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Mid Year Conference in Review

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  • Mid Year Conference in Review

    The current conference standings make no rational sense. Pre-season pick in parenthesis. I mean if you rolled the clock back a decade, then of course it makes sense. Here, in 2019 the current standings make no sense. The two pre-season favorites EWU and UC Davis are 1-3 in conference and only Weber State really seems to be in its rightful position. This is still super early in the conference title race, but with UC Davis and EWU sitting 9th and 12th respectively, we look to the list of contenders and see what we can learn by the end of October.
    1. Montana (4)
    2. Montana State (5)
    3. Weber State (3)
    4. Sacramento State (11)
    5. Northern Arizona (6)
    6. Portland State (9)
    7. Idaho State (7)
    8. Cal Poly (10)
    9. Eastern Washington (1)
    10. Northern Colorado (13)
    11. Idaho (8)
    12. UC Davis (2)
    13. Southern Utah (11)
    October Schedules:
    Montana State:
    10/12: Sacramento State
    10/19: @ North Dakota
    10/26: @ Southern Utah
    -Notes: Of the four contenders, in August you would have looked at this schedule as a likely 2-1 or 3-0 run. Instead, next week in Bozeman is a game that could very well determine Montana States candidacy for BSC champion. The UND game is going to be a stiff test, as it is this year as it was last year a conference game for some opponents. Montana States quarterback situation (debacle would be a better choice) is going to be front and center this week after Rovig subpar performance at Cal Poly. He looked untethered and frustrated in the face of incessant pressure from Cal Poly for much of the game. If Montana State doesn’t figure out their QB situation (I am all for running out Jonsen at QB), they could be shredded what has become one of the BSC better defensive units in Sacramento State (cough). North Dakota is a good football team and this stretch will likely expose Montana States conference title aspirations.
    10/12: BYE
    10/19: @ Sacramento State
    10/26: Eastern Washington
    -Notes: I think most people circled the Eastern Washington game at the end of October as THE game of the year at home. With Eastern’s slide to the basement of the Big Sky Conference, the Sacramento State game is more pressing in Montana’s desire to reassert authority over the Big Sky. As Frank Gogola pointed out in Twitter last night, the UM’s offensive supremacy is literally without rival in the conference. The defense has been leaky at points over the past three weeks, and the bye week couldn’t have possibly come at a better time as Sacramento State and Eastern Washington provide significant defensive tests. Montana’s real strength is its offense, but it’ll get a test from Sacramento States who has been stout for most of the year. At this point it is truly hard to know what to think of EWU who has been beset by injury and other issues defensively. They are still a stern test offensively with running back Antoine Custer Jr and QB Eric Barriere.
    Sacramento State:
    10/12: @ Montana State
    10/19: Montana
    ​​​​​​​10/26: @ Cal Poly
    - If you add in last weeks game v. Eastern Washington, Sacramento State was to play the pre-seasons 1,4,5 ranked teams. They dispatched EWU with ease last week, and now face two significant tests in back to back weeks in nationally ranked Montana State and Montana. Then the final test of the month is a road game at Cal Poly who is vastly improved over last year and provide a defensive test like no other. If Sacramento State were to find a way to navigate this brutal October schedule, they’d exit October schedule to find Weber State, Northern Arizona, Idaho and Cal-Davis on the schedule in November. There would be no more deserving team in the past decade of winning the conference title should they win it. They have offensive tools in Kevin Thomson, who if not for Dalton Sneed, might be the conference MVP on offense. Their calling card is an athletic defense that has taken punches from Arizona State, Fresno State and Eastern Washington but doesn’t give up points. I don’t see them exiting the month undefeated, but if they should get to November with one conference loss, they are doing exceptionally well.
    Weber State:
    10/12: Southern Utah
    10/19: Northern Arizona
    ​​​​​​​10/26: @Cal-Davis
    -Notes: I have been saying this for weeks, Weber State by schedule should be the leader entering the stretch. Montana States has gotten tougher by their own issues but also by the rise of Sacramento State. Weber is as stiff defensive test as anyone is going to see at this level, but last week looked uncertain against what is not an offensive juggernaut in Idaho. Playing in Moscow is never easy, as that dome (library) environment can put even the most savage beast asleep for a bit. That Cal-Davis matchup would have been one of the top five games of the year in early August, but it has lost its teeth with Davis’s brutal three game stretch where they played NDSU, UM and UND and lost all three. Jay Hill’s team is not the sexiest team to watch, but they have taken Bobby Hauck’s formula of the late 00’s and put it on steroids. They just keep punching teams in the mouth defensively, and their offense while never sexy just executes at an extremely high level.

    So how do I see the rest of the month playing out?
    I think Weber State is the leader with Montana close behind. After Saturday nights game, I am left wondering what Choate does with his quarterback situation in Bozeman. I just don’t see them continuing to dodge bullets the way they have. This is three out of the last four weeks where they have gotten horrific game play from their QB’s. Games that if not for their defense and some questionable decisions by the opposition, they might be sitting with two more losses. They won them yes but you can’t feel good. I love what SS is doing, but I don’t know how they survive the EWU-MSU-UM trio. If they are going to break through it’ll be in Bozeman. Montana is going to be a stiffer test coming off of a bye week and will be prepared.

    Other News and Notes:
    - The offensive player of the year at this point is Dalton Sneed and isn’t particularly close. My vote for second (if I had one) would be Thomson from Sac State. The Montana offense at this point through five games is as potent as any Montana team since 2011, and before that it goes back to 2004 w/ Ochs’ (thanks Brint) and before that maybe the 96 team under Mick Dennehey. Much of that is because of Dalton Sneed who right now pushes all the right buttons. He has a great ability to make plays when you need them, and in recent weeks as he has opened up the QB run element of his game he’s literally run roughshod over his last three opponents.

    - The defensive player of the year at this point is a far murkier race to identify. Dante Olsen leads the conference in tackles, but unlike last year hasn’t had a ton of flashy impact on games. If I were to suggest DPOY group of four it might be: Bryce Sterk (MSU), Trey Watson (UI), Dante Olson (UM) and George Obinna (SS). There are some fringe guys including Robby Hauck (UM) and Charles Akanno (UI) that could make a challenge. At this point last year it was clearly Dante Olson, and this year it could come from someone way out of the pack with a great last six or seven weeks of the season.

    - I can’t seem to wrap my head around EWU. Their defense really isn’t that bad and while they are missing some dudes, it doesn’t explain the roll overs to Idaho and Sacramento State. I can in some ways see the UI loss (after Jacksonville, non-conference game against UI and some players out), but I just don’t understand the Sacramento one. Maybe they are a bit like Washington State, in that the personality just isn’t the same this year. EWU has lay an egg years, and this seems to trend in that direction. They can still turn it around after this weeks game at home against Northern Colorado, they’ll get a bye week before heading on the road to Missoula. They could theoretically end the season on a 6 game winning streak, minus the game in Missoula, are all winnable games in which they’ll likely be favored even with their record.

    - Montana will in consecutive weeks get looks at guys that are absolutely electric. Flanagan and Dean last week and in two weeks Elijah Dotson. Dotson who has ripped of long runs or pass and catches is maybe the most complete offensive threat in conference. Following that Montana faces Dre Dorton who is not only a big play threat receiving, his is also one of the conferences best return men. My vote is for Dotson as the conference’s player that will most likely cause defensive coordinators sleepless nights (CPOYDCSN). He leads Sac State in rushing and leads Sac state in receptions. He’s terrifying and he can score from anywhere on the field.

    Have a great bye week.

  • #2
    Good stuff, GF24! Im glad we get an extra week to focus on Sac St. It seems like we have a tough time playing down there. It will be interesting to see how the Cats match up with them this weekend.


    • #3
      I watched that Cat-CPSLO game. I think the cats are in real trouble. They have now played 6 games, they are 5-1, but in three of those wins (WIU, NAU, and CP) they were massively outplayed for large chunks of the game. Yes they win and that is all that matters, but I do wonder what will happen to a team that can stand toe-to-toe with them. Sac State, and it sounds weird, is more complete than just about any FCS team they have played all year.

      I for one think they need to go with Jonsen at QB. As I discussed on twitter w/ a Cat fan, I just don’t understand Choate’s logic. They are so putrid with the three man routes and simple route construction that neither Rovig or Baumann can hit. They are trying to be Boise State during the Doug Martin era, but they can’t complete passes and their receivers are sub par. As the Cat fan noted, is the Choate wants out of town for an FBS job sooner or later. They are going to get deep into the playoffs if they can just commit to running the ball 60 times, because they can’t continue eek out games the way they are right now.

      Sac State isn’t as good defensively, but they can’t turn people over and they can get after the QB. If they allow Rovig to sit back in that pocket, Sac State might have a field day. In their first 6 games they have had one game where a QB (Rovig) complete over 60 percent of their passes. It’s been a negative drag on their team and it hurts their defense. Sooner or later that ‘ability’ to escape becomes more about what the coaches are doing rather than what the players are doing. Just my opinion that this run is more on Choate than it is on the players.


      • #4
        Really have to think EWU is a chemistry thing. To much change.


        • #5
          How many BSC teams make the tournament? I think 3. Griz, state and ...Griz for sure win 3 more. state has the weak schedule. Who else?


          • #6
            Weber should make it barring collapse


            • #7
              Right now barring some sort of collapse:
              1. Weber State (3-2)
              2. Montana (5-1)
              3. Montana State (5-1)

              Of this group, Weber does need to perform better just because of their two FBS losses, but looking at their schedule they play NAU, UCD,SS then UM. They only play 1 of the 4 at home, but they should win 3 of the 4. I have zero confidence in MSU after the past two weeks. Unless they can figure out their offensive scheme where they don't give away 1/2 of the game before they figure out they have to just shove the ball down peoples throats, they could see losses against SS, UCD and UM. UM has four difficult games left (SS, EWU, WSU and MSU) and might have the most difficult schedule left, but they get EWU and WSU at home.

              Bubble (needs some help)
              4. Sacramento State (3-2)
              5. Northern Arizona (3-3)

              I think there is a bit of helium in SS, but they are good. Their defensive metrics aren't pretty, but they cause havoc and AT is a great DC. Their schedule is so hard (@MSU, UM, WSU, @NAU, UCD.) they need to finish the season 4-2 at a minimum to have a chance. You just wonder if they can pull that off with the schedule they have. The odds are not in their favor. If there was a team that could back door their way in, it would be NAU. They have a pretty favorable schedule with only two tough rough games (@WSU, @EWU). They'd have to finish 5-1, but that might not be all that of a far fetched idea.

              A miracle (needs a lot of help)
              6. Cal Poly
              7. Portland State (3-3)
              8. Cal Davis (2-4)
              9. Eastern Washington (2-4)
              10. Idaho State (2-3)

              Eastern could emerge out of this group, because the schedule lines up for them to finish at 5-1. I don't think a team gets in at 7-5, but at the same point, EWU has a ton of street cred that others don't. There is a crap ton of parity in FCS, and EWU could slide in as the 24th team. UCD could do the same, because with their schedule, they get WSU and MSU at home. If they go 6-0, which is entirely possible, they might be in the same boat that EWU is in. I don't think it is very likely, but both EWU and UCD could finish 6-0. The rest of the group, I think if there was one it would be Cal Poly, and judging by last week they are going to be a handful for teams. They got a favorable schedule at least, and because they are at 2-3, they'd need to finish 5-1 to be considered. I don't think it is likely, but I put them at the top of the group only because their schedule and record.

              Next Year:
              11. Idaho
              12. Northern Colorado
              13. Southern Utah

              Idaho could and probably will cause problems for a host of teams because they are pretty decent up front, have one of hte conferences better front 7 (it isn't terrible). They don't have a quarterback, well they do, but he's sititng on the bench. Idaho is seriously a scary spoiler because they do have enough talent to beat people.


              • #8
                Weber is the only team from the BSC that I am sold on right now. Hope my Griz keep building and improving but we have some holes to fill in the secondary before we are truly a contender.