Welcome to my weekly column where I will be analyzing various Mountain West matchups. While we look forward to the upcoming season, I will be analyzing some games from last year. The first edition of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” will feature the premiere bowl game for the Mountain West, the Las Vegas Bowl.
To be honest, I did not think Wilson would make it through this game; he was clearly hobbled. However, Wilson showed amazing grit and resilience as he was able to reel in 10 receptions for 221 yards. Oregon had no answer for the over the top throws. Wilson’s ability to catch the deep ball and take hits over the middle of the field made him a force this past season. He has received rave reviews during his early days with the Cowboys and seems poised to make an early impact.
If anyone questions Wilson’s impact this past season, this is the perfect tape to watch. Boise State ran the delayed route over the middle with mixed results this season, but it worked to perfection in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Leighton Vander Esch
Vander Esch put his stamp on the game early by putting a stop to the quick passing game of Oregon. His 12 tackles, 3 TFL, and sack will go down as one of the greatest defensive performances in Boise State history. Vander Esch silenced many of the doubters that questioned his future in the NFL. This game, along with his performance in the Mountain West championship propelled LVE’s draft stock.
Vander Esch showed his ability to read the quick pass and make a vicious hit that led to a forced fumble and great field position for the Broncos.
Oregon’s Running Game
Oregon could never get their running game going. They finished the game with 28 Rushes for 47 yards. Their leading rusher was...their quarterback Justin Herbert with 9 rushes for 17 yards. That is not good, folks. Oregon relies heavily on quick passes using play action; it is really difficult for those plays to be effective if the running game can’t get going. That proved to be the case here.
Oregon’s offensive line
Oregon’s offensive line was thoroughly dominated by BSU’s young defensive line. They gave up four sacks and Herbert rarely had time to throw, leading to two interceptions and one fumble by Herbert. Herbert, who is recognized by many experts to be a potential number one pick, looked very average in the Las Vegas Bowl.
The Mario Cristobal era appears to be off to a rocky start as Oregon looked unprepared and unmotivated, while Boise State looked poised and ready for a big 2018 season with the majority of their starters returning.
Stay tuned. Next week I will be breaking down the Mountain West Championship game.