M-West Spring Football, Nevada to Wyoming
Wyoming QB Brett Smith
Wyoming QB Brett Smith
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Mar 18, 2012


As spring ball kicks in, what's happening for each Mountain West team? Nevada to Wyoming.


2012 Spring Preview   

M-West - Nevada to Wyoming


Air Force | Boise State | Colorado State | Fresno State | Hawaii
Nevada | New Mexico | San Diego State | UNLV | Wyoming
 
2012 Mountain West Pre-Spring Preview
- Mountain West Pre-Spring Rankings
- Why Every Team Should Be Excited
- Why Every Team Should Be Grouchy
- What Every Team Needs To Work On 
- 2012 Mountain West Recruiting Rankings 
- 2012 Mountain West Composite Schedule 
- 2012 Mountain West Team Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
 
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- M-West Spring Preview & Thoughts - Air Force to Hawaii
 
Nevada

Nevada is poised to become even more of a player in the upcoming Mountain West-Conference USA merger coming up. For this year, the Wolf Pack has the team in place to come close to another 2010-like run with a ground game that should be devastating. It finished eighth in the nation last year, and with QB Cody Fajardo in place and ready to take a big step forward, the numbers should be phenomenal. This spring, unlike last year, Nevada can work on tweaking and improving rather than worrying about rebuilding – for the most part. The defensive line needs work and the receiving corps needs some new playmakers, but overall, the team is ready to be a Mountain West star right away.

- Last year, Nevada started out the season with four straight road games including dates at Oregon and Boise State. This year, the schedule is far, far more manageable. There isn’t a game on the slate the Wolf Pack can’t win, and that includes a trip to Cal to start the regular season and Boise State to end it.

- The defensive line didn’t do nearly enough to get into the backfield, but losing tackle Brett Roy will sting. Three starters are done up front putting the pressure on end Albert Rosette to become the main man.

- Running backs. The Pack needs more of them to take the heat off Fajardo. While the sophomore is 6-2 and 205, he’s not build to take a beating.

- The punting game needs improving, and it starts with finding a new one to take over for Jake Hurst and his 41.6-yard average. The coverage team wasn’t strong enough.

- The offensive line has the potential to be good, but a center has to emerge this spring. Jordan Mudge was a steady leader.

New Mexico

Bob Davie will add some defense to the offensive-minded conference. New Mexico hasn’t done much on either side of the ball over the last few years, but the Mike Locksley disaster is in the rearview mirror and Davie should be the right coach to restore order and discipline. It’ll take a while to make a big turnaround, but after three straight 1-11 seasons, any improvement will be major. This is a program that thrived in the early 2000s on good defense and a strong running game, and Davie will start by trying to toughen up both. The Lobos averaged 113 yards on the ground and got ripped apart for 247 rushing yards per game; Job One is for that to change under the new coaching staff.

- The Lobo line might not be all that talented, but it’ll be beefy. Three starters return and the likely new guys in the mix are huge. This will look like a Rocky Long-like line of 300-pounders.

- If the O line can do its job, Demarcus Rogers and Crusoe Gongbay should run well. The ground game is going to be better under the new coaching staff almost immediately.

- With road trip to Texas and Texas Tech to go along with a home date against Boise State, it’ll be a rough September. However, with Southern, New Mexico State, and Texas State up early, there’s a chance the Lobos will have as many wins by early October as they did over the last three years.

- Davie is going to be mad he didn’t get at least one season with Carmen Messina at middle linebacker. The 454 career tackles will be missed.

- The Lobos are starting from scratch in several areas considering they were last in the nation scoring and second-to-last in scoring D, but it would be nice to improve a punting game that got nothing and a punt return game that came up with a nation-worst 1.33 yards per try.

San Diego State

The Aztecs have to rebuild and reload while also showing they’re ready to join the big time. The program’s main storyline this year will be about joining the Big East next year, but first they’ll have to fight just to keep their head above water. It’s a young team that loses QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman from the offensive backfield and has to replace almost the entire defensive front seven. Spring practice won’t be about fine-tuning; the focus will be on finding players. This summer will be a better judge of where the team is at with a slew of injured players returning, but the opportunities are there this spring for several new prospects. It might not be pretty, but it’ll be a true learning session.

- The spring Aztecs aren’t nearly the same as the summer Aztecs will be. At least ten key players for the 2012 season are hurt this spring with the biggest problem on the offensive line. The depth has been almost non-existent through the session.

- Forget about when the official spring game is; Rocky Long is running one seemingly every practice. The Aztecs are scrimmaging more than practicing with so many young players and so much inexperience.

- Former Oregon State Beaver Ryan Katz is the presumptive favorite to take over the starting quarterback job, but last year’s top backup, Adam Dingwell, is getting every opportunity. The two have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack.

- How do you replace the nation’s fourth-most productive running back? With a slew of options. It’ll be a running back-by-committee approach, but Adam Muema should be the No. 1. He’ll be challenged this summer, but it’s his starting gig to lose.

- The defensive line has to undergo a major overhaul, and there won’t be much of a chance to tune up with Washington up first followed up by Army’s quirky running game.

UNLV

It’s another year and another spring of rebuilding and retooling for the Rebels. Coach Bobby Hauck has been trying to make his defense tougher and his offense more consistent, but it hasn’t happened over the last few seasons. This spring he has the offensive line in place to finally hope for more production – all five starters are back – while the defense has just enough returning playmakers to make up for the key losses in the secondary and on the end. Overall, though, the team needs to find something that works. The offense was 117th in the nation and the defense the third-worst in points allowed, and now Hauck is entering hot seat territory. This spring is vital to finally hoping the young players brought in over the last few seasons can start to play like mature veterans, but mostly there’s still a lot of tinkering going on.

- The offense has to find ways to get the ball down the field. The deep pass plays were at a minimum, but it’s not going to improve much right away with a slew of new receivers and questions at quarterback.

- UNLV has to settle on a starting quarterback as soon as humanly possible, but that’s probably not going to happen. The Rebels get back Caleb Herring and Sean Reilly – two of last year’s top options – but redshirt freshman Nick Sherry and JUCO transfer James Boyd every chance. Sherry, if given time, should be the most talented option.

- The O line started three freshmen last season, and it showed with problems in pass protection. However, the group wasn’t awful against the run and it should be more cohesive with time.

- Three starters are gone from a secondary that had a nightmare of a time. The talent level is getting a boost with transfer Dre Crawford eligible after sitting out last year. The safety should be on the short list for all-conference honors.

- The team keeps getting younger at a time when it should be more experienced. Hauck is doing what he can, but soon the production has to start coming, especially from the lines. The Rebels have been shoved around way too much.

Wyoming

Wyoming hasn’t done well in the past with high expectations, sneaking up on everyone last year in what was supposed to be a major rebuilding year. While there’s work to do on the offensive line and defensive end, the Cowboys have more talent and more promise than they’ve had in years. Brett Smith has the potential to be the Mountain West’s best quarterback if the receivers can also improve, but it’s the defense that needs the most help after getting ripped apart by anyone who could run the ball. Teams are going to start taking the Cowboys more seriously now, and it’s going to take a lot more production on both sides of the ball to compete with the league’s better teams. Excitement might be high this spring, but unlike past years there’s a good reason.

- The defensive tackles have to be much stronger and the ends have to get into the backfield more. Ends Josh Biezuns and Gabe Knapton are done, but Mike Purcell, Ben Durbin, and all the top tackle options are back.

- The Cowboys weren’t even close in their five losses to Nebraska, Utah State, TCU, Boise State, and Temple, losing all by double digits and failing to score more than 20 in any game.

- The run defense was a disaster last season, and it’s not going to look much better in Mountain West play with Nevada, Air Force, Fresno State, and Boise State to kick things off in early October.

- Brett Smith might have been a baller, and he was the catalyst for a great year, but he has to be far more efficient. He’ll have to start taking more shots down the field.

- The Cowboys were terrific in pass protection, allowing just 12 sacks with a true freshman starting at quarterback, but now the line has to replace tackles John Hutchins and Clayton Kirven.

- M-West Spring Preview & Thoughts - Air Force to Hawaii