Guest post by Kevan at One Bronco Nation Under God
For my 2009 SB Nation WAC preview, I sought the opinion of my fellow WAC bloggers (Pistol Whipping the WAC & Warriors Will Throw), which seemed like a good idea until I remembered that hardly anyone cares enough to blog about the WAC. And then I spent 15 minutes reevaluating the direction of my life.
The good news: My life has meaning. Even better news: The WAC could have its best season yet - both from a competitive standpoint and from an only-firing-one-coach-at-the-end-of-the-year standpoint. The WAC ... it's faaaaantastic!
My call to arms for fellow WAC bloggers did not completely fall on deaf ears. The wordsmiths at Pistol Whipping the WAC (Nevada) and Warriors Will Throw (Hawaii) gave me their two cents, and when I combined that with the nickel I borrowed from Peter Bean a few months back, I had enough to come up with a WAC preview. It's not much. But then again, I don't think you're expecting much.
Predicted order of finish:
Clear-cut favorite: Boise State
Quality teams: Nevada, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech
It could really go either way: Hawaii, Utah State, San Jose State
Epic fail: Idaho, New Mexico State
The scenario in which teams other than Boise State win the Western Athletic Conference.
Nevada (PWtW): After finally making it through a year without the usual "whoopsy" (see New Mexico St last year), Nevada heads into Boise undefeated in WAC play. After two years of not being able to tie it up on the final play of the game, the Wolf Pack finally gets the monkey off it's back the eve after Thanksgiving by breaking the Bronco's home game WAC winning streak and claiming the WAC outright championship.
Hawaii (Warriors Will Throw): For Hawaii to win the WAC, the defense has to gel pretty quickly. With senior linebacker Brashton Satele lost for the season due to a shoulder injury, defensive end John Fonoti is the only regular starter back from the 2008 defense. There are other returning players with significant game experience, but overall, this will be a very green unit. The good news is that linebacker Blaze Soares and defensive tackle Rocky Savaiigaea, both seniors who sat out 2008 with injuries, are back, healthy (knock on wood), and ready to go. They'll play a huge part in how well the defense does. UH's first WAC game is at Louisiana Tech and comes at the end of a 3-game road trip. It will be one of the toughest and most important games of the season for the Warriors.
Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs get the Broncos at home, which could make a world of difference. LaTech has the running game to control the tempo against every single conference opponent they face. If the defense can withstand a Nevada offensive onslaught, if Ross Jenkins channels his inner Tim Rattay, and if the Broncos experience some serious jetlag, a conference title isn't out of the question.
Fresno State: The Bulldogs get the Broncos in September, which is usual pre-pratfall for FSU. If they can get past Boise State in the conference opener, their next toughest conference stretch will be late November with a visit to Nevada followed by a date with LaTech. Oh, and the Bulldogs will need to find a starting quarterback sometime. I almost forgot to mention that.
If your team were a reality TV show, which reality TV show would it be? Why?
Nevada (PWtW): Scare Tactics. Because when you're last in the nation in pass defense, it's pretty damn scary to go start the season off with Golden Tate and Michael Floyd. Either that, or Hell's Kitchen. If you are trying to be QB for Chris Ault, it's a lot like trying to be Head Chef for Gordon Ramsay.
Hawaii (Warriors Will Throw): For the first half of 2008, UH was Lost (it's a reality show, trust me). For the last half it was Survivor. This year it'll be The Gong Show because UH will be gonging so many of their opponents. (ed's note: I assume "gonging" means "allowing 35 ppg")
Idaho: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? After seeing the Vandals' 70-0 loss to Arizona, their cheerleading midriff scandal, and the coaching style of Robb Akey, I'd have to say, "No."
Which WAC city is the worst to visit? Why?
PWtW: Moscow, Idaho. Why would there be a team, or even a school there?
Warriors Will Throw: Boise -- I'm always diving head first into the field because I think it's swimming pool.
OBNUG: Las Cruces. Weird stuff happens there. http://www.obnug.com/2008/11/boise-state-got-out-of-las-cruces-just-in-time/
How many bowl teams will the WAC have this year?
General consensus is that there will be four WAC teams going bowling, and everyone who doesn't own a Colt Brennan 4 Heisman t-shirt thinks those four teams will be Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State, and Louisiana Tech.
Who is the player of the year in the WAC?
The player of the year is a two-QB race between Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Boise State's Kellen Moore. The two passers are both excellent in their own right: Kaepernick running his leggy self up and down the field and Moore picking teams apart from the pocket. A third, darkhorse candidate would be LaTech RB Daniel Porter. He could steal this award if the Bulldogs have a big year.
What are the most-hyped WAC v. BCS games?
Both most-hyped games happen on opening week when Oregon visits Boise and Nevada travels to Notre Dame. Ironically enough, the least-hyped conference game takes place on opening week when Idaho and New Mexico State lean up against each other.
What new head coach will have the most successful season?
Utah State's Gary Anderson is expected to make a big difference for the Aggies over the next few years. Will the turnaround happen over night? Ha! And no. But if Anderson is able to improve on ex-coach Brent Guy's tenure of depression, everyone across the WAC will consider it a raging success.
Don't sleep on the WAC this season. It kicks. And rolls. And sleeping on the WAC in 2009 might cause you to miss some of the best non-BCS football this side of those three good teams that the Mountain West has. Boise State is the favorite. Nevada is the clear-cut No. 2. LaTech and Fresno State are huggable. San Jose State and Hawaii have tens of people talking. Utah State has separated itself from the WAC dregs. And I am choosing not to mention the final two WAC teams since they do not serve to further my point.
Watch the WAC this season. Watch as it puts another team on the cusp of a BCS berth, threaten a Heisman candidate, and spoil some non-conference schedules of teams who thought they were playing a pushover. It may just be the best non-BCS conference around in 2009. And if you don't believe me, go ask five other WAC bloggers.