February 1, 2010

Rivals.com Spring Practice Primer: MWC

We're two days from National Signing Day, and that also means the start of spring practice is just around the corner.

The first team to open spring ball? It's Duke, on Feb. 15. (Uhh, that's two weeks from today.)

To get you primed for spring practice, here's a look at the start dates for all 120 FBS teams plus the overriding problem each program must deal with during spring drills.

MWC Spring Practice Primer

AIR FORCE
Practice begins: Feb. 18.
Last spring practice: March 17 (no spring game).
Biggest task: Air Force lost its defensive coordinator when Tim DeRuyter left to become the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, but the Falcons should have a relatively seamless transition. Air Force replaced DeRuyter by promoting co-coordinator Matt Wallerstedt, who won't make any major changes to the Falcons' 3-4 scheme. The bigger concerns are on offense, as the Falcons lost all five of this past season's starting linemen to graduation.

BYU
Practice begins: March 15.
Spring game: April 10.
Biggest task: BYU must find a replacement for departed starting QB Max Hall. The early arrival of true freshman Jake Heaps will give him a chance to compete with veterans Riley Nelson and James Lark for the job.

COLORADO STATE
Practice begins: March 26.
Spring game: April 24.
Biggest task: Colorado State should have plenty of competition at quarterback and running back. True freshman QB Pete Thomas already has enrolled and will compete with Jon Eastman, Klay Kubiak and Nico Ranieri. The Rams also must decide how they will divide carries in the backfield among UCLA transfer Raymond Carter, Leonard Mason, John Mosure, Chris Nwoke and Lou Greenwood.

NEW MEXICO
Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: New Mexico is seeking a quarterback to replace the departed Donovan Porterie. B.R. Holbrook served as Porterie's main backup last season, Brad Gruner made eight starts in place of an injured Porterie in 2008 and Tate Smith also received plenty of playing time in 2008.

SAN DIEGO STATE
Practice begins: Feb. 20.
Spring game: March 20.
Biggest task: San Diego State has put major emphasis on improving its overall strength on both sides of the line. San Diego State ranked 116th in the nation in rushing offense, 85th in run defense and 89th in sacks this past season.

TCU
Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game: April 15.
Biggest task: TCU must find a pass rusher to step in for Jerry Hughes, who won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end in his senior season. Candidates for the job include junior Braylon Broughton and redshirt freshman Stansly Maponga.

UNLV
Practice begins: March 15.
Biggest task: April 17.
Biggest task: It will be interesting to see if the arrival of new coach Bobby Hauck from Montana shakes up UNLV's quarterback situation. Senior Omar Clayton has started each of the past two seasons and has the edge going into spring practice, but he could face challenges from junior Mike Clausen and redshirt freshman Caleb Herring.

UTAH
Practice begins: March 9.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Utah has plenty of work to do on defense as it attempts to replace its entire starting linebacker corps and three starting defensive backs. The toughest challenge might be finding someone to fill the shoes of FS Robert Johnson, who had a knack for delivering big plays.

WYOMING
Practice begins: March 6.
Spring game: April 17.
Biggest task: Wyoming is loaded in the back seven on defense, but the Cowboys must replace three starting linemen as well as a fourth senior who earned plenty of time in a reserve role. Wyoming is seeking to upgrade its speed in the receiving corps and is looking for No. 2 and 3 receivers.

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