2009 Nevada Wolf Pack Football Preview
2008 Record: (7-6, 5-3)
2008 Bowl: Humanitarian Bowl vs. Maryland (L 35-42)
Coach: Chris Ault (198-91-1 at Nevada, 198-91-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chris Klenakis
Defensive Coordinator: Nigel Burton
Other Key Returnees: DT Nate Agaiava, DE Kevin Basped, G John Bender, OT Alonzo Durham, OT Mike Gallett, TE Virgil Green, LB James-Michael Johnson, LB Brandon Marshall, CB Antoine Thompson
Key Losses: S Uche Anyanwu, DT Mundrae Clifton, C Dominic Green, G Greg Hall, K Brett Jaekle, LB Jerome Johnson, LB Joshua Mauga, WR Mike McCoy, WR Marko Mitchell
Nevada has had its ups and downs under Coach Chris Ault over the last 24 years and last year was an up year, ending with a trip to the Humanitarian Bowl. This year should be even better thanks to an underappreciated explosive offense and what should now be an experienced defense.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick had an amazing sophomore campaign, throwing for 2,849 yards and running for another 1,130. That resulted in an incredible 39 total touchdowns for Kaepernick. Now that he is an upperclassman Kaepernick should really shine. Yet, despite Kaepernick’s domination on the ground, Vai Taua was the team’s leading rusher with 1,521 yards. This is a team that ranked third in the entire country in rushing offense and fifth in total offense. The only thing that could stop those numbers from going even further up is the absence of receivers Marko Mitchell and Mike McCoy. Junior Chris Wellington is a big play receiver, but the Wolf Pack have to find a few more options for Kaepernick. The offensive line does return three starters, but center Dominic Green will be missed.
If the defense was not so bad, the 2008 season could have been very special for Nevada. The good news is the offense will still be good and the defense can be nothing but better. No team in the country gave up more yards through the air than the Wolf Pack and that has to change. It is not like the opposition had all day to throw against the team. Nevada tallied nearly three sacks per game, ranking first in the conference. That could be the case again with the return of ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch, who both tallied at least ten sacks on the season. The young linebackers are growing up and should be better, but it still all falls on the secondary. Senior Jonathan Amaya is the leader of the unit, but players like Isaiah Frey, Mo Harvey and Antoine Thompson have to step up and do a better job.
The Bottom Line for the Wolf Pack:
If the pass defense does improve, this could be a great year for Nevada. The non-conference schedule is brutal and teams like Notre Dame and Missouri might have field days throwing against the secondary early in the year, but by the time the conference season rolls around, the secondary should be better. And if they are, the Wolf Pack will be in the mix for a conference championship.
By Joel Welser
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