WAC Spring Football Previews
2009 WAC Early Lookaheads
2008 WAC Lookbacks and
2008 CFN WAC Preview
2008 WAC Spring Preview
Early Lookaheads -
2008 WAC Insider Spring
Questions & Answers
2007 WAC Spring Analysis
Spring Practice Begins: March 9
Game: April 17
The early spring buzz ... The program is no longer just a cute
little story; the place is bringing in the talent. It’s not a bad thing
when you’re a non-BCS program with a slew of players who have to make
decisions about whether or not to jump to the NFL early, and while there
was a big loss in WR Jeremy Childs, getting back corner Kyle Wilson for
a senior year to help secure a solid secondary. Now, the talent is
meeting the on-field production. While Boise State isn’t going to be USC
talent-wise, the caliber of player is far better than they were ten
The big spring question is ... Can there be more
of a ground game? It’s not like Boise State didn’t run the ball last
year, it averaged a solid 152 yards per game, but the offense relied
mostly on QB Kellen Moore and the passing game. With Ian Johnson off to
the NFL, Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper have to be the steady producers
behind a good offensive line.
The most important position to watch is ... Wide
receiver. The passing game led the WAC in efficiency and was second in
production averaging 289 yards per game. While Austin Pettis is a
great-looking target with size and experience, losing a steady playmaker
in Vinny Perretta, a gamebreaker in Jeremy Childs, and a veteran in
Julian Hawkins, will be a problem early on.
Maintain the focus on winning the WAC. With double-digit winning
seasons becoming commonplace, and with yet another unbeaten regular
season in 2008, it might be tempting for the team to focus too much on
the Oregon game early on. While that’ll be a tone-setter for a season,
win or lose, the Broncos have to keep working on being efficient, have
to do all the little things right, and maintain the attitude that they
need to do a little extra to get the national respect. Remember, Ohio
State got the nod for the Fiesta Bowl.
Begins: March 21 Game: April 26
The early spring buzz ... The defense is about to be special.
It was supposed to be strong last year, and then the injuries hit, and
then it was a disaster. The run defense was a nightmare, but with nine
starters returning, this
should be the defense that dominates throughout the year. There’s depth
built to go along with all the returning starters to make up for more
injury problems. The D had better
be fantastic for a coaching staff that needs to start winning. Pat Hill
is losing assistants left and right, and he needs to show that his
program can be on par with Boise State.
The big spring question is
... Is Ryan Colburn the guy? Tom Brandstater didn’t turn out to be
the special quarterback he was expected to become, but he was a good
veteran and a solid leader. The 6-3, 220-pound Colburn will get the
first look under center and there might be a short leash. There’s too
much talent coming back at receiver to expect anything less than a
strong passing attack.
The most important position to watch is ...
Defensive tackle. The run defense got ripped apart by everyone who tried
to move the ball on the ground. Again, injuries were the main issue, but
going into the season, the Bulldogs need major production out of their
tackles, Mark Roberts and Cornell Banks. Both are juniors and both are
big, active blocks.
Spring attitude... With every drill and
every practice, the question has to be asked: Are we getting closer to
beating Boise State? For all the bluster and all the desire to be a BCS
buster, with games at Wisconsin, Cincinnati, and Illinois on the
schedule, it’s all about the Boise State game and the production in the
WAC for a program that seems to lose focus after a big loss. The
Bulldogs got ripped apart in the second half by the Broncos in a 61-10
loss, but with a loaded crew of running backs, tremendous receiving
talent, and a veteran defense, there’s no excuse to not get past the
league’s big dog. Or at least get closer.
Begins: March 30 Game:
The early spring buzz ... Last year was
about getting through the storm after the mass departure of talent and
with the loss of head coach June Jones. This year is about showing that
the program has staying power. The Jones ties are finally cut for good,
with all the financial issues settled after he ducked out of his
contract early, and there’s enough turnover this year to see if the
positive momentum can continue. This spring, it’s about getting several
new guys involved and to see who the leaders are going to be.
big spring question is ... Is there going to be a defense? Hawaii
doesn’t just lose nine starters; it loses real, live NFL talent. DE
David Veikune, LBs Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard, and FS Ryan
Mouton are just a few who’ll spend time in a pro camp. DE John Fonoti
will have to be the star of the line from the start, while Brashton
Satele is the only returning starter in the back seven. The jobs are
The most important position to watch is ... Besides
every spot on the defense, all eyes will be on QB Greg Alexander. The
big, strong JUCO transfer who took over the job over the second half of
last year wasn’t Colt Brennan, but he sparked a good second half run of
wins with 14 touchdown passes and five interceptions. Is this his
offense now? He certainly looked the part when the team needed him the
most, but now he’ll have to do even more to make up for the issues on
defense. His decision making will have to be even quicker with the
porous offensive line losing three key starters.
attitude... Be Hawaii and do what the program does best. There isn’t
enough in the bag to beat out Boise State, Nevada, and Fresno State for
the WAC title, but the system is sound and the home field advantage is
still among the best in college football. The team has to own its own
house, something that was a problem after the shellacking coming from
Notre Dame in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl, and there can’t be the misfires on
the road like there was last year against a bad Utah State team.
Spring Practice Begins:
March 26 Game: April
The early spring buzz ... If you want a job, make your mark this
spring. Idaho is planning on utilizing a slew of new recruits to not
just build depth, but to provide an upgrade among the starters. Most of
the key new players aren’t arriving until fall, so expect the overall
competition to be even fiercer and even more intense than in the past
under head coach Robb Akey.
The big spring question is ...
Will the defense be any better? The offense was hardly a prize, but the
season went from a disappointment to an utter disaster because the
defense didn’t do a thing. It was a young group, and there are
reinforcements on the way, so with a base of nine returning starters and
a few decent talents here and there, especially in the secondary, the
defense has to find one thing it can do well.
The most important
position to watch is ... Quarterback. The team needs a spark from
somewhere, and it’ll start with the quarterback. It was just assumed
that Nathan Enderle was going to be the main man for the program for the
next few years, but after struggling so much to get the attack moving,
the job is wide open. The 6-5, 225 pound junior-to-be threw for 20
touchdowns, but he also pitched 17 interceptions. He’ll have to fight
with JUCO transfer Brian Reader, a solid passer who started off at
Arkansas, Justin Morales, and one of the team’s top freshman recruits,
Spring attitude... Keep working. For a program
that has been so woeful for the last several years, and has done nothing
in Akey’s first few seasons, being able to have a little success early
on is a must. An early trip to Washington will be a decent indicator of
just how much the team has advanced, and while wins are a must for the
Vandals at some point, first being competitive is a must. They were
blown away in nine of the 12 games in 2008.
Practice Begins: March 12
Game: April 4
The early spring buzz ... The needle is
pointed up for a pumped up and excited program. Head coach Derek Dooley
spent his first two seasons building through recruiting and working with
young players, and now the payoff is expected to come. The Bulldogs are
loaded with veterans, depth, and options, and after a bowl-winning 2008
season, they’re expected to be a major player in the WAC title chase.
The team still might be a year away from being a conference champion,
but the plan is to be in the mix.
The big spring question is ...
Will the offense have any more pop? The passing game was a disaster even
with a good pair of receivers in Philip Beck and Phillip Livas. QB Ross
Jenkins took over halfway through the season, and while he wasn’t
horrible, he only threw one interceptions and wasn’t picked off in his
last seven games, he wasn’t special. The accuracy wasn’t there and the
consistency was a problem. He has to be better and there must be more
big plays against the better teams.
The most important position
to watch is ... Cornerback. The offense is a bigger problem overall,
but the secondary needs some serious work after losing corners Weldon
Brown and Stevon Howze. The Bulldogs pass defense was 113th
in the nation and allowed 25 touchdown passes. There aren’t many
big-time passing teams on the slate, especially in non-conference play,
but still, this is an area that needs a major improvement.
attitude... Why not us? The team can go cliché and hope for
everything to break the right way in the WAC title race. If the team can
be that bad in the passing
game and that mediocre
defensively, and still win eight games and a bowl game, a little bit of
tweaking could mean a major boost in the overall record. This is a
program on the rise, and everyone around it is acting accordingly.
Practice Begins: Feb. 20
Game: March 14
The early spring buzz ... After a good
season, but not a great one, the pressure is on for a program that might
be seeing its window of opportunity closing. This is a good enough team
to win the WAC title, but it can’t lose star QB Colin Kaepernick after
losing backup and one-time starter Nick Graziano to transfer. The team
remains hopeful that RB Luke Lippincott, one of the league’s best
players in 2007, will get a sixth year of eligibility after suffering a
major knee injury early last year. Throw in the mediocre recruiting
class brought in, even if it’s full of players who can see time right
away, and this might be a win-now season.
The big spring question
is ... Can the secondary stop anyone? The defensive backs were a
nightmare as the Pack finished dead last in the nation in pass defense.
To be fair, the stats are going to look lousy with Texas Tech, Missouri,
and New Mexico State on the slate, but San Jose State, Idaho, UNLV, and
even the woeful passing game of Louisiana Tech produced. When you allow
312 yards per game and 31 touchdowns, you need work. Three starters are
back, only losing free safety Uche Anyanwu, and they have to be far, far
better. They can’t even blame the pass rush; it was among the best in
America and led the WAC averaging 2.85 sacks per game.
important position to watch is ... Wide receiver. The Wolf Pack has
some huge holes to fill with the loss of Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy.
With the multiple receiver sets the coaching staff likes to use, it’s
vital for new prospects like Maurice Patterson and Joe Washington to
step into roles with Malcolm Shepard, Art King, and Dwayne Sanders
returning. Nevada might butter its bread with the running game, but with
a quarterback like Kaepernick, the passing game has the potential to be
every bit as effective.
Spring attitude... Be consistent. The
Pack were able to push Boise State late in a loss, gave Texas Tech one
of its tougher games of the year, and beat Fresno State, but gave away
winnable games against Hawaii and New Mexico State. The team is built
around the running game, but it needs to do everything else better to
take the step up in the WAC race. That comes from doing things more
consistently in the secondary to the passing game to the return game.
New Mexico State Spring
Practice Begins: March 30
Game: April 28
The early spring buzz ... With the Hal
Mumme era over, the addition of new head man DeWayne Walker has brought
in a new attitude and a new feeling that things might finally change
around. The Aggies got a major-league head man in the former UCLA
defensive coordinator, but he has a lot of work to do. This spring is
just about finding players. There will be major changes to be made on
both sides of the ball, and unlike most of the other WAC teams who will
be tweaking and toning; the Aggies will be starting from scratch.
The big spring question is ... How much changing needs to be
done? A lot. The team will go from trying to outbomb everyone to trying
to win with more defense and the running game. That means Senior
Marquell Colston will have to get used to carrying more of the load
behind an O line that returns three starters. The Aggies were
second-to-last in running last year and got barreled over for 220
rushing yards per game. The lines have to be far, far better for Walker
to field the team he wants to.
The most important position to
watch is ... Quarterback. For a team that was so geared toward the
passing game, this will be the biggest area of concern from day one.
While Chase Holbrook is off trying out for the NFL and backup J.J.
McDermott has left for SMU, the Aggies are searching for someone to step
up and handle the offense. Recruit Tanner Rust has good potential and
will be developed for the future, but the job might go to JUCO transfer
Jeff Fleming early on.
Spring attitude... Keep improving. The
Aggies are light years away from being in the hunt for the WAC title,
and with a major change in attitude, philosophies, and styles, it’s
going to be a day-by-day battle for the new coaching staff. Right now,
each spring practice will be about trying to find the right players who
can do what Walker and his staff would like. It’s going to take a little
San Jose State
Spring Practice Begins: March 9
Game: April 18
The early spring
buzz ... Replace the key starters might be tougher than it appears.
The Spartans went 6-6 last season, and that was with major NFL prospects
in corners Coye Francies and Christopher Owens along with DT Jarron
Gilbert. It’s not like the Spartans are great when it comes to
recruiting, it’s not easy to just fill in the gaps, but they’re giving
it a shot. The offense needs WR Kevin Jurovich to return 100% after
struggling last year with mono, and it gets running back Lamon Muldrow
in from the JUCO ranks, but this team has been all about the defense
under head coach Dick Tomey. This will be among the WAC’s most
interesting spring practices to watch.
The big spring question is
... Can the offense score? It’s not like there weren’t decent
playmakers, WR David Richmond was special and the running backs were
athletic, but the line struggled and the quarterback play was spotty.
The Spartans didn’t have any running game and struggled to score, going
over 17 points just five times and averaged 18.67 points per game. Tomey
has built around defense, but there’s a ceiling on what the team can do
without the offense doing something, anything.
The most important
position to watch is ... Quarterback. New quarterback coach Terry
Malley needs to figure out early on who the right fit is going to be for
the offense. Sean Flynn took over late in the year, but he’s gone. Myles
Eden and Kyle Reed each have upside and experience, but neither one did
enough to show they can move an offense on a regular basis. Chad Bozzo
is another option who’ll throw his hat into the ring.
attitude... Sneak up on everyone. No one will be expecting much out
of the solid, but unspectacular Spartans, and they’ll really fall off
the radar after starting out the year against USC and Utah. But there’s
just enough talent returning on both sides of the ball to hope for the
one extra win that wasn’t there last year to go bowling. Find the
replacements on defense, get more pop on offense, and hope to get to
another bowl game in the Tomey era.
Spring Practice Begins: March 17
Game: April 18
The early spring
buzz ... It might not take too much to be the WAC’s surprise team of
2009. There’s not enough talent to get by Boise State, Fresno State and
Nevada to be in the title hunt, but it wouldn’t be a total shock if new
head coach Gary Andersen was able to do just enough with all the
returning experience to flirt with bowl eligibility. The team got better
and better as last year went on, and now with most of the starters
returning on offense and eight starters back on defense, there’s
actually reason to be excited about Utah State football.
spring question is ... How fast with a defensive coach like Andersen
be able to change things around? The former Utah defensive coordinator
got a big break with linebacker and team-leader Jake Hutton was granted
another year of eligibility, but the defense isn’t going to be better
unless there’s more of a pass rush. The defense didn’t do any one thing
well over the last few seasons, and Andersen has to change that from day
The most important position to watch is ... Quarterback.
Diondre Borel isn’t big, but he’s a playmaker who provided a spark for
the offense as the year went on. Andersen was able to bring in Kane
Wilson, a big, athletic passer who’s expected to be the leader of the
offense in 2011, but if Borel doesn’t shine and the offense isn’t
producing, the timetable could be moved up in a hurry. Borel has to make
the offense his by being a good leader and a steadier passer in every
Spring attitude... Get to six. The Aggies only won
nine games in the last four seasons and haven’t even been close to being
competitive on a regular basis. There’s too much experience returning to
not be better, and while there are sure-thing non-conference road losses
at Utah, Texas A&M and BYU to get hit with, and the team isn’t good
enough to beat Boise State, the goal has to be to find a way to get to
six wins. More realistically, five is a better goal, but with a new
coaching staff come higher expectations.