2009 CFN WAC Preview

Posted Aug 4, 2009

2009 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - WAC Preview

2009 CFN WAC Preview

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

- 2009 CFN WAC Preview
- WAC Team-by-Team Capsules

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WAC Unit Rankings

- WAC Schedules & Predictions

- 2008 CFN WAC Preview

By Pete Fiutak

The WAC has roughly three years to make a big step up and become a more powerful conference. At the moment, it's not getting the respect the Mountain West is receiving and it's roughly a half-step behind Conference USA and a little bit ahead of the MAC and Sun Belt in the overall pecking order. The top teams, Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada, have been solid, but now it's up to the rear to make a big improvement to help in the respect department.

The bottom feeders have made coaching changes, and they've come up with some major coups. Dewayne Walker was this close to being the head coach at UCLA, and now he should work wonders at New Mexico State ... eventually. Gary Andersen is a good coaching prospect who should do a great job at Utah State ... eventually. If these two do a fantastic job, they're upwardly mobile enough to move on in a hurry to bigger programs, but NMSU and Utah State, respectively, can only hope to have enough success to get the top programs to come calling for their coaches.

Idaho still doesn't appear to be making any great strides under Robb Akey and Hawaii should struggle with a tough schedule, but the league should come up with a decent year mainly because the midsection should rise up. The bottom will still be lousy, at least until the new coaches get their programs untracked, but Louisiana Tech is about to hit its stride under Derek Dooley, there's a sense of urgency for Pat Hill at Fresno State, and Nevada is loaded with one of the best running games in America. Boise State is still Boise State, and San Jose State should be as good as it's been since Dick Tomey took over. But it'll still take a slew of big non-conference wins to change up the national perception of the league, and, again, the bottom teams can't be so miserable again. It's hard for Boise State to make a claim to being in a BCS game when it rips through a league with so many gimmes.

So while the league powers want to keep pushing for their top teams to get a sniff from the BCS games, it's still going to take something special to get one of the at-large spots. That doesn't mean that Boise State won't be worthy if it can beat Oregon and roll to yet another double-digit win season, but it'll be harder this year to wake up and get another WAC title.

The games should be more entertaining across the board, as if last year's Nevada - Boise State battle could've been more thrilling. But week in and week out, there should be a nice battle among the top teams to battle for a good spot in the conference pecking order. Can San Jose State pull off a few key road upsets to be a player in the title race? Can the Nevada offensive machine be enough to overcome some defensive flaws? Will Louisiana Tech take the next step forward that many are expecting? Don't just assume it'll be Boise State and eight other teams. This should be one of the best years the WAC has had in a long time, even if it doesn't conclude with a spot in one of the big five bowls.

Team That'll Surprise

San Jose State - The receiving corps could end up being the best in the WAC thanks to the return of Kevin Jurovich, the defensive front seven is fantastic, and there are enough athletes across the board to hand around with just about everyone on the schedule (and yes, that might include USC for about a half). There are too many tough road games to win the WAC title, the Spartans have to go to Boise State, Fresno State, and Louisiana Tech, but that doesn't mean Dick Tomey's team won't be a tough out.   

Team That'll Disappoint

Hawaii - The Warriors have been great at taking advantage of one of the best home field advantages in college football to win just enough games to go bowling year after year, but it'll be tough to get a 14th game this season. The passing game will have its moments, but it won't be consistent. The defense, under beleaguered coach Greg McMackin, will be fine, but nothing special, and there are too many tough road battles. Getting Boise State and Wisconsin at home won't be a plus. 

Game of the Year … Nov. 27, Nevada at Boise State. The Wolf Pack was getting blown out against the Broncos last year before roaring back in the second half. Boise State held on for a 41-34 win, and this year's game could be just as entertaining. It should also go a long way to determining the WAC championship with Louisiana Tech's game against Boise State on November 6th in Ruston being almost as important.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...

1. C John Estes, Sr. Hawaii
2. WR Phillip Livas, Jr. Louisiana Tech
3. LB Ben Jacobs, Jr. Fresno State
4. DE Ryan Winterswyk, Jr. Boise State
5. DE Carl Ihenacho, Sr. San Jose State

Coach on the Hot Seat

Pat Hill, Fresno State - There have been some nice moments against some big name teams, but yearly losses to Boise State and too many disappointments have made this a win-or-else year after 12 extremely interesting seasons. Idaho's Robb Akey also needs to show that things are pointed in the right direction of there will likely be a coaching change in Moscow next offseason.

5 Non-Conference Games that WAC opponents had better take very, very seriously

1. Oregon at Boise State, Sept. 3
2. Louisiana Tech at Auburn, Sept. 5
3. Nevada at Notre Dame, Sept. 5
4. San Jose State at Stanford, Sept. 19
5. Fresno State at Illinois, Dec. 5

Bold Prediction … The WAC will be the hotbed of attention for its quarterbacks ... in 2010. The WAC QBs will be the hot topic next offseason by those looking for a new, fresh story. However, they'll be worth watching this year. Nevada's Colin Kaepernick should have a national coming out party against Notre Dame to start the season, Boise State's Kellen Moore should be one of the nation's most efficient passers, Utah State's Diondre Borel should be a thrilling dual-threat playmaker, and Fresno State's Derek Carr, David Carr's little brother, has the talent to get the next level types all fired up. Actually, Ryan Colburn might have something to say about the quarterback race at Fresno State, but overall, the league will be loaded with good signal callers who should upgrade the league's profile.

5 Best Pro Prospects

1. CB Kyle Wilson, Sr. Boise Statebr>2. DT D'Anthony Smith, Sr. Louisiana Tech
3. C John Estes, Sr. Hawaii
4. RB Ryan Matthews, Jr. Fresno State
5. D Carl Ihenacho, Sr. San Jose State

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill

1. DT Kalvin Cressel for Jarron Gilbert, San Jose State
2. LB R.J. Kiesel Kauhane for Solomon Eliminian, Hawaii
3. S Michael Zant  for Derrick Richardson, New Mexico State
4. C Kenneth Ackerman for Dominic Green, Nevada
5. DE Elliot Purcell for David Veikune, Hawaii