Making the Rounds: Position Battles

    Daniel Lyght, The Fresno Bee: Is Fresno Stat backing off their infamous 'anyone, anywhere, anytime' mantra by slumming to play San Diego State.  Yes they are, but it also could be that the WAC has cracked down on Prop 48 players -- partial qualifiers -- who do not make the grades to get into the elite Pac-10 schools and then attend Fresno.  Pat Hill will not acknowledge that but gives this statement on a potential series with San Diego State.

    Perhaps raising excitement among fans will be the conversation Hill said he has had with new San Diego State coach Brady Hoke. He said they spoke recently about possibly beginning a home-and-home series."That would help with budgets," Hill said. "I hope we can work it out. We need to find ways to play a great schedule that's appealing to fans and economically sound. We could bus it to San Diego."

    Congrats on joining the rest of the college football universe in trying to schedule near-guarantee win.

    Jeff Call, Deseret News:  5 questions presented by the Deseret News for the upcoming season, so I went ahead and answered their questions.

    1. Despite the overall strength of the MWC, particularly at the top, the past five league champions have gone undefeated in conference play. Will this trend continue?

    It is hard to defy history, but this could be the year that the league champ has a loss with the mid level teams inching closer to the big three

    2. Which MWC team has the best shot at busting the BCS? 

    Has to be TCU or BYU, but if there is a conference loss mixed in the chances are unlikely since the loss would occur later in the season, and the catchup would be too much.  The edge goes to TCU since they have less questions, unlike BYU who will have secondary questions again.

  •  
    • New Meixco vs. Texas A&M
    • Colorado State @ Colorado
    • Utah @ Oregon
    • UNLV vs. Oregon State
    • BYU vs. Oklahoma
    • BYU vs. Florida State
    • TCU @ Clemson
  • 3. Can an MWC team be a BCS-buster with one loss?

    Yes, because last year had TCU beaten Utah they would have jumped Boise and made a BCS appearance.  So, if BYU were to lose to Oklahoma or Florida State, and if TCU were to lose to either Clemson or Virgina and then run the table there is a good chance. 

    However there is pesky Boise State who if they get past Oregon would make it difficult for a one-loss MWC team to crack the BCS, especially with Boise projected to be ranked anywhere from 10-15 in the preseason rankings.

    4. Which of the MWC's non-conference games will the country be paying attention to this fall?

    Per usual the MWC has stepped up their non-conference schedule, but there are a few that can help shape the national perception of the league with a win.

There are others but these are the main ones where the MWC have a chance to win, well except for the Oklahoma game.

 

5. Which first-year MWC coaching staff has the best chance of establishing a winning record in 2009?

New Mexico and it is not even close.  The reasoning is because the Lobos are a year removed from a bowl victory, but last year the team suffered major injuries to quarterback Donovan Porterie and others.  However the Lobos non-conference schedule is tough with games against Texas Tech, Texas A&M, rival New Mexico State, and . 

So there is a chance they could be the best team but not have the best overall record.  Wyoming has a shot because the play an FCS team and their defense should be good as they historically are.  New Mexico is the choice here.

Ben Volin, Palm Beach Post: It is no surprise that the casual football fan does have a hard time finding Mountain West football games, because they are not on channels that are known for college football games.  However, there is no excuse for Harris poll voters to know where to find the games.

It is unreasonable for the voters to watch every game, but they should be aware of what channel teams are on and tune in occassionally.  Mountain West commissioner lashes out on the Harris poll voters that said they never saw Utah play, and here is what Commissioner Thompson said on the issue:

    "One of the Harris pollsters last year said, ‘Well I never saw Utah play,’They were on TV 11 times. National DirecTV satellite. Versus is on in 75 million homes. CBS college is on in 33 million homes. That’s not a very concerted effort to do your job. They’re easily found."

    If a Harris poll voter or an AP voter openly admits that they did not watch a nationally ranked team and say they can not find the channel must give up their vote.  Especially the Harris voters who are 1/3 of the biggest sports monpoly and have a say who plays for the BCS title.

    Jake Schaller, Colorado Springs The Gazette:

    The Falcons open up camp and there are all ready switching people around in their positions with Luke Hyde who played wide receiver last year, was listed on the depth chart at running back, and then now is a defensive back.

    "There’s a chance I bump back over," to offense, Hyder said. "Our depth at tailback right now is kind of nonexistent. I told coach, I can come over, learn all this and if he wants to throw me back over in two weeks … it’s not something I’d really have to re-learn.

    This is not good for the Falcons who also have quarterback issues with former running Asher Clark taking snaps, last years sarter Tim Jefferson with academic issues, and Ben Cochran who was under center during spring ball has moved to safety.  

    Lya Wodraska, Salt Lake Tribune:

    Looks like a repeat of last year when receiver Aiona Key was held out of practice because of getting grades from his junior college.  That forced Key to mainly play on special teams, even though he was good he was unable to show his receivng skills.  Now James Aiona the five star and number one ranked junior colelge defensive end is not enrolling this year:

    James Aiono, Snow College's highly touted defensive lineman who signed with the Utes and was expected in camp this week, won't join the team until January due to some remaining academic requirements he must meet.

    The good news is that Aiona will still have two years of eligibilty once he enrolls for the Utes in January and will have a leg up by participating in spring drills in 2010.

    Ryan Greene, Las Vegas Sun:

    Honestly, both quarterbacks are going to look strong in fall camp. There will even be times when Mike Clausen (remember, backup) looks better than Omar Clayton. He had a few of those moments in the spring. Here is another set of 5 questions from a local writer, but this one is actually entertaining and makes sense especially the quarterback situation:

    Even though a knee injury ended his 2008 season against TCU, it's easy to forget where Clayton ranked among the nation's starting signal-callers in terms of efficiency. It's easy to forget because when the Rebels needed to win their final three games, Clausen came from nowhere to win the first two and had them on the postseason's doorstep.

    I totally agree with this, Omar Clayton was very, very good under center and he will be the starter this season.  Fans forget about the starter when the backup gets a few wins, which is fine and Mike Clausen will get his chance but not in 2009.

    Dirk Facer, Deseret News: The Utes are going to try to replace one of their best quarterbacks in school history and it looks to come down to a three team race.  In the mix are true freshman Jordan Wynn, Junior Corbn Louks, and junior college transfer Terrance Cain.

    For me it is hard to see Wynn getting the job, he did enroll in January to learn the play book and has put on some what, but how does it look when a true freshman comes in and has a chance to beat out two upperclassman.  Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham is optimistic he will find the right guy:

    "No doubt," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "We've got three guys who are virtually in a dead heat, and it's going to be a competitive situation. "But," he added. "I believe that competition brings out the best in people and we're eager to see if somebody separates themselves from the pack."

    Juniors Corbin Louks and Terrance Cain, along with true freshman Jordan Wynn, are competing to replace Sugar Bowl MVP Brian Johnson as the starter. "All three will get equal amount of reps with the ones," Whittingham said. "In order for it to be an equitable situation for them, every guy needs that opportunity."

    So, if somehow Wynn gets the job, highly unlikely, it could be a good thing because that means the Utes again found a recruit that was under the radar and turned out to be a stud.  The race will come between Louks and Cain, and it is close.  Louks has been in the program for two years, and has been asked to fill in and basically run the ball and rarely pass, and the question floating around is if he is able to throw.

  Then there is Cain who was  JC All-American from Blinn College in Texas, and while there ran a similar offense to the Utes.  The only thing Utah can hope for that it is not a repeat of 2007 where there were two bad quarterbacks and a rotation that killed them in game one against UCLA.

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