Football: Grading the Pack vs. UNLV
Colin Kaepernick had his second consecutive very good but not amazing game. The senior completed an efficient 13-of-17 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. But he also was intercepted. Kaepernick also picked up 97 yards on the ground on 13 carries. Very good game. But he can do better — and he will over the next month or so.
RUNNING BACKS: A
Vai Taua definitely left his mark on the Wolf Pack-Rebels rivalry, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns and also catching a touchdown pass. His 72-yard scoring run is one of the longest touchdown runs in the 36-game rivalry. Courtney Randall continues to do a solid job as Taua’s sidekick, rushing for 21 yards on six carries. And Lampford Mark (60 yards on nine carries) would be starting for most other teams in the nation if not for the presence of Taua on the Pack’s roster.
Brandon Wimberly did catch five passes but for only 35 yards. Nobody else caught more than two passes (Chris Wellington, Rishard Matthews, Virgil Green, Taua). The receivers continue to be an afterthought in this offense behind the running of Taua and Kaepernick.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A
The offensive line paved the way for 374 yards rushing. The Pack ran the ball 50 times and got back to at least the line of scrimmage on 48 of them. The Pack did allow a sack but it was on the final play of the game, a meaningless play where the pack was only looking to kill off the remaining few seconds.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A+
Dontay Moch , Brett Roy and Ryan Coulson each turned in one of the better games of their careers. Moch had nine tackles, three for a loss. He also had a sack and forced a fumble. Coulson had eight tackles, two for a loss. Roy had six tackles, 1.5 for a loss and also had a sack. They disrupted the UNLV offense all night long. Zack Madonick also had a tackle for a loss and Mike Andrews teamed up with cornerback Isaiah Frey for a sack in the second quarter. This might have been the most productive game for the Pack defensive line all year.
Kevin Grimes was all over the field and came up with six tackles. Kaelin Burnett was also disruptive (to the Rebel offense) at times and had two tackles, one for a 6-yard loss. Brandon Marshall had a big night with five tackles, 1.5 for a loss and an interception. And James-Michael Johnson had four tackles and forced a key fumble late in the first half.
The Pack did allow Phillip Payne to catch eight passes for 170 yards. But they did an excellent job on everybody else, including Michael Johnson, who had just three catches. The best thing the Pack secondary did was keep Payne out of the end zone. Marlon Johnson had six tackles and Isaiah Frey had four and combined on a key sack of Rebel quarterback Omar Clayton with lineman Mike Andrews when the game was tied 14-14.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Anthony Martinez made his only field goal attempt (29 yards) but that was about the only good news o special teams. A costly fumble by Rishard Matthews on a UNLV punt set up the Rebels’ first touchdown. It was just not a good night for the Pack’s special teams. Ricky Drake booted a kickoff out of bounds. The Pack also allowed three kickoff returns by the Rebels to cover 32, 60 and 58 yards. And the Pack was also called for holding on a kickoff return to open the second half. The Pack’s special teams kept the Rebels in this game.
The Pack is simply playing with a ton of confidence right now and that is always a result of coaching. The offensive game plan has remained simple. It’s Taua up the middle, Kaepernick around the edge with a pass now and then mixed in to keep everyone honest. The defense did a nice job of containing Rebel running back Channing Trotter, holding him to just 19 yards on a dozen carries. That forced Rebel QB Omar Clayton to try to do too much by himself and, well, Clayton is still too inconsistent to do that. The Pack also let Clayton hook up with Payne through the air but they never allowed the Rebel receivers to beat them deep. The Pack’s defensive philosophy this year of keeping everything in front of them has worked to perfection.