Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack 2009 Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack [YOUTUBE]<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/OK8q5fr0Dz0&hl=en&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/OK8q5fr0Dz0&hl=en&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>[/YOUTUBE] 2009 Real Schedule Adjusted Schedule to come later 9-5-09 at Notre Dame 9-19-09 at Colorado State 9-25-09 MISSOURI (Fri.) 10-3-09 UNLV 10-9-09 LOUISIANA TECH (Fri.) 10-17-09 at Utah State 10-24-09 IDAHO 10-31-09 HAWAI'I 11-8-09 at San Jose State (Sun.) 11-14-09 FRESNO STATE 11-21-09 at New Mexico State 11-27-09 at Boise State (Fri.) Returning Leaders Rushing: Vai Taua, RB, 1,521 yards Passing: Colin Kaepernick, QB, 2,849 yards Receiving: Chris Wellington, WR, 632 yards Tackles: Jonathon Amaya, S, 68 Sacks: Dontay Moch, DE, 11.5 Interceptions: Jonathan Amaya, S, 4 2009 OFFENSE OFFENSE (7 Returning Starters) 2008 Statistical Rankings OFFENSE National Conf. Rushing: (3, 1) Passing: (47, 4) Total Off: (5, 1) Sacks Allow: (30, 3) Backfield The Chris Ault ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œPistolÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â offense has given opposing defenses in the WAC fits as of late, including the consensus league champion, Boise State. The WolfpackÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Pistol offense looks to be as strong as ever heading into ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢09, and it will be led by the talent and experience from this backfield. At Quarterback, junior Colin Kaepernick returns. Kaepernick last season was the fifth player in FBS history to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. HeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a multi-dimensional athlete who can dominate a game. Behind him is two sophomores in Tyler Lantrip and Luke Collins. Both Lantrip and Collins had solid springs, and capped them off with an impressive spring game showing combining to throw four touchdowns in the game while Kaepernick sat out. Carrying the ball for the Wolfpack other than Kaepernick is one of the better 1-2 running back tandems in all of College Football this year in junior Vai Taua, and 6th year senior Luke Lipincott. Taua was 1st Team All-WAC last season rushing for 1,764 yards, while Lipincott rushed for 1,130. ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s three Wolpack players who rushed for 1,000 yards last season. Colin Kaepernick in action The "Pistol" offense Receivers Marko Mitchell was the lone drafted player (7th round, Redskins) from the Wolfpack this year, and his production will be sorely missed. Mitchell had 1,141 yards receiving on 61 catches last season. Replacing Mitchell at the Z Receiver will be sophomore Tray Session or mid-year JC transfer Maurice Patterson. Both are neck and neck for the starting nod, and the battle will continue into fall. KaepernickÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s top target though this year will likely be X Receiver, Chris Wellington. Had 632 yards last season as a sophomore, he will need to step up and emerge as a go-to guy for Kaepernick in this quick passing offense. Then in the slot, Brandon Wimberly a redshirt-freshman who transferred from Oregon State had an impressive spring and beat out senior Dwayne Sanders to emerge as the starter at slot. Has great size at 6ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢3, could be a surprise in 2009. Tight End looks to be solid for the Pack who have three upperclassmen with Virgil Green as the starter. Behind him are Kevin Bohr who has starting experience and senior Talalasi Puloka. Offensive Line Three offensive lineman return to an offense that was ranked 5th in total offense one season ago. All-WAC performers, Mike Gallett and Alonzo Durham will anchor the line from the tackle spots. Then junior John Bender will be at left guard. There is still questions as to who will emerge as the right guard for the Wolfpack. Chris Baker a redshirt-freshman came out of spring practices as the #1 guy on the depth chart, but expect JC transfer Amini Silatolu from San Joaquin Delta to possibly be the starter when the Wolfpack take the field against the Fighting Irish. At center, the Pack will have a guard from last season switching over to handle the snaps. Kenneth Ackerman gets the nod. Ackerman is a senior, who knows the offense and is very seasoned. Ackerman seemed to handle the position well during spring, and appears there wonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be a drop off. DEFENSE (7 Returning Starters) 2008 Statistical Rankings DEFENSE National Conf. Rushing: (6, 1) Passing: (119, 9) Total Def: (91, 6) Sacks: (10, 1) Defensive Line (Strength) The Wolfpack return three starters back to their four man defensive front, that were the 6th best run defense in the nation and tops in the WAC allowing only 88 yards per game on the ground. The production in the run stuffing should still be at a high level with the players returning. On the edges, expect the Wolfpack to get some heat in opposing backfields with All-WAC performers Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch. Both players are juniors. Basped led the team in tackles for loss last season with 18.5, while Moch led the team in sacks with 13. These two form the best DE tandem in the WAC. In the middle of the line, senior tackle Nate Agalava returns and senior Chris Slack will be in his first year as a starter. Linebackers (Concern) A talented group that needs to start producing on the field, this is the WolfpackÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s youngest group of starters at any position on the team with two sophomores as starters, and a senior who was a JC transfer last season. Those sophomores though were starters last season as freshman in WOLF LB Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson who will hold down the SAM spot. Senior Mike Bethea will be in the middle at the MIKE spot. Secondary (Concern) The Wolfpack were the worst pass defense in all of College Football last season giving up 311 yards through the air. The Pack return two starters to the secondary, but when the results were as bad as they were last year, this position has to be a concern for Ault and staff. At Cornerback, senior Antoine Thompson a former JUCO transfer; Thompson took some time to get adjusted to the college game, but late in the year showed some promise recording an interception against Boise State. Thompson is one of the most athletic players on the team, as he is also a punt returner option for the Pack. On the boundary spot, there is more concerns. Sophomore Isaiah Frey came out of spring as the starter, but look for Cory Smith a JC transfer from College of the Sequoias to have an opportunity come fall to be a starter. At safety, the Wolfpack have a stud in Free Safety All-WAC performer Jonathon Amaya. Amaya was the leader in interceptions last season with four, and was also the leader in tackles with 68. TOP NEWCOMERS RB Mike Ball ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The Las Vegas prepster was rated as the top RB in the state of Nevada and in the Top 25 nationally by Rivals.com. WR Brandon Wimberly ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The loss of top catchers should give this former Oregon State recruit plenty of opportunities. He was the offensive scout team MVP last fall. DT Wesley Hollingshed ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The need to find a hole-plugger up front could open the door for the 305-pounder from Atlanta. 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.