Wednesday, July 8, 2015

College Football Preview 2015: Mountain West

Another season went into the books, and Boise State once again performed to their obligatory standards, dominated the conference, and broke into the big boy club with a birth in a New Year's Six Bowl game (the new, much improved version of the BCS). Boise State will just dominate in every way, in every season, as they have for just about forever now. Nothing slows down the smurf turf machine, and nothing likely will this fall, either. Of course, there will be potential challengers, such as Utah State, Colorado State, and Air Force in the Mountain, and to a small degree San Diego State in the West, but we all pretty much know how this story will likely end. The only question left is, have we finally gotten to the point where we have collectively risen Boise State to such heights that it's time to knock them down?

Projected Order of Finish

1. Boise State
2. Utah State
3. Air Force
4. Colorado State
5. Wyoming
6. New Mexico

1. San Diego State
2. Nevada
3. Fresno State
4. San Jose State
5. Hawaii

All-Conference Team
QB-Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
RB-Donnell Pumphrey, San Diego State
RB-Jacobi Owens, Air Force
RB-Marteze Walker, Fresno State
WR-Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
WR-Devonte Boyd, UNLV
WR-Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
WR-Hunter Sharp, Utah State
TE-Garrett Griffin, Air Force
TE-Jarred Gipson, Nevada

DL-Kamalei Correa, Boise State
DL-Ian Seau, Nevada
DL-Eddie Yarbrough, Wyoming
DL-Rykeem Yates, Nevada
LB-Nick Virgil, Utah State
LB-Tannr Vallejo, Boise State
LB-Ejiro Ederaine, Fresno State
LB-Dakota Cox, New Mexico
DB-Darian Thompson, Boise State
DB-Donte Deayon, Boise State
DB-Weston Steelhammer, Air Force
DB-Cleveland Wallace III, San Jose State

PK-Donny Hageman, San Diego State
P-Alex Boy, Nevada
KR-Deionte Gaines, Colorado State
PR-Lloyd Mills, San Diego State

2015 Team Previews

Boise State Broncos
2014 Record: 12-2
2015 Projected Record: 11-1
Head Coach: Bryan Harsin (12-2, 2nd Season)

The Good News: If you want somewhere to start on offense, it's along the line, where every starter returns for another go. Even better news is that the line returns three juniors and two seniors, and is seemingly even deep behind the starters, so the rich depth of this unit should extend into 2016 as well. All conference pick Thomas Sperbeck is back at WR after catching 51 passes for 877 yards and three scores, and will be joined by Shane Williams-Rhodes. Junior Chaz Anderson figures in as the new starter. Jake Roh also returns at TE, giving the Broncos a deep and talented group at receiver.
The Broncos will have some solid play in the secondary this fall, and that's good news considering this was their weakest area of play in 2014. CB Donte Deayon and S Darian Thompson are both all league picks, and will anchor the back of the defense. Junior Jonathon Moxey will also return at CB with Deayon. Mercy Maston, a senior, should step in at NB, while a sophomore, Dylan Summer-Gardner should win the open safety job. Ben Weaver and Tanner Vallejo both return to their starting jobs at LB, and senior Tyler Gray will give them some depth there as well. Armand Nance and all league DE Kamalei Correa will both be back as well, and Correa is as disruptive a force in the backfield as you will find anywhere in the nation.
Punter Sean Wale is back, and so the Broncos should be in a good spot when they do need to kick it away.
The Bad News: Many people are high on new starting QB Ryan Finley, but there really is not much of a book on the sophomore other than he completed just 12 of 27 passes last season in mop up duty. I'm taking a cautious approach and am trying not to get to worked up about him too soon. The Broncos also lose all world RB Jay Ajayi, and those will be huge shoes to fill indeed. Sophomore Jeremy McNichols and freshman Cory Young will be first in line to win the job, but will more likely share carries.
There's not much to worry about on defense, however the Broncos did give up 26.8 points per game last fall, so  am guessing that they'd like to see that number drop somewhat. They gave up 27 or more points in a game eight times last season, and seeing that they have lost some significant offensive firepower, expecting them to score 39.7 points per game or more this season doesn't seem a realistic thing heading into fall camp.
The Overview: The schedule lines up just fine for another big run in 2015, but the most intriguing early season game is a home game opener with former Chris Peterson and the Washington Huskies. Boise should win that game, but then goes to BYU the following week. The Broncos also visit Virginia in their final September game, which should end seeing Boise with wins against two power five teams, albeit not very good ones. That should be enough to spark a deep run that should more than see Boise State take the one birth that the big guys will allow in their New Years Party.
First Game: 9/4 Washington

Utah State Aggies
2014 Record: 10-4
2015 Projected Record: 8-4
Head Coach: Matt Wells (19-9, 3rd season)

The Good News: Let's try this again. Chuckie Keeton is back for another try at USU after missing the last two seasons due to injury. He has received an extra year of eligibility, and will be back to enter the fray once again. We all know at this point what he's capable of, and that is greatness in the college game, but the bigger question is whether or not he can stay healthy to do it. Just having the chance to see is a win in and of itself. If he falls again, Oregon transfer Damian Hobbs and Kent Myers are both ready to go, so head coach Matt Wells doesn't seem concerned. Myers, by the way, had been moved to WR, and enters 2015 back at QB with the transfer of Darrell Garretson. Hunter Sharp and Devonte Robinson both return at WR, but this news would be even better if the Aggies weren't forced to dismiss WR and PR JoJo Natson from the team just weeks ago. Still, the Aggies should have plenty of depth at WR, even if they need more help from a larger group of players. The line is loaded, with four starters returning.
Defensively, the Aggies have a solid LB corps to take the lead in the middle of the defense. Nick Virgil is a beast, and will be joined by LT Filaga inside, and Torrey Green outside. Jordan Nielson returns at DE, and CB Jalen Davis also returns.
The news isn't all bad in the kicking game, as although the PK job is seemingly open, Jake Thompson has been used there before, and should be just fine.
The Bad News: The loss of Natson at WR and in the return game will hurt. He was extremely productive and could have been an all league pick at both spots. The other issue on offense is finding a back or two that will be able to carry the load. Right now it looks like a committee situation, which usually isn't a great thing.
On defense, while the middle of the field is set at LB, the D Line and the secondary are much more jumbled at this point. There is an opening at both RDE and NG in the 3-4 set, so the Aggies will have to work fast to find replacements. Senior John Taylor is battling Edmund Faimolo at RDE, while senior Travis Seefeldt is competing with David Moala, another senior, at NG. It's more likely that they all see time in a rotation. The secondary also has three battles going on, including at both safety spots, but all competitors are upperclassmen.
The Aggies need to find a new Punter this fall, and a freshman is the front runner in Aaron Dalton.
The Overview: The Aggies should be strong, but not strong enough to run Boise State out of the top spot in the Mountain Division. USU has some interesting position battles going on heading into fall camp, but leave it to Matt Wells to get the most out of the situation, and lead the Aggies back to yet another bowl, probably in Las Vegas this time around.
First Game: 9/3 Southern Utah

Air Force Falcons
2014 Record: 10-3
2015 Projected Record: 8-4
Head Coach: Troy Calhoun (59-44, 9th season)

The Good News: The Falcons have two of the biggest offensive weapons in the conference in RB Jacobi Owens, and TE Garrett Griffin, both all conference selections heading into 2015. Owens rushed for 1054 yards last fall, and will see the bulk of the carries this season. Griffin averaged 19.19 yards on each reception last season, and should see an increased load in the passing game this fall. Jalen Robinette and Garrett Brown both return at WR as well. Heading back to the run game, the Falcons are also loaded at the most important position in their offense, FB. Shayne Davern and DJ Johnson both return, and will both see plenty of action.
Defensively, Air Force is all set at both OLB spots, with Connor Healy and Dexter Walker both back. Alex Hansen is back at DE, as is all league pick SS Weston Steelhammer.
The Bad News: While the run game is ready to fly, it is imperative that the Falcons figure out how they will fill three holes on the O line this fall. Only LT Matt Rochell and RG Andrew Ruechel return. Kevin Romine is set to return at QB, but he was a bench guy last fall after starting in 2013. If he was that solid, would he have been benched for almost the entire season last year?
Defensively, the DT and NG spots must be filled. Samuel Byers and Jalen Lacy are fighting it out at DT, while David Harris and Santo Coppola are in the fight for the NG spot. While the OLB spots are all set, there is a big set of holes at ILB, as both spots will need to be filled. With Steelhammer the only returning starter set heading into the season, there are three holes to fill in the secondary, and CB Gavin McHenry is suspended, with his earliest estimated return being on 10/17 against Colorado State.
The PK game was a mess in the spring, and that issue may come hurdling into fall camp, with Drew Dehrle leading for the job as we speak. He may not hold onto the spot heading into the opener, however. The Punting job is in the same boat, with Brett Dunn leading the pack by a narrow margin.
The Overview: Troy Calhoun did a remarkable job moving the win meter from two to 10 in one short year, but this version of the Falcons looks like they could slide just a shade once again in 2015, but not by a ton. The offensive issues seem to have been ironed out to a degree, the defense must find a slew of new starters after the unit that took the field last year had gone to such lengths to improve. Starting over again is never fun, and Calhoun does have the talent, but what may be lacking is more or less the experience to rely on, and experience trumps talent, always.
First Game: 9/5 Morgan State

Colorado State Rams
2014 Record: 10-3
2015 Projected Record: 6-6
Head Coach: Mike Bobo (1st season)

The Good News: All America WR Rashard Higgins is back after catching 17 TD passes last season to go along with his 96 receptions and 1750 yards. Higgins could start and star for any program in the nation right now. Joe Hansley also returns as a starter and could see his numbers increase as teams try to spend extra bodies on Higgins. Steven Walker and Kivon Cartwright also both return at TE, giving the Rams some serious firepower in the receiving game.
On defense, the line is largely set with three starters returning to the fold in DE Joe Kawulok, and DTs Terry Jackson and Justin Hansen. With those guys in play, the open DE spot is looking like a camp battle between Steve Michel and Martavius Foster. While the D Line is mostly set, the secondary is entirely set with all four starters returning in CBs Tyree Simmons and Preston Hodges, and Safeties Kevin Pierre-Louis and Trent Matthews.
The Punting game is a serious strong point as well, with Hayden Hunt returning after averaging almost 44 yards per punt last fall. KR Deionte Gaines is an all league pick heading into the fall.
The Bad News: Garrett Grayson is gone. Potential starter Nick Stevens tossed all of 25 pass attempts last season, and so there is a huge hole to fill there, especially with a new offense being installed. Both FB and RB need new starters as well, and the line returns only two starters from last season. The offense that finished 18th in total offense last season in the country is largely gone.
The Rams are also switching defenses, and will be running a standard 4-3 this fall. The hit here is that the Rams must replace two of three starters at LB, with only Cory James returning after a 6.5 sack season in 2014.
The PK game is also a huge concern with the loss of Jared Roberts. Freshman Wyatt Bryan has the lead heading into the fall to replace him.
The Overview: The Rams will be different in 2015. With the loss of head coach Jim McElwain to Florida, the Rams are starting over again in many ways. I still see that Bobo can likely get them into a bowl this season, but with a new coach, system, QB, and RB, there could be many more bumps along the way. It will be interesting to see how quickly everyone responds to the upheaval.
First Game: 9/5 Savannah State

Wyoming Cowboys
2014 Record: 4-8
2015 Projected Record: 5-7
Head Coach: Craig Bohl (4-8, 2nd season)

The Good News: Not counting QB, the Cowboys could be n excellent shape in the backfield with the return of RB Shaun Wick and FB Drew Van Maanan. Brian Hill, the number two back from a year ago, also returns to the fold. The line is strong on the left side from center, with all three starters returning in LT Ryan Cummings, LG Chase Roullier, and Center Rafe Kiely.
Eddie Yarbrough is back at DE after recording 63 tackles and 10.5 TFLs last fall, and will be the leader of this defense. Uso Olive returns next to him at DT.
Ethan Wood returns as the Punter in 2015 after averaging 41.4 yards per punt, and will likely be needed to help out a green defense with field position.
The Bad News: The WR game is starting from mostly scratch, although Tanner Gentry did have 32 receptions a year ago. He's the most experienced guy out there, however. The right side of the line needs to be replaced, but the real question is who will be starting at QB? Will it be Indiana transfer Cameron Coffman, who fell out of favor at IU. or will it be inexperienced junior Josh Allen?
One half of the D line must be replaced, with Chase Appleby leading the way at DT,and Siaosi Hala'api'api likely set to start at DE. Tim Kamana started at Safety a year ago, and now moves to OLB, where he will largely be learning on the job. Both MLB and OLB spots must be folled, and there is little to go on there. CB Robert Priester returns as a starter, however he will be the lone returning starter in the secondary in 2015.
Junior Justin Martin is in line to be the new PK, however that is still uncertain heading into fall camp.
The Overview: Nobody thought that Craig Bohl would be winning MWC titles at Wyoming overnight, and the building continues. After what he managed at North Dakota State, there is no doubt that he will have Wyoming winning sooner than later. That being said, keep low expectations this fall. This is going to take a little time, and it goes beyond football as the school administration was a train wreck for most of the last year or so. Bohl will win eventually.
First Game: 9/5 North Dakota

New Mexico Lobos
2014 Record: 4-8
2015 Projected Record: 4-8
Head Coach: Bob Davie (11-26, 4th season)

The Good News: The run game, which averaged 300 yards per game last fall, has its weapons back in Jhurell Pressley and Teriyon Green. They will run behind a largely experienced line, as three starters return in LT Reno Henderson, LG Eden Mahina, and Center Garrett Adcock. TE Reece White also returns as the most experienced of the receiving corps, and is also a fine run blocker.
Defensively, all three LBs return in Donnie White, all league pick Dakota Cox, and Kimmie Carson. Zack Rogers will be back to handle the Punting job after averaging 42.6 yards per punt, but will give up the PK job this fall.
The Bad News: QB is open heading into fall camp, but Lamar Jordan had some experience from a year ago, and will likely be the front man heading into the battle. The WR spots are a huge desolate hole in the game right now, and the Lobos have basically zero experience there. The right side of the line must be replaced as well.
Nik D'Avanzo is the lone returning starter on the D Line at DE, and so new starters must be found at NT and DE. CB Cranston Jones returns, as does S Markel Byrd, but every other member of the secondary must be replaced in the 3-3-5 defense.
With Rogers giving up PK duties, the Lobos need to find a new starter there as well. Sophomore Jason Sanders seems to have the inside track.
The Overview: UNM has historically been a bad program. Bob Davie has tried to get things right in his three seasons on the job, but it doesn't seem to be working out. With the rest of the division so strong, the Lobos are in a really deep hole when it comes to talent, recruiting base, and facilities, and those issues are not shoring up. Davie could very well be heading into his final season at the helm if bog improvements are not evident when this season closes out. Hey, at least you are better than New Mexico State.
First Game: 9/5 Mississippi Valley State

San Diego State Aztecs
2014 Record: 7-6
2015 Projected Record: 7-5

The Good News: Donnell Pumprhey is returning to the fold at RB after rushing for 1867 yards and 20 TDs last season. With FB Dakota Gordon blocking and opening holes, there is no reason to believe that the Aztecs can't match or even improve on their 216 yards rushing per game from last fall, a mark that ranked 26th nationally. The line returns some solid experience as well, with three starters returning in LG Nico Siragusa, RG Darrell Greene, and RT Pearce Slater.
Defensively, the strength of this unit which ranked 13th nationally in points allowed is the secondary, which ranked 10th nationally while giving up just 178.5 yards passing per game. Every starter in the secondary returns. JJ Whitaker and Damontae Kazee will man the CB spots, while Malik Smith, Trey Lomax, and Na'im McGee will all be back at Safety. Calvin Munson returns at one of two LB spots after recording 83 tackles and four sacks last fall. Munson also is the returning leader in picks with four. The line boasts the return of both Jon Sanchez and Alex Barrett at DE.
Donny Hageman returns after hitting 20 of 25 FGs, but was the goat in the bowl loss to Navy.
The Bad News: The SDSU passing game last fall was basically abysmal, and things could struggle to improve after averaging just 178.4 yards per game last season. Maxwell Smith, a Kentucky transfer, has the edge to start at QB this season, but he basically lost a starting gig at UK, so he is a huge question, as is the depth behind him. Eric Judge is the best returning WR, but caught just 24 passes a year ago, so WR is an issue as well. Larry Clark was slated to return, but was booted from school, as was starting Center Lenicio Noble and OG Paul Rodriguez.
The defense looks solid once again, but if there is one issue to pick six members of the second unit are just sophomores, so there is a lack of depth behind the starters.
The Aztecs are heading into the unknown at Punter, as JC transfer Tanner Blain has the edge heading into the fall.
The Overview: The Aztecs will rely heavily on their run game, but expect opposing defenses to stack up for it and challenge them to win passing the football. The defense could have a heavy burden placed upon them if those opposing defenses can stop the run, and the passing game flails. In short, scoring more than 25 points per game would really help the Aztecs, but even in that case, the West is so very weak again this fall, that it's hard for me to see any real reason why SDSU cannot win the division once again.
First Game: 9/5 San Diego

Nevada Wolfpack
2014 Record: 7-6
2015 Projected Record: 6-6
Head Coach: Brian Polian (11-14, 3rd season)

The Good News: Don Jackson is back at RB after rushing for 957 yards and seven TDs last fall. He will need to give the offense more productivity this fall, as the Pack will be breaking in a new QB in the Pistol offense. TE Jarred Gipson will be a huge target for whomever wins the QB job in the fall, and is an all league pick heading into camp. Jerico Richardson returns after catching 56 passes for 655 yards last fall, and again, the staff is hoping for more productivity this season. Hasan Henderson also returns at WR, giving the Pack a solid receiving corps.
DE Ian Seau is back after racking up 8.5 sacks last fall, and should be a force up front. Rykeem Yates is back as well, and both players are all league selections up front. Bryan Lane and Matthew Lyons are also back at LB, giving the Pack some stability in the front seven.
Brent Zuzo returns at PK after hitting a solid 14 of 18 FGs last fall, and all league pick Alex Boy is back at Punter after averaging 44.3 yards per punt last fall. The kicking game should be just fine.
The Bad News: Cody Fajardo wrapped up a solid career at QB, and now there is a three way battle heading into fall, with the favorite (Tyler Stewart) not being up to the running game expectations of a QB in the Pistol. Sophomore Dante Mayes could give him a run in camp. The line is a question as well, with three new starters coming up in the mix at LG, C, and RT.
Defensively, the entire secondary needs to be replaced, and the unit that was in place last season was largely terrible. Nevada gave up 267.6 yards passing per game last season, and that number could actually slip while the unit is being rebuilt from scratch. Nevada also needs to find three new starters in the front seven.
The Overview: Year three is usually the time when a relatively new coach is expected to start turning the corner, especially at a place like Nevada, where the talent cupboard has usually never been entirely bare. Brian Polian has the team on the level of average right now, but the division is winnable, and he has to find a way to overcome mediocrity in this football team. We shall see if this unit can gel and take the division, or if we are in for another middle of the road ride.
First Game: 9/3 UC-Davis

Fresno State Bulldogs
2014 Record: 6-8
2015 Projected Record: 4-8
Head Coach: Tim DeRuyter (26-14, 4th season)

The Good News: Marteze Waller will be the primary focus of this offense in 2015 after rushing for 1368 yards and 11 TDs in 2014. Waller, a senior, is an all league pick heading into the season. Aaron Peck and Delvon Hardaway both return at WR, but Hardaway is recouping from a torn ACL, and may not be ready to start the season. Peck caught 32 passes last fall, and will need to step into a much bigger role. Three starters return on the line in LT Alex Fifita, C Bo Bonnheim, and RT Justin Northern.
All League selection Ejiro Ederaine is back at LB, and should be the anchor of the defense heading into the fall. Kyrie Wilson joins him at MLB after recording 90 tackles last fall. Charles Washington and Malcolm Washington both return at CB, but must improve after the secondary gave up 254.1 yards passing per game last fall. DE Todd Hunt also returns.
Garrett Swanson returns after averaging just over 40 yards per punt last fall.
The Bad News: Fresno State struggled to score last season, ranking just 82nd nationally in points per game. Much of that has fallen on the inability to replace Derek Carr, now two seasons out. Zack Greenlee is slated to likely win the job, but no final decisions will be made until fall camp. With Josh Harper gone at WR, and Hardaway's return date a question, too much pressure could be placed on an inexperienced WR group for any new QB to succeed early. To make matters worse, the Bulldogs must replace both starting OGs.
Both Safeties must also be replaced on defense, and that secondary, as mentioned, was largely already bad. With the Bulldogs running a 3-4 defense, a big problem comes in replacing two LBs opposite the returning starters, and two thirds of the line must be replaced as well.
Kody Kroening lost confidence from the coaching staff, and will now be moved aside to make way for Sophomore Jimmy Camacho at PK.
The Overview: Two short seasons ago, Fresno State was looking like a west coast power. Then came a MWC loss to San Jose State which knocked Fresno out of BCS consideration, which was followed by a blowout loss to an average USC team in Vegas, and it has been downhill ever since. The Bulldogs must find a way to find their mojo once again, as this slide is getting the program closer to the edge of the cliff leading into the abyss. This is too good a program to let that happen.
First Game: 9/3 Abilene Christian

San Jose State Spartans
2014 record: 3-9
2015 Projected Record: 4-8
Head Coach: Ron Caragher (9-15, 3rd season)

The Good News: There has to be a place to start to build, and that may just be in the passing game in 2015. QB Joe Gray returns, as do all three of his starting WRs in Tyler Ervin, Hansell Wilson, and Tyler Winston. Ervin, who also doubles as a RB, is the most interesting weapon that the Spartans have. Gray lost the job last fall at QB, and then reclaimed it, but will be pushed hard in fall camp, with JC transfer Kenny Potter expecting to give the biggest push. Winston caught 78 passes last fall, but will need to stretch the field a bit better after picking up just 694 yards on those grabs. The line is solid, with four starters returning in LT Wes Schweitzer, C Jeremiah Kolone, RG Nate Velichko, RT Evan Sarver.
In 2015, nobody could pass against the Spartans, as they ranked 1st national giving up just 117.8 yards passing per game. Both CBs are back from that secondary in Jimmy Pruitt and Cleveland Wallace. Christian Tago is also back at LB after rolling up 96 tackles last fall.
The Bad News: The passing game was mostly down last season, and what could be a strength with some nice swings in productivity this fall, was certainly not great last season. The Spartans offense scored 13 points or less six times last fall, including in each of the final three games of the season, which included a 13-0 loss to Hawaii. The run game is up in the air after averaging just 141.3 yards per game last season as well.
On defense, while the pass defense was amazing, the run defense was one of the worst in the nation, ranking 116th against the run while giving up 239.4 yards per game. The Spartans must find five new starters in the front seven, and must also replace both safeties.
Special teams was also an area of concern last season, as PK Austin Lopez hit on only 12 of 24 FGs, and P Michael Carrizosa averaged just over 37 yards per punt.
The Overview: The Spartans have been laragely a one step forward and two step back program for decades now, and even though Carragher started out strong, it's been a slide down the hill ever since. The Spartans could be better in certain areas than they were a year ago, but if the offense can't score points, and the defense can't stop the run, real problems could once again ensue. I am projecting the Spartans to be marginally better in 2015, but not by much.
First Game: 9/3 New Hampshire

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
2014 Record: 4-9
2015 Projected Record: 3-10
Head Coach: Norm Chow (8-29, 4th season)

The Good News: Ikaika Woolsey was not always entirely awful at QB last fall, and he does return, however he is expected to fall behind USC transfer Max Wittek this fall after passing for over 2500 yards a year ago. Wittek is more of a big arm, and looks like a pro set QB that Norm Chow seems to love. The passing game should see some improvements as OC Don Bailey comes over from Idaho State, which enjoyed a resurgence a year ago. Quinton Pedroza and Marcus Kemp both return at WR, and Pedroza caught 59 passes last fall. Steven Lakalaka showed some flashes at RB last fall, and also returns.
The secondary returns the most starting experience from last season, as three starters will return in Ne'Quan Phillips, Nick Nelson, and Safety Trayvon Henderson. Simon Poti and Lance Williams both return at LB, and Kennedy Tulimaseali will anchor the line at DE.
The Bad News: The Rainbows averaged just 20.9 points per game last season, and if they are to turn any corner at all, that's a place that must be addressed. The line must find three new starters, someone has to step up as a primary big play back, and the passing game expectations cannot fail.
On defense, four new starters must be found in the front seven, and an improvement against the pass must be found after Hawaii gave up 245.8 yards through the air per game.
Special teams is hitting a reboot button as both PK and P must be replaced. Aaron Novoa has the edge at PK heading into fall camp, but freshman Alexander Trifonovitch is likely going to be the new Punter, replacing all everything Scott Harding.
The Overview: If Hawaii wasn't losing money by the bundle in the athletic department, Chow would have been bought out already. The school simply cannot afford to dump and replace him right now. Hawaii's deficits were much worse than UAB, and UAB dropped football before reinstating it. There is simply no way that Hawaii is good enough to compete with the upper half of this conference right now, and it's not getting much better.
First Game: 9/3 Colorado

UNLV Rebels
2014 Record: 2-11
2015 Projected Record: 1-11
Head Coach: Tony Sanchez (1st season)

The Good News: There is some experience coming back at WR, including all league pick Devonte Boyd, who caught 65 passes for 980 yards last fall. Senior Anthony Williams will return along with Boyd to give the Rebels a decent receiving one two punch to start the season.
The defense has a viable star in Safety Peni Vea, who loves to rush the QB from the secondary, as he picked up 3.5 sacks last fall. Tau Lotulelei is back at LB after recording 100 tackles last season, and Ryan McAleenan is back at LB as well. DE Sonny Sanitoa should anchor the line at DE.
Logan Yunker returns at Punter after averaging 40.53 yards per punt. He is a directional punting specialist who could be a real field position weapon for the Rebels this fall.
The Bad News: Where does it start and where does it end? The entire offensive line must be replaced. Not a single starter returns, and both potential starters at tackle are sophomores in Kyle Saxelid and J'Ondray Sanders. The Rebels were awful in running the football last fall, averaging just 129.2 yards per game, which ranked 102nd nationally. They couldn't score either, averaging 21.9 points per game, ranking 104th nationally. Blake Dekker is back at QB, but was mostly awful last season, and is a turnover machine, tossing 18 picks. He should be pushed in camp.
As bad as the Rebels were on offense last fall, they were equally terrible on defense. The Rebels ranked 113th in points allowed, 123rd in rushing, and 123rd in total defense. When you are that far down, the only way to go is up.
The Overview: Sanchez was coaching a high school program last fall. It was a great high school program, but a high school program none the less. Sanchez has created a buzz of sorts around Vegas, but he will have to build a program to build a national buzz. There just is not enough talent locally to build much on, so he will have to create a reach that has a larger visible footprint to build on. Anything above one win this season will seem like heaven in year one of this process, so expect nothing to start, especially with a brutal September to kick things off.
First Game: 9/5 at Northern Illinois

Coming next: 2015 Sun Belt Preview

No comments:

Post a Comment