Bronco Stadium was packed with a record crowd for an afternoon homecoming game. The stands were loud and the game was entertaining, and then the second half happened. A complete meltdown on both sides of the ball has left the Broncos with a losing record through five games and many fans questions whether the Broncos are even a bowl team, let alone a contender for the conference title after the 41-31 loss. Let’s take a look at how each unit performed and where the Broncos need to improve moving forward.
Offensive Grade: C
The offense moved the ball with relative ease over the course of the game. If it weren’t for bad snaps and sacks, the offense would have had 500 yards. Hank Bachmeier was sharp, having one of his best games with 388 yards and 4 touchdowns. Bachmeier was responsible for two turnovers, neither his own fault. The running game was somewhat effective, but fell off when George Holani left with what looked like a concussion.
The offensive line was completely overhauled, the Broncos started a new center and right tackle, with moving others to different positions. I applaud the coaches for trying something different, but it failed...miserably.
Defensive Grade: F
I’m not sure why it took Nevada so long to realize that the Broncos can’t stop the run, even against a terrible rushing team like the Wolf Pack. The play on the line (Isaiah Bagnah aside) and at linebacker was awful. There were missed tackles and poor angles all came long. The only positive was that the secondary play a decent game. Strong made some NFL throws and had all day to throw, but the secondary still made things difficult for him.
Special Teams Grade: D
A number of solid kick returns and a shanked punt did not help an already struggling Bronco defense. A Jonah Dalmas made field goal is the only reason this grade is not an F.
Coaching Grade: D
Plough called a good game on the offensive side of the ball. But the lack of adjustments and poor special teams play falls on the coaching staff. I still believe this young staff has some potential, but I question the fit of some of the position coaches.
It won’t get any easier for the Broncos when they travel to Provo next weekend to take on the 13th ranked BYU Cougars in a nationally televised game on ABC.