NCF Nation: Marlon Johnson

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.
Wednesday, I linked to a story about Nevada players Duke Williams and Marlon Johnson engaging in a couple of fights, including one that sent Johnson to the emergency room.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Williams and Johnson got into a fight on April 16 or 17 after Johnson gave Williams a ride home from a party. Later that day, Williams returned to Johnson’s home with a group of friends and allegedly attacked him. They hit him with rocks, knocked him unconscious and knocked out at least one tooth. Johnson had to be rushed to the emergency room.

The Nevada athletic department is currently investigating the incident.

Both players are safeties on the Wolf Pack football team, but Williams, a sophomore, was expected to be a starter for new defensive coordinator Andy Buh. Johnson is listed as second string.

In an article in today’s Reno Gazette-Journal, the paper calls for Williams to be dismissed if he’s found to have taken a group of friends to Johnson’s house to cause harm.

So far, no police report has been filed. However, Keith Hackett, a Nevada associate athletic director, told the paper that Williams was more or less an onlooker. That Williams and Johnson were arguing and that a third party threw the rock that injured Johnson. Johnson didn’t know who the third guy was.

The outcome of this incident will be huge for Nevada. The defense was finally starting to catch up with the offense and Buh was starting to build the cohesion he sought when he first arrived on campus in January.

The secondary has taken the most criticism in past years. The past two seasons, the pass defense has ranked 119th in the country allowing 297.77 yards per game in 2009 and 311.62 in 2008.

But during the spring game, the Nevada defense showed marked improvement. It kept the first-string offense out of the end zone and while Buh didn’t want to heap too much praise so early, he was pleased with the progress.

However, the one thing Buh did want to see this offseason was more cohesion. He said he felt there were still times when the defense was playing like a set of individuals rather than an 11-man unit.

This latest schism won’t help the secondary’s maturity.

Williams already has had trouble with the law during his time with the Wolf Pack. He was arrested for minor in possession of alcohol last November and was suspended for the Hawaii Bowl after he was spotted with linebacker Andre Davis, who was arrested for felony shoplifting in Honolulu.

Links: Nevada safety gets probation

February, 24, 2010
Nevada safety Marlon Johnson is on team probation for a year after failing to pay a traffic citation more than a year ago.

Louisiana Tech officials are hoping that the newly announced game against Grambling draws a crowd to Shreveport, La.

Even though Hawaii’s attendance declined this past season, the Warriors still had the highest average attendance in the WAC, according to the NCAA.

Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry is hitting the road this week to promote his new team and new vision for the program.