Tag Archive: Hawaii


Nevada vs. Hawaii preview

The last time the Wolf Pack travelled to Hawaii, it cost head coach Chris Ault, former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and company an undefeated season. Can this year’s team break the “Island Curse”?

One thing is for sure. Nevada’s defense, which gave up 34 points to Northwestern State, will have its hands full with the Warriors’ pro style offense. Head coach Norm Chow looks for junior QB Sean Schroeder and running back Joey Isofe to make this offense go. This isn’t the pass happy offense opponents are used to seeing, but against a Wolf Pack defense that has struggled to stop opponents over the last two games, will be just as dangerous.

Nevada’s offensive line may have its toughest test of the season so far facing Hawaii’s Art Laurel and Beau Yap. Both have shown a knack for disrupting backfields. Hawaii has actually done OK at stopping the run game, but will face a tough challenge with Cody Fajardo and Stefphon Jefferson.

The “X” factor of the game could be all mental for Nevada. The travel, the time change, the distractions, facing a difficult opponent, everything combines to make a trip to Hawaii very dangerous. And, one that I’m not sure the Wolf Pack can overcome, especially with another lackluster performance from the defense. The defense ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in many categories, especially concerning defending the pass game (Here we go again). That has to change.

Prediction: I think Nevada wins, but it’s going to be a barn burner. Wolf Pack wins 40-34.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

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*This is the start of my look at the 2012 MWC season. A full team-by-team countdown will begin soon. More details will be coming soon. 

With media days done and the football season just around the corner, the Nevada Wolf Pack make the jump to the Mountain West Conference. And, head coach Chris Ault is looking to help lead the team to a successful first season. The preseason polls picked the Wolf Pack to finish second in the conference, behind Boise State. But, don’t be fooled. This is anyone’s game.

Much will depend on how far quarterback Cody Fajardo develops.We all know the Union is going to be solid. And, though the team will now face a new season without the likes of Mike Ball and other former running backs from the past like Vai Taua, Nevada has a few waiting to take up the mantle. Stefphon Jefferson is the one I’d bet on to get most of the carries, but similar to when the Wolf Pack had three rushers run for more than 1,000 yards, don’t be surprised to see Nick Hale and even redshirt freshman Tony Knight get in on the action. The receivers will also be a big unknown, with Brandon Wimberly returning to the field.

But, Fajardo, last year’s WAC Freshman of the Year, must show progress. I need to see Fajardo develop into a true leader, to be able to run this offense with confidence. We know he can run, being the third leading rusher on the team last season. But, despite completing 68 percent of his passes, he had as many interceptions as passing touchdowns (six). Fajardo must take the next step in the passing game. If he can, he could be Colin Kaepernick good.

The defense has a lot of questions as well after losing defensive end Brett Roy, linebackers Brandon Marshall and James-Michael Johnson and cornerback Isaiah Frey. That being said, the defense will likely take a step or two down from last season, but let’s face it, defense hasn’t been the true strength of this team in recent years.

What am I saying? Nevada is full of questions. But, the potential is there for this team to make some very big waves this season. And, the Broncos are replacing tons of talented players, including running back Doug Martin and quarterback Kellen Moore. That means they’re throwing a brand new quarterback into the fire. For the first time in a while, Boise shouldn’t be considered the runaway favorites. Several other teams in the MWC have potential to break out, but have some questions facing them as well. But, expect teams like Fresno State, Hawaii and San Diego State to contend as well. Meaning, the MWC may be split in terms of team quality, but who finishes on top? That’s a crap shoot. A lot of these teams have issues facing them that could derail their seasons. That should mean we’re in for an entertaining season, but one that will be incredibly hard to predict.

Wyoming, New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado State all have serious issues and are unlikely to contend. Air Force just lost so many starters, it’s hard to see them contending.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The good news for the Wolf Pack football team is it’s making at least six television appearances. The six games currently scheduled to be aired on CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network or ESPN networks are: vs. South Florida, at Hawaii, vs. San Diego State, at Air Force, vs. Fresno State and vs. Boise State.

This is a big year for Nevada football once again. Quarterback Cody Fajardo should be one of the top QBs in the Mountain West Conference now that he has a year of experience under his belt. Like 2010, this season’s schedule lends itself to gaining some national attention if it can play well. The Wolf Pack opens its season at Cal, a chance to make a statement right off the bat. Head coach Chris Ault has the chance to make an impact once again. I realize this is a team that is retooling in a lot of positions. But, if Nevada can have a one or two-loss season that would put them back on the map. And Fajardo would be returning for at least another year and probably two. This is a chance for the Wolf Pack to prove itself in front of national audiences once again. Hopefully the team’s up to the task.

As a side note, the Boise State game has been moved to Dec. 1. The last game of the season. You don’t think Boise’s the more important rivalry than UNLV?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Not that this is a terrible surprise to anyone, but cbssports.com is reporting that the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA will dissolve and join together to form a new conference starting with the 2013-2014 season.

The new league, which doesn’t have a new name yet, would include MWC members Nevada, UNLV, Air Force, Colorado State, Wyoming, Fresno State, New Mexico and Hawaii (football only) and C-USA members Southern Miss, Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and Tulane.

The move is obviously driven by the fact that both conferences lost arguably its strongest football programs (Boise State, TCU, BYU and Utah from the MWC and South Florida and others from C-USA).

How much does this move help the Wolf Pack? Not a whole lot. The concept is interesting and it would provide the new conference a championship game. However, there’s not a real strong football program in that list. Sure, the Wolf Pack has the potential to build into that. But, everyone else, not exactly the top-tier teams the university thought it’d be getting to play with.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

I was excited as anyone when I found out Nevada hired former Hawaii offensive mastermind Nick Rolovich. His track record speaks for itself with the Warriors. But what does his hire really mean for the program? I think it means more than people are giving it credit for.

Don’t overlook the fact that head coach Chris Ault said Rolovich, not Ault, will be calling the plays. This is big for a couple of reasons. But none bigger than I think this will be Ault’s last season.

Before everyone writes me off, let me explain.

Ault told me in an interview after the 2010 season that he didn’t see himself coaching into his 70s. Ault is turning 66 this November. And, the timing makes sense. There’s no question Ault bleeds Nevada blue. But, after this season seems perfect for him to call it quits.

Consider this: Ault will have guided Nevada through its transition into the Mountain West Conference, whatever that ends up looking like. The quarterback position will likely be solid as Cody Fajardo will have two seasons under his belt for whoever the new head coach is. There will be an offensive coordinator already calling the plays and working with the quarterbacks.

Remember, after the 2010 season, Ault’s contract was only extended through the 2013 season. What else does Ault have to prove? Nothing. He created the offense that numerous programs across the nation are using. He’s built Nevada football to where it is now, from a Division II to Division I-AA to a team that finished No. 11 in the polls at the end of the 2010 season. He’s devoted almost all his career to this university. He’s experienced arguably the best season in program history and perhaps its biggest victory as well.

Now, it seems to me passing the play calling duties to the offensive coordinator is, unfortunately the beginning of the end in his illustrious, long career at Nevada. Maybe he does coach until his contract expires in 2013. But, Fajardo will have two years left with the Pack. All the new recruits of the past few years will have experience. It seems like the perfect way to transition the program to a new coach. Don’t underestimate how much Ault loves the University of Nevada. It takes a strong amount of loyalty and dedication for him to stay with the Wolf Pack when he could have left multiple times. Leaving after this season means he’s passing what will likely be a batch of players on the rise. In other words, he’s leaving the program in a strong position.

For this season, Rolovich’s potential effects on the offense are exciting. For the future, I’d say we’re coming close to the end of an era. Enjoy while you can fans. It’s not every day you get to see a hall of fame coach in action and I don’t think he’s going to be around too much longer.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Nevada hires Hawaii OC

One of the best passing minds in the nation is joining the Nevada Wolf Pack’s staff. Nevada hired former Hawaii quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Wolf Pack fans should be familiar with Rolovich’s work, who spent four years with the Warriors. He served as quarterbacks coach all four seasons and the offensive coordinator the last two.

“I am pleased to have Nick join our staff. I’ve had the chance to watch him grow as a player,  quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator,” Nevada head coach Chris Ault said in a press release. “He is a young gun who coached and coordinated the best passing offense in the country. It was clear to me and my defensive staff this past year he is not afraid of change as he introduced the Pistol formation to the Hawaii offense. And they didn’t miss a beat.”

During the three seasons that Rolovich called plays for Hawaii, the Warriors averaged  347.9  pass yards per game and 96 touchdowns.

“I am very excited to be part of a program that I am very familiar with and for which I have a lot of respect,” Rolovich said. “It feels great to be at a school with a history of high offensive production and putting points on the scoreboard. I’m here to learn, teach and win. This is a great opportunity for me to learn from a guy with so much knowledge like Coach Ault and then to hopefully combine that with some things I’ve done in the past and continue to win here.”

Rolovich will help guide quarterback Cody Fajardo, the WAC’s Freshman of the Year next season and one of the top overall offense’s in the nation in terms of yards per game.

What do you think of the hire?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Six games are in the books for the Wolf Pack. And at 3-3, the team is about where I think most people expected them to be. What do I think about how the team’s fared so far?

For starters, give the defense props. I know many people said the defense was going to be the strength of the team this season. But, after strong performances against Boise State, shutting out UNLV and having a late score by New Mexico stop a second-consecutive shutout against the Lobos, the defense has stepped up this season. Look to Brett Roy for a big reason why. Roy’s in the top 10 in the nation in terms of tackles for loss per game. Having linebacker James-Michael Johnson helping out doesn’t hurt either. In fact, even the secondary has looked good (I feel shocked just writing that).

Too bad the offense has been inconsistent. Quarterback Tyler Lantrip looked great against the Rebels. But, pathetic against Boise State and Oregon. Quarterback Cody Fajardo looked fantastic against Texas Tech then played terribly against the Rebels. Both quarterbacks are lucky to have wide receiver Rishard Matthews, who is among the nation’s best in yards per game. Perhaps the biggest surprise is at running back where neither Mike Ball or Lampford Mark took over a dominant role. Stephon Jefferson has worked his way nicely into the rotation.

The biggest disappointment on offense has to be the other receivers. This was a chance for receivers like Tray Session to step up. They haven’t.

The good news for the Wolf Pack is, unless there are some big upsets, Nevada’s game against Fresno this Saturday is the de facto WAC championship game. With Hawaii losing to both UNLV and San Jose State,  the Warriors aren’t much of a threat. It would appear the other big road block on the schedule would be Utah State and the Bulldogs handled them.

Overall, the season’s been ok. The offense has been frustrating to watch. The loss to Texas Tech reminded me of the 2008 and 2009 season when I thought Nevada should have won more games against better opponents.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

What did I learn from the first Saturday of the college football season? I’ll get back to you at that. I saw Oregon lose to LSU, pretty much leading me to have two very different trains of thought. One, the Ducks can’t simply outrun all the teams, and maybe, just maybe if the Wolf Pack can force the Ducks to pass, it’ll have a chance. The other, Oregon’s going to be so pissed it lost it’ll come into its game against Nevada and be at its best. Then, the Wolf Pack will be in for a beating. Which one do I think will happen? I’ll have my official Oregon-Nevada preview up this Wednesday.

Speaking of teams from Oregon State…the Beavers. I used to live in Oregon where I was a Beavers fan. But, OSU lost to…Sacramento State. What the hell?

Boise State dominated Georgia, proving once again the Broncos deserve to be in the national title conversation. QB Kellen Moore, head coach Chris Petersen and the rest of the team basically cruised to its win at a “neutral site” (the Georgia Dome). Yet, rivals.com finds it hard to find another team to challenge Boise State all season. Sound familiar? Look, I know Nevada’s a big unknown this season, but trust me, the Broncos will see Nevada at its best. And if Tyler Lantrip and RBs Lampford Mark and Mike Ball can step into their roles, the game will be close.

UNLV, after its loss to Wisconsin looks terrible…again.

The Western Athletic Conference looks good…actually it looks really good.

Utah State had the lead with less than three minutes to go against Auburn. The Tigers needed an onside kick and two touchdowns late in the game to get past the Aggies. Hawaii had a nice win against Colorado, a Pac-12 team. Despite Fresno State’s disappointing loss to California, it looks like Utah State might be ready to challenge for the WAC crown.

The biggest thing I learned…college football is so stupid. I mean, I love to watch, don’t get me wrong. But I got to thinking. What other sport, collegiate or professional, hell, even high school, makes it so if you lose your first game, you have no shot at winning a title. What other sport is it where a team continually has to “prove” itself only to have others say “oh, they’re not a real contender” when, guess what, its passed your tests year after year. What other sport makes it so that you’re entire season is seen as a disappointment because of a single loss?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

According to a Yahoo! Sports story the Hawaii Warriors are considering playing a regular season football game in Japan within the next few seasons.

The game could take place as early as Japan in the Osaka Dome. The men’s basketball team recently finished a 15-day tour through China and Japan when the school’s athletics director, Jim Donovan met with officials. Donovan said the school would consider playing a Mountain West Conference, which includes Boise State.

The Wolf Pack received one vote in the AP preseason poll, apparently from a Boise State beat writer. Oregon, Nevada’s season-opening opponent is ranked No. 3 and Boise State is ranked No. 5. Hawaii received four votes.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.