Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:44 am

Catprint wrote:
Sat Sep 07, 2019 8:14 am
cats2506 wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:27 am
1984champ wrote:
Fri Sep 06, 2019 6:12 am
SEMO has also won recent games against 5 ranked teams. I do not believe that MSU has won any games against ranked teams and needs this win for credibility.
won 3 of last 6 against ranked opponents, includes 2018 Jacksonville State and Stonybrook

I'm thinking Incarnate Word last year was ranked when MSU played them
Incarnate Word was #24 after the regular season in the last poll of the year before the playoffs started. The Cats have not beat a ranked team during the regular season during the Choate era except the Grizzlies who were #22 when we beat them in 2016. Putting Incarnate Word at #24 was a highly questionable move but a poll is a poll.
Incarnate Word's starting QB didn't play in the playoff game. They were a much better team with him behind center. That's why they didn't look as good in Bozeman last year.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Thu Sep 12, 2019 11:16 pm

Week 3

Summary of game

Well, I was there and that was a game. There was something for everyone. As stated by many (including me), if the Cats could run well and we could play good pass defense, we were going to win. Both of those came in a strong run game and great defensive pressure and the result was a huge win. It has been a long time since the Cats had a 4 TD quarter. As we dig into some specifics of the game, there are definitely some stats that are misleading. Cats had 191 passing yards and 265 rushing yards so on the face of it, the offense looks pretty balanced for the game.

The issue is how stats are measured. First, the 27-yard loss on the muffed snap is counted as a rush so lets add back 27 yards and we are at 292. Second, the 55 yard shovel pass (barely more than a hand off) to Logan Jones is considered a pass. Given the nature of the game, this play was essentially a designed running plan. So now we are at 347 yards running and only 136 yards passing from the starting QB. This is not the definition of a balanced game plan. Now, I am not knocking the win. The Cats played well and the defense was great. But let’s see the game for what it was -- 28% passing; 72% running or 3:1. Coach wants a more balanced offense – he has said so many times. In contrast, the last four wins in 2018 were 59%, 86%,84% and 66% rushing for an average of 73.7%. Which is to say Cats are still pretty one-dimensional even if it is a good one-dimension.

My point is the defenses are going to quickly back off on the pass defense if we don’t develop a real passing game. Two games in and the Bauman is averaging 128 yards passing. However, we all saw the ability of Bauman to throw down field and if he can pull in some accurate throws, there is real potential. There were a number of what-ifs. And it is only one game. As others have pointed out and discussed, the Cats offense is highly unique and has a huge number of formations. Up in the stands, we were calling it “The Quad” when Troy had 3 backs surrounding him. It was not the Triple Option so what was it. As Bauman improves, the options improve.

Other Games of concern last week

MVFC schools did not have a great weak overall although NDSU just keeps on going. Given we play UND, I wonder how they will really do this year. They fell apart late last year but still could be a spoiler. The UCD – San Diego game was a huge disappointment for UCD. Sam Herder from Hero Sports thinks that game brings in a lot of questions about how strong UCD really might be. For those who missed it, UCD escaped a loss by 3 inches at the goal line. Weber took care of business against Cal Poly but Cal Poly is not supposed to be very good and the game was close for a while. EWU put a ton of offense on Lindenwood but the DII team put up 31 points on the EWU defense. But I guess if you have 700 yards of offense, your defense can rest easy.

The Polls

Cats are #10 in Stats Poll; #15 in coaches poll; and #13 in CollegeSportsMadness. We moved up across the board. Of course, with SEMO ahead of us in all the polls. It was surprising to many that the Cats moved all the way to #10 in the Stats Poll given UNI won and Nichols did not play. This puts 4 Big Sky teams in the top ten. Clearly, that is not likely to continue for most of the year. But hold on - the unbalanced schedule actually works to many teams’ benefit. Of the Top 4 right now, Cats only play UCD; Weber only plays UCD; and EWU doesn’t play any of us. This is highly favorable to all four teams. Woe to the Griz who have to play all four of the current Top 10 BCS teams. I will say this: 1) It is way too early; 2) If the Griz wins 3 of these 4 games, they will deserve whatever rank they end up. They have an extremely difficult schedule.

Path to the Playoffs Summary

DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................1-0........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win....................1-1........1-0.........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss.............................1-2........1-1
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................2-2........2-1
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................3-2........3-1
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…...........................4-2........4-1
Week 7 .........Sac State....Win…...........................5-2........5-1
Week 8.........Open...........................................5-2........5-1
Week 9.........NDU...........Coin Flip/Loss................5-3........5-2
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................6-3........6-2
Week 11.......NCU...........Big Win.........................7-3........7-2
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................7-4........7-3
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................8-4........8-3
(Reminder, I have two sets of records – total and FCS only games. It is only the second column that matters to the playoff committee).


Cats vs WIU
The Leathernecks have had a rough start: two road games; two bad losses. One against Colorado State; one to North Alabama. It is hard to see where WIU will be this year. They went 5-6 last year ending 0-2 and starting out 0-2 does not make it look like WIU is going to have a strong year. But they are almost always in the mix so let’s see what they have. Everyone picks Cats (some by 2 or 3 scores) and while my preseason call was a narrow loss, it appears we could get the win. WIU is predicted to be 8th in the MVFC but it is their first game at home and they know they need the win get back in the hunt. They will be hungry. I don’t think we are going win running away (pun intended). I didn’t change my projection because a guess is a guess. We want to see it through the season.

Offense
Passing is going to be WIU’s go to offense and Connor Sampson has thrown for 334 yards in two games. There is not a huge run threat from WIU, at least from what we have seen so far. They only averaged 104 yards last year and 93 years so far this year. This might give our D-line the ability to chase down Sampson more often and break his confidence. Our D-line will be the key to help out the secondary.

Defense
This has always been WIU’s strength and last year our game was a grind. They were 32nd against the run last year and they don’t allow many rushing yards to anyone. This year they are still strong although allowing 155 yards vs 135 last year. But it will be difficult to run up 200-250 yards against their front line. Their secondary is weaker and both North Alabama and CSU were able to put a lot of air into the ball. I think we will need to be more balanced than last week to push this game into the 2 or 3 score win area.

Other Games of Consequence

BSC Gang of 5
1) #4 EWU takes on #17 Jacksonville State in the game of the week. Jacksonville State has always been an OVC powerhouse but that never translates into much of a run in the playoffs. I think overall an EWU victory strengthens the resumes of all Big Sky schools and works to the Cat’s advantage. Even playing on the road, it seems unlikely EWU falters.
2) #5 USD plays a weak Lehigh team at home and likely a win will prep them for the NDSU showdown.
3) #6 Weber State plays at Nevada – FCS vs FBS game. Is Nevada really that bad? They lost to Oregon 6-77 (see later comments about Griz game). This is actually a possible opportunity for an FCS victory. Again, I think this is good for Big Sky schools in general. However, Weber’s first two games didn’t show us a lot except their defense is pretty darn good. What we need to watch is Weber plays UNI after this game and it is possible they will start 1-3. While 2 of those are FBS games, it means Weber really needs to 7 of their 8 Big Sky games to get a bye and at least 6 to get in the playoffs. A 2 loss Big Sky record will NOT win the automatic berth and a 7-5 record risks missing a playoff spot. The next two games have huge implications
4) Ok, the Griz looked bad in the first half but stomped North Alabama in the second half. Who shows up this week against the Ducks? The Griz lose but I don’t see it being 77-6. But a good strong beating might shake a little bit of confidence among the Griz. However, I don’t like to praise a Griz but I think Dalton Sneed has some strengths that will have to be watched carefully. After 2 weeks, Griz are in Top 10 in 5 offensive categories. Those numbers should drop after this week.

Rest of the Sky
1) The PSU schedule is a head scratcher. Two FBS games and two DII games. That means they only have 8 games that count towards a playoff bid. Means Portland has to go 7-1 or 8-0 in the conference to be considered for a playoff spot – not going to happen with NAU, Griz, UCD and EWU as the last four games. Almost like they were hanging it up to start with. Don’t see them beating Boise State this weekend.
2) ISU plays Utah so hard to see ISU holding their own but never know. They are a potential sleeper.
3) Sac State and Northern Colorado play a non-conference matchup. This will give us some insight into these teams as Cats play both of them later this year.
4) SUU plays at home against Stephen F. Austin. After two shellacking, can SUU bring on some heat and get back into the conversation? After SFA, they play SDSU so no easy games for the Thunderbirds in preseason.

Rest of Top 10

1) NDSU plays at #18 Delaware in the back-end of a home and home series. NDSU ravaged Delaware last year and not likely to see much of change this year. UC Davis is next on the list for NDSU and that is a game we will talk about next week. This will leave room for some teams to move up.
2) #7 Maine is at #8 Towson. Someone is going to fall leaving room for the Cats should they win.
3) No other Top 10 games are of any consequence especially since 4 of the top 10 are BSC school and two play each other.

Finally… Starting this week, I will give a brief look at the Cats next two opponents and what type of team they are shaping up to be as the season progresses. Just a quick look into the future as far as playoff consequences.
Norfolk State – This team from the historically weak MEAC looks really good. They barely lost to FBS ODU and then crushed DII Virginia State. Does that mean they can play well against a blue blood FCS team? This week they play Coastal Carolina, a recent move up from FCS to FBS. This game will go a long way to measuring Norfolk State. But I think they could be a sleeper.
NAU – So far with Cookus at full speed, NAU is putting points on the board. 37 on Missouri State and then 41 against Arizona (granted 21 in total garbage time). He has 663 yards in two games! This is going to be super game and will prove if our pass D is real. Not many are talking about NAU but I would not be surprised for them to be in the conversation come November. We will need this game because a) it is at home and b) first conference game.


Go Cats!!



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:40 am

Catprint wrote:The issue is how stats are measured. First, the 27-yard loss on the muffed snap is counted as a rush so lets add back 27 yards and we are at 292. Second, the 55 yard shovel pass (barely more than a hand off) to Logan Jones is considered a pass. Given the nature of the game, this play was essentially a designed running plan. So now we are at 347 yards running and only 136 yards passing from the starting QB. This is not the definition of a balanced game plan. Now, I am not knocking the win. The Cats played well and the defense was great. But let’s see the game for what it was -- 28% passing; 72% running or 3:1. Coach wants a more balanced offense – he has said so many times. In contrast, the last four wins in 2018 were 59%, 86%,84% and 66% rushing for an average of 73.7%. Which is to say Cats are still pretty one-dimensional even if it is a good one-dimension.
I track this stuff too. I add back yards lost from sacks, TEAM rushes (e.g. taking a knee). I added back Padmos's muff, too.
I also adjust the rush count for those, too.

Having said that, we had five rushes go for more than 10 yards. At the 15-yard mark or so, those are the highlight reel yards and are attributed 100% to the carrier. Those five runs that went for more than 10 yards accounted for 179 yards, one of which was Troy's 38-yard scamper for a touchdown.

Point being, you can't really hold those highlight yards against the coaching staff for being out of balance.

Our offensive line push was getting 3.36 yards per carry compared to 2.91 per carry for SEMO. Granted, they're more of a passing team and don't need as strong a push as we do. That 3.36 yard push is slightly below our 2018 push average of 3.56 yards per carry.
Last edited by Cledus on Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:49 am

Here's the distribution / histogram of our carries. To read this, on the bottom axis we had nine carries that gained 4 yards. I did not include the fly sweep even though it's technically a run. It's too much of a pain in the neck to write a snippet for that, though I suppose I could have made a manual adjustment.

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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by cats2506 » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:03 am

so with a 4 yard mode, (not sure what the mean is after adjustments) I would be calling more run plays than pass too.

one thing that happens in games is that we go out wanting to run first, SEMO prides themselves as a run stopping defense, when we consistently get 4, 5 & 6 yards per run, then we are going to keep doing it, not only does it move the chains, it breaks the heart of the defense too.

nice graphics BTW =D^


PlayerRep wrote:The point is not the record of the teams UM beat, it's the quality and record of the teams UM almost beat.

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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:23 am

cats2506 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:03 am
so with a 4 yard mode, (not sure what the mean is after adjustments) I would be calling more run plays than pass too.

one thing that happens in games is that we go out wanting to run first, SEMO prides themselves as a run stopping defense, when we consistently get 4, 5 & 6 yards per run, then we are going to keep doing it, not only does it move the chains, it breaks the heart of the defense too.

nice graphics BTW =D^
From what I've read, the first five yards of any run are attributed to the offensive line. From 5 to 10 yards, half is attributed to the OL and the other half to the runner. After 10 yards, it's all the runner.

Accounting for all that, our average push for the SEMO game was 3.36 yards.

Last year, WIU had a much better push than we did. That was the only game we won with a lower push than our opponent. I'm going off memory (I just closed the spreadsheet), but I think WIU had 3.64 yards per carry and we had 3.50. I suspect their carry this year will be considerably lower.

Thanks for the compliment. :D Spreadsheets are kinda my jam.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by tdub » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:25 am

The thing to consider is a balanced offense effectively in no way equates to a balance in yards. The balance needed is enough balance in play calling to not let the other d coordinator have a strong indication that you will run or pass in certain situations.

Bauman threw quite a few deep balls that didn’t result in a completion so of course there were no yards gained. But it did provide balance to the offense that the defense didn’t just jump into man coverage and stack the box. Balance is just another word that means limiting tendencies.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by iaafan » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:02 am

Cledus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:23 am
cats2506 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:03 am
so with a 4 yard mode, (not sure what the mean is after adjustments) I would be calling more run plays than pass too.

one thing that happens in games is that we go out wanting to run first, SEMO prides themselves as a run stopping defense, when we consistently get 4, 5 & 6 yards per run, then we are going to keep doing it, not only does it move the chains, it breaks the heart of the defense too.

nice graphics BTW =D^
From what I've read, the first five yards of any run are attributed to the offensive line. From 5 to 10 yards, half is attributed to the OL and the other half to the runner. After 10 yards, it's all the runner.
where did you read that?



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:38 am

Cledus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:23 am
cats2506 wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:03 am
so with a 4 yard mode, (not sure what the mean is after adjustments) I would be calling more run plays than pass too.

one thing that happens in games is that we go out wanting to run first, SEMO prides themselves as a run stopping defense, when we consistently get 4, 5 & 6 yards per run, then we are going to keep doing it, not only does it move the chains, it breaks the heart of the defense too.

nice graphics BTW =D^
From what I've read, the first five yards of any run are attributed to the offensive line. From 5 to 10 yards, half is attributed to the OL and the other half to the runner. After 10 yards, it's all the runner.
I'd say on runs past 10 yards that the WRs deserve some credit for downfield blocking.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cledus » Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:39 am

footballstudyhall.com, or a book that I bought on football advanced analytics (can't remember exactly which, sorry). This was about five years, so I don't know if the nerds in charge of this stuff are still using the same definitions.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by 91catAlum » Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:48 pm

Cledus wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 11:39 am
footballstudyhall.com, or a book that I bought on football advanced analytics (can't remember exactly which, sorry). This was about five years, so I don't know if the nerds in charge of this stuff are still using the same definitions.
It's interesting stuff for sure!


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cataholic » Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:43 pm

tdub wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:25 am
The thing to consider is a balanced offense effectively in no way equates to a balance in yards. The balance needed is enough balance in play calling to not let the other d coordinator have a strong indication that you will run or pass in certain situations.

Bauman threw quite a few deep balls that didn’t result in a completion so of course there were no yards gained. But it did provide balance to the offense that the defense didn’t just jump into man coverage and stack the box. Balance is just another word that means limiting tendencies.
This is a really good point. And a lot of those misses were just a bit off. That can be attributed to nerves, adrenaline, pressure, etc. Bauman really impressed me. I really felt like we had an effective passing game for the first time since Prukop. How many times in the past couple of years have we ran a quick slant to the middle where it was basically a guaranteed 4 to 5 yards?



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:45 pm

Great job Cledus. Much more in depth on the run distribution and great graph! Point of my analysis ( however shallow) is to get us talking and looking at how all this impacts where the Cats might end up at the end of the season. I had not given much thought to the "balanced offense does not equate to balanced yards". I see the point but don't we all think you have to connect on a certain number of passes after a while? Sure we need to keep the D honest but if they don't have to play any double coverage or deep zone because the ball is seldom on target, that is going to allow them to cheat the field and put more guys in the box. At least in theory. I feel like that is what happened last year and yet we still were 7-4 which is a good sign. Also, no QB is never on target, we catch some of passes.

I am sure there is some sort of stat out there that provides a better measure of balanced offense looking at number of plays; type of plays (run vs pass vs sack/muff); yards gained; yards to be gained (Is a 2 yard touchdown run at the 2 yard line worth the same as a 10 yard run at your own 20?). Way too complicated for me to put together. But all that aside, this year EWU coach said he is trying to run the ball more often because their yards come from 70-80% passing and the Cats are trying to do the opposite. It seems everyone believes a more balanced game is a better game.. while everyone except maybe Army ( 5 passes out of 66 plays)!!



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by tdub » Fri Sep 13, 2019 5:14 pm

Catprint wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:45 pm
Great job Cledus. Much more in depth on the run distribution and great graph! Point of my analysis ( however shallow) is to get us talking and looking at how all this impacts where the Cats might end up at the end of the season. I had not given much thought to the "balanced offense does not equate to balanced yards". I see the point but don't we all think you have to connect on a certain number of passes after a while? Sure we need to keep the D honest but if they don't have to play any double coverage or deep zone because the ball is seldom on target, that is going to allow them to cheat the field and put more guys in the box. At least in theory. I feel like that is what happened last year and yet we still were 7-4 which is a good sign. Also, no QB is never on target, we catch some of passes.

I am sure there is some sort of stat out there that provides a better measure of balanced offense looking at number of plays; type of plays (run vs pass vs sack/muff); yards gained; yards to be gained (Is a 2 yard touchdown run at the 2 yard line worth the same as a 10 yard run at your own 20?). Way too complicated for me to put together. But all that aside, this year EWU coach said he is trying to run the ball more often because their yards come from 70-80% passing and the Cats are trying to do the opposite. It seems everyone believes a more balanced game is a better game.. while everyone except maybe Army ( 5 passes out of 66 plays)!!
I definitely wasn’t knocking the concept of what you trying to say. Tremendous write up. I agree with you on the balance. My thought was they were balanced enough to make the run game incredibly effective.

I could’ve elaborated more. Although we didn’t hook up on several of them, the ball was pretty much on target. We did connect on enough of them that they didn’t roll an extra guy in the box. My version of balance is doing enough to open up what you’re best at, which is MSU’s DNA of running the ball.


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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by catscat » Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:50 pm

Cataholic wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 2:43 pm
tdub wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:25 am
The thing to consider is a balanced offense effectively in no way equates to a balance in yards. The balance needed is enough balance in play calling to not let the other d coordinator have a strong indication that you will run or pass in certain situations.

Bauman threw quite a few deep balls that didn’t result in a completion so of course there were no yards gained. But it did provide balance to the offense that the defense didn’t just jump into man coverage and stack the box. Balance is just another word that means limiting tendencies.
This is a really good point. And a lot of those misses were just a bit off. That can be attributed to nerves, adrenaline, pressure, etc. Bauman really impressed me. I really felt like we had an effective passing game for the first time since Prukop. How many times in the past couple of years have we ran a quick slant to the middle where it was basically a guaranteed 4 to 5 yards?
I think that it will not take long for Bauman to start connecting on some of the longer passes. I did like that when he missed, it was long so that if our receiver didn't get it, no one was going to get it.



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Cataholic » Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:26 pm

Catprint wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:45 pm
Great job Cledus. Much more in depth on the run distribution and great graph! Point of my analysis ( however shallow) is to get us talking and looking at how all this impacts where the Cats might end up at the end of the season. I had not given much thought to the "balanced offense does not equate to balanced yards". I see the point but don't we all think you have to connect on a certain number of passes after a while? Sure we need to keep the D honest but if they don't have to play any double coverage or deep zone because the ball is seldom on target, that is going to allow them to cheat the field and put more guys in the box. At least in theory. I feel like that is what happened last year and yet we still were 7-4 which is a good sign. Also, no QB is never on target, we catch some of passes.

I am sure there is some sort of stat out there that provides a better measure of balanced offense looking at number of plays; type of plays (run vs pass vs sack/muff); yards gained; yards to be gained (Is a 2 yard touchdown run at the 2 yard line worth the same as a 10 yard run at your own 20?). Way too complicated for me to put together. But all that aside, this year EWU coach said he is trying to run the ball more often because their yards come from 70-80% passing and the Cats are trying to do the opposite. It seems everyone believes a more balanced game is a better game.. while everyone except maybe Army ( 5 passes out of 66 plays)!!
While I understand your points and they have merit, my understanding has always been that balanced offense was based on the plays: run versus pass. Not necessarily yards. Your Army reference above is an example. If Army throws only 5 passes but hits long bombs every time and ends up with 250 yards passing versus 200 yards rushing, that is still not a balanced offense. Just throwing the ball despite incompletions is an effective way of keeping the defense honest. They can’t just quit covering guys because our completion percentage is only 40%. Of course, if your completion percentage is only 40%, you may want to run more🤷‍♂️😳😂



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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by onceacat » Sat Sep 14, 2019 1:56 pm

Cataholic wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:26 pm
Catprint wrote:
Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:45 pm
Great job Cledus. Much more in depth on the run distribution and great graph! Point of my analysis ( however shallow) is to get us talking and looking at how all this impacts where the Cats might end up at the end of the season. I had not given much thought to the "balanced offense does not equate to balanced yards". I see the point but don't we all think you have to connect on a certain number of passes after a while? Sure we need to keep the D honest but if they don't have to play any double coverage or deep zone because the ball is seldom on target, that is going to allow them to cheat the field and put more guys in the box. At least in theory. I feel like that is what happened last year and yet we still were 7-4 which is a good sign. Also, no QB is never on target, we catch some of passes.

I am sure there is some sort of stat out there that provides a better measure of balanced offense looking at number of plays; type of plays (run vs pass vs sack/muff); yards gained; yards to be gained (Is a 2 yard touchdown run at the 2 yard line worth the same as a 10 yard run at your own 20?). Way too complicated for me to put together. But all that aside, this year EWU coach said he is trying to run the ball more often because their yards come from 70-80% passing and the Cats are trying to do the opposite. It seems everyone believes a more balanced game is a better game.. while everyone except maybe Army ( 5 passes out of 66 plays)!!
While I understand your points and they have merit, my understanding has always been that balanced offense was based on the plays: run versus pass. Not necessarily yards. Your Army reference above is an example. If Army throws only 5 passes but hits long bombs every time and ends up with 250 yards passing versus 200 yards rushing, that is still not a balanced offense. Just throwing the ball despite incompletions is an effective way of keeping the defense honest. They can’t just quit covering guys because our completion percentage is only 40%. Of course, if your completion percentage is only 40%, you may want to run more🤷‍♂️😳😂
Yep. A good game for a QB is getting 10+ yards per attempt. A GREAT game for a tailback is 5 yards per rush. A “balanced” offense in plays will pretty much always rack up a lot more pass yards than rush yards.

If you are truly balanced, you are typically going to see 1.5 to 2x the number of yards passing as rushing. If you are gaining 200 yards per game rushing, that’s probably pretty run heavy.



Catprint
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:31 pm

Week 4

Summary of the game
I had neither time nor access to listen or watch the game. Apparently from the comments of many others, the method of access (EPSN + and Radio) was excruciatingly difficult and annoying. The Cats won (as almost all predicted) but it was close (which very few predicted). I stayed with my Narrow Loss prediction although I had already indicated I could easily go with the flow. I am going to avoid too much game day analysis which led me too far away from my central goal last week. But here are a few stats/reminders that I consider salient to our final playoff positioning.

We are 33rd in rushing offense which, while it could be better, is a decent position given our poor showing in week 1. Rushing defense is 42nd, an ok position but note this early in the season the Griz are 34th! Even EWU is 29th. On the pass side of the field, we don’t fare as well. Passing offense, we are at 81st (courtesy primarily of Jonsen’s shovel pass to Jones else we would be 98th out of 116) and in Passing Yards allowed we are 89th.

Now I am not putting a ton of stock in 3 games worth of numbers. The season is too young and lots of teams have very unbalanced early season schedules. What I do intend to do is put together some FCS-only game stats to piggy back on top of the BSC conference only stats as we move into the season. Those are much better markers of how the Cats compare to other playoff worthy teams.

Always be cautious of the stats and their misinterpretation or simply wrong numbers. I was on msubobcats.com yesterday reading the game summary and struck by the comments “MSU narrowly outgained WIU (443-437) but did most of the work on the ground with 194 yards rushing”….Hmm, 194 is not half of 400 and I sure don’t remember CB getting 250 yards of passing. Quick perusal shows a simple typo – It was 343-337. Mistakes happen but often they get compounded by being quoted or placed in other articles. And sometimes it is simply the wrong set of assumptions. Same goes for me and the ongoing argument whether balanced offense means a) similar number of pass/run plays; b) similar number of pass/run yardage or c) some other stat like # of carries by yards gained as clearly laid out by Cedus (thanks for the insightful stats). I am not qualified to say what is the best stat to provide the result of consistent wins. I will say, the number of plays (pass vs run) seems the weakest stat because without consistent production from a passing game, teams will continue to cheat the line and take their chances with a completed pass here or there.

Other Games
In other games, Schizophrenia is running rampant amongst top teams and Big Sky Teams. EWU has looked completely unpredictable in its first three games – down, up, down. Seemed like offense was hitting on all cylinders then a visit to Jacksonville State proved a high scoring offense isn’t the only attribute needed to notch a win. Maine, a semi-finalist last year was trounced by Towson after barely losing to FBS Georgia Southern and now is 1-2. SEMO, who the Cats really need to stay in the hunt as a ranked team for our pedigree were blanked by Missouri 50-0. This is the same Missouri team who lost to Wyoming who themselves just barely beat Idaho who was looking like a division II school in its game against Penn State! Clearly the teams setting themselves at the top of the pack at the start of the season are NDSU; SDSU and JMU who all look very strong in every game situation. No, ugly wins there. After those three teams (and maybe Towson), I don’t think there are any clear cut powerhouses in the top 10-15 after the first three games.

The Polls
Speaking of polls, the Cats climbed to #8 in the STATS poll, #14 in the coach’s poll and #12 in Madness poll. I feel like #8 is too high based on performance in the last two games but the average of about 11.5 may be right. Some parts of the poll don’t seem right – this time in our favor. For example, UNI, EWU and Central Arkansas are lower than MSU; while UCD still at number 4 after what I consider three pedestrian performances. Less speculation about Weber at #6 after only scoring only 13 points in two FBS games where they gave up only 25! I am thankful the Cats start high in the polls rather than having to climb from nowhere later in the season. I am sure Griz fans feel the same way in reverse as they are 19th with a similar record but they started lower in the polls. I don’t see much movement in the next week if the Cats win.

Path to the Playoffs

DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................0-1.........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win….................1-1..........1-0........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss (MISSED)..................2-1.........2-0........Everyone said not pretty. Missed this one.
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................3-1.........3-0
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................4-1.........4-0
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…...........................5-1.........5-0
Week 7 .........Sac State....Win…...........................6-1.........6-0
Week 8.........Open...........................................6-1.........6-0
Week 9.........NDU...........Coin Flip/Loss................6-2.........6-1
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................7-2.........7-1
Week 11.......NCU...........Big Win.........................8-2.........8-1
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................8-3.........8-2
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................9-3.........9-2

Still on track for possible bye seeding but more about that in the next week or two. Way too early now.

Cats vs. Norfolk State

I am not going to try and add much to the already well informed discussions about this weekend’s game. On offense, a healthy set of back including Troy and Ifanse should result in some good running room. Norfolk State is 102nd in rushing defense. They are much better pass defense but the matchup is clearly in our favor. On the defensive side, our biggest issue is containing their “Murray” like quarterback and the likelihood of a fair bit of scrambling and passes downfield. Needless to say, it will be a surprise if the game is close and a bitter disappointment should the Cats lose. This is one of those games that can’t do much for our playoff seeding resume in the positive and can only hurt it with a subpar performance.

Other Games of Consequence

Gang of 5
1) EWU has a non-conference game against Idaho. Historic rivals, I wonder which team will show up for both sides. I can’t imagine EWU dropping two FCS games in a row; especially to what still looks like a weak Idaho team. I got last week wrong (as did nearly every pundit) but I am going with EWU.
2) UCD and NDSU is the game of the week (Third week in a row BSC team was in the game of the week!). I will go out on a limb and say NDSU wins. But here are what Cat’s fans need to watch for: Can Maier make it close and put some points on the board and make something happen with his arm? If so, I think that bodes ill for the Cats and most of the rest of the Big Sky. UCD still looks a little erratic. This game starts right in the middle of the Cat game. UCD loses by two scores.
3) Weber has an early bye and then plays UNI at Home. Can’t wait for that one.
4) Griz have Monmouth at home. Monmouth plays in the Big South where other than Kennesaw State and Charleston Southern (usually) the rest of the league is really weak. The Cats beat Monmouth in 2013 in the Gold Rush game and expect the Griz to win easily.

Rest of the Sky
I think the Big Sky is an intriguing league this year and I expect there to be multiple sleepers and possible unknowns rising the top. Other than Northern Colorado, no one looks out of the race before conference play even starts. Sac State and NAU are both 2-1. Sac State lost to Arizona state by only 7-19 and this is the same Arizona State who is rated #24 and beat Michigan State (the OTHER MSU) on the road 10-7. Their other two games, Sac scored 127 points. They play Fresno State this week so they have a very difficult schedule (2 FBS and then EWU, MSU, UM, Weber and UCD). Hero Sports rates their schedule at 9th toughest. Maybe the first few games are a total aberration but Craig Haley calls Sac State a sleeper ( http://www.fcs.football/cfb/story.asp?i ... m=&src=FCS).

NAU plays at MVFC powerhouse #15 Illinois State. This game will go a long way to seeing if NAU’s resurgence under a healthy Cookus is for real. NAU is a huge unknown right now. Cookus has thrown for over 1,000 yards and Illinois State coach calls him “the best guy I’ve seen since Jimmy Garoppola at FCS level.” http://www.fcs.football/cfb/story.asp?i ... 0355010004.

Idaho State plays UNI in Iowa. The potential playoff ramifications tie in more to how well UNI does against Big Sky opponents this week and next. Overall, UNI scheduled 3 Big Sky teams this year. True gluttons for punishment. Hero sports rates UNI’s schedule as the 4th toughest while Sagarin has UNI at 104 right before Montana at 105. After Idaho State, they travel to Weber. Not a single patsy in the non-conference schedule. I expect ISU to wilt under UNI’s ferocious defense.

Finally, Southern Utah takes on South Dakota State in another Big Sky/MVFC challenge game. Overall, there are three this weekend. SUU is another team with a history of up and down years. Can’t tell which it is this year – at least not yet. But they are not going to beat SDSU – if they do, watch out Big Sky.

Rest of the Top 10

Only top 10 teams not mentioned so far are JMU, Towson, Kennesaw State and Jacksonville State. #5 Towson plays their 2nd conference game #18 Villanova who is also 3-0. What we want to see in the CAA is less of a logjam this year. Cheer for Towson as we need 2 or 3 really strong CAA teams rather than the 5 or 6 team pile up at the top they had last year. It is in Cats and Big Sky teams interest to see some real separation in the CAA. Jacksonville State plays against North Alabama so it will be interesting to see how the Gamecocks fare against NA compared to how the Griz ripped them apart in the second half.

Our Next Two Opponents Peek Ahead

NAU
Oh, oh, I got this one. NAU is a trap game. First conference game. Opponent everyone is looking past. New coach. Easy roll over is everyone’s thoughts. Well, don’t know what it really is. Who is NAU? Are they the high flying offense with Cookus at the helm who are averaging 44 points a game? Or are they a weak defense team running up the score in garbage time (Arizona) and against inferior competition (MOST and Div. II Western NM)? While this week’s game will help clear the air, the Cats historically struggle against the typical pass happy NAU. Last 6 years, NAU is 3-1 against the Cats and they are usually high scoring affairs.

Cal Poly
While it is an away game, Cal Poly does not look like a serious challenger in the Big Sky this year. They have a bye this week and only play 11 games so hard to judge where they are going to fall in the standings. They are still a run first team and averaged 38 points in their first two FCS games. The only reading we will get on Poly is at the Southern Utah game the week before ours.

Next week, we are going to take an in-depth look at the Big Sky and the playoff position of each team and what needs to happen for the Cats to get a high seed. Yes, I know just win out and everything is taken care of. I don’t think we are going to see that happen with anyone in the Big Sky this year. The depth of the Big Sky is huge and we are still likely to only get five playoff spots. So there will be teams on the outside, looking in, who were looking pretty darn good come the end of the season.

Go CATS!



Catprint
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:03 am

Small correction - there are FIVE not THREE BSC-MVFC challenge games this week. I got so wrapped up with UCD-NDSU discussion earlier forgot it was one of those games. The fifth is Northern Colorado and South Dakota which didn't rate much of a mention. Look for next week's post to be earlier and to be filled with some detailed analysis about all the BSC teams and how they are positioned for the playoffs and the regular season and how their performance might affect the Cats playoff seating (point of the post anyway). Hopefully, I can generate some conversation and controversy assuming the Cats don't generate some this weekend on their own!



Catprint
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Re: Path to the Playoffs - 2019 Edition

Post by Catprint » Fri Sep 27, 2019 1:02 am

Pathway to Playoffs 2019 Edition

Week 5

Ok, once again work got in the way of intent. Finishing up this post in San Francisco (while trying to get to my hotel through climate change protests that closed a number of main streets downtown forcing us all to walk with suitcases.) This week I am assessing all the Big Sky teams before the start of the conference games. I am hoping to add some insight beyond the preseason normal analysis by the real sportswriters and generate some controversy by my assessments. Looking for some of you to say my analysis is full of it and you have much better picture of how the league is going to play out.


Some basic thoughts on how I look at the race.
• I include North Dakota (UND) as a Big Sky team just like I did last year. If they are doing well, the committee is going to compare UND to other Big Sky teams – this is the last year they do Big Sky schedule.
• The Big Sky is not going to get any more than 5 playoff teams and that may really be a stretch. More likely, there will only be 4 teams in the playoffs. Given there are 5 rated teams and 2 or 3 at the cusp, there are going to be teams left out even with 7 Div. I wins. For example, the current Hero Sports projection has MVFC and CAA with 5 teams each in the playoffs while both sportswriters have the Big Sky with only 4 teams even though the Big Sky has 6 teams in the top 25.
• I tried hard to take into account the schedule each team has to play. Our leagues unbalanced schedule provides opportunities and risks to various teams – like opportunity to Eastern with a soft schedule and risks to the Griz with one of the more difficult ones.
• I place each team in one of four groups – from the highest chance of making the playoffs to the least likely. There is no order within the groups.
• I assume no one is going to run the table with 8 wins. Sure it is possible but with so many strong teams, I don’t see it happening.
• Finally, I include a table of information that outlines various polls, records and stats for each team that helped me place teams in one of the four categories.

Assess the Sky

Team......Record......FBS......FCS......DIV II....Preseason.. Conf Wins....NCAA.....NCAA........Sagarin...Poll... Non Conf......Last Year....Playoff
...........................Games..Games..Games...Conf Polls..needed.......Offense..Defense.....Rank......Rank..Game Left.....Conf.........Group
........................................................................to qualify......Rank.....Rank
MSU........3-1.........0-1........3-0.......0........4.5............4...............29.........65..........137........7.......0................5-3........1-High
UC Davis...2-2........0-1.........2-1.......0........2..............5...............33.........42..........107........4.......0.................7-1........1-High
WSU........1-2........ 0-2........1-0.......0........3..............5 or 6.........117........30..........113........5.......FCS-UNI.........7-1.......1-High
Montana...3-1.........0-1........3-0.......0........4.5...........4................16........88...........118.......18......0.................4-4........1-High
EWU........1-3........0-1.........0-2......1-0........1............7................9..........84..........124.......21......0.................7-1........2-Med High
NAU........2-2.........0-1........1-1......1-0........6............6................11........103.........158................0..................3-4........2-Med High
UND........2-1.........0..........2-1........0........NA...........5................91.........12.........146................11 games only...4-4........2-Med High
Sac State..2-2.........0-2........1-0......1-0.......11.5.........6................19........32..........135................0...................0-7........3-Med Low
Idaho.......2-2........ 0-2........1-0......1-0........8............6................77........85..........153................0..................3-5........3-Med low
Cal Poly....1-2.........0-1........1-1........0........9............6................44........117.........163...............11 games only....4-4........3-Med Low
PSU.........2-2.........0-2........0-0......2-0.......10...........7................28........13..........167................0...................3-5........4-No
ISU.........1-2.........0-1.........0-1......1-0........7...........7................107........22.........155................FBS -BYU.........5-3........4-No
S Utah.....1-3.........0-1.........1-2.......0........11.5........6.................75.........78..........201...............0...................1-7........4-No
No. Colo...0-4........0-2.........0-2.......0.........13..........7................113........111........208................0...................2-6........4-No
PS - could use some help on how to get a table into the post. ](*,)

Montana State
Don’t need to say more than you all know. Our conference schedule is favorable and our current record gives us a leg up. I do think we have to go 6-2 in conference play to have a chance at a seed in the playoffs but more about that later. I rate our changes as #1- High.

UC Davis
Non-Conference Status
2-2 with NDSU and Cal (FBS) loss and wins against Lehigh and San Diego. Hard to read UCD’s overall strength based on the variety of performances. But 2 of the games count as FCS wins towards the magical 7 qualifying wins needed. Jake Maier is averaging over 300 yards per game and leads a very effective offense.
Signature Win/Loss
They kept with NDSU right until the end at Fargo. Very few teams have done this in the last few years. A slightly altered pass in the fourth quarter and UCD comes out the winner. They have a defense in addition to an offense.
What Scares Me
No one has gone into Fargo in the recent regular season past and done as well offensively and defensively as UCD last week.
Playoff Path (odds?)
While not a lock, it would take a pretty big crash for UCD not to make the playoffs. Their schedule is moderately hard with UM, MSU and Weber all on it. Plus, UCD gets NO bye week as their bye week is the last week of the season. This is good for playoff prep but hard on the players for the full season. I rate them as a #1-High.

Weber State
Non-Conference Status
While WSU is only 1-2, their losses have been to FBS teams and their defense has been outstanding. Giving up only 19 points in two FBS losses and allowing FCS Cal Poly 24 points is a testament to how hard it is to score on them. Weber had an early bye and takes on UNI this week before playing 8 straight conference games. Weber and UNI are the 8th and 9th toughest scoring defenses in the FCS (not including the Ivy League schools who have only played one game)
Signature Win/Loss
Giving up only two field goals to San Diego State shows how stingy the Wildcats defense is this year.
What Scares Me
We don’t play Weber this year but they easily could be a seated team making it harder for MSU to win the conference or get a seed.
Obscure Stat
WSU has only 101 yards of penalties this year.
Playoff Path (odds?)
Weber’s path to a playoff berth seems straightforward and relatively strong. No MSU or EWU on the schedule, if Weber beats UNI this weekend, they only need 5 wins to qualify and I don’t see three teams beating WSU. I put them in the high probability group. Good chance for a bye as well.

Montana
Non-Conference Status
No matter what I say about the Griz; it will likely be disputed or disregarded. It is fair to say that they look strong early and their offense is clearly clicking on all cylinders. There competition has been less than stellar but it is all FCS and FBS. Sneed has their offense in the top 15% in the entire FCS.
Signature Win/Loss
Beating South Dakota at home was a great start to the season but USD does not look particularly strong – having only beat Northern Colorado 14-6 and losing to Houston Baptist in a close game.
What Scares Me
Hauck is pissed off as are all the Griz. Four in a row they will never live down.
Obscure Stat
Griz have the 15th best 3rd down conversion defense in the country. Not all offense over in la-la land.
Playoff Path (odds?)
I think the Griz will be in the thick of it by end of the season. There is a question of endurance later in the season raised by Brian McLaughlin of Hero Sports based on their late season swoon’s of the last couple of years. I would not count on it this year as much as I hate to say it, Bobby Hauck is a good coach and he knows what he has to do with the culture. I would like to see both teams at say 9-2 going into the final game with winner taking a seed and the loser having to play after Thanksgiving. I rate the Griz playoff chances as High.

EWU
Non-Conference Status
My goodness. Maybe this is the year we should play EWU. No Div. I wins in four games. 1-3 start. Looking awful on defense. Are they really that bad? Could they make a comeback in Big Sky play? Clearly this is the surprise start to the season.
Signature Win/Loss
Losing to Idaho. Is Idaho that good? Is Petrino a great quarterback – well maybe not.
What Scares Me
Barriere is very good and they can tear up people on offense. A little defense improvement and they could be very difficult to beat; get 7 wins and knock someone else out of the playoffs.
Obscure Stat
EWU has given up 40.5 points a game! Even Div. II Linwood scored 31 points!
Playoff Path (odds?)
Ok, I am rating them medium high (#2) which is a risk. Eastern has to win 7 out of 8 BSC games. The reason I am willing to take that rating risk because the BSC schedule is way soft – No MSU; No USD; No Weber. They do play the Griz but Eastern seems to own the Grizzlies the last few years (4-1 over last 6 years).

North Dakota
Non-Conference Status
While humbled by their upriver rival at NDSU, UND did beat Sam Houston State and Drake to put a decent 2-1 record. They did just squeak by SHS who does not look like a powerhouse. A late game fumble (think Cat-Griz) saved the day for UND.
Signature Win/Loss
Thought they would be more competitive against NDSU. Still owned by their bigger brother. The game was not close.
What Scares Me
Just about everything. Defense is 12th in the country against all FCS teams. They only gave up 118 yards passing to Sam Houston State (Granted, who does not look like the Sam Houston of the early 2000’s).
Obscure Stat
Even though Grand Forks is north of Fargo (NDSU), it is down river as the Red River of the North flows from Fargo to Grand Forks and North into Canada.
Playoff Path (odds?)
I think the odds are way better than anyone recognizes. So far UND has a ferocious D and holding their own. One difficulty is they play only 11 games. A second is they are not truly in a conference (their last year playing a Big Sky schedule) but the committee is going to count their position as a Big Sky team. Given the Big Sky will get NO MORE than 5 playoff positions (see last year’s long thread and note above on why this is true), UND could easily snag the final position with a 7-4 or 8-3 record. They do play four tough games but a 5-3 record in conference is easily possible. You heard it here first. I rate them a #2 – Medium High, mostly because of their defense. They will be tested immediately against EWU and UCD.

Northern Arizona
Non-Conference Status
2-2 with FBS loss and DivII win. Their defense did not look great against Illinois State but the offense certainly can generate points. With one of the best QB’s in the nation; not just the Big Sky; NAU could have a breakout year if they can keep the opponents to less than say 35 points.
Signature Win/Loss
Scoring 41 points against Arizona even if some of the points came in the 4th quarter after the game was decided. Very few FCS teams have scored that many points on a Power 5 team.
What Scares Me
Cookus is really, really good and the Cats secondary is not very fast.
Obscure Stat
Cookus has the second most passing yards in the FCS after Eastern’s Barriere.
Playoff Path (odds?)
I struggled where to put NAU. Given the right games when they are at their best, they could be 5-3 or even 6-2. The Cat game on Saturday will be a defining moment for both teams. I rate NAU as 2- Medium High. It will depend on whether EWU bounces back and what happens this Saturday. NAU wins Saturday and they are obviously in the hunt.

Idaho
Non-Conference Status
2-2 with a DII win and two FBS losses. They were predicted to be 8th in the Big Sky and so far that might be their position. Offense and Defense are middle of the road and even after beating EWU last week, the team does not have a clear identity. But it does appear they may be a threat to do more than win 3 or 4 games.
Signature Win/Loss
Penn State scored the second most points in school history. Idaho looked like a DII team in that game. Could not do anything right. Well it seemed to be a bad omen, Idaho has bounced back going 2-1 since that game
What Scares Me
Who is this team? The one that lost to Penn State by 79-7? Or the one that scored 28 points against Eastern in the first half?
Obscure Stat
Petrino has thrown for over 720 yards so far this fall 8th best in the Big Sky.
Playoff Path (odds?)
The Cats don’t play Idaho this year and perhaps that is a good thing. I rate Idaho as a sleeper team right now with the possibility of disrupting the race. Odds of making the playoffs are in category 3 – Medium. This is primarily due to their playing two FBS schools and one DII. Idaho needs 6 wins in conference to qualify and I do not see that happening. Even at 6 wins, they will be 8-4 with one non-counter.

Sac State
Non-Conference Status
2-2 with a Div. II win and putting up 50 points on Northern Colorado in a non-conference game. Their QB, Thomson has thrown for at least 230 yards in every game and has 12th highest total in the country
Signature Win/Loss
Holding Arizona State to only 19 points and only losing by 13 is a pretty strong showing for a team that did not win a conference game last year.
What Scares Me
They can put points on the board and challenge the defense.
Obscure Stat
The Big Sky has FIVE of the top 16 quarterbacks in passing yards per game including Thomson of Sac State.
Playoff Path (odds?)
Sac State has a murders row schedule – EWU, MSU, UM followed by Weber, NAU, and UCD. They play every top team. Unless their new coach is a miracle worker, they are still on track for a NO GO playoff year and rated as 3- Medium Low – Only because they passing of Thomson might result in more wins than anyone predicted. I do think they will win 2 or 3 games this year.

Cal Poly
Non-Conference Status
Only 3 games under their belt so far as Cal Poly only plays an 11 game season. They are 1-1 against FCS teams with a win against Pioneer League San Diego. Defense is one of the worst in FCS at 117.
Signature Win/Loss
Their loss to Weber State, while looking like a rout, was actually close most of the game. Late in the third, CP was only down by one score. They let the game get away but scoring 24 on Weber is more than FBS San Diego State or Nevada could muster against the stout WSU defense.
What Scares Me
They have a running game that when goes right, they can score some points. They have none done well last couple of years so they may be ready. We really don’t know anything about them what with only one FCS game under the belt.
Obscure Stat
Cal Poly was fourth in the nation in rushing last year at 331 yards per game. Still only were 5-6 due to their porous defense.
Playoff Path (odds?)
I rate them 3rd Tier. Possible good season could happen this year – maybe 4-4 in conference play. Cats play them in second game so run against run offense. Fairly early in the season we will know about Cal Poly.

Portland State
Non-Conference Status
2-2 but it is a very weak 2-2. The two wins are against a Div. II school and a NAIA school and even though PSU ran up the score, it is difficult to say they have a strong offense. Their quarterback, Alexander, can throw for some yards.
Signature Win/Loss-NONE
What Scares Me
Nothing - Don’t play them and they are not a threat.
Playoff Path (odds?)
PSU seem to have handed in a no dance schedule with their non-conference slate of 2 FBS and 2 Division II. These four games are losses or non-counters towards the magic 7 wins, PSU would need to win 7 of 8 conference games. This is not going to happen. PSU plays a soft schedule avoiding MSU and Weber and UND. However, their last four games are NAU, Griz, UCD and EWU. Beating three out of four is not realistic. Category 4 – No Go.

Idaho State
Non-Conference Status
An odd schedule. They are 1-2 with a game against BYU mid-season. Played a D II and had a solid win; play Utah and got skunked 31-0; played UNI and lost a close one 13-6. ISU is one of four we don’t play this year so not much concern of having the down game we did last year.
Signature Win/Loss
The UNI loss was a close throughout and ISU could have pulled out a victory. This game was on the road
What Scares Me
They might hand easy wins to EWU, Griz and Weber. Let’s hope they don’t pack it in and have a few good games against at least one of the top teams. Usually you can count on the Bengals for one upset a year.
Playoff Path (odds?)
ISU is another school that decided they did not need to go to the playoffs this year. Last year they came within one late season win from qualifying. This year, their non-conference schedule is 2 FBS and 1 Div. II schools. While they are 1-2 right now, they have no FCS wins and they will lose to BYU later in the season. So they would need 7 conference wins to qualify. Just not going to happen. I rate them as #4 – NO GO. But could be a sleeper to upset some teams.

Southern Utah
Non-Conference Status
1-3 with an FBS loss and two FCS losses. They played a very tough schedule with losses to UNI and South Dakota State that were not even close. SUU is giving up nearly 40 points a game so the defense is suspect.
Signature Win/Loss
Beat Stephen F. Austin in Cedar City. But the game was close and SFA looks like they are having a down year (0-4) and lost to Div. II team.
What Scares Me
They have schooled us in totally unexpected fashions in past games. SUU seems to have some sort spell over the Cats. SUU has won the last three games against the Cats. Do I believe in omens? Almost always a close game
Playoff Path (odds?)
Last year SUU was 1-10. But the year before they were 9-2 and made the playoffs. SUU has a history of being up and down. Thought this would be up year but does not appear to be the case. I rate them bottom of the league, not much different than the original polls. Not seeing anything to change their placement.

Northern Colorado
Non-Conference Status: - ok, we are just going to gloss over this and hope it does not come back to bite me later in the season. 0-4; no signature win; and rated as the worst team in the Big Sky, RPI of 247 out of 255. Can’t say much more. No chance of making the playoffs. Might eek out a surprise win but 0-8 looks doable.

This Week’s Game
The weather is the biggest factor. It is going to hurt attendance. Even though sold out, I would be surprised if we have 15,000 at the game – might be less if Saturday starts with rain and then changes to snow. I finding lots of people saying they are not going – don’t want to sit in freezing rain in September. Secondly, Cookus and his passing game is a tough fit with our defense. Their offense is real and they will score their share of points – maybe 25 or 30.
The weather may work in our favor as it lends itself to a ground game. Our offense needs to be clicking and we need some of the injured running backs in the game (think Anderson, Ifanse, Jones). Coach Choate always holds his injury list close to the chest so I have no idea of their status.

After this week, we will return to our regular process of looking at last week’s games and next week’s games. It should be an exciting season.

Path to the Playoffs

DATE...........GAME........Result Needed................Record......FCS....... Comments
Week 1.........TTU..........Big Loss.........................0-1.........0-0........ Well, I got the easy one right.
Week 2.........SEMO.........Narrow Win…..................1-1.........1-0........Does it count as narrow if tied at half-time?
Week 3.........WIU..........Loss (MISSED)..................2-1.........2-0........Everyone said not pretty. Missed this one.
Week 4.........Norfolk St...Big Win.........................3-1.........3-0........Got two easy ones right so far this year
Week 5.........NAU..........Win..............................4-1.........4-0
Week 6.........Cal Poly......Win…............................5-1.........5-0
Week 7 .........Sac State....Win…...........................6-1.........6-0
Week 8.........Open...........................................6-1.........6-0
Week 9.........NDU...........Coin Flip/Loss................6-2.........6-1
Week 10.......SUU............Big Win........................7-2.........7-1
Week 11.......NCU...........Big Win.........................8-2.........8-1
Week 12.......UCD............Loss............................8-3.........8-2
Week 13.......UM.............Big Win........................9-3.........9-2


GO Cats.



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