Kale Pearson subscribes to the same theory many athletes take when it comes to statistics: Win and they’ll take care of themselves.
Well, as the Air Force quarterback keeps leading his team to wins, the stats are beginning to make themselves known.
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The Falcons (8-2, 4-2 Mountain West) rank seventh in the nation in rushing yards (288.4 per game) and fourth nationally in passing efficiency (a rating of 168.5).
If the Falcons were to draw a blueprint of their hoped-for offensive output, this is exactly what it would look like.
“Those are always the two things we’re looking at,” offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen said. “How good can we be in the nation in rushing, and how efficient can we be when we do throw? We’re never going to be a team that throws it for 200 yards a game, but when we do throw it can we be effective? When we are, that’s tough.”
Pearson personifies what Air Force wants to be on offense. On Saturday he ran for a team-high 109 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown to put Air Force in the lead in the fourth quarter against Nevada. He also threw for three touchdowns despite attempting just 15 passes.
During Air Force’s four-game winning streak Pearson is 29 of 42 for 544 yards and seven touchdowns as a passer while running for 283 yards and three scores.
His quarterback rating of 169.7 would be the highest single-season mark in Air Force history.
“For me, passing efficiency is big because I’m not going to have the passing attempts of other quarterbacks,” Pearson said. “When you run the ball well those passing windows can get really big.”
Oh yes, the running game. Air Force has averaged 318 rushing yards during its streak, helped largely by the emergence of fullbacks Shayne Davern and D.J. Johnson. The sophomores have combined for 427 yards over the past four games, a major improvement after the fullback position had contributed just 38 yards per game over the first six games.
“It makes it too easy,” tailback Devin Rushing said. “If we’re playing like that then the defense just has to get a couple stops and we’ll win the game.”
The stats are reflective of Air Force operating at full strength on offense. As a result, the wins have taken care of themselves.
Next game: at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday, CBS Sports Network
Notable: The status of sophomore Jacobi Owens remains in doubt after a foot injury. Owens leads Air Force with 1,054 rushing yards. Air Force’s defense ranks No. 2 in the Mountain West against the run despite playing against three teams ranked in the nation’s top five in rushing offense – Navy (1), New Mexico (4) and Army (5). Pearson was named the Mountain West offensive player of the week after throwing and rushing for more than 100 yards in a 45-38 overtime victory over Nevada. Four scenarios remain that would put Air Force into the Mountain West championship game, all involve the Falcons winning their final two games and getting help in other games.
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette
In Boise State’s first eight games, the Broncos outscored their opponents 166-94 in the first half — by an average of nine points per game.
They led at halftime in their six wins and trailed in their two losses (17-0 at Air Force, 7-3 vs. Ole Miss).
In the Broncos’ past two games, they have been outscored 62-45 in the first half and trailed at halftime in both.
Back to the first eight games — in that stretch, the Broncos were outscored 126-113 in the second half.
And in the last two games, they have outscored their opponents 53-16 in the second half to post a pair of comeback wins. The Broncos overcame a 14-point deficit at New Mexico (largest comeback since 2006) and 20-point deficit at home against San Diego State (largest comeback in at least the past 30 seasons).
“It’s the tale of two halves in a season,” defensive coordinator Marcel Yates said. “Earlier we started fast and we didn’t finish strong. And now we’re not starting so fast and now we’re ending the game strong. I don’t know what it is. And it’s not my halftime speeches.”
Last week, though, Yates did have a halftime message for the defense after San Diego State took a 20-10 lead. The Broncos rallied to win 38-29.
“I just felt like the last two games, we weren’t very physical to start the game,” he said. “This week, I’m going to make sure I stress being physical. The last two weeks, we have not had that, starting up front.”
Coach Bryan Harsin said it’s not unusual for a team to stumble early in a game as it adjusts to what the opponent is doing. And he’s proud of the way his coaches and players have fixed issues at halftime.
“That’s where good coaches make a huge difference,” Harsin said. “They know exactly what to adjust. Don’t scrap everything. Tweak this and this or take this out, but it’s not a wholesale change.”
But he certainly would like to see a new trend start Saturday at Wyoming.
“Why have we started that way? I’m trying to work on that to figure that out so that doesn’t happen,” Harsin said. “I like the finish, but we want to start fast and put it all together.”
Next game: at Wyoming, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPN2
Notable: Boise State has earned a MW-high $2.1 million in TV bonuses plus $100,000 in inconvenience fees this season. They paid for their TV exposure last week, though, with the smallest home crowd in 11 years because it was 9 degrees at the 8:26 p.m. kickoff. Redshirt freshman defensive end Mat Boesen likely will miss at least one more game for disciplinary reasons, coach Bryan Harsin said Monday. Boesen has missed the past two games. He has three sacks as a backup. Boesen on Monday pleaded guilty to a charge of inattentive or careless driving stemming from a July arrest, according to court records. The Mountain West recognized the importance of Boise State’s fake punt against San Diego State by naming sophomore linebacker Chris Santini the special teams player of the week Monday. Santini gained 24 yards on fourth-and-4 in the third quarter, when the Broncos trailed 23-10.
— Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman
The Mountain West schedule-makers didn’t do CSU any favors by making it play a game at Boise State in the second game of the season.
But the computer that generates the 12-team league’s schedule after the various parameters are programmed in did give the Rams a big benefit at the end of the year with a bye week before playing the two teams in the conference that run triple-option offenses.
While there are a lot of differences in the option attacks of the New Mexico team the Rams face at home this Saturday and the Air Force squad they play on the road Nov. 28, the basic defensive principles are the same for both, coach Jim McElwain said Monday.
“It’s going to be a huge test to our guys to make sure they’re handling the cut blocks, making sure they don’t get their eyes lost on the deception,” McElwain said. “ It’s all sleight of hand, but you’ve got to trust your keys that I’m disciplined enough, this is where I’m supposed to be. Should it end up to me, keep my outside arm and leg free and be able to make the tackle or get it back in to people who can make the tackle.”
The Rams (9-1, 5-1 Mountain West) run drills every spring and in fall camp to help them prepare for option offenses, and they added some into last week’s practices as well, McElwain said.
New Mexico (3-7, 1-5) has the fifth-best rushing offense in the country, averaging 318.3 yards a game, and Air Force (8-2, 4-2) is No. 8 at 288.4 yards a game.
“You have to be disciplined in your assignment and knowing which part of the option you attack and do that 100 percent, because, like we saw, they can be very explosive if just one assignment is blown,” senior linebacker Max Morgan said. “So in that aspect, it’s good to get into that mindset and be able to stay in it for two weeks.”
New Mexico ran for 505 yards and six touchdowns in a 60-49 loss two weeks ago to Boise State and for 246 yards and two touchdowns last week in a 28-21 loss to Utah State and the top rushing defense in the MW. Utah State allows an average of just 109.7 rushing yards a game.
The Lobos ran for 278 yards and three touchdowns last year in a 66-42 loss to CSU, which is giving up an average of 170.8 rushing yards a game this season.
“We’ve got a lot that we need to work on this week to get ready to face a very explosive offense,” McElwain said.
Next game: vs. New Mexico, 11:30 a.m. MT Saturday, Root Sports
Notable: WR Rashard Higgins was named one of 10 semifinalists Monday for the Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s outstanding receiver. Higgins leads the nation in receiving yards per game (142.2) and touchdown catches (13) and is No. 2 in total receiving yards (1,280). He missed the Rams’ last game Nov. 8 against Hawaii with a shoulder injury but was able to practice in full pads last week and should be fine this week, McElwain said. CSU was notified last week that QB Garrett Grayson is a “legitimate contender” for the Heisman Trophy by the trust that administers the award. He’s one of 17 players listed as “aspirants” for this year’s award on the Heisman Trophy website. CSU moved up this week in the national rankings to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and No. 23 in the Amway Coaches Poll. The Rams hadn’t appeared in the top 25 since the start of the 2003 season until last week.
— Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
The New Mexico defense continues to give up big plays. Last week at Utah State, the Lobos gave up just one sustained scoring drive, but three running plays totaling 154 yards — two for touchdowns, one setting up a TD — proved UNM's undoing in a 28-21 defeat.
Coach Bob Davie and his defensive staff are ultimately responsible for what their players do or don't do, and Davie does not shirk that responsibility.
He doesn't hesitate, however, to name names when players make the errors that allow the big plays to happen.
In the first quarter, Utah State's LaJuan Hunt broke a 47-yard run to the New Mexico 2-yard line, setting up the first touchdown of the game.
Davie said redshirt freshman Kimmie Carson, playing his first game at mike linebacker in place of the injured Dakota Cox, "didn't get adjusted over enough. He came underneath the center instead of going outside. They pulled the center, and the kid breaks it."
In the second quarter, Utah State's Devonte Robinson scored on a jet sweep from 59 yards out. "We missed a tackle for a 4-yard gain," Davie said. "Just flat missed a tackle."In this case, Davie did not mention the player who missed the tackle. It was sophomore safety Ryan Santos.
The decisive blow came midway through the fourth quarter, when Utah State's JoJo Natson ran 48 yards for a TD on a sweep out of a wildcat formation.
"We had a check for wildcat, and everybody got the check," Davie said. "But (senior defensive end) Brett Bowers didn't jump inside the guard. He stayed outside, the kid (Natson) hit the gap, and he just took it right down the seam on us.
"So, more of the same on defense. We competed pretty good, but we had technique errors. ... It's really what we've been all season, honestly. We have technique glitches, and all of a sudden we pay the price dearly."
Next game: at Colorado State, 11:30 a.m. MT Saturday, Root Sports
Notable: By halftime at Utah State, New Mexico had more rushing yards (172) than the Aggies had given up in any previous game. The Lobos finished with 246 yards on the ground. ... The Utah State game was a mixed bag for redshirt freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan. He rushed for 104 yards, but lost 24 yards and put a couple of option pitches on the ground. He threw for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown, but threw an interception in the end zone and missed a few open receivers. "If we don't get the win, that's the important thing," he said. "(So) I feel like I didn't do a good job."
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
A once suspect offensive line has turned into an area of strength for the Utah State Aggies.
USU, which closes out its home schedule with Friday’s 7:30 p.m. game against San Jose State, is enjoying a much more consistent performance from its offensive line than it did earlier in the year.
Then, quarterback Chuckie Keeton had to rely on his agility often to survive early breakdowns in the line and the Aggies were getting very little push in the middle of the line.
More recently, the Aggies have given up six sacks in their last three games combined and are doing a much better job in the run game with the Aggies averaging 237.7 rushing yards in those games.
Previously, the Aggies had broken the 200-mark just once when they totaled 311 yards rushing in the 40-20 rout over Idaho State on Sept. 6.
“That was a statement to me,” USU coach Matt Wells said of the final drive against New Mexico. “It was probably the best game by our tight ends Jefferson Court and Wyatt Houston and they all came together on that final drive. Joe Hill made a couple of good cuts, but those holes and the first downs were created by the offensive line and tight ends.”
Part of the Aggies’ improvement along the offensive line can be attributed to the ability to remain injury-free. The Aggies have the typical aches and pains teams have at this point in the season, but the line has been able to avoid the major injuries that have ravaged the Aggies at the quarterback, receiving and linebacking positions.
Having the same lineups has let the line develop consistency, senior Kevin Whimpey said.
“When you have all five linemen on the same page, then you can get big 50-yard runs like we have in the past weeks,” he said.
Next game: vs. San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday, ESPN2
Notable: Linebacker Zach Vigil is one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given annually to the most outstanding player in the country who started his career as a walk-on. Vigil is the only player from the MW or the state of Utah to be among the semifinalists. The Clearfield native walked on as a freshman in 2010 and was awarded a scholarship prior to his sophomore season after appearing in four games as a freshman. He has developed into one of the Aggies’ best linebackers, ranking eighth all-time with 347 tackles and is just one of four players to record 100-plus tackles in three different seasons. He leads the team this year with 114 tackles and ranks first in tackles for loss (15) and second in sacks (6.5). Punter Jaron Bentrude, who was an honorable mention national punter of the week by the College Football Performance Awards, has 11 punts of 50 or more yards this season while 29 of his 70 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line, a stat that ranks him 14th nationally. USU assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mark Weber spent six years (1997-2002) coaching with SJSU coach Ron Caragher at UCLA. Thanks to the high number of injuries sustained this year, the Aggies have started 22 different players on offense.
— Lya Wodraska, The Salt Lake Tribune
The Cowboys (4-6 overall, 2-4 Mountain West) are coming off their second bye week of the season, which gave them extra time to work on something they've never done: beat Boise State.Wyoming is 0-8 all-time against the Broncos (8-2, 5-1), and the last four were decided by an average of 34.8 points.
"It would probably be the biggest win since I've been here," sixth-year senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens said.
But the Cowboys will have their hands full against a Broncos offense that leads the conference and is 15th nationally in scoring (37.7 points per game). Defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said Boise State's offense is "as multiple, diverse and well-coached as we've played in this conference this season."
First-year Wyoming coach Craig Bohl is impressed with a lot of things about Boise State, but especially with its mid-game adjustments on both sides of the ball that enabled the Broncos to rally from halftime deficits their last two games.
Wyoming moved and possessed the ball fairly well against Utah State, one of the better defensive teams in the league, but scored just three points in a 20-3 loss on Nov. 7. Red zone offense, with a 50 percent touchdown rate, and reducing penalties (18 over the last two games) must be improved if the team has any chance of winning either of its last two games.
Next game: vs. Boise State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPN2
Notable: Senior free safety Jesse Sampson (knee) recently underwent season-ending surgery. He is the third defensive starter who is a senior to be lost with a season-ending injury. ... Wyoming will get senior defensive end Riley Lange (concussion) back this week. Lange has not played since the Oct. 25 game at Colorado State. ... Senior defensive end Sonny Puletesi (leg) is a game-time decision and has not played since the Oct. 18 game with San Jose State. ... This will be the Cowboys' third consecutive game on ESPN2, and its second straight night game in Laramie. Against Utah State they drew a crowd of 14,430. ... The weather forecast for the game calls for temperatures to be in the upper teens to low 20s at kickoff with a 30 percent chance of snow and winds out of the west at 23 miles per hour.
— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Fresno State got thumped in its first three games, losing big at USC, at Utah and against Nebraska. It was on a three-game winning streak when it lost in overtime at 1-5 UNLV, thwarting all momentum it had generated. It came out of what was supposed to be a rejuvenating bye week in week nine and off a solid effort in a loss at Boise State only to get drilled by Wyoming at Bulldog Stadium, where the home team had been 15-1 and 11-0 in Mountain West games the past two-plus seasons.
All that, and with San Diego State and Nevada losing last week, the Bulldogs at 4-6 and 3-3 in the conference are back in control of their destiny in the West Division race.
It didn’t come easily, and some of the toughest moments came off the field on Saturday night when watching the Broncos come from 20 points down to take out the Aztecs.
Rooting for Boise State is a foreign concept in Fresno – the Broncos have won eight of nine in the series with Fresno State and a lot of those losses have not been close; there’s a 61-10 in there, a 51-0, a 57-7.
“Man, it was crazy,” said inside linebacker Karl Mickelsen, who watched the game with inside linebacker Kyrie Wilson. “We were yelling at the TV and it’s kind of weird we were really rooting for Boise and it’s like, ‘We hate Boise.’ ”
“It was definitely weird,’’ free safety Derron Smith said. “But last year or two years ago, I don’t remember, we were actually rooting for Boise. As weird as it feels, you have to do what you have to do for the sake of your team, so I’m glad they came out with the ‘W.’
“It was a little nerve-racking at first. They didn’t start the way we were expecting. I was wondering where all the trick plays were that they ran against us, but they ran a fake punt and I think that really changed the game for them and got the momentum back on their side and the rest is history.”
So with two games remaining the Bulldogs are right where they expected or hoped to be at this point in the season. Win out, and they win the West Division with a chance to win a third consecutive conference championship, even with that rough start and stumbles along the way.
“I don’t know that anybody would have predicted that,’’ coach Tim DeRuyter said. “But the fact that we can still attain our goals, to me, should really energize our guys and I’m going to ask them (Sunday night), ‘Did anybody think that playing up in Reno was going to be a key game in our season?’ Well, it certainly played out that way. Not the way anybody anticipated it, but no matter what happened in the past to get here, it’s the game to get us where we want to go.”
Fresno State (3-3) and Nevada (3-3) both have victories over San Diego State (3-3), so the winner of the game on Saturday night at Mackay Stadium in Reno will have the inside track to the division title.
That isn’t necessarily the end of it, by any means. As DeRuyter said, “It has been crazy.”
Next game: at Nevada, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: Running back Marteze Waller, who has rushed for 100 or more yards in six of the past seven games and has 1,086 yards on the season, was held out of practice during the bye week because of a shoulder injury suffered late in the first half against San Jose State. His status for the game at Nevada will be determined later in the week. Fresno State got off to some dreadfully slow starts in its first eight games, going three-and-out six times and picking up only four first downs. But it has scored on its opening drive in its past two games, getting a 44-yard run from Waller last time out against San Jose State. The victory over the Spartans was the first time this season they have opened the game and opened the second half with a score. The Bulldogs have 21 players who have been on the field for the first time this season, including eight redshirt freshmen and eight true freshmen. The starting quarterback has been a game-day decision much of the season, but DeRuyter said that Brian Burrell would get the start at Nevada after playing his best game of the season in the victory over the Spartans. The Bulldogs ran the ball effectively, which obviously helped. But Burrell hit 20 of 26 passes (76.9 percent) for 207 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. For the season, the junior has completed only 58.1 percent of his throws for 176.9 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His passing efficiency rating is 120.90, seventh-best in the conference among qualifiers.
— Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
How much of a bargain was Scott Harding? After six years as an Australia rules football player, Harding joined the Warriors in 2011 for free.
He was a "blue shirt," meaning he paid his own way during the fall 2011 semester before eventually going on scholarship.
Harding made a quick adjustment to American football. In the Australian game, which is considered an entirely different sport, the players do not wear pads or helmets.
Harding is still a bargain. He is the Warriors' starting punter, punt returner and slotback. Harding, who can punt with either foot off a rugby-style technique, has forced five turnovers with his punts this season and 10 overall the past two years. He was instrumental in the Warriors' 13-0 road victory over San Jose State this past weekend. One of his punts resulted in a lost fumble, another was downed at the 2.
Of his 73 punts, 16 have been returned, for an average of 1.9 per attempt. Thirty punts have been downed inside the 20.
Despite missing seven games because of injury and suspension, running back Joey Iosefa has scored six of the Warriors' 12 rushing touchdowns this season. Iosefa, a 248-pound tailback, has scored a touchdown in each of the past two games.
Next game: vs. UNLV, 9 p.m. MT, Time Warner Oceanic pay-per-view
Notable: The Warriors' victory at San Jose State ended a 17-game road losing streak dating to Oct. 29, 2011. It also was the Warriors' first road victory as a Mountain West member. The Warriors joined the league in July 2012. The Spartans did not punt in that game, and came away empty in seven drives inside UH's 25. Despite a 2-4 conference record, if the Warriors win their final two regular-season games and San Diego State and Nevada both lose their final two games, UH would represent the West in the MW title game.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian opened the luncheon by updating fans on wide receiver Hasaan Henderson, who remains in a Colorado Springs hospital after taking a hit to the head and neck Saturday and getting carted off the field in the fourth quarter of a 45-38 overtime loss to Air Force.
The good news, which was learned after the game, is that Henderson, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Las Vegas, had movement in all of his extremities. Polian said Monday, though, that he’s not thinking about when or even if Henderson can get back on the field.
“He’s in good spirits,” Polian said. “I’ve spoken to him twice and we text all throughout the day. That is encouraging. In terms of football, to be honest with you I haven’t even given it a thought. I don’t care when he will play again, or frankly if he will play again. Those are conversations to be held in the future. ...
“He stood up and walked today for the first time since he was brought into the hospital. He was awake and alert when they took him off the field. I was able to talk to him. He didn’t talk back much but he acknowledged that he heard me.”
Henderson was due to return to Reno by Tuesday, but Polian said he was having issues lining up a flight for him and the trainer who stayed behind.
“That was scary,” Polian said, without going into detail about the nature of the injury. “That was really scary.”
Polian also said he didn’t think the hit was dirty or should have been flagged. Air Force safety Weston Steelhammer’s shoulder made contact with Henderson’s neck as Henderson was being tackled from behind.
Polian said senior Kendall Brock will likely get the start in Henderson’s place. True freshman Wyatt Demps could see more playing time, too.
Next game: vs. Fresno State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: The MW announced Nevada’s regular-season finale at UNLV will be a 7:30 p.m. start (Nov. 29). Nevada will have played 10 of its 12 games after 7 p.m. this season. Saturday’s game will be senior day for the 15 seniors on the Wolf Pack roster, including a handful of players who have started at least three years (QB Cody Fajardo, DE Brock Hekking, C Matt Galas, DT Jordan Hanson, CB Charles Garrett and WR Richy Turner). “I implore our fans,” Polian said. “I know it’s 7:30 (p.m. kickoff). It’s cold. It’s football. What do you want me to do? We simply cannot let that be an excuse to not send off some of the greatest players in the history of this program.” The Wolf Pack has several other players who were hurt in the Air Force game, including Garrett, DL Lenny Jones, RB James Butler, S Tere Calloway and TE Jarred Gipson. Polian said he did not know as of Sunday who would and wouldn’t be available for the Fresno State game.
— Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
Maybe it’s the weight of playing on the road, or getting gassed trying to keep up with fast-paced offenses, or the other teams making better adjustments, or just plain bad timing or bad luck.
There are a bunch of complicated factors that might contribute, but the reality is this: San Diego State has been a different team in the fourth quarter of its most critical losses this season. It hasn’t finished.
The Aztecs have either led or been within striking distance going into the final quarter in four of their five losses this season – the exception being at Oregon State – and neither the offense nor defense has responded well.
It happened again on Saturday night against Boise State. The Aztecs held a 23-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but the constant pressure of the Broncos’ no-huddle effort seemed to weaken a defense that played admirably for nearly three quarters against the most potent attack in the Mountain West.
Boise put together time-eating 62- and 70-yard touchdown-scoring drives in the fourth quarter in its eventual 38-29 come-from-behind win, and also once again, the Aztecs offense didn’t have much of an answer.
Take away D.J. Pumphrey’s 34-yard TD run and SDSU had only 64 yards and three first downs in the fourth quarter.
In four losses – to Boise, Nevada, Fresno State and North Carolina — the Aztecs have been outscored 72-20. They have two touchdowns to eight and have converted only 48 percent on third downs while giving up a 65-percent rate.
Maybe most critically, quarterbacks Quinn Kaehler and Nick Bawden have combined to throw four fourth-quarter interceptions, while SDSU doesn’t have a pick in crunch time.
Aztecs coach Rocky Long gets fairly testy when asked about the fourth-quarter struggles.
“You can look at it any way you want to look at it,” Long said.
The coach said he doesn’t believe his team has been worn down by spread offenses that at times don’t allow for much substituting. He does point out that the four losses came on the road. He acknowledges there have been offensive struggles, and that the interceptions are huge.
“That leads to changes in momentum and changes in field position,” Long said.
Long also wants the quality of the opponents to be acknowledged.
Late on Saturday after the loss to Boise, he said, “Let’s give the other team some credit. Let’s don’t just look at the negatives on one side; let’s look at the positives from the other side.
“We gave up a fake punt and lost momentum. We played lousy defense at the end. They won. It’s not everything we did wrong. They did some right (stuff) too, you know.”
Next game: vs. Air Force, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Aztecs linebacker Jake Fely has been lost for the rest of the season with a dislocated wrist suffered against Boise. It is the fourth significant injury of Fely’s career and came in only his third game back after recovering from neck surgery in the spring. Fely has one year of eligibility remaining Long said nose tackle Alex Barrett was to have an MRI Monday on his injured foot. Barrett has been in a walking boot since after Saturday’s game.
— Tod Leonard, San Diego Union-Tribune
SAN JOSE STATE
Where does one start with San Jose State after the Spartans suffered one of their worst losses of this century in a 13-0 home defeat to Hawaii?
SJSU was the first team since at least 1996 — that's as far as STATS Inc.'s data goes back — to be shut out in a game in which it did not punt. The Spartans racked up 462 yards and reached the red zone six times and were inside Hawaii's 35 nine times ... yet no points.
The loss, which snapped the Rainbow Warriors' 17-game road losing streak, would have been bad under any scenario. But as the final home game for 20 seniors and with fledging bowl hopes on the line, the defeat was magnified.
Now the Spartans have to pick up the pieces and finish off this season. Sophomore linebacker Christian Tago pointed to the team's 2011 campaign — the year before he came to San Jose — in which the Spartans won their last two games to finish 5-7 and build momentum toward 2012 when they went 11-2.
That would certainly be a welcome sight, although it will be tough. This week's opponent, Utah State, has won five straight in the series and the last two haven't been close. The season concludes with another road game at San Diego State.
Making it more difficult is the status of quarterback Joe Gray. His turnover issues have led to some weakening of his support from coach Ron Caragher, but his health is the main concern this week. He injured his right (throwing) shoulder and his left foot against Hawaii and did not participate in practice on Monday. If he can't go, senior Blake Jurich would likely make his fourth start of the year. Jurich opened the season as the starting quarterback.
Sophomore Mitch Ravizza, who also plays baseball at SJSU and is in his first year with the football team, would serve as the backup. The other two quarterbacks on the roster, junior Malik Watson (a junior college transfer) and freshman Ian Fieber, are serving redshirt years that Caragher would like to preserve. Running back Tyler Ervin would work as the team's emergency option as a wildcat quarterback should the Spartans have to go beyond Ravizza.
There also is going to be competition this week at kicker after Austin Lopez was benched after missing two field goals against Hawaii. He was well right on a 41-yard attempt and a 37-yard kick was partially blocked. Michael Carrizosa attempted the next field goal, a 24-yarder, and that was also blocked.
Those two will compete this week to see who handles kicking duties against Utah State.
Next game: at Utah State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday, ESPN2
Notable: The Spartans are going the late-night route at practice this week, hitting the field from 9 to 11 p.m. They normally go from 9 to 11 a.m., but Caragher hasn't liked the way the team has played in recent road night games and so he wanted his team to be better prepared to play at night and under the lights. The 9 p.m. start time was necessitated because of players' night class schedules.
— Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury News
Going to Hawaii has been anything but a vacation for UNLV, which has been blown out it in its past three trips there.
So coach Bobby Hauck has changed the team's travel plans.
The Rebels will leave the day before the game and stay in touristy Waikiki Beach, which is 30 minutes from Aloha Stadium. In past years, Hauck and Mike Sanford before him took the Rebels to Hawaii two days before the game and housed them on the more remote North Shore an hour from the stadium.
"I don't want to make more of it than it is, but any time we do anything, we try to research it to try to give us the best chance of winning the game," Hauck said. "The way we were approaching the trip over there just flat wasn't productive and wasn't working for us."
UNLV lost 42-13 in 2006 under Sanford and 59-21 in 2010 and 48-10 in 2012 under Hauck.
The last time the Rebels stayed in Waikiki occurred in 2000 under coach John Robinson.
That also was the last time they won at Hawaii. UNLV's 34-32's victory in that season finale made the Rebels bowl eligible. They went on to beat Arkansas 31-14 in the Las Vegas Bowl 19 days later.
Hauck, like Sanford before him, previously didn't want to stay in Waikiki because of the potential distractions. But UNLV also is a team that calls Las Vegas home, so it's not like the Rebels play in a sleepy city.
"I think you're always concerned about (distractions), but we've got a pretty mature team," Hauck said. "I think our guys will be locked in. We don't have a lot of time, so there shouldn't be any of that."
Next game: at Hawaii, 9 p.m. MT Saturday, unlvrebels.com (online)
Notable: Junior Nick Sherry, who had dropped to third-team quarterback behind Blake Decker and Jared Lebowitz, has quit the team. Hauck said Sherry "didn't like being beat out by Lebowitz." ... Hauck said it could go to game day before a decision is made on whether Decker starts. "He's been fighting through a lot of things — shoulder, hip, elbow, sore neck, all that stuff," Hauck said. "I don't know exactly how fast he's going to come back." ... Devonte Boyd broke UNLV's freshman receptions record. He has 56 catches, one more than previous record holder Ryan Wolfe had in 2006. Boyd also is 91 yards from breaking Wolfe's freshman yardage record of 911. Also, Boyd is second nationally among freshmen with 821 yards receiving, 37 behind Bowling Green's Roger Lewis.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal