2008 WAC Early Lookaheads
Fresno State |
New Mexico St |
2007 WAC Season
| 2007 WAC
Early Lookbacks & Recaps
| Fresno State |
| Louisiana Tech
| New Mexico St |
Why to get excited: The Broncos should be better while the most
of the WAC is taking a step back. As long as the quarterback situation
is settled early, BSU has the skill players to improve on the nation's
fourth best scoring attack with RB Ian Johnson a legitimate Heisman
candidate. The defense has been underappreciated over the years, and
with most of the back seven returning, it should be the best in the WAC
Why to be grouchy: The lines take a hit losing three starters off
the defensive side and four off the offense, including All-Everything
tackle Ryan Clady. You don't get better by losing a safety like Marty
Tadman, who'll be missed even more considering the loss of all-star DE
Nick Schlekeway and tackles Ian Smart and Sione Tavake up front.
The number one thing to work on is: There's still that matter of
the starting quarterback with Bush Hamdan, Nick Lomax, Mike Coughlin and
Kellen Moore all battling for the gig. The receiving corps is there, and
Johnson will make things easier for everyone, but with the line needing
work, the No. 1 passer might also have to be among the most mobile.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Ryan Clady
Biggest defensive loss: S Marty Tadman
Best returning offensive player: RB Ian Johnson, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: CB Kyle Wilson, Jr.
Why to get excited: If this isn't Pat Hill's best team, it's a
close second with eight starters back on offense and seven on defense
from a team that closed strong winning three in a row including
victories over Kansas State and Georgia Tech. The offense just started
to hit its stride over the second half of the year, and now with QB Tom
Brandstater, his main receivers, and RBs Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller
returning, the attack should be devastating.
Why to be grouchy: This is Fresno State, so the non-conference
schedule is going to be nasty. Wisconsin is coming to The Valley, but
the Bulldogs have to go on the road to face UCLA, Kansas State, and
Toledo's big-time offense. While a slew of talent returns on both side
of the ball, both kickers have to be replaced. LB Marcus Riley and DE
Tyler Clutts will be missed.
The number one thing to work on is: Forcing more mistakes. The
offense wasn't bad at hanging on to the ball with 22 turnovers, a
relatively average mark, but the defense didn't do enough to take it
away forcing a mere 13 turnovers. Offensively, Brandstater was effective
in the balanced offense, and this year he has to work on being able to
push the ball deeper and being able to come up with bigger plays.
Biggest offensive loss: C Ryan Wendell
Biggest defensive loss: DE Tyler Clutts
Best returning offensive player: TE Bear Pascoe, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Ben Jacobs, Soph.
Why to get excited: No, the offense isn't going to be as potent
without June Jones, Colt Brennan, and all the star receivers, but it's
not like it's going to go into the tank. The O line gets three starters
back including both tackles, and Tyler Graunke, if he ends up winning
the job, has experience in the system and should be able to wing it
around and keep the passing game going. New head coach Greg McMackin
isn't letting the program set the expectations low, but ...
Why to be grouchy: ... the expectations should be low. 2007 was
an all-timer of a season, and now seven starters are gone off the
offense and seven are gone from the D. This is a program in transition,
and while it's planning on challenging for the WAC title again with an
us-against-the-world attitude, the firepower simply isn't there to get
by both Fresno State and Boise State.
The number one thing to work on is: Getting a bit more balance.
No, the Warriors aren't going to stop throwing it, but with a wholesale
change in the receiving corps, and a new starting quarterback coming in
to replace Brennan, the running game needs to start doing more. Mario
Cox is back after being suspended all of last year, leading rusher
Kealoha Pilares, David Farmer, Leon Wright -Jackson, Daniel Libre, and
JUCO transfer Jake Heun will all battle for playing time
Biggest offensive loss: QB Colt Brennan
Biggest defensive loss: DT Michael Lafaele
Best returning offensive player: C John Estes, Jr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Solomon Elimimian
Why to get excited: Last season might have been lousy, with the
Vandals failing to beat an FBS team, but it's not like the team's effort
wasn't there. Call it a potential stepping stone to a solid 2008 with
all 11 starters returning on offense and eight coming back on D. Head
coach Robb Akey needed a year to figure out what he was doing, and now
he and his staff should be much stronger.
Why to be grouchy: Can anyone on defense actually play? Akey was
supposed to improve the defense, but it gave up points in bunches and
almost never came up with a stop needed to give the offense a break. No,
there aren't many starters gone, but the D lost its best players, LB
David Vobora and CB Stanley Franks.
The number one thing to work on is: Passing efficiency. Nathan
Enderle took over the quarterback job early on, and while he has good
size, a strong arm, and the skills to potentially be solid, he was awful
at times. The Vandal running attack should be good with Deonte Jackson a
budding star to build around, but if Enderle isn't sharper, the offense
will continue to be mediocre. Defensively, the Vandals have to figure
out how to generate a pass rush or the secondary will get picked apart
Biggest offensive loss: RB Brian Flowers
Biggest defensive loss: LB David Vobora
Best returning offensive player: RB Deonte Jackson, Soph.
Best returning defensive player:
SS Shiloh Keo, Jr.
Why to get excited: This was a better team than it got credit for
with a decent 5-7 first season under head coach Derek Dooley, and now
everything's there to get bowl eligible. Eight starters return to what
was a young offense, with three freshmen thrown to the wolves late in
the year on the line, while five decent starters are back on defense.
There's immediate help from the JUCO ranks to help fill in the holes.
Why to be grouchy: There are major changes needed to be made on
the defense front. If JUCO transfer Kwame Jordan isn't as good as
advertised, generating pressure could be a problem with three starters
gone off the defense line, and linebackers Mark Dillard, Anthony Crosby
and Tony Moss gone. Three starters are back on the offensive line, but
both starting tackles need to be replaced.
The number one thing to work on is: Finding a quarterback. Zac
Champion wasn't anything special, but he was experienced and
serviceable. Now there should be an interesting battle between backup
Michael Mosley, Ross Jenkins, and Steve Ensminger, who transfers over
from Auburn and might be the strongest options. Bomber Andrew Calantone,
who transferred from New Mexico State, won't be eligible until next
Biggest offensive loss: OT Tyler Miller
Biggest defensive loss: DT Josh Muse
Best returning offensive player: RB Patrick Jackson, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: FS Antonio Baker, Jr.
Why to get excited: While there will be a battle for the starting
quarterback job, Colin Kaepernick proved to be a dangerous weapon who'll
keep opposing WAC defensive coordinators up at night. Seven other
starters return to the offense, while five starters are back on D. Luke
Lippencott leads the WAC's best rushing offense with four starters up
front to work behind.
Why to be grouchy: Those six starters lost off the defense are
going to hurt, especially LB Ezra Butler and DT Matt Hines. The team
should be good, but it's probably no better than third behind Fresno
State and Boise State going into the season, and non-conference dates
with Texas Tech and at Missouri aren't going to help the record. Three
starters are gone off the secondary, and the battles with the Red
Raiders and Tigers are in early September.
The number one thing to work on is: Everything about the punting
game. Punter Zachary Whited is gone, but it's not like the Wolf Pack did
much in field position netting a mere 32 yards per kick. The return game
was mediocre averaging a WAC worst 7.15 yards pre try. Defensively, the
more the revamped secondary can do, the better the chance to finish in
the WAC's top three. You can't win in the WAC if you struggle against
Biggest offensive loss: TE Adam Bishop
Biggest defensive loss: LB Ezra Butler
Best returning offensive player: RB Luke Lippincott, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: DE Kevin Basped, Soph.
New Mexico State
Why to get excited: Time to gear it all up again. QB Chase
Holbrook is back after a slightly disappointing season, the receiving
corps is loaded again, and there's more than enough running backs to
potentially add a bit more diversity to the attack. The secondary might
not have been good last year, but at least three starters return to hope
for a little bit of improvement.
Why to be grouchy: The defense needs a lot of work, and it'll
have to improve with a whole slew of new starters. Four starters are
gone off the defensive front seven, including a group of backups. It's
year three in the Hal Mumme era, and while there was a good overall leap
in production last season, there was still a 4-9 record and a five-game
losing streak to close things out. Only two wins came against FBS teams.
The number one thing to work on is: Improving the turnover
margin. There actually weren't that many turnovers, giving it
away 29 times, but the defense did next to nothing to turn games around
with a mere 14 takeaways. Part of the problem was a secondary that was
simply trying to keep its head above water, and part of the problem was
a defensive front that didn't get into the backfield nearly enough.
There was too much reading and reacting and not enough attacking.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Mike Martinez
Biggest defensive loss: LB Dante Floyd
Best returning offensive player: QB Chase Holbrook, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: FS Derrick Richardson, Sr.
San Jose State
Why to get excited: Head coach Dick Tomey is still around,
despite a few rumblings that he might jump to Hawaii. The team took a
bit of a step back after a breakout 2006 campaign, but it wasn't a bad
season going 5-7 with two wins in the final three games. Now, enough
talent returns on both sides of the ball to shoot for a second bowl game
in three seasons with seven starters back on defense and seven on
Why to be grouchy: There's still a lot of question marks. Can the
offense start scoring on a more consistent basis with a new starting
quarterback and several young runners? How will the linebacking corps be
able to replace Matt Castelo and Demetrius Jones? The secondary might
have come up with a big coup in getting former Oregon State Beaver Coye
Francies, but it'll still hurt to lose top corner Dwight Lowery.
The number one thing to work on is: And the quarterback will be
... ? Adam Tafralis grew into the job over his long tenure, and now the
hope is for former Cal Bear Kyle Reed to be ready to shine early on. If
not, it might be Jordan LaSecla, who turned into the No. 2 option as
last year went on. Improving the nation's worst punting game, which
netted a mere 30.33 yards per kick, would be nice.
Biggest offensive loss: QB Adam Tafralis
Biggest defensive loss: LB Matt Castelo
Best returning offensive player: WR Kevin Jurovich, Sr.
Best returning defensive player: DT Jarron Gilbert, Sr.
Why to get excited: Head coach Brent Guy came up with a few
ready-made bodies in the recruiting class to beef up the lines. Even so,
after a slew of injuries kicked in, that meant some green players had to
see time, and now it should pay off with a veteran team returning. Ten
starters are back on defense and six return on offense, so if the
program is ever going to turn a corner, coming off a two-game winning
streak to end last year, this has to be the season.
Why to be grouchy: Can the team actually play? Yeah, there were
two wins at the end of the year, but those came against New Mexico State
and Idaho after starting out the season 0-10. The team's biggest weapon,
Kevin Robinson, is gone, so don't expect the Aggies to be second in the
nation in punt returns and fourth in kickoff returns again.
The number one thing to work on is: Finding some firepower.
Generating some defensive pressure is a must after coming up with a mere
12 sacks and 59 tackles for loss, but the program won't turn around
until the offense can start keeping up with the better WAC offenses.
Averaging 278 yards and 20.6 points per game isn't going to get it done
against most league teams unless the defense comes up with a gem, like
it did at the end of the year against NMSU and Idaho. The O has to find
something it can hang its hat on.
Biggest offensive loss: WR Kevin Robinson
Biggest defensive loss: DT Frank Maile
Best returning offensive player: RB Derrvin Speight, Soph.
Best returning defensive player: LB Jake Hutton, Sr.