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2008 WAC Preview - Unit Rankings
Boise State RB Ian Johnson
Boise State RB Ian Johnson
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 16, 2008


2008 CFN Preview - WAC Unit Rankings from top to bottom

2008 CFN WAC Preview

Unit Rankings

Team Previews & Predictions
Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico State | San Jose State | Utah State

- 2008 CFN WAC Preview
- CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players
- WAC Team-by-Team Capsules

-
WAC Unit Rankings

- WAC Schedules & Predictions

Offenses
1. Fresno State
Jim McElwain turned around a stagnant offense in a hurry, and then he left to become the offensive coordinator at Alabama. In steps Doug Nussmeier, and he's not going to mess with what worked. If healthy, something the offense couldn't do last year, this should be one of the most complete attacks in the country with a big, athletic line that can hold its own against anyone, a great running game led by the tandem of Ryan Mathews and Lonyae Miller, an All-America caliber tight end in Bear Pascoe, and a receiving corps that looks out of central casting for an NFL team. There's too much speed at receiver for most WAC secondaries, too much power on the line, and too many weapons to not be even better. QB Tom Branstater has all the tools, and he got far better as last season went on, and now he has to grow into the star he was supposed to become a few years ago.

2. Boise State
3. Nevada
4. New Mexico State
5. Hawaii
6. Louisiana Tech
7. Idaho
8. San Jose State
9. Utah State

Quarterbacks  
1. New Mexico State
If Chase Holbrook can keep the interceptions to a minimum and do a better job of producing early in games, the Aggies will go from also-ran to a bowl team just on offense alone. Oh sure, he has thrown for a bazillion yards and is always a sure bet to hit the 350 mark, but now he has to win. J.J. McDermott is a strong No. 2 option who'll someday have a 3,500-yard passing season of his own.

2.
Nevada
3. Fresno State
4. Hawaii
5. Boise State
6. Louisiana Tech
7. San Jose State
8. Idaho
9. Utah State

Running Backs
1. Boise State
The ground game tore off 2,404 yards and 35 touchdowns last season, and while everyone of note is back, the potential issues on the line, and a new quarterback, will mean everyone will tee off on the backs. If healthy, Ian Johnson is a lock for 1,000 yards, possibly 1,500, and Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper are good enough to combine for 1,000 yards no matter what Johnson does.

2. Fresno State
3. Nevada
4. Idaho
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Utah State
7. Hawaii
8. San Jose State
9. New Mexico State

Receivers
1. New Mexico State
Yes, the offense makes the receivers, but the Aggie corps is built to fit the attack. You won't find any Terrell Owens-type big guys who'll fight for the ball. Instead, there's a slew of jitterbugs and a ton of speed that drives opposing secondaries nuts. Chris Williams will be an All-American based on his production, but there's plenty of experience returning to spread the ball around.

2. Boise State
3. Fresno State
4. San Jose State
5. Nevada
6. Hawaii
7. Louisiana Tech
8. Idaho
9. Utah State

Offensive Line
1. Fresno State
The line, if it stays healthy, will be phenomenal with at least three all-stars and maybe more. This group was fantastic in pass protection and blasted away for the nation's 14th best running game. With good athleticism all across the board, size, and experience, this will be one of the WAC's best units at any position.

2.
Nevada
3. Hawaii
4. Idaho
5. Boise State
6. Louisiana Tech
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State
9. Utah State

Defenses
1. Boise State
The defense will keep on rolling with a good, sound group from front to back led by a strong front four. Ryan Winterswyck is the new star of the show after turning in a fantastic first season as a pass rusher, while Mike T. Williams is a good veteran tackle to build around. The run defense, overall, has to be better, but the pass rush should be great and the linebackers are experienced enough to get to everything. Now the linebackers have to be tougher against the run, while there will be a step back in overall pass defense production after losing Marty Tadman and Orlando Scandrick. Even so, in a mediocre year for WAC defenses, this one will be more than fine.

2.
Fresno State
3. Hawaii
4. San Jose State
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Nevada
7. Idaho
8. Utah State
9. New Mexico State

Defensive Lines
1. Boise State
The line should be solid as long as Joe Bozikovich holds up for the entire season and DE J.P. Nisby plays up to his weight room strength. If end Ryan Winterswyck is the player he was this off-season, and if Williams is a little bit better, there won't be any stopping those two from getting to the quarterback.

2. Fresno State
3. Hawaii
4. San Jose State
5. Nevada
6. Louisiana Tech
7. Idaho
8. Utah State
9. New Mexico State

Linebackers
1. Hawaii
The strength of the defense, the linebacking corps has Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard to revolve around. The backups are untested and shaky, and they'll have to be worked in slowly to be ready to produce as the year goes on and into next year. Last year was about the offensive stars, and even though Elimimian and Leonard earned first-team all-star honors, they'll get their due this season.

2. Boise State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Fresno State
5. Nevada
6. San Jose State
7. Utah State
8. Idaho
9. New Mexico State

Defensive Backs
1. San Jose State
The secondary wasn't necessarily a rock, but it didn't get any help from a pass rush and considering the high-octane passing teams it faced, it wasn't all that bad. Now with Coye Francies taking over for Dwight Lowery, and with Christopher Owens a seasoned veteran, the corners will be a nightmare to throw at, while the safeties will hit everything in sight. The overall production should be better than the stats.

2. Boise State
3. Fresno State
4. Hawaii
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Nevada
7. Idaho
8. New Mexico State
9. Utah State

Special Teams
1. San Jose State
As long as a steady punt returner can be found for James Jones (possibly Dwight Lowery or Patrick Perry), and if there can be a bit more pop on kickoff returns from Dominique Hunsucker, this should be among the team's biggest strengths. The field position battle should belong to the Spartans game in and game out. The coaching staff won't have to worry about the kicking game as long as Jared Strubeck remains consistent.

2.
Boise State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Idaho
5. Hawaii
6. Fresno State
7. New Mexico State
8. Nevada
9. Utah State