nine games, but had 15 in the first quarter when rushing for 106 yards. He is the first Bulldogs back to gain 100 or more yards in the first quarter since Robbie Rouse had 144 against Colorado in 2012, and finished with 145 yards on 22 plays.
And the Bulldogs didn’t slow down much after Waller went down late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Senior Juice Quezada, who had been struggling, gaining only 25 yards on 16 plays over the past four games, churned out another 112 yards on 24 plays.
Waller and Quezada are the first Bulldogs to rush for 100-plus yards in the same game since Anthony Harding (120 yards) and Lonyae Miller (113) against Colorado State on Dec. 20, 2008.
Did it make a difference?
It appeared to for Burrell, who had hit only 53.8 percent of his passes in a loss to Wyoming, 52.0 percent in a loss at Boise State, 56.8 percent in a loss at UNLV and 50 percent in a victory over San Diego State coming in. He hit 20 of 26 passes (76.9 percent) for 207 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.
“We wanted to take some pressure off the quarterback position and if you can run it well, now it opens up your passing game. We just thought we had a good matchup there,’’ coach Tim DeRuyter said.
The offensive line definitely appreciated the opportunity to run the football.
“We came into this game knowing that we were going to have to run the ball,’’ right guard Cody Wichmann said. “These guys came in with the No. 1 passing defense in the country and as an offensive line we knew that it was game time for us. We really had to shine, and we did.’’
And the Bulldogs might want to try it again needing to win their final two games at Nevada and against Hawaii to remain a player in the West Division race.
In all four of their victories this season, they have run the football more times than they have passed it.
Next game: at Nevada, Nov. 22
Notable: The Bulldogs had a blocked punt return for a touchdown in a 21-0 run in the second quarter – wideout Da’Mari Scott had the block and running back T.J. Thomas plucked it out of the air and went nine yards into the end zone. That is their first blocked punt return for a score since Desia Dunn had one in 2010 in a game against Cal Poly. Senior Josh Harper caught seven passes against the Spartans, giving him 200 for his career. He is only the fourth player in school history with 200 or more career receptions, joining Davante Adams (2012-13) with 233, Rodney Wright (1998-2001) with 222 and Isaiah Burse (2010-13) with 209. Despite the inconsistency at the quarterback position this season, the Bulldogs are not altering recruiting plans to bring in a JC or FBS transfer to add some experience or depth to the position group. They like what they have in Burrell, redshirt freshman Zack Greenlee and freshman Kilton Anderson. They just need to grow up, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. “The position takes time and there’s no simulator that you can get in,’’ he said. “It takes time. You have to feel the heat. You have to get in the game. You have to do all of those things. I think we’ll get better. I think we are getting better and we’re going to stay the course with these guys because they know the program, they know the system, they work extremely hard, they’re good kids.’’ Inside (Will) linebacker Kyrie Wilson was selected as the defensive player of the week in the Mountain West after making six solo tackles including two for loss and intercepting a pass against the Spartans. Wilson, a 240-pound junior, is the first Fresno State player to be honored as player of the week this season.
— Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
Barring injury or other unexpected circumstances, it appears the Rainbow Warriors will go the rest of the season with third-year sophomore Ikaika Woolsey as their lone quarterback.
Despite completing 34 percent of his passes, Woolsey was the quarterback whistle to whistle in a 49-22 loss to Colorado State this past Saturday. No. 2 quarterback Beau Reilly, a 22-year-old freshman, has not played this season, preserving his redshirt option. Head coach Norm Chow said Reilly will be used if needed. Eric Prater, also a 22-year-old freshman, remained in Honolulu to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's first child. Woolsey and Reilly were the only two quarterbacks on the 64-player travel roster to Fort Collins.
Against CSU, running back Joey Iosefa rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown in his first game since missing four games because of a fractured ankle and three games because of a suspension. His most impressive play was his 19-yard completion as a wildcat quarterback.
Next game: at San Jose State, 2:30 p.m. MT Saturday, Mountain West Network (online)
Notable: The Warriors have lost 17 road games in a row, the nation's longest current such streak. They returned to Honolulu on Sunday afternoon and will depart this Thursday afternoon for San Jose. The Warriors will travel 36,050 miles for six road games this season. The Warriors will miss nine school days because of the travel. Inside linebacker Julian Gener might be available to play against San Jose State this week. He has missed five games because of a fractured fibula. Last season, he missed nine games because of an elbow injury that required "Tommy John surgery." He has missed 14 of 22 games during his two-season UH career.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Recruiting is and always will be important, but perhaps there is a little less importance on the Nevada football team’s 2015 class than others in recent history.
Coach Brian Polian’s last two classes have all the makings of being really good ones, and the youthfulness of this Wolf Pack team — it’s the ninth-youngest team in the FBS — has kind of solidified some positions moving forward.
Polian, whose team is coming off of a bye, said he plans to add 20 new recruits when the team announces its 2015 class on Feb. 4. A few of them could be mid-season transfers, which the school could announce in late December.
They’ll join four players who grayshirted last season for a class of 24, plus or minus one.
Polian, who said when he took over in January 2013 that there was an imbalance in offensive and defensive players, has added more players to the defensive side in his first two classes, and said last week that the numbers are “getting close to back to where they need to be.”
Of the 20 newcomers, he said, nine would be offensive players, 10 would be defensive players and one would be a specialist.
The RGJ has identified just eight verbal commitments so far, much fewer than most schools have at this stage of the game, according to top recruiting trackers such as Scout.com, ESPN.com and Rivals.com.
Polian said his biggest needs in this class are at linebacker, offensive line and tight end.
The Wolf Pack practiced just two days last week. Polian said there were many players battling minor injuries, and they needed the week to heal. Polian spent part of the week recruiting and even tweeted a photo of the U.S.-Canadian border, saying, “Oh the places we will go! Turning over rocks looking for the next group to join the family. #WolfPackFamily.”
Next game: at Air Force, noon MT Saturday, Root Sports
Notable: Both Nevada and Air Force bring three-game winning streaks into Saturday’s game. The only player on the two-deep chart with injury concerns ahead of the Air Force game is OL Connor Talbott, who suffered a head injury against San Diego State on Nov. 1 and was listed as questionable last week (OL Jeremy Macauley, TE Patrick Clifford and LB/ST Gabe Lee are out for the season). Polian said he expects a great battle at quarterback next season between Tyler Stewart (a junior in 2015), sophomore Dante Mayes and redshirt freshman Hunter Fralick. “The day the season ends, Hunter Fralick and Dante Mayes and Stewart are all going to compete for the starting job,” Polian said. “ It will be fun to watch. And it will go through the fall. May the best man win.”
— Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State’s coaching staff and players had to be thinking the same thing after Saturday night’s nonconference victory over Idaho: It’s about time.
For weeks the Aztecs have struggled with their passing attack, due in large part to injuries to quarterback Quinn Kaehler and a couple of his key receivers. Kaehler might not be fully healthy for the entire season, but he showed more strength and his receivers did their jobs to get open as SDSU passed for 249 yards and got three receiving touchdowns against the Vandals.
Kaehler’s career-best efficiency rating of 203.71 was the best for a quarterback at SDSU since 2012, and his three TD passes tied a career high.
The rejuvenating effort could not have come at a better time, with SDSU facing a possible shootout on Saturday at Boise State.
“I thought he threw the ball well. I thought he threw it a lot more like he did last year,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long said. “We had some guys wide open on play-action passes. Now the bootlegs didn’t work worth a darn, but the play-action opened up some receivers behind the linebackers.”
Two Aztecs receivers who had been limited by injuries had big performances. Ezell Ruffin, the senior leader who missed five games in the middle of the season with a broken collarbone, caught his first two touchdowns of the season. And sophomore receiver Eric Judge, whose team-best speed had been limited by a bruised knee, made a catch and run for a 58-yard score. Judge had four catches for a career-high 107 yards.
“We felt good in practice the last couple of weeks, and it just hadn’t come together in games,” Kaehler said. “It did this game and it felt good.
“I felt like the receivers did a good job of understanding where they had to be in certain coverages, and the offensive line gave me enough time to deliver the ball.”
Since suffering a sprained shoulder in Week 3, Kaehler’s throwing had been weaker and less accurate. In the three games leading up to Idaho, Kaehler hadn’t thrown for more than 189 yards, and for the season he had only four touchdowns to go with eight interceptions.
Next game: at Boise State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: Aztecs LB Jake Fely played his second game since suffering a neck injury in spring practice, but sat out the second half against Idaho with a stringer. Long said he didn’t think there were any injuries that would keep starters from participating against Boise State. RB D.J. Pumphrey ran for 142 yards against Idaho, marking his sixth 100-yard game of the season. SDSU owned a plus-13 margin in average field position and is 11-0 in the Division I era when having at least a plus-11 edge.
— Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN JOSE STATE
San Jose State coach Ron Caragher called the second quarter of his team's loss to Fresno State "an all-out abomination."
That's when the Spartans (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) allowed three touchdowns in a span of 2 minutes and 2 seconds in an eventual 38-24 defeat that leaves their season hovering on the brink of becoming a failure.
While little has gone right for SJSU this year, the Spartans entered that game with Fresno with a chance to push into a tie for first place in the West Division. Instead, they were embarrassed with a poor showing that leaves them needing to win their final three games to become bowl eligible. Considering that stretch includes road games at Utah State and San Diego State, the prospects are not high.
Caragher said the performance against the Bulldogs was "not our standard" and noted some structural issues the program needs to address.
"That's not acceptable and I understand that," Caragher said. "I'm the leader of the program. I'm in charge and I take full responsibility."
One change that could occur immediately is adjusting the practice schedule during weeks the team plays a road night game. Caragher compared Saturday's performance to last year's futile performance against Nevada in a 38-16 road loss. In both cases, those were 7:30 p.m. Saturday games played after the team commuted by bus.
The Spartans practice at 9 a.m. on Tuesday through Thursday and so for road games, their last practice is that Thursday morning session. There's typically a light walk-through on Friday. But the gap from a 9 a.m. practice on Thursday until a Saturday night game seems to be a problem.
Players' class schedules are the primary reason for the morning practices — it's easier for them to knock out practice in the morning and then have from noon on to be able to schedule classes — but Caragher said they may need to look into some late evening practices after classes are over to get the team under the lights and more prepared for night games. He has a chance to test that theory next week if he chooses because the Spartans play at Utah State in a Friday night game on Nov. 21.
Next game: vs. Hawaii, 2:30 p.m. MT Saturday, MW Network (online)
Notable: Twenty seniors will participate in the final game at Spartan Stadium, including several who were key parts of resurrecting the program when they signed on as part of former coach Mike MacIntyre's first recruiting class in 2010. ... DE Eugene Taylor is out this week after injuring his right knee against Fresno State. He's due to receive an MRI on Tuesday. He started in place of Cedric Lousi, who suffered an MCL sprain against Colorado State but may be ready to return this week.
— Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury News
UNLV quarterback Blake Decker probably won't practice until at least Wednesday, and it is then coaches should have a better gauge on whether he can play Saturday at Brigham Young.Decker left Saturday's 48-21 loss to Air Force late in the third quarter after absorbing five sacks.
"He's banged up," coach Bobby Hauck said Monday. "That's an understatement. If we had to play today, he wouldn't be able to go.
"We'll get him out there this week in nonpadded days, and hopefully he'll be well enough to go."
Decker has completed 58.6 percent of his passes this season for 2,433 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions.
He has a direct connection to BYU, having walked on there in 2012. Then Decker transferred to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College in 2013 and signed with UNLV in December of that year.
His backup is Jared Lebowitz, a redshirt freshman who played in his first game last weekend. He completed 3 of 12 passes for 18 yards against the Falcons.
"He did some good things on Saturday in terms of decision-making," Hauck said. "He's got to hit the throws when he's asked to, but for getting thrown in there in his first real action, he was calm, he made good decisions. Now he's got to settle in and make the throws he's been making in practice."
Next game: at BYU, 5 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: Wide receiver Devonte Boyd is making a push for Freshman All-America consideration. He is second nationally among freshmen with 751 yards receiving, just 10 behind Penn State's Desean Hamilton. Boyd, who has 51 receptions, also is five catches and 161 yards from breaking the UNLV freshman records of 55 catches for 911 yards set by Ryan Wolfe in 2006. ... Wide receiver Devante Davis returned to the lineup for the first time since the Sept. 20 game at Houston. Davis caught six passes for 114 yards and a touchdown against Air Force. He is third in school history with 2,568 career yards and fifth with 175 receptions. ... UNLV faces BYU for the first time since the Cougars left the Mountain West following the 2010 season to become an independent in football. BYU won the last meeting 55-7 in that season in Provo, Utah.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal