Nevada Wolf Pack
Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 Nevada Preview
2007 Nevada Defense Preview
2007 Nevada Depth
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
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)
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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