RB Vai Taua (PHOTO CREDIT: John Byrne, Nevada Media Services)
2009 Schedule
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.)
11-21-09 at New Mexico State
11-27-09 at Boise State (Fri.)
Coach: Chris Ault
198-91-1, 24 years
2008 Results: 7-6
at Missouri LOST 17-69
at UNLV WON 49-27
at Idaho WON 49-14
at Hawai'i LOST 31-38
at Fresno State WON 41-28
at Louisiana Tech WON 35-31
Maryland LOST 35-42

2008 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR


2009 Outlook

The talent is by far in place offensively for Nevada to improve on an exciting 7-6 bowl campaign. Especially so with the two big names that already have earned national reputations: QB Colin Kaepernick, who accounted for nearly 4,000 yards rushing and passing last season, and RB Vai Taua, the WAC's leading rusher with over 1,500 yards. The "Pistol Offense" (where the RB lines up 10 feet behind the QB, who is already in shotgun formation) under 24-year Nevada head coach Chris Ault is producing amazing numbers. The coaching staff returns intact and no major scheme changes or overhauls are in the works. The passing game still needs to find more consistency, but there is no disputing that this unstoppable ground attack is what carries the key to a winning formula.

On the opposite side, Nevada will not make any significant strides in terms of getting over the seven- or eight-win hump unless the defense finds a way to prevent opponents from winning games by throwing the football. This will be the second season under defensive coordinator Nigel Burton's 4-3 scheme, and the growing pains endured during the learning curve of 2008 should pay off…to some extent. This secondary was ranked dead last nationally in passing yards allowed per game. Burton also is in charge of the safeties, an area that is probably the thinnest outside of who plays backup QB. Apparently, the Pack went back to basics this spring while hoping a simpler defensive scheme will allow players to be more aggressive. However, the defensive backfield has a long way to go.

While the pass defense statistics resemble something out of a low-budget horror movie, the "Pillars of Pass Rush" at defensive end with Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch could prove to be the best sack combo across the country. Both finished ranked first and second in the WAC in sack totals (15th and 17th nationally). It is hard to imagine how the coverage can be so lagging in a system that puts such consistent pressure on the opposing passer. The lagging coverage is a big reason why Nevada was tops against the run statistically; opponents elected to toss the pigskin downfield in an effort to keep up with the high scoring affairs that were taking place. If anyone is going to be feeling pressure, it will be Coach Burton if he doesn't get better results from his backfield.

The Wolf Pack has been to a school record four consecutive bowl games, but the last three have been losses. But Nevada wants a coveted WAC title. Setting their sites on more may be stretching 2009’s goals a bit. "If you're going to beat Maryland, you've got to be more competitive," head coach Chris Ault said after getting beat by the Terps in the Humanitarian Bowl last December. Well, the Terps were not exactly a ranked opponent. Reading between the lines, this team is not ready to play with the BCS heavy hitters, but, with some more effort, they should be good enough to compete with teams just outside the Top 25 such as Notre Dame and Missouri...two teams they will square off against in September.

Projected 2009 record: 8-4
QB - 4.5 DL - 4
RB - 4.5 LB - 3
WR - 3 DB - 2
OL - 3.5 ..
2008 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Colin Kaepernick, 208-383-7, 2849 yds., 22 TD

Rushing: Vai Taua, 236 att., 1521 yds., 15 TD

Receiving: Chris Wellington, 42 rec., 632 yds., 6 TD

Scoring: Vai Taua, 18 TD, 108 pts.

Punting: Brad Langley, 42 punts, 44.0 avg.


Tackles: Jonathon Amaya, 68 tot., 48 solo

Sacks: Dontay Moch, 11.5 sacks

Interceptions: Jonathon Amaya, 4 for 33 yds.

Kickoff Returns:
Brandon Fragger, 14 ret., 18.2 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Antoine Thompson, 17 ret., 4.9 avg., 0 TD


DB Jonathon Amaya (PHOTO CREDIT: John Byrne, Nevada Media Services)
RB Mike Ball – 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 – 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 – The need to find a hole-plugger up front could open the door for the 305-pounder from Atlanta.
2009 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Marko Mitchell-WR, Mike McCoy-WR, Brad Eskew-OG, Dominic Green-C, Josh Catapano-C, Greg Hall-OG, Brett Jaekle-K/P, Nick Graziano-QB (transferred)
DEFENSE: Mundrae Clifton-DT, Joshua Mauga-MLB, Jerome Johnson-LB, Uche Anyanwu-FS

No question about it…the Big Man on the Reno campus is Colin Kaepernick, the reigning WAC Offensive Player of the Year. His strong arm and quick feet created just the fifth QB in NCAA Division I-A (FBS) history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. “Electric” describes his ability to make all around him perform to their collective potential(s). This “Pistol Offense” is geared for Kaepernick's skills with three receiver sets and a creative form of the shotgun being the norm. A major priority this spring was the development of the signal callers behind him. Last year's prime back up ,Nick Graziano, transferred to Arkansas State. With Kaepernick taking time off during spring ball due to an ankle injury suffered in the Humanitarian Bowl, two sophomores got plenty of time on the field under center. Luke Collis and Tyler Lantrip each saw brief playing time last season. Lantrip, who was recruited by Arizona State and Stanford, looks to have a leg up and seems to have the stronger, more precise arm. While the overall numbers for Kaepernick are astounding, the passing game has plenty of room to grow. As a team, the Pack completed only 53.6 percent of their passes last fall. To take the next step, the passing game has to get more consistent.

Depth certainly won't be the problem as First Team All-WAC selection Vai Taua returns with a strong stable of ball carriers behind him that goes five deep. Taua entered last season fourth on the depth chart only to explode on the national scene in this offensive system while leading the conference with 1,521 yards rushing. The hard-nosed runner has put his name on the map as one of the best rushers on the West Coast. If he was not enough, Luke Lippincott has been granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. How beneficial is this offense for running backs? Lippincott was the WAC rushing leader in 2007 but missed almost all of last year with an injury that opened the door for Taua. Courtney Randall and Brandon Fragger are both good enough to see bunches of carries as well. Keep an eye on wild card redshirt frosh Mike Ball, who is also pushing for serious playing time.

If the passing game is going to become more of a threat, Chris Wellington, who had somewhat of a breakout season a year ago, has to now embrace the ‘go-to guy’ role. The loss of top catchers Mitchell and McCoy forces a good many of the younger Wolf Pack into immediate action. Four of those new faces are likely to make an impact. Malcolm Shepherd and Brandon Wimberly are coming off redshirt campaigns. Wimberly is a former Oregon State grayshirt who was the offensive scout team MVP in 2008. He is starting to show promise in this offense. Two other competitors that will push for a share of snaps, Maurice Patterson and L.J. Washington, transferred into the program. Although plenty of optimism exists, somebody outside of Wellington will have plenty of opportunity to demonstrate more than just gifted practice skills.

The good news is that the anchors on the outside are back in place. Tackles Alonzo Durham and Mike Gallett started every game last season and were good enough to be recognized as All-WAC selections. They have the potential to be the best linemen in the conference. Two other full/part-time starters return as well in Bender and Ackerman, who can play guard but is currently penciled in at center. This is a veteran group that helped produce the nation's third ranked rushing attack. The lone underclassman on the starting front is Kevin Barker, who coaches felt was good enough to play as a true frosh last fall had he been needed. The bad news is that depth is a major concern, especially at center. The Union, as this OL is labeled, may not be quite as strong (yet) as it was a year ago but looks like it could equal former success(es) if a few other players (Silatolu and Acuna) step up to provide quality depth. Tight ends are not a big part of the passing attack. TEs Virgil Green and Kevin Bohr logged significant starts but managed only 15 receptions between them. Bohr returns as a senior after missing half of the season with an knee injury. Their experience is a plus when grading this group.


QB Colin Kaepernick (PHOTO CREDIT: John Byrne, Nevada Media Services)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Colin Kaepernick-Jr (6-6, 215) Tyler Lantrip-So (6-4, 220)
RB Vai Taua-Jr (5-10, 225) Luke Lippincott-Sr (6-2, 215)
Courtney Randall-Jr (5-10, 215)
WR Brandon Wimberly-RFr (6-3, 195) Maurice Patterson-Jr (6-3, 200)
Tray Session-So (6-3, 175)
WR Chris Wellington-Jr (6-1, 185) Malcolm Sheperd-Jr (6-3, 210)
WR Arthur King-Sr (6-1, 195) L.J. Washington-Fr (6-0, 195)
TE Kevin Bohr-Sr (6-3, 240) Virgil Green-Jr (6-5, 225)
OT Mike Gallett-Jr (6-6, 295) Aminiasi Silatolu-Jr (6-4, 295)
OG John Bender-Jr (6-8, 325) Aminiasi Silatolu-Jr (6-4, 295)
C Kenneth Ackerman-Sr (6-4, 280) Jeff Meads-So (6-3, 290)
OG Chris Barker-RFr (6-4, 315) Steve Werner-RFr (6-5, 310)
OT Alonzo Durham-Sr (6-4, 285) Jose Acuna-Jr (6-6, 308)
K Richard Drake-Jr (6-0, 190) (JUCO) Nick Rhodes-So (5-11, 180)



Two of the better players on the team are bookends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch, a pair of junior All-WAC honorees who combined for 36 tackles-for-loss a year ago. The "Pillars of Pass Rush" were ranked first and second, respectively, in conference sacks. Basped ranked 15th nationally in sack totals and has a 6'6 frame capable of making life miserable for opposing blockers. Moch transferred here from his linebacker position of 2007. He is a pure speed rusher off the edge, not surprising since he was state 200m champ as a prep sprinter. The outlook is not as positive in the middle; coaches still struggle to find a hole-plugger to replace the graduated Mundrae Clifton. This bunch was one of the nation's best at stopping the run statistically (6th ranked). DT Nate Agaiava earned 12 starts but he will need help inside from some of the new faces. Wesley Hollingshed is a true freshman with ample potential that should make an early impact.

Senior middle backer Mike Bethea is emerging as a defensive leader. He impressed as a JUCO-transfer last year on the weakside despite battling a foot injury. A new face to the corps will be Kevin Grimes who played extensively at safety last season. James-Michael Johnson recorded one of the best seasons among freshmen on the roster, and Brandon Marshall is also coming off of a solid underclassmen campaign. Two transfers are likely to shake up the depth chart in Andre Davis (Western Washington) and Kaelin Burnett (Delta State). The brother of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Kevin Burnett, Kaelin suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out this spring. Still, he has shown the ability to find time with this group. The influx of talent offers a degree of optimism, but has yet to prove any actual on-the-field results. Hopefully, one of them can cover a receiver.

Reno, we have a problem. The nation's 119th ranked pass defense is still very unsettled. Upwards of six different players could wind up being starters, or, at least, join the rotation at some point of the season as the struggles likely continue. About the only thing that appears certain is that CB Antoine Thompson and safety Jonathon Amaya will be fixtures. Amaya is the returning team leader in both tackles and interceptions. Everything else is wide open, especially at the other corner. One of the main participants here, Mike Evans, missed spring camp recovering from a knee injury. An aspect that could change this group's fortunes is that Nevada reeled in eight defensive backs last year and redshirted most of them. So depth on the corner is available, it's just a matter of someone assuming a steady/productive role. This will not be the case at safety, where the Pack can least afford injuries due to a major lack of quality, available bodies.


DE Kevin Basped (PHOTO CREDIT: John Byrne, Nevada Media Services)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Dontay Moch-Jr (6-1, 245) Dan Agaiava-Sr (6-3, 275)
DT Chris Slack-Sr (6-5, 270) Mike Andrews-So (6-3, 275)
Wesley Hollingshed-Fr (6-2, 305)
DT Nate Agaiava-Jr (6-2, 285) Zack Madonick-So (6-1, 285)
DE Kevin Basped-Jr (6-6, 240) Ryan Coulson-Jr (6-3, 255)
SLB James-Michael Johnson-So (6-2, 220) Adam Liranzo-Jr (6-4, 220)
MLB Mike Bethea-Sr (6-3, 245) Joe Easter-So (6-1, 235)
WLB Brandon Marshall-So (6-1, 230) Kaelin Burnett-So (6-4, 205)
CB Antoine Thompson-Sr (6-1, 195) Isaiah Frey-So (6-0, 190)
CB Mike Evans-Jr (5-10, 180) Thaddeus Brown-RFr (5-11, 175)
SS Jonathon Amaya-Sr (6-2, 190) Duke Williams-Fr (6-1, 183)
FS Mo Harvey-Sr (6-3, 210) Marlon Johnson-RFr (5-11, 185)
P Brad Langley-Jr (6-0, 200) Jake Hurst-So (6-1, 205)



Gone is Brett Jaekle, their First Team All-WAC kicker. The placekicking job is Richard Drake's to lose, but a JUCO transfer from Los Angeles won't join the team until summer. The punting duties are in good hands with Second Team All-WAC performer Brad Langley. He is still suffering from a torn Achilles but hopes to be ready for the opener. If needed, Drake also has decent punting skills. The Pack desperately needs someone to shore up the situation at return specialist after finishing near the bottom of the conference in both punt and kick returns. Coaches will look to incoming faces to turn the tide after experimenting in ’08; except Amaya, 10 other return specialists had little success.