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2011 WAC Preview - Unit Rankings
Utah State C Tyler Larsen
Utah State C Tyler Larsen
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2011


2011 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - WAC Unit Rankings


Preview 2011

WAC Unit Rankings


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- 2011 Fresno State Preview | 2011 Hawaii Preview 
- 2011 Idaho Preview | 2011 Louisiana Tech Preview
- 2011 Nevada Preview | 2011 New Mexico State Preview
- 2011 San Jose State Preview | 2011 Utah State Preview
 
- 2011 WAC Preview | 2011 WAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 WAC Schedules & Picks | 2011 WAC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players 
- 2011 WAC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2010 WAC Preview

WAC Overall

Based on how good each team is and NOT the predicted finish

1. Nevada
2. Fresno State
3. Hawaii
4. Louisiana Tech
5. Idaho
6. Utah State
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State

Offenses

1. Nevada
The offense went from being quirky and productive under head coach Chris Ault and offensive coordinator Cameron Norcross, to something truly special. With Ault handling the passing game and Norcross dealing with the ground attack, the Wolf Pack finished fourth in the nation in total offense and eighth in scoring. Now the attack has to replace QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Vai Taua, TE Virgil Green, and all-star OG John Bender, along with two other starters. The line should be solid with three returning starters, while the running game should continue to be nasty with Mike Ball, Lampford Mark, and others ready to form a dangerous rotation. The air attack should be even stronger with QB Tyler Lantrip a strong, accurate passing prospect, and with Rishard Matthews one of the WAC’s best receivers, there could be more happening through the air even with the loss of Brandon Wimberly, who suffered a gunshot wound this offseason and whose football career is in jeopardy.

2. Fresno State
3. Hawaii
4. Louisiana Tech
5. Idaho
6. Utah State
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State

Quarterbacks

1. Hawaii
It’s Hawaii. The passing attack is going to blow up. Bryant Moniz is a near-lock for WAC Player of the Year honors if he has a 2011 like his 2010, and Shane Austin is good enough to step in and shine if needed. Finding an option for 2012 would be nice, but the offense is Moniz’s to fly.

2. Nevada
3. Fresno State
4. Idaho
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Utah State
7. New Mexico State
8. San Jose State

Running Backs

1. Nevada
While Colin Kaepernick had a lot to do with the running game over the last few years, the running backs have been fantastic with Vai Taua cranking out 4,588 yards and 45 touchdowns. Most of his work came in the last two seasons, and now it’ll take a slew of experienced backs to pick up the slack. The Wolf Pack never has a problem running the ball, and now it’s time to unleash the speedsters. Mike Ball and Lampford Mark will put up huge numbers.

2. Utah State
3. Fresno State
4. Louisiana Tech
5. San Jose State
6. Idaho
7. New Mexico State
8. Hawaii

Receivers

1. Hawaii
Lose a few star receivers, fill in the gaps with new ones, Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares were unstoppable as the team’s top two targets, and No. 4 receiver Rodney Bradley and his 48 catches will also be missed. However, there’s talent coming back and the system will take care of things. Salas might have been a legitimate NFL receiver, but the numbers and production will come from the new targets. It just might take a little bit of time. Royce Pollard and Billy Ray Stutzmann have to steady and reliable, but at least two more receivers have to take on big roles right away. Several players will get the chance.

2. Fresno State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Nevada
5. Utah State
6. Idaho
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State

Offensive Lines

1. Nevada
Partly because of the offensive style and partly because the line was really that good, the Nevada line finished 12th in the nation in sacks allowed and paved the way for the nation’s third-best ground game. Three starters return, and while work needs to be done on the strongside, the production should keep on coming with good size and nice prospects. “The Union” - the nickname for the O line – continues to be a machine, and now three starters are back with the two open spots certain to be ably filled. The line was terrific in pass protection and was peerless at handling the Pistol offense for the ground game.

2. Fresno State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Hawaii
5. Utah State
6. Idaho
7. New Mexico State
8. San Jose State

Defenses

1. Nevada
All the attention was paid to the great offense and the big-time numbers the attack put up, but the defense did its part, too, finishing third in the WAC in yards allowed and 31st in the nation in scoring D. The Wolf Pack tried really, really hard to improve the defense over the years, and last year it finally happened with everything starting to come together. The potential is there for the defense to be the best in the league, helped by a strong back seven and a veteran secondary that should be all over the field, but a pass rush needs to develop. It all starts up front, but losing Dontay Moch off the end will be a problem, and Ryan Coulson will be missed on the other side. The tackles should be a strength, and they’ll need to get into the backfield on a regular basis.

2. Louisiana Tech
3. Fresno State
4. Hawaii
5. Idaho
6. San Jose State
7. Utah State
8. New Mexico State

Defensive Lines

1. Nevada
The Wolf Pack has to replace Dontay Moch, a special athlete who blew into the backfield for 8.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss with 64 tackles. Also gone is Ryan Coulson, a 14-game starter on the other side who came up with 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Both tackles are back and the Nevada coaches always seem to find ways to get into the backfield, but it’s still asking a lot to finish 18th in the nation in run defense and 24th in sacks. Brett Roy is great at making big things happen and he’s terrific at getting to the quarterback. Zack Madonick is an unsung rock on the inside who gums up the works.

2. Louisiana Tech
3. Fresno State
4. Hawaii
5. Idaho
6. San Jose State
7. New Mexico State
8. Utah State

Linebackers

1. Louisiana Tech
The potential is there for this to be the team’s biggest strength if everyone can stay healthy. There are two returning starters and promising options to form the depth and fill in the open spot, and this group should be able to clean up most of the messes left by the front line. Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley forms one of the best linebacking duos in the WAC, while Dusty Rust and Solomon Randle give the Bulldogs a fantastic top four. Throw in the JUCO transfers, and the Bulldogs are loaded with players who know what they’re doing.

2. Nevada
3. Fresno State
4. Hawaii
5. San Jose State
6. Idaho
7. Utah State
8. New Mexico State

Secondaries

1. Nevada
Teams bombed away to try to keep up the pace with the tremendous Wolf Pack offense, and the secondary gives up a ton of yards, but it didn’t give up a ton of big passes and finished second in the WAC in pass efficiency defense. Three starters return with the only loss Doyle Miller, a 55-tackle corner who was good, but isn’t irreplaceable. The safety tandem of Marlon Johnson and Duke Williams are solid, and Isaiah Frey is one of the WAC’s best corners.

2. Fresno State
3. Idaho
4. San Jose State
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Hawaii
7. Utah State
8. New Mexico State

Special Teams

1. Nevada
Improved over the last few years, the Nevada special teams have gone from a major problem to a strength … at times. The kicking game is a question mark and PK Anthony Martinez has to find some semblance of range, but the return game, thanks to Rishard Matthews, should be terrific and the athleticism and focus is there for the coverage teams to do more

2. Louisiana Tech
3. Fresno State
4. Idaho
5. Hawaii
6. San Jose State
7. Utah State
8. New Mexico State

- 2011 WAC Preview | 2011 WAC Unit Rankings
- 2011 WAC Schedules & Picks | 2011 WAC Thoughts
- 2011 CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players 
- 2011 WAC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish
- 2010 WAC Preview