It isn’t easy, that first start, and Zack Greenlee proved that. The Fresno State redshirt freshman was at home against a Wyoming defense that was ranked 10th of 12 in the Mountain West Conference against the pass, had allowed 17 touchdowns through the air without picking off even a single pass and hadn’t turned up the heat much on opposing quarterbacks, ranking 11th with just eight sacks.
The results are the results, and not good at all.
But within an hour or so of kickoff, many miles away, Utah State sent a true freshman onto the field, the Aggies’ fourth-string flinger of the football. Kent Myers, the Aggies’ quarterback, was on the road against a Hawaii defense that was fourth in the Mountain West against the pass, had allowed opponents to hit only 56.3% of their passes and was ranked in the top half of the conference in completion percentage, interceptions, yards allowed per passing play and passing efficiency rating defense.
The results were a bit different.
Utah State started him off with some easy throws, getting 1 yard then 3 yards. Myers then hit Hunter Sharp for a 6-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 62-yard drive.
On the Aggies’ next series, they had Myers throw one over the top and the result was a 70-yard touchdown.
“He handled it well. He was pretty calm and I thought he was very efficient, obviously, from a physical standpoint,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said Monday.
“But I’m talking about mental, which I think is 90% of the game at quarterback. A lot of that is done Monday through Friday before he even steps on that field to try to slow the game down for him. I went over to the offensive line after the first couple series, and the comment came out, ‘Coach, he’s a cool cat.’ I said, ‘For real? Don’t lie to me.’ And they said, ‘No, coach, he’s calm; he’s got it. He hasn’t called anything wrong, he’s not stuttering and he looks us in the eye. He has a good look.’
“That’s when I knew he had a chance. He could have thrown the ball in the stands on accident and overthrown or underthrown receivers or been inaccurate and I still would have said, ‘Hey, mentally, he was good, just physically we have to work on some things.’ But I’m not saying that because he was on the spot with his throws and very efficient, very accurate.’’
Myers ended up hitting his first 11 passes, didn’t miss until midway through the third quarter and finished 14 of 15 for 186 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
His efficiency rating -- a cool 263.49.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is leading the nation in passing efficiency rating at 187.21 and he has not had a single-game rating as high as Myers’ 263.49. Heck, Mariota has started 35 games in his career and has never hit 263-point-anything, and he has had streaks of 353 and 253 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest and second-longest in Pac-12 history.
And that might not even be the most intriguing thing about that performance.
Myers is, or was, the Aggies’ fourth-string quarterback. He was playing only because Chuckie Keeton reinjured his left knee in a victory over Wake Forest, Darell Garretson hurt his wrist in a loss at Colorado State and Craig Harrison banged up a knee in a win over UNLV. But, get this, all four of them have now started and won at least one game this season, which is as mind-boggling as Myers’ first start.
THIRD AND SHORTS• Fresno State was held scoreless in the third quarter in its loss to Wyoming, generating 103 yards of offense and punting three times in what had been its most productive 15 minutes of football through the first eight games of the season. The Bulldogs had scored 93 third-quarter points (40% of their season total), were averaging 130.5 yards in the quarter and had scored on their opening drive in three of their past four games going 92 yards for a touchdown at New Mexico, 75 at UNLV and 75 at Boise State.
• In a victory over San Diego State, Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo became only the second player in history to have 9,000 career passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards. He is at 9,084 and 3,025. The first was Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who passed for 10,098 yards and ran for 4,112.
• Air Force secured its 19th Commander in Chief’s Trophy with a 23-6 victory at Army. The Falcons beat Navy 30-21 in October and are now 6-2 after going 2-10 last season.
• San Jose State back Tyler Ervin racked up 308 all-purpose yards in a loss to Colorado State -- 149 rushing, 114 on kickoff returns, 38 receiving and 7 on a punt return -- and is the first Spartans player with 300 or more in a single game since Charles Pauley had 322 against Hawaii in 2002.
• Nevada for a third week in a row erased a halftime deficit, coming back to win. The Wolf Pack trailed at Brigham Young 28-13 at halftime but scored 29 points in the second half to win 42-25. They trailed at Hawaii 10-6, but scored 20 points in the third and fourth quarters to win 26-18. And they trailed San Diego State 14-10, but outscored the Aztecs 20-0 to win 30-14.
• Nevada is averaging 13.9 points in the fourth quarter of its games against FBS competition, which leads the nation. Georgia is second with an average of 12.6 points.
• UNLV wide out Rob Jameson made his college debut Saturday, playing the first snaps of his career in a loss to New Mexico. Jameson was a team manager in 2012.
• New Mexico freshman quarterback Lamar Jordan led the Lobos to the winning score with 1:22 remaining, taking them 66 yards on 15 plays ending with a 3-yard run by Teriyon Gipson. Jordan also led a winning drive in the fourth quarter when New Mexico beat New Mexico State back in September, and is the first freshman to have even one game-winning drive for New Mexico since Donavan Porterie in 2006.
Utah State had six sacks in its victory at Hawaii and now has 20 in its past three games -- the Aggies had eight in a loss at Colorado State and six in a victory over UNLV.
The 20 sacks are as many or more than nine Mountain West teams have this season:
Team, Sacks, Yards• 1. Utah State, 36, 267
• 2. Boise State, 25, 153
• 3. Air Force, 24, 122
• 4. Nevada, 20, 101
• T-5. San Diego State, 18, 103
• T-5. Fresno State, 18, 76
• 7. UNLV, 17, 93
• 8. Hawaii, 16, 119
• 9. Colorado State, 15, 80
• 10. New Mexico, 13, 100
• 11. Wyoming, 10, 52
• 12. San Jose State, 7, 43
Across the FBS there are 78 teams that have 20 or fewer sacks this season, and the Aggies have three players (Zach Vigil with 6.5, B.J. Larsen with 6.0 and Nick Vigil with 5.5) that are within a sack and a half of having as many as seven teams in the nation.
Southern Methodist, San Jose State, Army and Ball State have seven sacks this season, Navy and Kent State have four and New Mexico State is last in the nation with three.