The Western Athletic conference took a huge blow last summer when it was announced that the Boise State Broncos would be bolting to the Mountain West Conference. Then a few months later the Nevada Wolfpack, Fresno State Bulldogs and Hawaii Warriors announced they were following Boise State to the MWC. WAC commissioner Karl Benson then had to answer the 100 million dollar question: what is next for the WAC? The WAC would end up adding two schools who will be playing their first seasons of FBS football in 2012- the Texas State Bobcats and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners. Both schools are no where near the caliber of a Boise State or a Hawaii but are located in talent rich Texas and could develop into good programs down the line. As for the 2011 season, with Boise State gone, it will be the Warriors, Bulldogs and Wolfpack battling for the conference crown in their last season in the WAC. Here are my top returning WAC quarterback’s for the 2011 season:
1. Bryant Moniz, Sr, Hawaii, 2010 stats: 361-555 (65%), 5,040 yds, 39 td’s, 15 int’s: Perspective: Moniz returns as the only quarterback in the WAC that started every game in the 2010 season. Moniz makes Hawaii the obvious favorite to win the confernce title. He has the ability to make everyone around him better. He loses his top two targets in Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares but has enough solid receivers returning to keep this offensive engine one of the best in the country. Because of all of this, Moniz is being mentioned as a preseason Heisman candidate and all-american. Look for Moniz to lead Hawaii to a WAC title and lead the nation in passing once again.
2. Brian Reader, Sr, Idaho, 2010 stats: 42-71 (59%), 568 yds, 5 td’s, int. Perspective: Reader takes over for Nathan Enderle who had a solid career for the Vandals. Reader, who saw action in 8 games last season, had a great spring and it has carried over to the fall. The Idaho fan base is very excited about the 2011 possibilities especially with instate rival Boise State no longer in the WAC. The Vandals could be a sleeper in the WAC title race this season
3. Tyler Lantrip, Sr, Nevada, 2010 stats: 8-13 (62%), 155 yds, td. Perspective: Lantrip takes over for Nevada football legend Colin Kaepernick. Lantrip will have some huge shoes to fill. Kaepernick was not only a threat with his arm but his legs as well. Lantrip is more of a pocket passer. He did well in 5 games he played in last season. The big question for Lantrip is his experience. He is a senior but has not played much. He will have his work cut out for him right away as Nevada has to travel to Oregon, San Jose State, Texas Tech and Boise State to start the season. The Wolfpack will not play a home game until October 8th.
4. Matt Christian, Sr, New Mexico State, 2010 stats: 114-237 (48%), 1,372 yds, 8 td’s, 2 int’s. Perspective: Christian returns for his senior year after having an injury plagued junior season. Christian will need to stay healthy and play more consistent if he is to win the starting QB job over the sophomore Andrew Manley.
5. Colby Cameron, Jr, Louisiana Tech, 2010 stats: 54-91 (59%), 461 yds, td, 5 int’s. Perspective: Cameron played sparingly in 4 games last season and struggled. Head Coach Sonny Dykes believes he will do much better in 2011 as he has taken most of the QB reps in the spring and in the fall. Look for Cameron to have a breakout 2011 season and put up great numbers in Dykes offense. La Tech is another team that could surprise and be in the WAC title race.
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Fresno State
6. Utah State
7. San Jose State
8. New Mexico State