2008 Mountain West Coference Football Preview: #8 UNLV Rebels

#9 San Diego State

The UNLV Rebels come in at number eight in the preseason projections, and if that is reality then Mike Sanford will be out as head coach.  If you missed any previous previews the links to those are provided above.  in December 2004, he was lauded as “one of college football’s leading offensive minds” based largely on his success at Utah as Urban Meyer’s innovative offensive coordinator.  Sanford has been far from productive with only 6 total wins in three years.  This could be the year that breaks Mike Sanford unless he can show drastic improvement and win at least five games.

Offense: Points were hard to come by last year as the Rebels only managed 18 per game, which is way too low for any offense, but especially low for a spread option offense that is suppose to put up points.  This year there should be only one starter at quarterback, and that will be Omar Clayton who Coach Mike Sanford announced last week that should help the stability of the offense..  Clayton did do well once he saw time and is who Sanford needs to run the spread offense.  Clayton has the speed to be able to run when needed, and he is capable at throwing the quick passes needed.  Frank Summers back at running back and was oh so close to getting 1,000 yards, but ended up with 928.  Running game is something UNLV has not had in the recent pass, and something that is vital for the spread option to work.

The receivers are there with Ryan Wolfe and Casey Flair who have been very good in their years at Vegas.  Wolfe and Flair also are part of the return game, because of their play making ability.  The offense has a chance to improve with the stability at quarterback and a potentially solid running game.

Defense:Similar to San Diego State the UNLV Rebels struggled to stop teams, with the loan exception of defeating Utah 27-0.  The biggest addition was new position coach Andre Patterson who spent several years at coaching the defensive line in the NFL.  Patterson was brought in to help shore up the defensive line that gave up 183 yards per game.  His experience should pay off to help UNLV at least be average at that position this season.

They did lose Beau Bell, who was the 2007 conference defensive player of the year and a fourth round pick by the Cleveland Browns.  Even with that loss the coaches fell the linebackers can be stronger, because of the amount of depth with returning players.

The defense should be better with nine starters back, but UNLV has not had the players to make big stops on defense for years.

August 30 Utah State
September 6 at Utah
September 13 at No. 15 Arizona State
September 20 Iowa State
September 27 Nevada
October 4 at Colorado State
October 18 Air Force
October 25 at No. 16 Brigham Young
November 1 TCU
November 8 New Mexico
November 13 Wyoming
November 22 at San Diego State

Don’t Even think about it… @Utah, @Arizona State, @BYU, TCU

50/50… Utah State, Iowa State, Nevada, @ Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, Wyoming @ San Diego State

Lock it up… None

Projected Record: 4-8

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2008 Mountain West Coference Football Preview: #9 San Diego State Aztecs

Finally they are here!  The 2008 Mountain West Conference team football previews.  These will be in order of how I feel they will finish.  Sorry Aztec fans, but San Diego State will finish in the basement.  The media has the Aztecs predicted to finish seventh in the league, but their conference schedule includes road games with Wyoming, TCU, New Mexico, and BYU those are all very likely loses for San Diego State. 

Offense: The biggest loss here is at quarterback with Kevin O’Connell getting drafted by the New England Patriots.  The replacement has finally  decided by Coach Long on Wednesday and, the race was between Ryan Lindley who is a redshirt freshman, then there is junior college transfer Drew Westling, and then the only player with playing experience is Kelsey Sokolski.  The winner of the competition is Lindley who will get the start against Cal Poly next Satuday.  The offense will need to rely on the running game for the first few games, because the Aztecs lost two receivers to the NFL.

The running game had only 1,247 yards on the yeaer or just at 100 per game, that could be because the Aztecs were down quite often and were playing catch up.  Atiyyah Henderson who was projected to be considered all-league last pre season, but was a huge underachiever and only gained 183 yards, and as of this time in camp Henderson is tied with Brandon Sullivan as the starter as of now.

Defense: They gave up 34 points per game last season, and can not be competitive by allowing that many points.  The defense does return eight starters, so they should be better.  The defensive line was the worst part of the defense and had a very tough time stopping the run.  This year new position coach Mike Nelson started spring with a blank slate and quickly made some changes.  Multiple players changed positions on the line in an effort to shore up the line. 

The strength of the defensive will be the Aztecs linebackers who have multiple seniors at this position and could be one of the best in the league, and they will be lead by Russell Allen who has 36 career starts. The defensive backfield should be very strong as well, and with both starting corners returning they should be able to perform well against the leagues wideouts.

The main thing the defense needs to do is to improve in stopping the run, and force teams to pass which will play in the strength of the  Aztecs.

August 30 Cal Poly     
September 6 at Notre Dame     
September 13 at San Jose State       
September 27 Idaho     
October 4 at TCU     
October 11 Air Force     
October 18 at New Mexico     
October 25 Colorado State     
November 1 at Wyoming     
November 8 at No. 16 Brigham Young     
November 15 Utah     
November 22 UNLV 

No chance…  @Notre Dame, @TCU, @BYU, Utah

50/50… @San Jose State, Idaho, Air Force, @ New Mexico, Colorado State, @Wyoming, UNLV

Lock it up… Cal Poly (barely)

Projected Record: 4-8