2007 CFN WAC Team Capsules
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San Jose State
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Conf. record: 8-0
QB Colt Brennan, Sr.
NT Michael Lafaele, Sr.
Everything worked last year as Colt
Brennan and the offense exploded for a nation-leading 559 yards
and 46.86 points per game. While Brennan is back, after flirting
with the idea of turning pro early, along with star receivers
Davone Bess, Jason Rivers and Ryan Grice-Mullen, the line isn't
remotely as good as last year's and the running game will
desperately miss Nate Ilaoa. David Farmer has to add the run to
the run and shoot, or else Brennan won't be nearly as effective.
Even so, expect video game numbers out of the nation's best
With defensive coordinator Jerry
Glanville gone, Greg McMackin will change the D from a 3-4 to a
4-3, even though the one weak spot, at least early on, is
experience on the line. The linebackers will be excellent with
good depth behind top tacklers Adam Leonard and Solomon
Elimimian, and they won't have to do as much compared to
last year with a more conservative, though not that much,
overall defensive approach. Three starters return to a secondary
that needs to be far tighter and far more clutch in big
Conf. record: 7-1
RB Ian Johnson, Jr.
S Marty Tadman, Sr.
As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there
isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country,
but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson
working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla
(by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant
front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be
even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation
unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over
the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four
pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several
different formations and several different looks from game to
As expected, the defense was the best
in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven
starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it
can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary
will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of
Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the
linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a
strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with
veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense
strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end
tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark
outside of the quarterback situation.
Conf. record: 5-3
TE Bear Pascoe, Jr.
DE Tyler Clutts, Sr.
New offensive coordinator Jim
McElwain will pump some life into a stagnant passing game with a
wide-open attack featuring some funky, multi-receiver formations
while not running quite as much. Call it playing to the
strengths, as the receiving corps is lightning fast, but
untested, while Tom Brandstater, who struggled mightily last
year, is still a talent who appears ready to make a big jump and
become a major player. The running game will suffer without
Dwayne Wright, but Lonyae Wright and Clifton Smith should be
decent. The line is the strength of the team with four starters
returning to a group that allowed just 12 sacks.
After a tremendous 2005 season when
the defense dominated, last year was a step back, especially in
the secondary. Enough overall experience returns to be better,
but the line has to do more to get into the backfield and the
corners have to pick off more passes after taking away just
three. There's plenty of speed and athleticism in the
linebacking corps to swarm to the ball, and there's size and
pass rushing ability from the front four, but there have to be
more big plays and more takeaways.
Conf. record: 5-3
Dominic Green, Jr.
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
There will be some new defensive
coaches taking over with coordinator Ken Wilson keeping the 3-4
scheme to take advantage of the great linebackers. Ezra Butler,
Jeremy Engstrom, and Joshua Mauga are as good as any trio in the
WAC, and will be the team's strength. The line is solid, helped
by the emergence of nose tackle Matt Hines as a top all-around
playmaker. The secondary is fine, but nothing special; the
better WAC passing games won't have a problem against it.
San Jose State
Conf. record: 5-3
Adam Tafralis, Sr.
The offense wasn't always explosive,
but it was steady, didn't give the ball away, kept the chains
moving, and got the job done. Expect more of the same if the
offensive line can quickly replace three starters and the new
recruits for the receiving corps can play right away. The
passing game loses the top three targets and 141 of 181 catches,
so ultra-efficient QB Adam Tafralis has to be even better. Yonus
Davis leads a small, quick, veteran group of running backs that
can take it the distance with a little bit of room.
The Spartan defense took a giant leap
forward giving up yards, but not a whole bunch of points
allowing fewer than 24 in ten of the final 11 games. Seven
starters are back from the ball-hawking crew led by tackling
machine Matt Castelo at middle linebacker and corners Dwight
Lowery and Christopher Owens. The defensive front has to do a
better overall job, and it will now that it's experienced after
cutting its teeth last season. Jarron Gilbert and Justin Cole
will be pass rushing terrors. Expect this group to give up
plenty of yards, but also come up with more than its share of
Conf. record: 3-5
FS Derrick Richardson,
how it's supposed to work? With Chase Holbrook at the helm, the
Aggies finished third in the nation in total offense averaging
475 yards a game, 15th in scoring averaging 31 points a game,
and second in passing averaging 399 yards per game. Those
numbers might seem pedestrian this year if everyone stays
healthy. Nine starters return including the top seven pass
catchers, starting running back Jeremiah Williams, four linemen,
and of course, Holbrook, who'll be one of the nation's
statistical leaders all year long if the line, which found the
right combination late last year, gives him just a little more
big plays, big plays. The call has gone out from defensive
coordinator Woody Widenhofer for the defense to use all its
experience, with eight returning starters (with safety Gerald
Gurrier moving to receiver) to find a way to force more
turnovers, come up with more stops on third downs, and most
importantly, generate a pass rush. The Aggies came up with a
mere 15 sacks and 55 tackles for loss last year, and those
numbers need to double to give the beleaguered secondary any
shot of being better. There isn't a whole bunch of talent from
top to bottom, so everyone will have to be ultra-aggressive and
Conf. record: 2-6
Jayson Bird, Jr.
Same idea, different implementation.
The new coaching staff will go with a one-back set using four
and five-wide formations, sort of like the old coaching staff
did, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on tough running.
That's a good thing with the strength in the running back corps
with four good players, led by junior Jayson Bird, to carry the
offense early on. The quarterback situation will be settled this
fall with the likely winner being 6-5 redshirt freshman Nathan
Enderle, but the receiving corps is going to be a work in
progress well into the season. The starting five up front should
be fine due to its experience, but it's nothing special.
There's experience and all-star
talent to work with, so why was the Vandal defense so miserable
last season? The line. The front four has to find tackles that
can stop the run, and ends that can get into the backfield. If
that happens, there could be a night-and-day improvement as the
coaching staff looks to attack, attack, and attack some more.
With MLB JoArtis Ratti back and healthy, he should combine with
David Vobora to create the WAC's most dangerous linebacking duo.
Corner Stanley Franks is an interception machine, and safety
Shiloh Keo is an undersized hitter. Now everything has to start
working around those four.
Predicted record: 2-10
Conf. record: 1-7
It's not like the offense was awful
last year, but it wasn't consistent and it didn't do enough to
keep in all the shootouts created by its defense. Enough talent
returns to look for more overall production, especially in the
running game where Patrick Jackson should shine behind a big,
veteran offensive line that can block, but can't pass protect.
The quarterback situation will be worth watching with Zac
Champion likely to get the job to start the season, but will be
pushed by Michael Mosley and Ross Jenkins for time.
2006 was expected to be a year of
transition, but yeesh. The D was the worst in America allowing
483 yards and close to 42 points per game, and it was simply
awful from start to finish. Step one for the new coaching staff
is to find a way to get into the backfield after the Bulldogs
finished dead last in sacks and tackles for loss, and it'll
alternated between a 3-4 and a 4-3 to try to get some
production. The linebacking corps should be decent, the
secondary can fly, and the defensive line is full of
decent-sized veterans. Now there has to be come semblance of
Conf. record: 0-8
Kevin Robinson, Sr.
The offense did
next to nothing last season scoring fewer than 14 points seven
times and finishing averaging 10.83 points and 254 yards per
game. The offensive line isn't bad and the starting receivers,
led by Kevin Robinson, are solid, but the quarterback situation
isn't settled with Riley Nelson out on a church mission, and
there's no experience whatsoever at running back after Marcus
Cross transferred. Basically, the attack needs to find one thing
it can do well.
If experience counts for anything,
the Aggies should be far better with 11 returning starters and a
ton of veteran backups ready to fill in. Now the defense has to
stop someone after getting ripped apart by just about everyone.
How bad did things get? The Aggies allowed an average of 48.8
points per game over the final five games. Ben Calderwood leads
an undersized line that has to do more to get into the
backfield. The corners are way too small, the linebackers are
way too small, and the tackles are way too small. If the overall
team quickness isn't accounting for big plays, there will be