Coach: Paul Bennett, fourth year (13-19)
2007 record: 5-6 (4-2 Northeast)
Returning letterwinners: 11
Returning starters: Five offense, seven defense
Top players: QB Dalton Leilua (Jr.); FB Dennis Scott (Sr.); RB/FS Eric Tuiloma (Jr.); ILB Genesis Faga (Sr.); ILB Julian Yearwood (Jr.); OLB Duante Holmes (Sr.); OLB Keorris
Top newcomers: OL/DL T.J. Atimalala (So.); RB/DB Derrick Shaw (So.)
Key losses: RB Mike Ball; DE Charles Smith; WR/DB Josh Williams
Base offensive set: Pistol
Base defensive set: 4-4
Outlook: Bennett said he hopes the defensive unit can carry the team, which lost its top two rushers, top two receivers and much of its offensive line.
“Our defense has to be the pride of our team because of all the losses on offense,” Bennett said.
The linebackers, anchored by Faga and Holmes, should key the defense. Faga, who missed most of last season because of injury, could be the difference for a team that allowed an average of 25.1 points.
Running back Ball was the team’s big offensive threat and now is at UNR. But Bennett points out that Ball missed much of the season because of injury and returning back Eric Tuiloma nearly matched Ball’s rushing output.
Leilua has a year of starting experience and passed for 1,323 yards and 12 TDs last year, but the team must replace its top two receivers — Williams and Kimani Bullard — who combined for 68 catches.