Not that he wanted to, but Anthony LaCoste had no way of hiding from the spotlight as he walked around the Air Force Academy on Monday.
“We all wear our names on our shirts,” LaCoste said. “So people would see it and be like, ‘Oh hey, are you that running back?’”
Yes, LaCoste is that running back, the one who exploded for 263 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-28 victory over Army on Saturday.
The congratulations and honors have rolled in every since. On Monday, LaCoste was named co-offensive player of the week in the Mountain West, an honor he shared with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr. LaCoste also earned an ESPN Helmet Sticker and was named CollegeFootball Performance National Running Back of the Week.
“Everybody’s shooting me texts and messages and just calling and congratulating me. It’s kind of overwhelming, I guess,” said LaCoste’s, whose 263 yards were the second-most in a game in program history. “Everybody’s congratulating me and I just kind of tell them thanks.”
The game was the kind that could change virtually everything for LaCoste. He likely won’t need to share a spot on the depth chart with Jon Lee, as he has all season. He suddenly has a realistic shot at 1,000 rushing yards, needing xxx over the next three games. And with that, who knows what might lay ahead in terms of invitations to NFL camps or a shot to play football somewhere else down the road.
“That would be pretty awesome if it did,” he said. “I love football and I would love to keep playing it. If I go that opportunity, I would take it.”
LaCoste’s breakout has been pleasing to Falcons coach Troy Calhoun.
“What we’ve shared with him is that we wouldn’t have made a bowl last year if he didn’t play safety for us,” Calhoun said. “I think that tells you about as much about Anthony LaCoste as anything. Kind of felt like we needed the help at safety last season and we felt we could have a potential 1,000-yard rusher with Cody Getz, and for Anthony to move over to safety was a huge boost to us. For him to move back to tailback this year is pretty darn cool. It’s neat to see a guy to be that unselfish and team-oriented and yet still play like he hasn’t missed a beat.”
Next game: At New Mexico, 7 p.m. Friday (ESPNU)
Notes: Freshman nose guard David Harris returned to practice after missing several weeks with a knee injury. … Junior linebacker Joey Nichol did not practice Monday and is questionable with a groin injury. … Junior wide receiver Sam Gagliano (concussion) had a limited return to practice and remains questionable for Friday’s game at New Mexico.
— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette
Rarely has a bye week come at a more opportune time than Boise State’s off week. The Broncos (6-3, 4-1 in the Mountain West) are battling injuries at nearly every positions and have been hit particularly hard along the defensive line.
“I tell you what: It’s the right time. There’s no doubt about that,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said.
The Broncos defeated Colorado State on Saturday, but played without starting defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe. The senior did not make the trip after experiencing concussion-like symptoms after practice leading up to the game. His backup, junior Justin Taimatuia, finished the game in street clothes on the Boise State sideline.
Depleted Boise State turned to seldom-used sophomore Robert Ash and starting defensive end Kharyee Marshall to plug the hole in the middle of the defensive line. Marshall, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior, had never so much as practiced at defensive tackle.
The Broncos, who were already without starting middle linebacker Blake Renaud, played without leading tackler Ben Weaver (ankle) and freshman middle linebacker Tanner Vallejo for parts of the Colorado State game. Starting safety Darian Thompson did not play late in the game, either.
“We’ve got what we’ve got right now and those guys are battling and we’re really proud of them for going that hard,” Petersen said after the Broncos allowed a season-high 626 yards and 35 first downs to Colorado State in the victory.
True freshman Gabe Perez played a big role in the victory, notching eight tackles, including three for loss, and two forced fumbles.
Next game: Nov. 16, 8:15 p.m. MT vs. Wyoming (on ESPN2)
Notable: Quarterback Grant Hedrick, subbing for injured starter Joe Southwick, threw five touchdowns and rushed for one in his second career start. Hedrick has six rushing touchdowns on the year, the most for a Boise State quarterback since Jared Zabransky in 2006. … Running back Jay Ajayi has 1,008 yards rushing, giving the Broncos a 1,000-yard back for the fifth consecutive season. … Redshirt freshman Travis Averill started at right tackle against Colorado State. It was his first career start. He is the 17th Bronco to make his starting debut in 2013. … Boise State’s ESPN2 appearance against Wyoming means the Broncos will earn at least $1.1 million in national television bonuses from the Mountain West. The Broncos’ regular-season finale against New Mexico will appear on an undetermined ESPN channel. If the game is on ESPN or ESPN2, the Broncos’ bonus total will rise.
— Brian Murphy, Idaho Statesman
The frustration finally boiled over.
Colorado State coach Jim McElwain, who has spent the entire season trying to fix his team’s most glaring weakness simply doesn’t know what else he and his staff can do. The Rams can’t stop the pass.
Unable to establish the kind of power running attack it prefers against CSU defense, Boise State went to the air Saturday for 305 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-30 win over the Rams.
Afterward, McElwain became increasingly agitated while responding to a question about the problems with the pass defense, then cut his usual post-game news conference short after just one question.
The second-year coach apologized to reporters Monday for his abruptness, then spent the better part of his 45-minute news conference discussing what has become an all-too-familiar pattern.
His Rams (4-5, 2-2 Mountain West Conference) are limiting opponents to 136.8 rushing yards a game with the second-best run defense in the MW. But they’re giving up 309.6 passing yards a game, last in the 12-team MW and more than all but three of the 123 schools in the country playing football at the highest level. The 25 touchdown passes the Rams have allowed this season is more than 121 of the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision schools — only Idaho, with 29, has allowed more — and their pass-efficiency rating of 155.45 is 11th in the MW and No. 112 in the nation.
McElwain said the young players in his secondary — the Rams start three sophomores and a true freshman — have shown in practice that they understand their assignments and are capable of fulfilling them. They’ve shown it, at times, during games, too.
“I would not feel so bad probably had I not seen them do it,” McElwain said. “Had I not seen them do their job properly in practice to avoid those.”
McElwain accepts the blame himself, though, like a teacher whose students ace the tests after each study unit then fail the big exams covering the same material.
The players are frustrated, too, sophomore safety Trent Matthews said.
“Real frustrated because we had a good week, we practiced the routes,” Matthews said. “The routes were there for us to go play, but we didn’t execute.”
The Rams don’t have the kind of depth in the secondary to make major personnel changes, McElwain said. So they just have to fight through the problems they’re having.
“How long is this going to affect their psyche? I don’t know; I really don’t,” McElwain said. I do know that you face it in life, you face it and you keep working on the things that can help you be successful and you don’t run and hide.”
Next game: vs. Nevada, 6 p.m. MT Saturday (Mountain West Digital Network)
Notable: QB Garrett Grayson set a school record for total offense in a single game with 445 yards (397 passing, 48 rushing) vs. Boise State. The previous record was 416 by Bradlee Van Pelt in a 2003 game against Colordo. Van Pelt, who was inducted into the CSU Athletics Hall of Fame over the weekend, was at the game watching Grayson break his record. … K Jared Roberts, a junior from Littleton, Colo., was named one of 20 semifinalists Monday for the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s outstanding kicker. Roberts has made 12 of 14 field goals and all 35 of his point-after touchdown kicks this season. … The Rams have remained remarkably healthy so far this season, McElwain said, and suffered no significant injuries against Boise State.
— Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan
Norm Chow, Hawaii’s 67-year-old head coach, said he was speaking “tongue-in-cheek” when he told reporters, “I’m too old for this,” following a 47-10 loss to Utah State this past weekend. Chow was angry that his comment was misinterpreted in published reports. “I’m not going to quit ever,” said Chow, who is in the second year of a five-year contract that pays $550,000 annually. “I preached not quitting to these kids. You expect me to quit? Are you crazy?”
Quarterback Sean Schroeder backed Chow, noting: “He’s the hardest worker, as you have to be to lead this team.”
The Rainbow Warriors had a rocky start to this two-game, 10-day trip. After the morning practice on Halloween, the Warriors departed Honolulu that afternoon for Manhattan Beach, Calif., where they stayed overnight. On Nov. 1, they were awakened to reports of a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. LAX was closed and the flights canceled for several hours. The Warriors did not depart until 10 p.m. Pacific time. They did not arrive at their hotel in Logan until 2:35 a.m. Saturday — fewer than 12 hours before kickoff against Utah State.
After the game, the Warriors took the 2-hour bus ride to Salt Lake City, where they trained through Wednesday (Nov. 6) in preparation for Saturday’s game against Navy. Chow said it was better to remain on the mainland than to travel back to Hawaii.
Chow said Schroeder will make his fourth consecutive start. The Warriors also expect to have back running back Joey Iosefa, who has played only series this season because of a foot injury, and defensive tackle Kennedy Tulimasealii, who missed the Utah State game because of a shoulder injury. But the Warriors will be without defensive tackle Siasau “Saui” Matagiese, who suffered a knee injury against Utah State. With no limits on the travel roster for non-conference game, the Warriors could have brought up additional players this week. They declined.
Matagiese, who is on the 17-player leadership committee, will remain with the team through the road trip.
Next game: Hawaii at Navy, Saturday, Nov. 9, on the CBS Sports Network.
Noteworthy: Navy’s head coach is Kenny Niumatalolo, a former UH quarterback and assistant coach. Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper also is a former UH quarterback. … The Warriors plan to tour Washington D.C. on Thursday and Friday. Alas, there is no meeting at the White House. President Obama and Chow are Punahou School graduates.
— Stephen Tsai, Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Nevada football coach Brian Polian wants it to be known that he likes Tim DeRuyter. He just doesn’t love what DeRuyter did.
DeRuyter, the second-year Fresno State football coach who used to be the defensive coordinator at Nevada (2005-06), chose not to have his quarterback, Derek Carr, take a knee in the final 90 seconds of the Bulldogs’ victory over the Wolf Pack on Saturday night at sold-out Bulldog Stadium.
Carr had just thrown a 27-yard pass to the Wolf Pack 3-yard line, which gave him the school’s all-time passing record. One play later, Marteze Waller ran up the middle for a score and a 41-23 victory.
Polian, responding to a question at his weekly luncheon at the Peppermill on Monday, stopped short of calling it “running up the score,” as the man who asked the question suggested it could have been.
“I’m not going to say that,” Polian said. “I’m going to say only that if I was in that position I would not have done it. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
Then he paused and added, “I shook his hand, though,” drawing laughs from the crowd of about 80.
Polian pointed out that the Bulldogs, who entered Saturday’s game ranked 16th in the BCS standings, are in a battle with Northern Illinois for a possible spot in a BCS bowl game. Northern Illinois, also unbeaten, was 17th last week and 18th after the latest rankings came out Sunday.
Both Fresno State and Northern Illinois are from non-automatic-qualifying conferences (Mountain West and Mid-American, respectively), and only one is guaranteed a spot. And that team has to either finish in the top 12 or in the top 16 if it is ranked higher than the champion of one of the five AQ conferences.
“I like Tim. I like Tim,” Polian said. “And the thing that people have to keep in mind is … as a competitor, in the moment, I’m not happy about it. But Fresno State and Northern Illinois are competing to be the highest-ranked non-AQ team to get into a BCS bowl. And unfortunately in the day and age of uneducated voters and computers and people that simply look at scores, I’m sure that was a factor, because I know Tim, and Tim is not the kind of guy that is going to run it up just for the sake of running it up.
“So, while I’m not happy – at the moment I was not happy as a competitor – I understand it. And I have not made an issue of it and won’t make an issue of it. It is what it is. The world is round and we’ll get to play them again. Hopefully we’ll be faced with that choice someday.”
Next game: At Colorado State, 1:30 p.m. MT, Saturday (Mountain West Network)
Notable: Cornerback Charles Garrett and linebacker Matt Lyons were suspended for the first quarter of the Fresno State game for being late to a team meeting. … Starting defensive tackle Jack Reynoso (concussion) did not make the trip. … At least four starters are questionable this week: Reynoso, defensive end Brock Hekking and receivers Richy Turner and Aaron Bradley.
— Dan Hinxman, RGJ
Air Force and New Mexico are, statistically, two of the worst passing teams in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision — each ranked in the bottom four in passing yards per game and in the bottom 25 in pass efficiency.
Yet, New Mexico coach Bob Davie is encouraged by UNM’s passing game and concerned about Air Force’s. The Lobos (2-6, 0-4) and the Falcons (2-7. 0-5) meet Friday night in Albuquerque.
In Air Force’s 42-28 victory over Army last week, Falcons freshman quarterback Nate Romine completed 7-of-8 passes for 111 yards and was 3-of-3 for 49 yards during AFA’s victory-clinching drive in the fourth quarter.
In UNM’s 35-30 loss at San Diego State, quarterbacks Cole Gautsche and Clayton Mitchem combined to complete 10-of-20 passes for 170 yards.
Mitchem, operating UNM’s two-minute drill, was 4-of-4 for 69 yards and a touchdown during a drive that cut the Lobos’ deficit to five with 46 seconds left in the game.
In a game between teams with the third-ranked (New Mexico) and 11th-ranked (Air Force) ground games in the nation, Davie expects the forward pass to be a significant factor.
“Our offense, every week, is trying to find a way to run wheel routes and play-action passes, just like Air Force is,” he said. “So, from that standpoint, you know those big passes are coming, and they’re coming off run fakes.”
Next game: Air Force, 7 p.m. MT, ESPU
Notable: New Mexico’s cornerback situation is fluid. Starter SaQwan Edwards is questionable and backup Isaiah Brown is out, both with shoulder injuries.
Starter Cranston Jones is healthy, but it will be a casting call on the other side of the field if Edwards can’t go. Junior Tim Foley, who started six games last season but has been down on the depth chart this year, could get the start because of his familiarity with the Air Force offense.
— Rick Wright, Albuquerque Journal
SAN DIEGO STATE
After missing their last five field goal attempts, SDSU did not try for a single field goal in the 35-30 win over New Mexico, and went so far as to go for it on fourth down on fourth-and-10 from the opponent’s 36 yard line.
Aztecs coach Rocky Long said that was partly due to his kicker’s abilities and partly due to strategy.
“Most of those field goals were long field goals,” Long said. “They would have been 50-yarders, 49 to 53-yarders. And our punter wasn’t punting exceptionally well.
“So if you can’t get it inside the 10 and you punt it into the end zone, you only gain 10 or 15 yards anyway, so you might as well go for it.”
The Aztecs finished 3 of 4 on fourth down conversions, for a 75 percent success rate – which is much better than the 32 percent (6 of 19) season success rate they had going into the game.
Sophomore kicker Seamus McMorrow was 5 for 5 on PATs, and would have been the kicker if SDSU had decided to attempt a field goal.
But it’s a good bet that the Aztecs aren’t going to attempt any long field goals in the foreseeable future.
Long said he believes the kicker’s range is about 40 yards at this point of the season.
McMorrow missed a 40-yarder and a 37-yarder against Fresno State.
Next game: SDSU at SJSU, Saturday 7:30 p.m. CBS Sports Network
Notable: DT Dan Kottman has left the team citing personal reasons. Aztecs coach Rocky Long said he will grant Kottman his release with no stipulation except that he cannot play for any other Mountain West teams. … Walk-on QB Quinn Kaehler will get a scholarship in January, Long said. … RB Adam Muema’s 233-yard, three touchdown performance vs. New Mexico on Saturday was the second-best individual effort by a running back last week. Only Air Force’s Anthony LaCoste had a better week.
— Stefanie Loh, U-T San Diego
SAN JOSE STATE
By the rest of the conference’s standards, San Jose State’s running game still hasn’t reached elite status. The Spartans still rank 11th at 148.8 rushing yards per game. And even during their recent surge over their past four games, their 216.3 average merely ties them for sixth in the Mountain West over that period.
But as a complement to the conference’s second-ranked passing game, SJSU’s rushing attack has suddenly become a weapon to look out for. The Spartans rushed for 312 yards in Saturday’s 34-24 win over UNLV. That was the second-highest rushing total in the Mountain West this weekend, trailing only Air Force.
Freshman Jarrod Lawson is averaging 125.5 yards per game since entering the starting lineup Oct. 5 against Hawaii, a mark that would lead the conference if stretched out over the entire season.
Even with quarterback David Fales struggling against UNLV with a career-low 150 passing yards, teams will always key on him. He’s second in the Mountain West in passing yards for a reason.
But the renewed rushing attack is giving teams something to think about.
“David’s history will make teams want to go in and stop the passing game. I know UNLV took that approach,” Caragher said. “But in turn, that did help the running game and I’m just glad our guys could seize it. Down the road, people will see that and it just makes people prepare for more.”
This week’s opponent, San Diego State, has the conference’s third-ranked rushing defense and second-ranked defense overall. The rushing defense is even more impressive considering they have faced Air Force and New Mexico, two teams that aren’t very good overall but have the Mountain West’s top rated rushing attacks. New Mexico ranks third in the country at 313.6 yards per game and Air Force is 11th at 279.2.
Next game: vs. San Diego State, 8:30 p.m. MT (CBS Sports Network)
Notable: Defensive coordinator Kenwick Thompson coached from the sidelines against UNLV for the first time this season. He had previous coached from the press box, but he and Caragher discussed making the change last week. “I think it was a good move,” Caragher said. “The advantage of being on the field is the chemistry, the leadership and you’re down amongst the players during those time outs and during those breaks to rally the guys.” … SJSU’s Nov. 16 game at Nevada will air on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m., meaning the Spartans won’t get the $500,000 they would’ve received if it was picked up on ESPN or ESPN2. They’ll also be in for a late night bus ride home, which likely won’t depart until after midnight. SJSU has a short week to follow with Navy coming to town on Friday, Nov. 22. … Sophomore kicker Austin Lopez was named MW special teams player of the week for kicking two field goals and going 4 for 4 on PATs. He’s 44-yard field goal with 2:58 left made it a 10-point game.
— Jimmy Durkin, San Jose Mercury News
Talk about a baptism by fire.
Jamar Cain’s first game as interim defensive coordinator will be against one of the nation’s best offenses in No. 17 Fresno State (8-0 overall, 5-0 Mountain West) Saturday night in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2.
Cain replaced Chris Tormey, who was fired last week.
Cain, who was hired prior to the season to coach the defensive line, said the last week has been a roller coaster in terms of trying to figure out his new role. He isn’t even sure if he will be on the sideline or in the press box Saturday.
But while some logistics still need to be ironed out, Cain’s first game as a defensive coordinator will be against a Fresno State offense that is in the top eight nationally in scoring (42 points per game), passing (386.3 yards per game) and total offense (539.9 ypg).
A tall task for a Wyoming defense that has given up 103 points and 1,151 total yards in its last two games — both losses. The Cowboys are 4-4, 2-2 and must win two of its last four games to become bowl eligible.
“We’ve got to play sound, tackle and keep the ball in front of us,” Cain said Monday. “We are going to play fast and hard.”
Coach Dave Christensen said the defense will do some different things this week, but also said not a lot of big changes will be made this late in the season.
But there are some areas he wants to see the defense improve upon.
“The biggest change I want to see is eliminating big plays, being out of position and missing tackles,” he said.
UW hired long-time defensive coordinator Bill Young as a quality control staff member late last week. Young can’t coach the players, but will assist the defensive staff by watching film, offering ideas and helping with game plans.
“His knowledge and experience is what I liked the most about Bill,” Christensen said. “I’ve coached against him in the past. He’s been very successful. I thought he would be a guy coach Cain and the rest of the defensive staff could bounce things off of.”
Next game: vs. No. 17 Fresno State, 8:15 p.m. MT (ESPN2)
Notable: This will be the first of two consecutive games Wyoming plays on ESPN2 as next week’s game at Boise State also will be on that network. Wyoming will get a $500,000 bonus for both games. … Christensen has three positions listed as “or” on the depth chart this week in terms of starters: center (sophomore Rafe Kiely and junior Albert Perez), strong safety (juniors Chad Reese and Jesse Sampson) and strong-side linebacker (junior Mark Nzeocha and sophomore Malkaam Muhammad). That was the case prior to the Oct. 26 game at San Jose State and both players at each of those positions played. Kiely, Reese and Nzeocha started. … The weather forecast for the Fresno State game is kickoff temperatures in the 30s under partly cloudy skies, a 10 percent chance of moisture and winds out of the south/southwest at 11 miles per hour.
— Robert Gagliardi, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
From a two-interception rookie debut to setting freshman records, quarterback Darell Garretson has come a long way in only two weeks.
Really, the whole offense has developed for Utah State since getting crunched under BYU and Boise State. While the Aggies faced early struggles without four offensive starters lost for the season, back-to-back wins of 35 points or more have their confidence surging.
A big part of that has been Garretson’s quick adjustment to the learning curve. Sure, it was against winless Hawaii, but the freshman showcase patient decision making and a strong arm throwing for 370 yards — a school freshman record — and three touchdowns.
“These two weeks are evidence for him of things that he’s doing right,” coach Matt Wells said. “I like the way that he’s patient in the pocket. I like the way that he’s throwing the ball five rows up in the stands when nothing is there.”
Wells added that Garretson would still need to clean up some of his progressions and footwork. But he hasn’t been the only standout as Utah State has gotten on the cusp of bowl eligibility.
Travis Reynolds had eight catches for 152 yards and a score in his best game at Utah State. On the ground, Joey DeMartino eclipsed the century mark again, giving the Aggies some hope that they’ll have another 1000-yard rusher this season. “Clicking on all cylinders” is a cliché, but Utah State is starting to get that feeling headed into a big game at UNLV this weekend.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the Rebels will get pushed over — the Aggies know that, too.
“They’re a lot more physical and bigger, they’re athletic and they fly around,” offensive lineman Tyler Larsen said of UNLV’s defense. “They were a great defense last year, but they’re a lot more athletic and physical this year from what I’ve seen.”
Next game: Saturday, 6 p.m. At UNLV (on ESPNU)
Notable: The Aggies have dealt with a few more injuries, as receiver Brandon Swindall sat out as a game-time decision and safety Brian Suite and receiver Ronald Butler left the game early. Wells declined to comment on the injuries, except to say that they are not season-ending. … Kyler Fackrell earned Mountain West defensive player of the week honors after his 99-yard interception return for a score against Hawaii. Added with his touchdown as a tight end against Weber State, the sophomore linebacker is believed to be the first Utah State player to score an offensive and defensive touchdown in the same season in 49 years.
— Kyle Goon, The Salt Lake Tribune
UNLV just had its troubles against a San Jose State team not known for playing high-level defense.
Now the Rebels (5-4, 3-2 MW) face a Utah State (5-4, 4-1) team that plays far better defense than any team in the Mountain West.
“They do a nice job of disguising and moving around,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said. “The one thing that to me shows up is generally when you’re playing a team that likes to do that, they give up some big runs and get creased occasionally. These guys don’t.”
The Aggies run a 3-4 defense that allows 342.2 yards and 18.9 points per game, both tops in the Mountain West and 16th nationally. No other conference team is close. San Diego State is second in total defense (409.5 average) and Boise State is second in scoring defense (25.2).
In UNLV’s 34-24 loss to San Jose State on Saturday, the Rebels faced a Spartans team that made the decision to limit their running game.
San Jose State accomplished that in holding leading rusher Tim Cornett to 24 yards on 12 carries. It was his lowest production since gaining a yard two years ago at Nevada.
Quarterback Caleb Herring was UNLV’s rushing offense, picking up 55 yards on mostly scrambles.
But Hauck said he didn’t expect Utah State to mimic San Jose State’s strategy.
“They’re not like San Jose,” Hauck said. “They’ve been doing this for six or seven or eight years up there, so they’re going to do what they do, and they do it well.”
Next game: Utah State at UNLV, 6 p.m. MT Saturday, ESPNU
Notable: Ten of the 20 meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less. … Herring’s career interception percentage is 2.1, which is in line to break UNLV’s record of 2.9 set by Randall Cunningham from 1982 to 1984. … Rebels coaches are making the proper halftime adjustments. UNLV has been outscored by a total of 80 in the first half, but have outscored opponents by a combined 35 in the second half.
— Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal