Here are my notes that I took when I was watching this game live. It was a fantastic game and I didn’t take as many notes as I would have liked, but I will definitely be re-watching it soon and I will get more play-by-play notes as well as player specific stuff then. Here are some more general notes that I have from the game though. Enjoy!
Colin Kaepernick has not been incredibly impressive to me as a passer in this game. He is a playmaker and he has his team in the game down 10 with some momentum heading into the 4th quarter, but despite his arm strength I’m not that impressed with him as a passer. He can definitely make whatever throws he wants, but when he has to make more than one or two reads he usually tries to scramble to extend the play and improvise on a broken play. That’s fine, but he was struggling early largely because Boise State was bottling him up and forcing him to throw from the pocket. He has definitely made some NFL throws, such as medium/deep outs, curls and he delivers the ball on time when his first read comes open. If they don’t he usually holds onto the ball too long as he tries to scramble to extend the play outside of the pocket. I am not a big fan of his pocket poise, and I have some doubts about how much he will improve in that regard even with NFL coaching. He definitely has a pretty high ceiling because of his size, athletic ability and arm strength, but his pocket poise and mechanics could use some work. His throwing motion isn’t the cleanest, but it can probably be tweaked a bit. He definitely has some tools worth developing, which probably means he will get picked in the 3rd-4th round range this year, but he has some things to work on without a doubt. I am really looking forward to see how he performs down 10 in the 4th quarter with a chance to come back.
Well, that game was absolutely insane. Kaepernick helped lead a huge comeback but the majority of the comeback came from the running game. However, Kaepernick made some very clutch throws as the game went on. Obviously the most critical one was the one he delivered on a rollout to his left to Rishard Matthews for the game tying touchdown. I had no personal stake in this game, but I found myself rooting for Nevada to make a game out of it and I found myself exclaiming in excitement when they tied the game to potentially and ultimately force the game to overtime. This was bar none one of the most exciting and dramatic games I have ever seen, and Kaepernick had a lot to do with that. He made some NFL throws in this game to be sure, and while he doesn’t have to make a lot of them every game, he showed he was definitely capable of doing so in this game. But more than that, he proved that he makes his teammates better for being on the field and came up with some clutch plays as the game went on. He may not have made every play to keep them in the game obviously, but without him they obviously could not have pulled this upset off and that became more and more evident as he continued to throw and help them convert first downs. Obviously the running game is the key to their offense, but without Kaepernick throwing the ball Boise State would have walked away a winner here. Kaepernick really made me a believer tonight from a passing standpoint (though he needs some work, but he is better than I gave him credit for to be sure) and from an intangibles standpoint. He’s the leader of that unit and probably that team and he proved it tonight. What a great win for that program.
Kellen Moore, on the other hand, still played very well (as he usually does) but he came up short in one of the two games that really mattered this year to be perfectly honest. At the beginning of the season everyone looked at Boise State’s schedule and said: “Well, the two potentially tough games for them are Virginia Tech in week one and Nevada at the end of the year.” I know this is another can of worms entirely, but this just proves to me that Boise State didn’t deserve to be in the National Title conversation. Even if they won this game, which they definitely could have, why should a team that plays two legitimate teams that they don’t blow out a year be in the same conversation as a team in the Pac-10, Big-12 or SEC that doesn’t lose or loses once? I have believed for quite some time that if Boise State was in the Pac-10 they would not go undefeated in the regular season like they have been in the WAC, and my opinion has not changed obviously. Not to take any credit away from Nevada, because they played great, but Boise State was overrated in my opinion, as is TCU. I don’t think they should move up by default because they play bad teams and avoid losing while other teams play tougher games week in and week out. It reinforces teams in tough conferences like the SEC to schedule pathetic out of conference schedules to make sure they don’t give themselves more than the necessary chances to trip themselves up, and that is bad for college football in general. I wish Boise State would have moved into the Pac-10 and TCU into the Big-12, because I think it would be an eye opener for everyone who thinks they belong in the National Title game. I’m absolutely not saying they both aren’t good teams, because they are, but just because you are a good team and you can beat two or three quality teams in a season does not mean you belong in the National Title game. I have said before and I’ll say it again, if Boise State had been in the Pac-10 for the past two years they would not have been on a 24 game winning streak before tonight and TCU would not be on an 12 game winning streak right now if they were in the Big-12. The competition is just much tougher week in and week out, and the announcers pointed it out over and over that Boise State just isn’t used to having to play a full 60 minutes of football because most of their games are over by the 4th quarter.
Now that I have gotten that rant out of the way I can talk about how Kellen Moore played today. Obviously he had a good statistical game as he always does, and he showcased his very impressive accuracy and he showed a better arm than I thought he had on that hail mary pass to Titus Young, but despite having pretty good pocket poise he looked rattled by the pressure and his accuracy and footwork deteriorated a bit while Nevada was making their comeback. In the first half, or perhaps the first 35+ minutes, every time Boise State got into a 2nd or 3rd and long I just sat back and waited for Moore to deliver a strike for a first down, and he did. But as the game progressed he struggled to do that more and more, and passes that he was completing with ease earlier were not being placed as well or they had less zip on them, etc. He didn’t react to the pressure well, and that was disappointing from a scouting perspective. A QB’s play is most critical in pressure packed situations and when the blitz is coming, and Moore’s play underwhelmed me in those situations as the game got closer and closer to the end. That’s not to say he was a scrambled mess under pressure, but you could tell that he wasn’t used to having people in his face nor was he used to getting hit, and it showed. He still played better than I may have expected him to, and I believe that he has a good enough combination of accuracy, above average arm strength and overall intelligence to eventually adjust to the NFL. I don’t know that he will ever be a starter, especially considering some of his potential issues with pressure and his lack of ideal size and arm strength, but he definitely strikes me as a smart enough guy to pick up a pro-style offense if he is drafted in the 4th-5th round and developed as a #3 and eventually into a back-up. Perhaps in the next couple games and during his senior season he will show improved pocket poise, but as of now I wouldn’t project him as anything more than a stop-gap/fill-in starter in the NFL, but he could be a nice back-up.
Rishard Matthews was obviously very impressive for Nevada. He’s a junior WR (#15) and he had over 200 yards of total OFFENSE by himself between his 150+ yards receiving and his electrifying 44 yard touchdown run where it looked like he was going to get tackled for a two or three yard loss but he cut back when he recognized the overpursuit by the Boise State defenders, broke a tackle, stayed on his feet and was off to the races. I could not believe he made that play, and it was one of the best plays in a game full of amazing moments. He also had the game tying touchdown reception for Nevada that eventually set up overtime. I like players who show up in critical situations and especially late in games when his team needs him to perform, which is one reason why I think so much more of Colin Kaepernick after this game than I did before, and Matthews certainly came up big when his team needed him to in this game. Not just once or twice either, but regularly. He seems to have reliable hands and he really exploded onto the scene in this game as he only had about 600 yards receiving with three touchdowns prior to this big game. I look forward to seeing him play two more games this year, and hopefully he progresses as a player even without Kaepernick next year. He’s not the biggest receiver, and I didn’t pay close enough attention to see what his tendencies were as a receiver, but when I re-watch the game I will make an effort to figure him out.
Dontay Moch was a guy who really surprised me. I had seen his stat-line before, but I had never watched him play. He and Ryan Coulson were very active for Nevada all game long. Moch had 19.5 TFL’s and eight sacks heading into the game against Boise State and in the second half he was coming off either edge with a purpose and he really helped make Kellen Moore uncomfortable and keep him from getting back into his first half rhythm. He’s a smaller guy at about 6’1”, 245-250 pounds (and that is listed) but he looks like he has a good motor and he has some edge speed, so even if he isn’t a starting defensive lineman or outside linebacker (depending on the scheme) he could definitely contribute on special teams and be a rotational guy in the NFL from what I saw of him last night. I will definitely pay closer attention to him when I re-watch this game and watch him in other contests though.
Coulson seemed to be more involved in the run game to me, and he was regularly making good tackles at or near the line of scrimmage in this game. He does not seem to be the impact pass rusher that Moch is, but he definitely strikes me as a guy with a NFL future on special teams and in a back-up role based off of his tackling in this game. I didn’t pay attention to him and scout him specifically, but I kept hearing his name and I kept seeing him make plays, so I need to go back and watch him.
That’s about all I have for Boise State-Nevada. I will probably have more in-depth notes when I re-watch the game, but these were my impressions from seeing everything happen live. Hopefully you enjoyed the read. Thanks again!