Tag Archive: WAC


The Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that Boise State is indeed leaving for the Big East. Bad news for the MWC and the Wolf Pack. I realize Boise’s fans can be annoying. But losing your greatest rival in college football is never a good thing. Never.

Where does this leave Nevada? Essentially in the WAC 2.0 with a few new teams. This conference isn’t nearly as good as it looked a couple of years ago. No more Utah, BYU, San Diego State, TCU and now Boise State. So, the Wolf Pack gets…Fresno State, UNLV and trading New Mexico State for New Mexico. Oh, and they still have to travel to play Hawaii every other year.

Why focus on just college football? Because if the reason we’re moving is because of football, then we better be making a significant upgrade, which we’re not. Head coach Chris Ault and Nevada has a bright future over the next couple of years with Cody Fajardo under center. Over the past several seasons players like Colin Kaepernick, Rishard Matthews, James-Michael Johnson and Dontay Moch have helped elevate the program. But, it needs to take that next step, much like Utah is trying to do in the Pac-12.

Moving to the MWC was supposed to be a giant leap forward. Instead, it feels like a half a step forward.

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

CBS Sports is reporting that sources tell them the MWC/CUSA merger is off. That actually makes sense. One of the biggest reasons for this merger was so that the champion could get an AQ bid to the BCS. Since that is going away for a four-team play off in a few years, there’s much less incentive. Also, the merger was before even more shuffling took place. What remains to be seen is what happens to Boise State and San Diego State. For the Wolf Pack, what the Broncos do is much more important than what the Aztecs do. Boise’s plans are to go to the Big East. But the WAC, where its others sports would remain is, shall we say, struggling. I know the Big West extended membership, but there’s no guarantee it’ll get enough votes to pass, even if Boise decides thats the best option.

Here’s hoping they stay in Boise. Love to see Chris Ault, Cody Fajardo and the rest of the Pack get more cracks at the Donkeys.

Speaking of football, the more I think about it, the more excited I’m getting to see how Ault and new offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich (Formally from Hawaii). I’d love to see the mix between the run and the pass. And, with Brandon Wimberly returning, Fajardo’s going to have some weapons to throw to. Big question will be the defense. It lost so much and the spring game wasn’t all that encouraging. But, we’ll see.

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

Nevada softball team preview

Ah, spring is just around the corner. For Wolf Pack fans, that means the spring sports are about to hit full swing (pardon the pun). Today, I start with the Nevada softball team. Check back later this week for my baseball team preview.

Head coach Matt Meuchel is in an extremely important year. When he took over, the Wolf Pack won the regular season Western Athletic Conference championship, was nationally ranked and made it to a super regional. Since then? Nevada’s become bottom dwellers. Meuchel’s had a chance to bring in the players he’s wanted to. Now, it’s time for the team to perform. The Wolf Pack was picked to finish fifth in the conference. Are they prime to prove people wrong?

Pitching

Senior Mallary Darby is likely to be called upon to be the team’s ace once again this year. She had tough 2011 campaign, going 12-26 with a 5.30 Earned-Run Average. Ariel Craig and Bailey Brewer will likely see a lot more innings this season and they will have to improve from their 7.52 and 10.78 ERAs from a season ago. The trio gave up a combined batting average of .328 while the Wolf Pack hit just .271.

Hitting

The Wolf Pack’s pitching may have struggled last season. But, the team’s bats didn’t exactly help the situation either. Nevada’s batting average (.271) paled in comparison to what its opponents hit (.328). Nevada scored just 200 runs in 47 games while giving up 338 runs. The team recorded 280 strikeouts.

The good news is three of the teams top four batters, in terms of batting average, are returning this year in Erin Jones, Karley Hopkins and Caylin Campbell. But, the team will have to replace former Wolf Pack players Britton Murdock and Danielle Patrick, who led the team in Runs Batted In last season. The question will be can any of Nevada’s players step up enough and find enough consistency to fill these holes.

Infield/outfield

The team’s 68 errors must come down this season. Look for Jones and Hopkins to become the leaders of the team this season. And they need it. Catcher Chelsea Venable also needs to improve all around. The communication between pitcher and catcher needs to be spot on this season.

Prediction

The WAC is stacked once again this season, with four teams receiving first place votes. I just don’t see how Nevada can compete this year.

With the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA set to form a mega conference the question facing Nevada is simple: is this a good thing?
When the Wolf Pack announced it was joining the MWC, it seemed like a slam dunk. But now? This is essentially the WAC lite, especially with other WAC schools apparently set to join the new conference. Sure, Nevada and UNLV will play each other and it will have conference implications. However, the Wolf Pack is losing its most important rivalry…its football game against Boise State. Make no mistake anyone that’s been to a Nevada-Boise game knows the fans hate each other. It’s the one game Nevada fans look forward to.
This new mega conference will have little impact on the college football world. It will still be on the outside looking in. And both conferences lost many of its strongest programs. What started as a chance to get a big upgrade has turned into something that is slightly better than the WAC but not much else.

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.

The Wolf Pack soccer team opens its season this weekend with matches against Pacific and Penn State in California this weekend. Nevada was picked to finish sixth in the Western Athletic Conference following a 2010 campaign that saw the team finish a disappointing 7-9-3.

This year’s team may not fare any better. The team does return Danielle Green and Kori Disarunfino, but lost seniors Cristen Drummond, Jill Erickson and Natalie Ratnavira. The trio accounted for 10 of the team’s 27 goals in 2010. It also remains to be seen whether goalkeeper Dana Moreno can step into a full-time starter. For the past few seasons, Marie Cove has been a steady pair of hands in the goal, but she graduated as well, meaning Moreno will be front and center for much of the season. But, in eight games last season, Moreno had a save-to-goal ratio of just two-to-one. Cove had one of more than four-to-one and the Wolf Pack went 0-5-1 in the six games Moreno started.

The key to the team’s success will be how easily it can create opportunities. The Wolf Pack had 118 shots on goal, 24 less than it gave up to its opponents. Nevada must be able to get good, quality shots easier than it did last year. The team struggled to consistently move the ball and retain control, and that won’t cut it this year either.

Clearly this year’s team has its work cut out for them. Nevada had a monumental collapse, losing five matches in a row and having just one victory in its final seven matches of the season, that cost it a chance at the WAC Tournament. With a young team and new players having to step up,  head coach Missy Price and the Wolf Pack may not fare much better than this year. I think another season below .500 is in store for Nevada.

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

The Fresno State Bulldogs always say they will play anybody anywhere and at anytime. Can the Bulldogs take home a conference title in its last year in the Western Athletic Conference?

The offense

Fresno State fans might get a sense of deja vu this season as a Carr will once again be under center. Quarterback Derek Carr, brother of former Bulldogs QB David Carr, will be taking over from Ryan Colburn. Carr, a junior, will be stepping into an offense that is capable of exploding and putting up some huge numbers this year. Senior wide receiver Jamel Hamler, who had more than 800 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, and sophomore receiver Jalen Saunders, who had more than 400 yards and three touchdowns, are expected to have big years.

Fresno State should have one of the most balanced attacks in the conference. Running back Robbie Rouse surprised a lot of people when he rushed for more than 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns. That kind of production will take a huge load off of Carr’s shoulders and means he won’t have to carry the offense by himself.

The defense

The Bulldogs’ front seven will be difficult to deal with. Led by senior linebacker Kyle Knox and defensive tackle Logan Harrell, Fresno State is expecting to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks and shutting down the run. However, as good as the front seven might be, the secondary will have to prove itself quickly.

Sophomore cornerback L.J Jones and strong safety Deron Smith will likely be tested early and often by opposing teams. The problem? If they struggled and/or get injured, the Bulldogs are paper thin in terms of depth. Jones’ backup is a redshirt freshman. In fact, the team has four redshirt freshmen who are second on the depth chart for the defense. Just something to keep your eye on.

 Special teams

Senior place kicker Kevin Goessling struggled a little bit last season, making 21-0f-26 field goals. Fresno State would like him to return to his 2009 form where he made 15-of-16 field goals. Punter Andrew Shapiro will likely handle kickoff duties like he did last season.

2011 outlook

Like the Wolf Pack, Fresno State has a pretty difficult non-conference schedule, including games at Cal and against Mississippi and San Diego State. But, perhaps even more importantly, it has to go on the road to face Hawaii and Nevada, the two teams most likely to be competing for the WAC title along with the Bulldogs. If Fresno State can win both those games, it’ll be on its way to a conference championship.

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

In possibly some of the least shocking news you’ll read, Hawaii was picked as the preseason favorites to win the Western Athletic Conference title. New Mexico State was picked second while Utah State was chosen third. The Rainbow-Wahine received seven of eight first place votes while Utah State received the other. Nevada, which struggled last season, was picked to finish sixth.

No Nevada players were named to the 2011 Preseason All-WAC team.

The Wolf Pack represent a pretty interesting team to watch in 2011, however. Remember, the team won two early-season tournaments, with wins over schools like Notre Dame and Pacific, before its season fell apart. With new coach Ruth Lawanson taking over from former coach Devin Scruggs, perhaps that will be the spark the team needs to get over the hump. However, the team lost seniors Kylie Harrington and Nicole Link. But, there’s lots of young talent here. I’m not saying it’ll beat Hawaii, but this season could be better than expected for the Wolf Pack.

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

The Humanitarian Bowl, held each year in Boise, Idaho, has received a new name: the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Because teams should be proud to say they won the “Potato” bowl. And I thought the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl was a terrible name. At least that had a good cause in its name. This is just…one of the worst names I’ve ever heard.

Funny, last time I was in Boise for a football game, they didn’t even serve potatoes. I suppose they’d have to now.

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