2007 WAC Lookbacks/Recaps
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan
Posted Feb 17, 2008

Taking a look back at every WAC team's 2007 season.

2007 WAC Lookbacks/Recaps

- 2008 WAC Early Lookaheads  
Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State

2007 Pages
2007 WAC Season
Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State

Boise State
Recap: The darlings of college football a season ago, Boise State was forced to take a WAC seat to Sugar Bowl-bound Hawaii in 2007.  The Broncos reeled off nine straight wins after losing at Washington on Sept. 8, but finished with back-to-back losses at Aloha Stadium, a 39-27 loss to the Warriors for the league title and a 41-38 loss to East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl.  During the winning streak, Boise State scored more than 50 points four times, largely due to the crisp passing of senior Taylor Tharp, who did a nice job as a one-year stop-gap after Jared Zabransky graduated.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Taylor Tharp

Defensive Player of the Year: S Marty Tadman

Biggest Surprise: WR Jeremy Childs.  The Bronco staff knew Childs had potential, but few expected it to reach the surface this early in his career.  The sophomore set a school record with 82 catches for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns, despite skipping the bowl game for disciplinary reasons. 

Biggest Disappointment: The Bronco defense, so solid for more than two months, came apart at the end of the season, allowing Hawaii to rally for a conference-clinching win and East Carolina to pile up 476 yards in the bowl game.  Pirate RB Chris Johnson treated the Boise State defenders like mannequins, zipping past them for a bowl-record 408 all-purpose yards.  

Looking Ahead: Who replaces Tharp at quarterback? Senior Bush Hamdan, junior Nick Lomax, sophomore Mike Coughlin, and redshirt freshman Kellen Moore will duke it out beginning this spring.  The program already received good news when it survived another December without losing coveted head coach Chris Peterson to another school.

Fresno State
Recap: The Bulldogs rebounded swiftly from last year’s 4-8 debacle, winning nine games, including a 40-28 thumping of Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl.  Fresno State closed 8-2, recapturing some of its swagger under Pat Hill behind a physical offensive line and a deep running game that had four different 100-yard rushers during the season.  Beating the Yellow Jackets was especially poignant since the Bulldogs were just 1-4 against bowl-eligible opponents during the regular season, losing to WAC kingpins Hawaii and Boise State.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Ryan Mathews

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Marcus Riley

Biggest Surprise: Mathews.  Buried on the depth chart when the season began, the freshman emerged as Fresno State’s best offensive weapon, rushing for a team-high 866 yards and 14 touchdowns before suffering a muscle tear near his collarbone.  Mathews’ future is bright, particularly in an offense that likes to grind it out between the tackles.   

Biggest Disappointment: The Bulldogs left everything they had on the Kyle Field turf on Sept. 8, yet still lost to Texas A&M, 47-45, in triple-overtime.  Although Fresno State battled all the way back from an early 19-0 deficit to force extra sessions, it finally bowed down to an Aggie ground game that churned out 318 yards.   

Looking Ahead: With so much offensive talent returning from last year’s 9-4 team, Fresno State is poised to make a run at a WAC title or more in 2008.  If Riley and DE Tyler Clutts can be adequately replaced, the Bulldogs are going to be a handful for UCLA, Kansas State, and Wisconsin in the early stages of the season.

Recap: Once Hawaii gets over the sting of being exposed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, it’ll look back on 2007 as a truly remarkable season.  The Warriors exited the regular season as the nation’s lone unbeaten team, winning season-ending thrillers over Nevada, Boise State, and Washington to bring unprecedented mainland exposure to the program.  For the third straight year, the face of Hawaii football was QB Colt Brennan, who finished third in the Heisman voting, while establishing a new NCAA record for career touchdown passes.

Offensive Player of the Year:
QB Colt Brennan

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Adam Leonard

Biggest Surprise: The defense.  Known only for its high-octane passing attack, Hawaii was also home to a feisty defense in 2007.  The Warriors performed well beyond expectations, ranking No. 2 in the WAC in total and scoring defense, while placing five players on the all-league first team.  

Biggest Disappointment: Hawaii wasn’t supposed to beat an elite SEC program in the Sugar Bowl, but a 41-10 dress down validated the opinions of those that felt the school never belonged in a major bowl game.  The Warriors committed a BCS bowl-record six turnovers, squandering a lot of the goodwill they’d compiled during an otherwise outstanding season.       

Looking Ahead: Although life after Brennan won’t be easy, you can do a lot worse than senior-to-be Tyler Graunke, a strong-armed veteran of 24 games and 217 passing attempts.  On defense, the Warriors will be tough up front, needing to find replacements for departing defensive backs Myron Newberry, Jacob Patek, and Gerard Lewis.

Recap: The Vandals made a compelling case as the nation’s worst FBS program, losing their final 10 games, and winning just once for the second time this decade.  Idaho played plenty of underclassmen this season, which contributed to its futility, but should also start paying some dividends next year.  If nothing else, the Vandals can celebrate the return of rookie head coach Robb Akey, the first time in three years the coach hasn’t bolted Moscow for a job in the Pac-10.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Deonte Jackson

Defensive Player of the Year: LB David Vobora

Biggest Surprise: Jackson.  The undersized redshirt freshman gave hope for the future at Idaho, winning the starting job in camp, and rushing for 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns.  With the entire line back, including All-WAC C Adam Korby, Jackson’s encore in Moscow should be even better than his debut.  

Biggest Disappointment: At Idaho, you’ve got to win those few winnable games, such as when 2-10 Northern Illinois visited back on Sept. 22.  The Vandals rallied valiantly in the second half, scoring three touchdowns, but still came up short, 42-35.       

Looking Ahead: Idaho returns 10 starters on offense, and loses little from last year’s squad, which should provide a boost in 2008.  If nothing else, the program will benefit tremendously from the continuity of having the same coaching staff for two straight years.

Louisiana Tech
Recap: With one game left in the regular season, the Bulldogs were a win away from a New Mexico Bowl invitation, a sign of progress for a school that’s bowled just once in the last 17 seasons.  Tech lost badly to Nevada in that finale to slip below .500, but the playoff atmosphere will serve the younger players and first-year head coach Derek Dooley well down the road.  The Bulldogs finished 4-4 in WAC play, a dramatic improvement from last year’s 1-7 mark.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Patrick Jackson

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Quin Harris

Biggest Surprise: The defense.  Hardly the calling card at Louisiana Tech over the years, the defense played surprisingly well in 2007, finishing third in the league in run defense and sending four players to the all-league team.  Two of those defenders, Harris and S Antonio Baker, will be the cornerstones of next year’s unit.   

Biggest Disappointment: During the regular season, no one came closer to beating Hawaii than Louisiana Tech did on Sept. 8.  The Bulldogs went blow-for-blow with the No. 20 Warriors for more than four quarters before falling, 45-44, when a Zac Champion pass for two points and the win was knocked down.  The game became a footnote in Hawaii’s run to a BCS bowl game, rather than a defining moment for Louisiana Tech.        

Looking Ahead: Can Dooley build on Tech’s improvement from last season?  If so, the Bulldogs will be vying for the postseason again next November.  The staff’s first order of business will be to find Champion’s successor at quarterback out of junior Michael Mosley, sophomore Ross Jenkins, and Auburn transfer Steve Ensminger.   

Recap: The Wolf Pack may have bowled for a third year in-a-row, but the 2007 season will be remembered for lost opportunities and an inability to close out tight games.  Of Nevada’s seven losses, five were by eight points or less, pushing the program into a three-way tie for fourth place in the WAC with middling Louisiana Tech and San Jose State.  The best news for the Pack was the development of Colin Kaepernick, the conference Freshman of the Year and the future at quarterback in Chris Ault’s Pistol offense.

Offensive Player of the Year:
RB Luke Lippincott

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Ezra Butler

Biggest Surprise: Kaepernick.  Nick Graziano was the starter for the first five games before injuring his foot, opening the door for Kaepernick’s improbable emergence.  Yeah, he made the typical rookie mistakes, but also lit a fire under the offense, throwing 19 touchdown passes to just three picks and scrambling for 593 yards and six more scores.   

Biggest Disappointment: Potential breakthrough wins over WAC daddys Hawaii and Boise State both wound up being heartbreaking two-point losses.  In one of the wildest games in league history, Nevada lost to the Broncos, 69-67, in four overtimes despite getting 420 total yards and five touchdowns from Kaepernick.   

Looking Ahead: Nevada welcomes back two quarterbacks with starting experience, a 1,400-yard rusher, and one of the league’s top receiver, the building blocks of an explosive offense.  It’ll have to be in order to compensate for an already flimsy defense that’s losing its two most consistent players, Butler and NG Matt Hines.

New Mexico State
Recap: After a third consecutive losing season, folks around Las Cruces are beginning to wonder when Hal Mumme’s Air Raid offense is going to produce more than just a lot of fancy passing statistics.  While the Aggies flashed promise at 4-4, a nasty five-game losing streak to close out the year was a stark reminder just how far the program must travel before being competitive in the WAC.  New Mexico State was once again among the nation’s leaders in passing, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for a defense that yielded almost 40 points a game to FBS opponents.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WR Chris Williams

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Dante Floyd

Biggest Surprise: Beating rival UTEP, 29-24, on Sept. 15.  The Miners have had the Aggies’ number of late, but on this night, the underdog reigned supreme, getting a couple of long touchdown passes from Chase Holbrook to Williams in the decisive final quarter.   

Biggest Disappointment: When Utah State traveled to New Mexico on Nov. 17, it hadn’t won a football game in more than a year.  In the battle of the Aggies, however, Utah State came out on top, extending New Mexico State’s skid to four games with a 35-17 upset win.

Looking Ahead: Holbrook and a few of his top pass-catchers return, which means New Mexico State will be a dangerous opponent once again in 2008.  However, if considerable progress can’t be made on defense, the Aggies could be staring at no better than another four-win season.

San Jose State
Recap: Although the Spartans failed to make a return to the postseason, they did persevere through an ominous 0-3 start and injuries to key players to finish 5-7 and tied for fourth place in the WAC.  While it wasn’t enough to land the program a bonus game in December, it do show head coach Dick Tomey that his kids wouldn’t fold when faced with adversity.  The defense and record-setting QB Adam Tafralis kept the Spartans in most league games, but losing 1,000-yard rusher Yonus Davis crushed a running game that wound up averaging only 83 yards a game.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WR Kevin Jurovich

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Matt Castelo

Biggest Surprise: Jurovich.  A safety in his first two seasons, Jurovich made a seamless and unlikely transition to the offensive side of the ball during spring practice.  The junior went on to deliver an All-WAC season, backed by a school-record 85 receptions for 1,183 yards and nine touchdown grabs.    

Biggest Disappointment: The Spartans had unbeaten and 17th-ranked Hawaii on the ropes on Oct. 12, but couldn’t land the knockout blow.  San Jose State blew a two-touchdown lead with four minutes left, losing in overtime, 42-35.  Had the Spartans held on, they would have been eligible for a December bowl game.  Ouch.       

Looking Ahead: Out of junior Myles Eden and sophomore Jordan La Secla, San Jose State needs to decide on a successor to Tafralis at quarterback.  Whoever gets the ball will be throwing to one of the WAC’s top pass-catching tandems, Jurovich and David Richmond.

Utah State
Recap: Well, at least the Aggies will have momentum heading into next season.  After losing its first 10 games, a number in excruciating fashion, Utah State closed with two road wins for the first time since 1999, a significant accomplishment for a program that hasn’t finished over .500 in more than a decade.  The past year marked the end of the career of WR Kevin Robinson, an all-time great Aggie and All-WAC first teamer that holds the NCAA record for all-purpose yards per play.

Offensive Player of the Year:
WR Kevin Robinson

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Jake Hutton

Biggest Surprise: On Nov. 17, Utah State mercifully ended its 16-game losing, traveling to Las Cruces to blow past New Mexico State with a 21-point fourth quarter.  The Aggies got two touchdown catches from TE Rob Myers and a back-breaking 82-yard kickoff return from Robinson to taste victory for the first time in more than 13 months.  

Biggest Disappointment: Utah State should have ended its futility much earlier in the season, such as against San Jose State on Sept. 22.  The Aggies took a rare lead into the fourth quarter, but allowed an Adam Tafralis to David Richmond touchdown hook-up with 53 seconds remaining to let the game slip away.       

Looking Ahead: Utah State will spend much of the offseason looking for a new quarterback, a few capable linemen, and an every-down back that can take some pressure off the new man behind center.  Freshman RB Derrvin Speight looks capable of answering the call after rushing for 504 yards in limited action.