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Game balls and player ratings for Boise State vs. UC Davis

I recognize that most Bronco fans are ready to move past the UC Davis game just as fast as they possibly can. And for good reason. That sucker was pretty depressing.

But before we look ahead to next weekend in college football and next Wednesday's matchup against Tulsa, let's look back at a night gone meh for the Broncos. After the jump, check out what players and performances got my attention, and feel free to share yours in the comments.

Warning: Incredibly lame highlight video with emo synth background music

Reader Choice Award Player of the Game

Austin Pettis



By a large margin, Pettis was chosen by you readers as the Broncos' POG, proving that, if nothing else, you all can read a box score. Pettis' stat line was one of the only ones to stand out among a sea of averageness: 10 catches, 129 yards, 2 TDs. Good call, everyone.

There was plenty not to like on Saturday, but Pettis' performance was not it. I wrote after the game that Pettis may have taken the jump from really good receiver to game-changing receiver over the course of the UC Davis game. Was I getting ahead of myself? It's hard to tell. I am probably out of place to make bold assertions like that following a game against an FCS team, but Pettis was the player most responsible for keeping Boise State's offense moving on Saturday night. And FCS team or not, that's pretty good.

Best performance by a Top 5 team in a mid-level WAC team role

Boise State

After the game, the comments section quickly filled up with vitriol and disappointment.

From MooreWalksOnWater:

I’m sorry, but that game was embarrassing.

From our very own FFBSU:

Boise State is a team that prides itself on execution and they looked pathetic at times tonight.

From that one BYU guy in his inflammatory FanPost:

Blip bloop blop bleep blorp

The Broncos did not play up to their potential, which was great cause for weeping and gnashing of teeth. My question to you all today is: Feeling any better? Did the sting of playing down to an FCS school subside?

Most important factor for Boise State not falling further in the polls

No one who has a vote watched the game

Except, of course, Chadd Cripe, and I'm not even sure he was at the game considering that he left the Broncos at No. 4 in his poll.

OBNUG's Nick was right, and so were the OBNUG commenters who echoed his sentiments:

I think it's safe to say we Bronco fans are going to be the most critical.

We watched the whole game and were aware of who we were playing. I’m betting most of the other voters aren’t as aware. They’ll take a look at the final score, maybe peek at the box score, but I don’t think they’ll see any highlights.

Also, I'm pretty sure that a bunch of Harris Poll voters think UC Davis plays in the Pac-10.

Least dominating performance

(tie) Boise State offensive and defensive lines

Out of all the fallout from Boise State's win (win fallout? I thought that was supposed to be a good thing), I find the most surprising to be how poorly the Broncos played on both sides of the line. What a departure from the first four weeks of the season. If you consider the D-line play against Oregon on September 3 and compare that to the D-line play against UC Davis on October 3, the difference is night and day in a very bad way. Same can be said of the offensive line, which looked leaps and bounds better in recent weeks, especially against a Fresno defensive line that worked over UCD last month.

Are the Broncos regressing? I don't buy it. Out of all the reasons given for the poor performance on Saturday, the one that might hold the most truth is Boise State's failure to execute. Coaches harped on it after the game, and it was something that hadn't really come up in previous weeks. Boise State's lines will be fine going forward if they can execute properly. There are no more FCS teams on the schedule, right?

Greg Denham's favorite target

Whoever Brandyn Thompson was covering

As Loque reminded me, Thompson was not the only Bronco cornerback being picked on by Greg Denham Manning on Saturday night. Jerrell Gavins had his fair share of balls thrown in his direction, which is the main reason why he led the team in tackles.

However, I think Thompson's night stood out more to me because he was supposed to be the Broncos' No. 1 corner against UC Davis, and he hardly looked the part. Granted, those were some good receivers he was going up against and Denham threw some very good balls. Still, Thompson did nothing to force the Aggies to throw away from him. With Kyle Wilson back on the field, I expect teams to target Thompson more.

Newest Winston Venable attack position




You asked for it, Bronco fans, and you got it. On several occasions on Saturday night, Venable was lined up at outside linebacker in what looked for all intents and purposes to be a 4-3 Bronco defense. I assume that the changed alignment was a result of a UC Davis formation (probably a 2WR look as opposed to 3WR or spread) and that Venable is allowed to switch seamlessly between hybrid nickelback and traditional linebacker. Still, it warmed my heart. Maybe Justin Wilcox reads this blog.

Best dehabilitating block

Richie Brockel

I bet Richie Brockel wishes he could block FCS opponents every day. Brockel had a pancake feed on Saturday night, flattening UCD defenders like they were Bowling Green defenders. The one that stands out most in my mind happened on a sweep left where Brockel absolutely laid out his man. Ironically, the play only gained two yards.

Player most missed due to injury

(tie) Kyle Wilson, Kevin Sapien

Neither the Bronco defense nor the Bronco offense looked itself on Saturday night, and I believe that a big part of it was due to the absence of these two starters. Wilson could have played if necessary, although he would not have been 100 percent. He should be back healthy for Tulsa. Sapien's neck injury (a chronic neck injury? Isn't that a eupemism for paralysis?) sounds more serious as the Broncos sat the starting OG in hopes that he could make it through the whole year.

Most important stat of the game


The Broncos are undefeated heading into their semi-bye week. Has it been perfect? No. Are Bronco fans happy? Sort of. But you can't complain about a 5-0 start. Or at least you can't complain too much.

Player ratings


Austin Pettis - 8 - What more could Pettis have done on Saturday night? OK, besides block Mike Morales on inside running plays.

Titus Young - 7 - Did well to break past the defense on his TD catch, but didn't have many other opportunities to shine. Credit TY for quietly racking up six catches on the night. Credit UC Davis for kicking away from him.

Tyler Shoemaker - 5 - Well, at least he didn't get shut out as is the norm on odd-numbered games. Still, 1 catch for 8 yards is blah.

Kyle Efaw - 6 - Throwing to the tight end is fun, especially on Efaw's slick 22-yard catch. Hopefully he is a bigger part of gameplans going forward.

Tommy Gallarda - 5 - Didn't hear much from Gallarda on Saturday night.

Garrett Pendergast - 6 - Played well enough not to be noticed.

Brenel Myers - 4 - Missed numerous assignments and was spelled in the fourth quarter by Joe Kellogg.

Thomas Byrd - 4 - Still struggling with center-QB exchanges for some reason.

Will Lawrence - 6 - A decent game, but nothing special. Could take some blame (along with the rest of the interior line) for the Broncos' failures in short yardage near the goalline.

Matt Slater - 5 - Got beat on a Kellen Moore sack (though the guy who beat him whiffed). Quiet otherwise.

Richie Brockel - 7 - Several crushing blocks but also lost technique down near the goalline once.

Kellen Moore - 7 - Solid for long stretches, sprinkled in with curious decisions and poor throws (blame the wet ball, if you must).

Doug Martin - 5 - Ran hard but broke far fewer tackles. Looked excellent catching balls out of the backfield.

Jeremy Avery - 6 - Few big plays from Avery. Never really had much room to breathe.


Ryan Winterswyk - 7 - A big FG block before the half and another sack. His solid play is starting to show up in the stat book.

Chase Baker - 7 - Disruptive in the Aggie backfield but not much push in the pass rush.

Billy Winn - 6 - Made a couple plays but didn't flash the dominance of weeks past.

Shea McClellin - 5 - Never had his name called on Saturday night.

Daron Mackey - 6 - Had one or two solid plays but was pretty much a nonfactor once UCD took to the air.

Aaron Tevis - 7 - Led the team with two TFLs and flew to the ball very well.

Jerrell Gavins - 5 - Completely lost his man on a deep bomb that should have been a TD and gave up big cushion on several other short throws.

Brandyn Thompson - 5 - Too many penalties and too few plays.

Winston Venable - 7 - Amazing how he closes on receivers so fast.

Jeron Johnson - 7 - Came up with the big hits he is known for.

George Iloka - 6 - Another quiet night for Iloka.

Special Teams

Kyle Brotzman - 7 - Brotzman missed