2008 Nevada Wolf Pack Football Preview
Nevada 2007 Record: (6-7, 4-4 WAC)
2007 Bowl: New Mexico Bowl vs. New Mexico (L 0-23)
Nevada Head Coach: Chris Ault (191-85-1 at Nevada, 191-85-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Klenakis
Defensive Coordinator: Nigel Burton
Returning Leaders for Nevada:
Other Key Returnees: S Uche Anyanwu, OT Alonzo Durham, OT Mike Gallett, C Dominic Green, G Greg Hall, K Brett Jaekle, LB Jerome Johnson, WR Mike McCoy
Key Losses: TE Adam Bishop, LB Ezra Butler, DE Jay Dixon, DT Matt Hines, LB Nick Fuhr, S Justin Jackson, G Charles Manu, LB Kevin Porter, CB Paul Pratt, WR Kyle Sammons, CB Devon Walker
Nevada is slowly building into a consistent Western Athletic Conference contender. Three years in a row Coach Chris Ault has led his team to a bowl game and that streak will not end this year. The defense has a little rebuilding to do, but the offense has the potential to be the most explosive in a conference that is full of explosive offenses.
The Wolf Pack ranked first in the conference in rushing offense last season and all the key pieces are back to do it again. Running back Luke Lippincott rushed for 1,420 yards and 15 touchdowns last year and hopes to have an even bigger senior campaign. With four starters returning to the offensive line, Lippincott is in store for a huge season and possibly some all-conference accolades. What makes the running game even better is quarterback Colin Kaepernick. At 6-6 and 215 pounds, Kaepernick is a big, elusive quarterback. He was forced into duty when Nick Graziano got hurt, but he did a great job creating with his arm and his feet. Kaepernick rushed for 593 yards and threw for 2,175 more. Graziano is healthy again and will compete for the quarterback spot, but Kaepernick might be too dynamic of a player to leave on the bench for long.
For a conference that scores a lot of points, the Nevada defense was not that bad. But now key players need to be replaced all over. Matt Hines clogged the middle of the line and got plenty of pressure on the opposing quarterback and linebacker Ezra Butler led the team in tackles. Fellow linebackers Nick Fuhr and Kevin Porter, who is out for the year with an injury, are also gone and the secondary lost playmaker Justin Jackson and corners Paul Pratt and Devon Walker. New faces will have to step into important roles and old faces like Kevin Basped, Josh Mauga and Jerome Johnson will have to become leaders. On paper the secondary is the biggest problem, but the coaching staff hit the junior college level hard to find some immediate contributors. Antoine Thompson and Maurice Harvey should fit in nicely and incoming freshman Thaddeus Brown might be the most talented of them all when all is said and done.
The Bottom Line for the Wolf Pack:
This Nevada team might not be good enough to win the WAC right now, but they are certainly a team that should make some noise in the conference and reach their fourth straight bowl game. The offense will put up some big numbers, especially on the ground, and that will help the defense while they adjust to life without some key contributors.
2007 Nevada Wolf Pack Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 214.08 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 253.38 (40, 5)
Total Offense: 467.46 (11, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.46 (27, 3)
Rushing Defense: 174.23 (78, 7)
Pass Defense: 240.77 (76, 4)
Total Defense: 415.00 (79, 5)
Scoring Defense: 32.15 (95, 6)
Turnover Margin: -.23 (76, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (64, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (51, 3)
By Joel Welser
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2008 WAC Football Preview
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