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February 1, 2010

Rivals.com Spring Practice Primer: WAC

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.

WAC Spring Practice Primer

Practice begins: March 8.
Spring game:: April 17.
Biggest task: Boise State returns nearly every starter off an undefeated team. One exception is star CB Kyle Wilson. Jerrell Gavins, who saw plenty of time as a backup last season, should move into Wilson's spot at corner.

Practice begins: March 15.
Spring game:: April 16.
Biggest task: The Bulldogs need to improve across the entire defense. Fresno State, last in the nation in sacks, needs someone other than Chris Carter to provide a pass rush. Fresno State also is breaking in several new defensive backs. Isaiah Green started the bowl game. Redshirt freshmen L.J. Jones, Erik Brown and J.B. Dock will vie for starting spots.

Practice begins: April 1.
Spring game:: April 30.
Biggest task: Hawaii's trouble on the offensive line continues into another season. This time, the Warriors will have to move on without mainstay John Estes at center. Three other starters, for better or worse, are gone as well. With the top receivers returning as well as QB Bryant Moniz, the line will be the key to the performance of the offense in 2010.

Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game:: April 23.
Biggest task: Here's another WAC team with offensive line concerns. The key will be replacing G Mike Iupati. Behind the Outland Trophy finalist, Idaho ranked ninth in the country in total offense.

Practice begins: March 17.
Spring game:: April 10.
Biggest task: Former coach Derek Dooley's mentor is Nick Saban. New coach Sonny Dykes is a disciple of Mike Leach. Think that means a change in offensive philosophy? Dykes will have a senior quarterback in Ross Jenkins, but Louisiana Tech ranked 91st in the country in pass offense. Big-play WR Phillip Livas could flourish in the new system.

Practice begins: March 5.
Spring game:: April 3.
Biggest task: New defensive coordinator Andy Buh and secondary coach Mike Bradeson will be tasked with solving numerous problems on defense. The new staff will have to replace both safeties and pass-rushing DE Kevin Basped, who unexpectedly left early for the draft.

Practice begins: April 5.
Spring game:: May 1.
Biggest task: New Mexico State will have its third offensive coordinator in as many seasons. The Aggies have gone from Hal Mumme's "Air Raid" offense to a run-first scheme to now -- they hope -- a more balanced spread attack under Mike Dunbar. The Aggies return 1,000-yard rusher Seth Smith. But they must find a quarterback among juniors Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls (17 combined interceptions last season) and redshirt freshman Tanner Rust.

Practice begins: March 12.
Spring game:: April 22.
Biggest task: It could be a long spring for first-year coach Mike MacIntyre. San Jose State's offense was one of the nation's worst, stunning considering how poor WAC defenses were. New offensive coordinator Hugh Freeze, whose name is familiar to Ole Miss fans and anyone who read "The Blind Side," will have to find answers in the backfield. The Spartans will build the defense around LB Duke Ihenacho.

Practice begins: March 23.
Spring game:: April 24.
Biggest task: Utah State is looking to its defensive line to help improve the 110th-ranked rush defense. The Aggies didn't lose many senior linemen, so expect some lively competition. Utah State returns one of the WAC's best linebackers in Bobby Wagner. He could be even better if the guys in front of him improve.

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