2007 Nevada Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 10, 2007

Preview 2007 Nevada Wolf Pack Offense

Nevada Wolf Pack

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Nevada Preview | 2007 Nevada Defense Preview
- 2007 Nevada Depth Chart
| 2006 CFN Nevada Preview 

What you need to know:
The offense is going to be a work in progress and should be far better midseason than it will be to start. The biggest question marks are on the offensive line, particularly at tackle, after Charles Manu moved to guard and Dominic Green move to center. The receiving corps is big, faster than last year, and should make more big plays with big-armed Nick Graziano taking over at quarterback. The running backs need Brandon Fragger to be healthy to add a speed option along with Luke Lippencott. The Pistol offense will likely use a little more fullback this year, and will try to push the passing game deeper.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Nick Graziano
9-17, 92 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Luke Lippincott
94 carries, 456 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Marko Mitchell
39 catches, 493 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Nick Graziano
Player that has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman OT John Bender
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Marko Mitchell
Best pro prospect: Junior C Dominic Green
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Green, 2) Graziano, 3) Mitchell
Strength of the offense: Receiving corps, line interior
Weakness of the offense:
Tackle, overall depth


Projected Starter
While it took a little while for Nick Graziano to show up this spring, the sophomore grew into his new starting role and started to rock at the end of the session with a fantastic spring game to close things out. He was a top recruit for the program with a tremendous arm, decent mobility, and a ton of upside. While he'll rely on his arm a little too often to try to make plays to happen that might not be there. he'll make throws that pass Nevada quarterbacks could make.

Projected Top Reserves: Working as the number two will be redshirt freshman Colin Kaepernick, who's 6-6, 205 pounds, and did enough in spring ball to make a push  the starting job if Graziano regresses. While he's a good passer with a live arm and good mobility, his accuracy is erratic and he doesn't throw up to his size with a drop-down throwing motion.

The clear number three is redshirt freshman Tyler Lantrip, who needs plenty of work and seasoning to have any hope of challenging for the backup job. He has good 6-4, 210-pound size, but he's too inconsistent.

Watch Out For ... Graziano to eventually be excellent. If everyone can live with the occasional bone-headed throw, and the bad game here and there, the pay-off could be extraordinary.
Strength: Size. At 6-1 and 220 pounds, Graziano is the smallest of the three. The Pack has three big, strong passers with nice arms.
Weakness: Consistency. Graziano has to play like he did at the end of the spring session and not the beginning, Kaepernick's throws all vary, and Lantrip is all over the place.
Outlook: Losing a long-time starter and leader like Jeff Rowe isn't a positive in any way, but the offense could someday be far more amazing with Graziano at the helm. Kaepernick, even with a lack of experience, is a good second option with enough skills to possibly start.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
For a three-game stretch, 6-2, 215-pound junior Luke Lippincott played like an All-American rushing for 359 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the Pack to three straight wins by a combined score of 135-28. Fine, so those were against Idaho, Utah State and Louisiana Tech, and Lippincott didn't do much over the rest of the season, but the former safety showed good skills. While he has a little bit of speed and quickness, he's mostly a power back. He could turn into more of a blocking fullback if he struggles, or if he has a hard time of holding on to the ball.

Projected Top Reserves: Eventually, sophomore Brandon Fragger should be the starter. He's a quick back with a good burst through the line with 270 yards and three scores last year. After missing all of spring ball with a shoulder problem, he'll need to be fantastic from day one in fall practices to push Lippincott.

At some point, sophomore Dwayne Sanders will see more time. The former receiver is a pure speed back who ran for 82 yards and averaged 8.2 yards per carry, but he has to learn how to be a better running back and he has to hang on to the ball.

Redshirt freshmen Vai Taua and Courtney Randall will each vie for time. Taua, at 225 pounds, is the bigger of the two, but they're each powerful backs. If Nevada uses more fullback, as expected, Taua will play a huge role as a blocker and around the goal line.

Watch Out For ... Fragger. Lippencott will have a few games here and there when he's fantastic, but he's a limited back. If Fragger isn't great, the ground game will be average.
Strength: Power. Between Lippencott, Taua and Randall, getting a hard three yards shouldn't be a problem.
Weakness: Breakaway backs if Sanders and Fragger aren't great. Fragger has to prove he can hold up, and Sanders has to show he can carry the ball on a regular basis. If Lippencott and Taua are the key runners, there aren't going to be may big runs.
Outlook: It's a good situation with an interesting variety of options to work with. If everyone's healthy, the tailback-by-committee approach won't be a bad thing. There's not a Robert Hubbard to rely on, so the team will go with the hot hand.
Rating: 6.5


Projected Starters
The team lost number one target Caleb Spencer, but it has a rising star in junior Marko Mitchell at the F position. He's 6-4, 195 pounds, and good speed for his size. His best attribute is his hands; he gets everything that's close to him. He was second on the team with 39 catches for 493 yards and four scores, and he could double those numbers if he can be a bit more physical.

At the inside Z position will be 6-1 195-pound sophomore Arthur King, who came to the program as a combination of defensive back and wide receiver and has grown into the offensive role this spring. He caught seven passes for 72 yards, and he should grow into more of a playmaker with good size, nice quickness, and an ability to find the holes.

Bringing excellent speed is junior Jack Darlington, who has been a steady reserve over the last two years and a willing target across the middle. His job will be to push things deep and try to stretch the field.

When the offense uses a tight end, 6-4, 245-pound senior Adam Bishop will step in, especially on third downs. He's a great blocker and a nice route runner, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy and only caught 11 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. If he can be injury free, he'll be a major go-to guy in the clutch.

Projected Top Reserves: Is Mike McCoy really a backup? Technically, he's behind Mitchell at the F, but he's a fantastic scorer with a team-leading 15 yards per catch and nine touchdowns on 23 catches. With his experience, good quickness, and great hands, he'll find time somewhere.

With the desire to get deep, 6-1, 185-pound redshirt freshman Chris Wellington will get a lot of playing time at the Z. A good route runner, his strength is his 4.4 speed and potential with the ball in space.

Backing up Bishop will be 6-4, 231-pound sophomore Junior Puloka, who didn't catch any passes last year and will mainly be used as a blocker. The walk-on won't ever be the receiver that Bishop is, but he might have to step in at times and be counted on to make a few grabs.

Watch Out For ... more deep speed. The call has gone out to hit more home runs. With a big-armed Nick Graziano probably the starting quarterback, the potential is there to start bombing away, and now the receivers have to make the plays.
Strength: Route running. The Pistol offense needs precise, crisp route runners, and for the most part, everyone knows their role and everyone should be good at getting open on a regular basis.
Weakness: Sure-thing stars. Mitchell is close, and McCoy is certainly proven, but losing a number one like Spencer hurts. It might take a few games to establish the overall pecking order.
Outlook: There are plenty of promising prospects with good size, decent speed, or enough to start bombing away a bit more, and lots of different options to go with. It remains to be seen if many of the players can go from reliable reserves to stars when the lights go on, but overall, there should be an upgrade, later in the season, over last year.
Rating: 6.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
There's plenty of movement on the line, and it should all result in a good year for the front five. The strength will be in the interior led by junior Dominic Green at center. The 6-3, 295-pound all-star tackle will be a good quarterback up front and a dominant run blocker. He saw a little time in the middle as a freshman, and should once again earn a few honors.

Also moving will be senior Charles Manu, who was fine at tackle last year but will be much better at guard. He's 6-3, 300 pounds, and great at run blocking. He was a mediocre pass protector outside, but he shouldn't have any problems inside once he returns after having ankle problems this spring.

Returning at weak guard will be junior Greg Hall after being a steady starter at the weak guard spot. A good-sized 6-3, 285-pound backup two years ago, he grew into the role and now needs to be one of the team's rocks with the question marks on the outside.

Starting next to Hall will be 6-4, 290-pound sophomore Alonzo Durham, but that could quickly change this fall. The physical former defensive lineman is still learning the ins and outs of the position, but he appears to be a natural pass blocker.

The X factor is 6-8, 320-pound redshirt freshman John Bender at the strong tackle. While he has the size, and is a decent athlete, is was hardly consistent this spring and will have to work to get the starting job. Even so, he's too big, and has too much upside, to not be a big part of the line.

Projected Top Reserves: Pushing Bender for a starting tackle job will be 6-4, 295-pound junior Clayton Johnson, a star JUCO transfer with nice skills and potential. If he's consistent, the spot will likely be his.

Also a possibility at tackle will be redshirt freshman Mike Gallett after spending last year getting bigger and strong. Up to 295 pounds on a 6-6 frame, he's a bigger option than Durham at weak tackle, and at the very least, will see plenty of time in the rotation.

Watch Out For ... a regular rotation at tackle, and not for the good. With several prospects for the tackle spots, the jobs are more open going into fall practice than they might appear to be.
Strength: Pass protection. Forget about getting to the quarterback from the inside. Manu, Green and Hall should form a rock-solid trio on the interior with just enough quickness to keep the mediocre WAC defensive tackles from making big plays.
Weakness: Tackles. Bender and Durham have a world of potential, but they're not exactly sure things. There are going to be major consistency problems, and eventually, Manu and Green might have to move back outside if things really get bad.
Outlook: This could be a problem against the better defensive lines, and there could be big issues against speed rushing ends. Manu, Green and Hall are good, but it's always risky to take an all-star like Green and move him. Give the line half a year, and then figure out what it has. It'll take a little while to figure out who fits where.
Rating: 6


Related Stories
2007 Nevada Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 10, 2007
2007 Nevada Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 10, 2007
2007 Nevada Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 10, 2007

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Nevada
[View My HotList]