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2009 CFN WAC Team Capsules
Hawaii C John Estes
Hawaii C John Estes
Posted Aug 4, 2009

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- Boise State |
Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
- Nevada | New Mexico State | San Jose State | Utah State

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1. 2009 Boise State | Offense | Defense |
Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 10-2  Conf. Record: 7-1
Best Offensive Player: QB Kellen Moore, Soph.
Best Defensive Player: CB Kyle Wilson, Sr.
Offense: There are some major question marks, but there were concerns last year, too, and the Broncos rolled once again with the nation's 12th best scoring attack and averaged 441 yards per game. It all starts with QB Kellen Moore, a cool, calm playmaker who makes everyone around him better. As long as he gets time and his receivers can come up with yards after the catch, the nation's 11th most efficient passing attack will be fine even though four of the top five pass catchers from last year are gone. Ian Johnson was one of those top receivers, and he was also the leading rusher. However, he won't be missed as much as many might think with D.J. Harper ready to help fill the void in a regular rotation with Jeremy Avery. The line will be out of this world ... next year. This is a young group without any seniors and with injury problems on the right side. However, if everyone's healthy, the line will be great in pass protection once again and should be serviceable for the ground game.
Defense: The defense has some major rebuilding to do, but everything will be fine. The line has to replace three starters to work around star end Ryan Winterswyk, but there's size, athleticism, and promise to keep up the production from a group that camped out in opposing backfields. The big question will be the consistent alignment. The 4-3 won't be scrapped, but there are so many good defensive backs, and so many options, there will be a 4-2-5 used more often than not. The secondary is loaded with four starters returning to a group that was second in the nation in pass efficiency defense. CB Kyle Wilson will play in the NFL, while CB Brandyn Thompson and FS Jeron Johnson are sure-thing all-stars. The linebacking corps is the typical undersized, scrappy unit that Boise State always has, and while the starting experience isn't there, outside of Derrell Acrey, tackling won't be an issue.

T2. Fresno State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 7-5  Conf. Record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player: RB Ryan Mathews, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Ben Jacobs, Jr.
Offense: The offense was inconsistent throughout last year and wasn't nearly as explosive as it should've been. There will be come changes with new offensive coordinator Derek Frazier using a little spread and some option to go along with the normal Bulldog attack. There will be more deep balls with big-armed quarterbacks Ryan Colburn and Derek Carr, David's brother, able to let it fly, but the question will be who the starter will be. Ebahn Feathers can do a variety of things and will be in the mix as well. The receiving corps is fast, but it needs to prove it can consistently crank out the big play, while the line is big and will be great with time and with the right starting five combination found. The strength is the running game with the trio of Ryan Mathews, Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding as good as any in the country as long as they can stay healthy.
It was a disastrous season for the defense, and the on-field problems were minor by comparison. The loss of coordinator Dan Brown to a battle with cancer meant that several things had to change in the coaching staff as well as to the personnel. The Bulldogs got worse against the run as the season went on, and didn't get much of anything from the line when it came to getting into the backfield. The linebacking corps has Ben Jacobs back, but everyone else has to be more physical and do more against the pass. The secondary is experienced, but mediocre, while the line has big-time upside and could be the strength of the team with a little bit of time. First and foremost, the defense has to start making more big plays, has to force more turnovers, and has to get to the quarterback on a regular basis.

T2. Louisiana Tech | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 8-4  Conf. Record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player: WR/KR Phillip Livas, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: FS Antonio Baker, Sr.
Offense: The offense was full of veterans last year and it now returns with nine starters and plenty of talent. WR Phillip Livas is one of the nation’s best all-around playmakers, Daniel Porter is a 1,000-yard back, and the line returns all five starters. The quarterback situation is more settled than it was last year, but Ross Jenkins needs to be more of a playmaker than just a caretaker. The running game should still be strong with a slew of ultra-quick backs, led by Porter, and with Livas getting some work, but the passing game needs to do more. With all the experience needs to come more production, a more efficient passing game, and more points against defenses with a pulse.
Defense: The D was far better last year, even though there were plenty of holes in the pass defense, after being among the worst in America in 2006 and 2007. Things will be even better this year led by a tough, veteran defensive line with D’Anthony Smith anchoring things at tackle and Kwame Jordan due to emerge on the outside. The secondary has to replace both starting corners, but Antonio Baker and Deon Young will be among the WAC’s best safety tandems. Now the whole group has to start stopping the pass after allowing 273 yards per game. The linebacking corps loses Quin Harris and Brannon Jackson, and while there isn’t much in the way of star power, there are several decent, quick options for the ultra-aggressive defense to use.

T2. Nevada | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 8-4  Conf. Record: 6-2
Best Offensive Player: QB Colin Kaepernick, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: DE Kevin Basped, Jr.
Offense: The Nevada Pistol offense will once again revolve around the all-around talents of QB Colin Kaepernick, one of the nation’s best running quarterbacks. He led the way for the No. 3 running attack that averaged 278 yards per game, and now that he’s more experienced, he’ll get more of a chance to open up the offense with the passing game. However, the stars are in the backfield with 1,521-yard back Vai Taua returning. The receiving corps loses its two best players, Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy, meaning Chris Wellington has to use his excellent speed to take advantage of everyone stacking up against the run. The offensive line welcomes back two of the WAC’s best tackles, Mike Gallett and Alonzo Durham, but needs to play around with the inside.
Defense: It was a strange year for a Nevada defense that’s working all off-season to vastly improve. The pass rush was among the best in the nation. Ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch are fantastic, and the linebackers are aggressive and great at getting into the backfield. The plays behind the line helped the overall stats against the run, but the Pack could be powered on. And then there’s the pass defense. Nevada was ripped apart by just about everyone, finishing dead-last in the nation in pass defense. Two good starters, CB Antoine Thompson and SS Jonathan Amaya are back, and it’ll be an open casting call for the other two spots.

5. San Jose State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 6-6  Conf. Record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player: WR Kevin Jurovich, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: DE Carl Ihenacho, Sr.
Offense: After a rough year with no consistency and absolutely no running game whatsoever, the offense could make a night-and-day leap in production. Brought on to spice things up is offensive coordinator Terry Malley, an Arena League coach whose offenses set several records. Now there will be more deep passing, more power running, and more production with a veteran team that gets most of the parts back. It all starts up front where the line that was so woeful and banged up throughout last season is now full of experience and potential. Everything else should fall into place with an improved front wall with QB Kyle Reed the likely main triggerman with the arm to start pushing the ball down the field to a receiving corps that could be the best in the WAC. Kevin Jurovich is an all-star who missed most of last year with mono, and now he'll be the No. 1 target while Jalal Beauchman and Marquis Avery are elite athletes who should break out. The running game gets back Patrick Perry, who missed two years with a knee injury, and JUCO transfer Lamon Muldrow for the power, while part-receiver, part-running back Brandon Rutley will provide the quickness.
Defense: While there's a bit of rebuilding to be done in certain spots after losing all-star DT Jarron Gilbert and NFL-caliber corners Coye Francies and Christopher Owens, the WAC's No. 2 defense of last year returns loaded. The safeties will shine with part-linebacker, part-safety Duke Ihenacho moving to more of a defensive back role in a modified 4-2-5, while Devin Newsome is a nice veteran who'll be a good tackler once again. The linebacking corps is loaded with tacklers led by Justin Cole and 2008's leading stopper, Travis Jones. While the line needs some revamping, the tackles are big and Carl Ihenacho should be the WAC's premier pass rusher. This might not be the dominant pass rushing D that last year's was, but it'll be athletic and active.

6. Hawaii | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 5-8  Conf. Record: 3-5
Best Offensive Player: C John Estes, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Brandon Satele, Sr.
It’s Hawaii, so you know exactly what’s coming: Lots of passing, lots of big scoring runs, and no running game whatsoever. Greg Alexander is a strong returning quarterback who should be able to take a nice leap in overall production if he can hold off Brent Rausch for the job. The receiving corps should be better with Greg Salas and Malcolm Lane two good speedsters who should be in the hunt for all-star honors. The biggest issue is on the line where three starters are gone off a group that was the worst in the nation in pass protection. Obviously, that’s an issue for an offense that lives and dies by the pass. On the plus side, John Estes is back at center and should be among the best in America.
Head Greg McMackin’s 4-3 defense continues to work well, but now it’ll be put to the test with only two starters returning. While it might seem like a daunting task to lose so many key players, there are several good prospects about to shine with more playing time and more responsibility. R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane is about to be a new star at linebacker wile Blaze Soares returns from injury to be a key player at strongside linebacker. The defensive line will get into the backfield but it has to prove it can hold up against the run. The secondary has big-time upside and should be fine in time, but it could be a problem early on until the corners can show they can handle the work.

Idaho | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 1-11  Conf. Record: 1-7
Best Offensive Player: RB Deonte Jackson, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: SS Shiloh Keo, Jr.
Offense: The offense was a major flop last year considering just about everyone was back. The hope will be for the massive line to be able to do more for the running game early on in games and for the passing game to be better and more efficient. Nathan Enderle has two years under his belt as the starting quarterback, and now he has to cut down on his interceptions and has to do more to keep the chains moving. The receiving corps needs a No. 1 target, but it has several decent veterans for Enderle to work with. Deonte Jackson and Princeton McCarty are two of the quickest backs in the WAC, and with Troy Vital as a strong No. 3, the Vandals have an explosive, experienced trio to carry the offense. Now they need the line to be able to open up some holes.
Defense: The Vandal defense was supposed to take a big turn for the better, instead it was among the worst in America. It didn't do anything right, and it all stemmed from the line. Injuries had something to do with the problems across the board, but the line has to be far better and it has to come up with some semblance of a pass rush. The tackles should be solid if Oga Faumui and Fono Sekona can get back from knee injuries, but someone has to come through on the outside. If the ends can't provide any pressure, it'll be more of the same for the rest of the defense. The safeties might be the strength of the team, headlined by the return of Shiloh Keo from a shoulder injury, and now the corners have to come up with more big plays. The loss of two of the team's top three tacklers, Justin Allen and Jonathan Faraimo, when they still had eligibility remaining, might be a killer to the linebacking corps. They left for personal reasons, and now it'll be up to sophomores Robert Siavii and Tre'Shawn Robinson to play big roles.

T7. New Mexico State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 2-11  Conf. Record: 1-7
Best Offensive Player: RB Marquell Colston, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: CB Davon House, Sr.
Offense: New offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach is hardly going to play it conservative, but this will look like a far different team with a real, live running game to focus on. The big, veteran offensive line should do better now that it gets to hit someone, but it’s going to take a while to find the right combination. The same goes for a receiving corps that needs to hope for star recruit Marcus Allen to shine right away to help out Marcus Anderson. Marquell Colston is a good running back who’ll finally get a chance to show what he can do, and he might need to carry the offense for stretches. The quarterback situation is the biggest question mark with JUCO transfer Jeff Fleming option one and freshman Tanner Rust also getting his shot. 
Defense: At least the coaches are strong. Having a head coach like DeWayne Walker will instantly help a defense that wasn’t ignored under the old regime, but certainly wasn’t the main focus. Even so, last year’s defense wasn’t all that bad finishing third in the nation against the pass. There was no run defense and little pass rush, and both of those things will be addressed early on. The big problem will be the personnel; there are too many holes to fill from a bad defense. There’s absolutely no experience to count on from the front line, and there’s no depth whatsoever across the board. Making matters worse is the loss of star linebacker Nick Paden is out for the season with a knee injury. On the plus side, Jason Scott is a nice linebacker and Davon House is a solid corner.

T7. Utah State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart

Predicted Record: 2-10  Conf. Record: 1-7
Best Offensive Player: QB Diondre Borel, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Paul Igboeli, Jr.
Offense: New offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin's spread appears to be ready to shine right away. The key will be the play of QB Diondre Borel, the team's leading rusher last season and an accurate passer with the right make-up of smarts and athleticism to handle the new attack. Ten starters return overall with a veteran line, a deep, quick stable of backs, and an emerging receiving corps that will allow Borel to spread the ball around. While this won't always be the most explosive attack, it should be a bit more consistent as the line starts to jell. The pass protection needs to be better, but the line won't have to do much more for the running game than open up a bit of a hole and let the backs fly through.
Defense: For the third year in a row, the Aggies are experienced with loads of options and decent talent all across the board. Now it'll be up to new defensive coordinator Bill Busch to make it all work. Helped by having a head coach in Gary Andersen who knows defenses, there should be more production on sheer aggressiveness alone. With the press-man coverage scheme, the idea this offseason was to find the toughest playmakers and get them on the field. There's no size whatsoever, there isn't a sure-thing pass rusher and the secondary that was toasted way too often last year will likely have problems again, but seven starters are back and there's just enough overall quickness and athleticism to make this a plucky group that will throw itself around all over the field.