Mr. Fiskers sets Brian Murphy straight on this whole NFL Draft business

Idaho Statesman reporter Brian Murphy hit the blogs this week with an epiphany: Boise State loses to teams with high NFL draft picks. So what has Pat Hill been doing wrong all these years?

Needless to say, there are some holes in Murphy's logic, or rather, there is some logic in Brian Murphy's holes. However you look at it, Murphy's NFL Draft post needs some perspective and sound reasoning and a good deal of snark to keep the mood light. I know just the fisking cat for the job.

Enjoy this special NFL Draft edition of Mr. Fiskers, everyone. 

Fisking is a point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, or disputes the analysis in a statement, article, or essay. Mr. Fiskers is OBNUG's fisking cat. He has hyperthyroidism.

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Getting a blog was one of the best things to happen to Brian Murphy since hipster beards became chic. He posts regularly on topics such as baseball and Donald Glover concerts and Freedom of Information Acts and oh yeah sometimes sports. Like the other day, when Murphy made the claim that the Boise State football team has a predisposition to lose to opponents stocked with NFL Draft picks

Mr. Fiskers is not convinced, mainly because Brian Murphy failed to do things such as use all the facts and see the big picture. Minor details, am I right? No, I am wrong. Let Mr. Fiskers show us the path to enlightenment.

HEADLINE: How do you beat Boise State's football team? Start with a high NFL Draft pick on offense

... then finish by scoring more than the Broncos. Brilliant!

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They have another thing in common:

Peter King Facebook friend requests?

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An affinity for stringy back packs?

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No NFL future?

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Each led a team to victory against Boise State in the Chris Petersen era.

Considering the Broncos are 61-5 under Petersen, I found this nugget interesting.

No, Mr. Fiskers. Do not eat that nugget. Your stomach cannot digest food solids! We've been over this!

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So I did a little digging - and a little analysis about what it could mean for the Broncos in 2011.

Here is the big picture review:

In Boise State's last six losses - dating back to the 2005 bowl loss against Boston College in Dan Hawkins' final game as coach - ...

Why that game in particular, you might ask? Because the loss prior to Boston College came at the hands of 2005 Fresno State with Paul Pinegar at quarterback. Rule No. 1 of journalism: If the data don't fit, you must quit using that data. 

Moving on!

... the opposing team had at least one first- or second-round NFL Draft pick or a Heisman Trophy finalist on offense.

Note: Brian Murphy just completely changed the premise in his headline by adding Heisman finalists to the list of ways to beat Boise State. Congratulations to those of you who had "three sentences" in the abandoned thesis office pool. You win a new car!

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In five of the losses, that player was a quarterback. In the other instance, a running back.

Conclusion: It helps to have good players touch the ball a lot. Brian Murphy is to Boise State football as Mary Hart is to Royal Wedding coverage: just a pretty face pointing out obvious things.

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(Note: This assumes that Kaepernick, Locker and Dalton will be selected in the first or second round, which seems pretty safe at this point.)

We interrupt this Brian Murphy column for some actual news: The Tennessee Titans may take Andy Dalton with the No. 8 overall pick. Mr. Fiskers will now eat grapes.

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The teams that defeated Boise State since 2005 also had at least one other high NFL pick (defined for this exercise as a first-, second- or third-rounder) on the team, usually on defense.

Wait ... you can be drafted in the third round and still be considered a high NFL Draft pick? That should make Ohio University WR Taylor Price (No. 90 overall, 2010) pretty happy. To the resume builder, my friend!

Some of the teams, notably Boston College in 2005 and TCU in 2009, were stocked with NFL picks.

A closer look

Dec. 28, 2005: Boston College 27, Boise State 21 (MPC Computers Bowl in Boise)

In Hawkins' final game - Petersen was the offensive coordinator and had been named head coach, but Hawkins coached the game before leaving for Colorado - Boise State faced a team of loaded with future NFL Draft prospects.

Offensive star: Quarterback Matt Ryan - who went 19-of-36 for 256 yards and three touchdowns in the bowl game - was the No. 3 pick overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2008 and has blossomed into an above average NFL quarterback. Atlanta was the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs in 2010.

Next week on As The Murph Turns: "Want to beat Boise State? Have players who go on to play for No. 1 seeds in the NFC playoffs." 

But in all seriousness (and despite the fact that it pains me deeply), let us examine that Boston College loss. First, this 2005 Boise State team was one of the worst Boise State teams in the past decade, which isn't to say that they were awful but that they were certainly capable of losing all on their own and without the intervention of FUTURE NFL DRAFT PICKS FROM ROUNDS ONE TO THREE OR MAYBE FOUR IF THAT IS CONVENIENT FOR THE DATA. 

Matt Ryan had a good game against the Broncos, but he did not have a great game. He barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes, and he averaged less than 10 yards per attempt. All his touchdown passes came in the first half. 

On the opposite side of the field, Jared Zabransky played like hot garbage. He threw a pick, got replaced by Taylor Tharp for awhile, then threw another pick in the end zone with a chance to take the lead in the final minute. What I remember about that game was Zabransky's bad play and Dan Hawkins' horrible game management, not that Matt Ryan was headed for future NFL stardom. 

Other high picks: Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was selected with the last pick of the first round (No. 32 overall) by the New York Giants in 2006. Offensive lineman Jeremy Trueblood went in the second round (59th overall) and cornerback Will Blackmon was picked in the fourth round (No. 115 overall) that year.

In 2007, Boston College produced two more mid-round NFL draftees. In 2008, offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus was selected in the first round (No. 17 overall). In 2009, defensive tackle B.J. Raji was a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) to the Green Bay Packers.

All told, the Eagles had four first-round picks and a second-round selection on the team.

This conclusively proves that Boston College has a football team. YOUR MOVE, historians. Find me Noah's Ark.

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Sept. 8, 2007: Washington 24, Boise State 10 (in Seattle)

Offensive star: Redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker completed 13 of 25 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown and one interception. Locker also had a rushing touchdown in the game. Now Locker - who had an uneven career at Washington - is a potential first-round draft pick.

Other high picks: In 2009, Linebacker Donald Butler (third round, 79th overall) and defensive end Daniel Te'o-Nesheim (third round, 86th overall) were selected.

Really? Jake Locker is a terrible quarterback, and Boise State should have never lost this game. I blame Taylor Tharp. Others might blame the secondary. Some could blame an unfortunate Ryan Clady holding penalty.

I cannot think of anyone who credits the future NFL greatness of Jake Locker for winning this game.

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OK. maybe one person.

Nov. 23, 2007: Hawaii 39, Boise State 27 (in Honolulu)

Offensive star: Senior quarterback Colt Brennan, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2007, completed 40-of-53 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns. He was picked in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

Other high pick: Defensive end David Veikune was picked in the second round (No. 52) overall in the 2008 draft.

The problem with this pick, as Mr. Fiskers and I will point out below, is that acknowledging the fact that Brennan torched the Broncos this one time in a big Hawaii win fails to account for the other two times that Boise State beat Brennan and the Warriors. But for now ... yes, Colt Brennan played pretty well this game. We'll allow it. 

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Of note: Wide receiver Davone Bess had 14 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Bess went undrafted in 2008, but has become a key contributor for the Miami Dolphins.

Next time on Days of Our Murph: "Want to beat Boise State? Have players who make NFL rosters at any point in their lifetime."

Dec. 23, 2007: East Carolina 41, Boise State 38 (Hawaii Bowl)

Offensive star: Running back Chris Johnson had 408 all-purpose yards, including 223 yards rushing and two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) in the win. In 2008, he was selected in the first round (No. 24 overall) by the Tennessee Titans and became just the sixth NFL rusher to amass more than 2,000 yards in a single-season in 2009. He was the NFL Offensive Player of the Year that season, when he broke the league's record for all-purpose yards.

Other high picks: Defensive tackle Linval Joseph (second round, 46th overall) and tight end Davon Drew (fifth round) also were drafted.

Yes, Chris Johnson counts. That's one. (One-and-a-half, if you count Brennan.)

Dec. 23, 2008: TCU 17, Boise State 16 (Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego)

Offensive star: Quarterback Andy Dalton completed 22-of-35 passes for 197 yards and one interception. He could be a first- or second-round selection this year.

Other high picks: The true star of that TCU game was the defense.

So ... Boise State also loses to teams with good defenses? What's next? Teams with French-American quarterbacks?

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Defensive end Jerry Hughes, who had one sack, was selected in the first round (31st overall) by the Indianapolis Colts in 2009. In 2010, linebacker Daryl Washington (second round, 47th overall).

Of note: In addition, the Horned Frogs had five other players - three defensive - selected in final three rounds of the 2009 draft and one more in 2010.

Please don't tell me we're starting to include fifth through seventh round picks.

OF NOTE: TCU is in Forth Worth. Continue.

Nov. 26, 2010: Nevada 34, Boise State 31 OT (in Reno)

Offensive star: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick completed 19-of-35 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 45 yards and a key touchdown in the Wolf Pack's comeback victory.

Here lies one of the major flaws in Murphy's post. How do you reconcile the fact that half of the players on this list lost to Boise State as many times or more times than they beat them? 

  • Colin Kaepernick's career record against Boise State is 1-3.
  • Colt Brennan was a career 1-2.
  • Andy Dalton was 1-1.

If Boise State loses to teams with high NFL draft picks, then why didn't they go 0-for-4 against the Kaep Attack? Why wasn't Colt Brennan undefeated against the Broncos? 

For Kaepernick and Brennan, you could make the case that the theory only applies at the end of your college career when you are conceivably at your peak. But that doesn't work. Boise State lost to Dalton when he was a sophomore and beat him when he was a junior. The Broncos lost to freshman Jake Locker and senior Chris Johnson. There is no correlation.

We might as well be saying: "Want to see a good Vin Diesel movie? Start with one that has cars."

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... or "Want to make a sandwich? Start with a pita pocket."

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 ... or "Want to win Dancing With the Stars? Dress like a sailor."

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This draft argument is going nowhere.

Other high pick: Defensive end Dontay Moch is projected as a mid-second round selection.

Of note: Wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who had a monster game against Boise State, could eventually be a NFL Draft prospect.

So no other high picks then.

Lessons

There are lessons to be learned?! No, Mr. Fiskers. Get out of that car with Rebecca Black. Life is still worth living. It's not even Friday yet!

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It usually takes superior offensive talent to beat the Broncos. 

Superior talent? Superior to what? The Broncos? Other WAC teams? I don't understand. Needs more slideshow.

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Ryan, Brennan, Johnson and Kaepernick had stellar performances in their victories.

I have been asked several times lately what Boise State's record will be in 2011. Like most observers, I point to the Georgia and TCU games as the biggest stumbling blocks to an undefeated season. The upper- and mid-tier Mountain West Conference teams should also provide tougher challenges week in and week out than the Broncos have faced in recent years, perhaps increasing the chances of an "unexpected" loss.

Do not ask Brian Murphy what he thinks Boise State's record will be in 2011. You will be 100 years old by the time he's done. 

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Perhaps we should also be consulting the NFL Draft prospects of opponents' key offensive player, especially their quarterbacks.

Perhaps we should be consulting team strengths and weaknesses.

Or perhaps we should be consulting prescient troll dolls.Fiskers_trolls_medium

Among 2011 opponents, Georgia's Aaron Murray stands out as a potential NFL prospect. Fresno State's Derek Carr, a redshirt sophomore without a career start, certainly has the size and bloodlines to be considered a potential NFL Draft pick.

So when asked about Boise State's record this year, Brian Murphy tells people that the Broncos will lose to Georgia and Fresno State. Wonderful.

But sometimes it's hard to know. Before this season, few would have considered Dalton and Kaepernick likely high NFL picks.

The lesson here: The NFL has no idea what it's doing.

Other notes

The 2005 Georgia team, which defeated Boise State in the season opener, had 11 players drafted in the next two years. Cornerback Tim Jennings was the highest pick - second round, No. 62 overall in 2006.

But their quarterback was D.J. Shockley who didn't get drafted. Does not compute. Your argument is invalid.

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The 2006 Oklahoma team, which Boise State beat in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 12 players drafted in the next three years and kicker Garrett Hartley, who was undrafted, has become a solid NFL player. The highest pick was running back Adrian Peterson (first round, No. 7 overall in 2007). The Sooners also had two second-round selections in the 2008 draft.

Next time on Desperate Murphwives: "Want to beat Boise State? Don't have high NFL draft picks on your team."

The 2008 Oregon team, which Boise State defeated in Eugene, had nine players drafted the next two years, a figure that does not include running back LeGarrette Blount, who made it to an NFL roster as undrafted free agent. The highest selection was safety Patrick Chung (second round, No. 34 overall in 2009). The Ducks had three second-round selections in 2009 and another in 2010.

Not to mention that Boise State defeated the Ducks in 2009 and that team featured LaMichael James in a pretty large role. He was a Heisman finalist the following year, and he could very well be drafted in the first two rounds next season.

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And thus ends Brian Murphy's article. Conclusions? Lessons? Entire portions of reason missing?

One of the most painfully obvious fallacies Murphy makes is avoiding the topic of Boise State beating teams that had high draft picks on the roster. He makes brief mention of Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson. But there were others. Lots of others. Here are just a couple of notable ones:

 

  • Fresno State RB Ryan Mathews (2010, No. 12 overall) - Mathews was the second running back off the board last year and was universally praised as a future NFL star. He never beat the Broncos in his Fresno career. 
  • Idaho OG Mike Iupati (2010, No. 17 overall) - Let's call this Exhibit A in the debunking of Murphy's NFL Draft theory. Idaho was terrible. Iupati was really good. That's all.

 

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Murphy based a good deal of his article on speculation that Kaepernick and Dalton would indeed be drafted high this weekend. Well, the same can be true of fellow 2011 draft prospects on teams the Broncos beat the last few years. Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams is considered the second-best back in the draft and is a sure bet to go in the first two rounds. Oregon State boasts the No. 6 defensive tackle in Stephen Paea who was graded similar to Titus Young. Utah corner Brandon Burton may be one of the top ten corners, which could mean a second round pick. Boise State beat all three of those teams last year.

There is just too much data against Murphy's claim. It plain doesn't work.

Correlation does not equal causation. Just because five teams beat Boise State with NFL-ready players does not mean that Boise State is predisposed to losing to teams with NFL-ready players. 

Is it interesting that someone from each of Boise State's last five losses got drafted high? I guess. 

Is it at all predictive or factual or true? Not at all. 

Until next time, Mr. Fiskers wishes you all a happy draft weekend and reminds you to read carefully. You never know who they'll give blogs to these days.

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