The Bulldogs enter 2009 with some realistic expectations of competing to be the WAC champions. The defense was the backbone of a team that went 8-5 and finished their season with an Independence Bowl victory over Northern Illinois.
The offense returns all of their leaders including Ross Jenkins, Daniel Porter and Phillip Livas. Jenkins threw for over 1,000 yards last season, but needs to improve on his efficiency. The passing offense was ranked 9th in the conference, only averaging 156 yards per game, which will need to improve along with Jenkins cutting down on the interceptions.
The rushing attack really carried the offense last season and might to continue that trend in 2009. Porter should have another 1,000 yards plus season. Last season he had nine touchdowns and was is an All-WAC selection. Livas is not only dangerous through the air, but also on the ground. He led the team in catches last season with 43 and added another 337 rushing yards on the ground. To compliment the speed of Livas is R.P. Stuart who is a big target for Jenkins. Stuart should be a solid number two target who is athletic enough to run the ball when the Bulldogs need him.
The defensive line should be the strength on defense. They return all four starters including D'Anthony Smith and Kwame Jordan. Smith is a first team All-WAC tackle and led the team with five sacks. Jordan had some injuries in the past, but if he could stay healthy he will be a feared player up front. The unit is also very deep and have plenty of talented big men to step up if needed.
The linebackers are also deep and skilled at the position. Adrien Cole had a fantastic freshman campaign where he recorded 30 tackles and now he will be the man in the man in the middle this season. Jay Dudley and Dominique Faust will be on either side of Cole. Faust had 42 tackles last season and Dudley improved coaches recording six tackles in the final two games of last season.
The secondary will need to find replacements for the corners and someone will need to step up and make big plays and interceptions. Antonio Baker had 115 tackles last year and has a knack for always being around the ball. Deon Young will return at strong safety where he made 59 tackles and three interceptions last season. He is athletic enough to play corner if the Bulldogs need him.Prediction: 8-4