TCU graduated TE Shae Reagan, who never seemed to match his enormous potential. Clutch receiver Walter Bryant also graduated. The Frogs' returning rollcall is long, and frightening. Andy Dalton's favorite TE target, Evan Frosch, starts, with rising stars Logan Brock and Corey Fuller pressing for reps. All-conference receiver Jimmy Young, returners Antoine Hicks, and Jeremy Kerley have impressed beyond their already-high expectations in practice. Bart Johnson, Ryan Christian, Curtis Clay, and Jonathan Jones all have starting experience. Alonzo Adams completes the 2-deep. With better coaching from the Frogs' new WR coach, and the conference's most experienced QB corps at the helm, expect TCU's pass-attack to headline the conference in 2008.
San Diego State lost Darren Mougey and Justin Shaw after the '08 season, but returns a long list of receivers and TEs, and may boast a surprisingly potent pass attack this season. Based on spring returns, DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown will keep a lot of secondaries very busy. Roberto Wallace is highly experienced, as are backups John Toledo, Mekell Wesley. Converted WR Matthew Kawulok is a big target (245 lbs). Expect good things from the Aztecs' new passing game.
BYU lost two good wide-outs to graduation and the draft: Michael Reed and all-conference Austin Collie. The Cougars return the first-team all-MWC tight end, Dennis Pitta, and his backup Andrew George. These TEs are fantastic; the receiving corps is unproven. McKay Jacobsen was very good pre-mission, and but Luke Ashworth and Chambers have seen very few snaps at wide-out. Granted, BYU has earned the benefit of the doubt, and likely will find a bevy of fine receivers in its 2-deep. Exactly who they are, however, remains to be seen.
UNLV sent all-MWC Casey Flair into the record books, as well as starting TE Ryan Worthen and experienced WR Gerold Rodriguez. It's returning cast is very good. Luke Plante starts as TE; all-MWC Ryan Wolfe, Jerriman Robinson, Phillip Payne, and Rodelin Anthony may be the best starting four in the conference. Their backups are not as brilliant, but that's not saying very much, because the starters are so good. If the Rebels don't need to depend too much on the 2s, they may pass their way to a bowl game.
Colorado State graduated its best TE in years, all-conference Kory Sperry. The Rams return 5 of their top seven receivers however, including the top two, all-MWC Rashaun Greer and Dion Morton. Starting TE Zac Pauga returns as well, giving the Rams' yet un-named QB a very good set of targets in what may be an improved pass attack.
Air Force graduated its best playmaking TE Travis Dekker, as well as three other experienced starters, Keith Madsen, Ty Paffett, and Spencer Armstrong. The Falcons return their top three receivers, Josh Cousins, Kyle Halderman, and converted TE Sean Quintana. Cousins' and Quintana's backups, Kevin Fogler and Daniel Pickett, are experienced as well. This group is Calhouns' most experienced set of receivers yet. Whether or not they'll pry open AFA's ground-heavy attack remains a secret; if so, the Falcons may muscle their way into the conference's top three for a second year in three.
Utah graduated three very good receivers, Bradon Godfrey, all-MWC Freddie Brown and Brent Casteel, last season. Who'll step up among the returners is one of the Utes' many burning questions this fall. Jereme Brooks and David Reed are poised for very big years. Aiona Key, Elijah Wesson, DeVonte Christopher, and Shaky Smithson are all in the mix to be the #3 target for... for whoever pins down the starting QB spot (see the coming MWC QBs post for profiles of the three Ute amigos under center).
New Mexico loses its #4 and #5 receivers, Jermain McQueen and TE Chris Mark. The returning top three, Chris Hernandez, Bryant Williams, and Roland Bruno, will get a lot more balls thrown their way in Mike Locksley's new spread. Look for TE Lucas Reed, Michael Scarlett, and Daryl Jones to see plenty of snaps as well. What one ought not expect from the Lobos in their first year of the spread is a brilliant pass attack. That's for subsequent years.
Wyoming lost its fourth most productive WR to graduation, Chris Johnson, and gained one of the nation's spread gurus for a coach. That probably means that Greg Bolling, Brandon Stewart, Jesson Salyards, David Leonard, and Donate Morgan (last year's receivers #1, 2, 3, and 5) will all have much bigger years than last year, when the leader (Bolling) only caught 26 balls for under 300 yards. Like New Mexico-- but worse-- the Cowboys begin Year One of the spread, and will probably feature the ugliest offense in the conference. This pass attack will be good in spurts, and gawd-awful in between.