NCF Nation: Brandon Marshall

Nevada spring wrap

May, 10, 2011
2010 overall record: 13-1

2010 conference record: 7-1 WAC (co-champs)

Returning starters

Offense 6, defense 7, punter/kicker 1

Top returners

WR Rishard Matthews, LB James-Michael Johnson, LB Brandon Marshall, S Duke Williams

Key losses

QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Vai Taua, DE Dontay Moch, TE Virgil Green

2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Taua (1,610 yards, 19 TDs)

Passing: Kaepernick (233-of-359 for 3,022 yards, 21 TDs, 8 INT)

Receiving: Matthews* (875 yards, 5 TDs)

Tackles: Johnson* (88)

Sacks: Moch (8.5)

Interceptions: Williams*, Marshall*, Marlon Johnson*, Doyle Miller, Khalid Wooten* (two each)

Spring Answers

1. Lantrip at quarterback. Though coach Chris Ault didn’t anoint Tyler Lantrip the starting quarterback, he said the senior was the player to beat going into fall practice. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering he has spent his entire career backing up Kaepernick.

2. Starting defense is strong. Ault brought Andy Buh in last season to revamp his defense. Now that unit appears to be the strength of the team going into the fall with seven returning starters, including leading tackler Johnson, Williams and Marshall. Let’s not forget tackle Brett Roy, who had eight sacks last season.

3. Matthews looks good. Matthews had a breakout 2010 and, after what he did in the spring, he should be even better in 2011. He provides the perfect go-to player for Lantrip, who is a better passer than he is a runner. Much will be expected of Matthews this season.

Fall Questions

1. Running back rotation. Not much was decided this spring on who would step in for Taua, but there are plenty of candidates: Stefphon Jefferson, Mike Ball, Nike Hale and Lampford Mark (who was out for the spring while recovering from a torn ACL).

2. Defensive end. The Wolf Pack lost two of their best players on the defense in Moch and Ryan Coulson and have not settled on new starters. They took a big hit when Kaelin Burnett broke his pelvis in the spring and was lost for 2011. He was Moch's heir.

3. Leadership. One of the big reasons why Nevada had the best season in school history is because of the leadership from Kaepernick, Taua, Moch, John Bender and the rest of the senior class. The Wolf Pack are going to need players to step up and be leaders in the same way as the guys who just left.

Spring rewind: Nevada

April, 27, 2011
Here is a look at where Nevada stands headed into the offseason:

Questions answered: The biggest question was who will replace Colin Kaepernick behind center. Though coach Chris Ault has not officially named a starter, he did say Tyler Lantrip was the man to beat. Lantrip had a good spring, and went 8-of-18 for 108 yards with one touchdown passing and one rushing in the spring game. Quarterbacks Mason Magleby and Cody Fajardo also impressed Ault this spring. Receiver looks to be an area of strength with the continued improvement of Rishard Matthews, who had an excellent spring after coming on strong in the second half of 2010. This could bode well for the Wolf Pack because Lantrip is better as a passer than a runner. Running back also is an area of depth and strength with the emergence of two more players during the spring -- junior college transfer Nick Hale and Stefphon Jefferson did well as projected starter Mike Ball and Lampford Mark sat out most of the drills while they recovered from injuries. This obviously is an important position in the Pistol offense, one that loses 1,000-yard back Vai Taua.

Questions unanswered: The defense showed much improvement last season, but will have some big questions once fall practice rolls around. Starting defensive ends Ryan Coulson and Dontay Moch are gone, leaving bookend holes on the defensive line. Then there was more bad news during the spring. Kaelin Burnett, the heir apparent to Moch, will miss the season with a broken pelvis. Nevada signed five defensive ends, and some are expected to play, including former UCLA signee Rykeem Yates. The good news is defensive tackle Brett Roy had a good spring and linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Brandon Marshall return. What could be a problem on defense is depth, and that could be a big issue in the brutal opening stretch of the season.

Spring stars: Jefferson had 137 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the spring game. Safety Dean Faddis also had a good spring and a great spring game, with five tackles and a forced fumble.