Yesterday, Bleacher Report had a slide show on "Power Ranking the 50 Best College Football Players West of the Mississippi" that was picked up by larger newspapers around the nation (must be a slow day). I'm not linking that article because it does not deserve the hits it's getting, but if one searches hard enough they can find it.
Here's some of the problems with this slide show:
4. Ka'deem Carey, RB, Arizona
6. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska
9. Casey Pachall, QB, TCU
25. Cody Fajardo, QB, Nevada
32. Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU
37. David Fales, QB, SJSU
47. Adam Muema, RB, SDSU
49. Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
50. Chuckie Keeton, QB, Utah State
One player is in the top-10 who didn't even PLAY for most of last year? That is TCU's Casey Pachall for those who need a little help on that. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez is always overrated because: A. his throwing mechanism vaguely resembles a wounded duck flying and B. his game time decisions under pressure are always questionable. Arizona running back Ka'deem Carey is too high and Cody Hoffman is too low (there...I gave my one compliment to a BYU player for the year).
My other beef about this article is the slew of MWC players at the bottom of the list that are pretty much feel good rankings. For starters, anyone who paid any attention to MWC football would know that Cody Fajardo should be nowhere near that number.
Therefore, in an attempt to rank the best players in the MWC (which won't be accurate until the season begins), our new writer matthew_k and I decided to come up with a list on our own. According to matthew_k, "It seems to me that the Mountain West has a distinctly offensive lean to it going into the 2013 season, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that the skill positions get a lot of run on my list."
I wholeheartedly agree...
1. Derek Carr, QB - Fresno State Ranked 49th in the BR's list is utterly disrespectful. Carr was ranked First-Team Preseason All-MWC in Steele's article. And I would say that the majority of this blog's staff would agree.
MK - Carr led the Mountain West in passing yards, touchdowns, completion percentage, interception ratio and was among the nation's leaders in passer rating. He also brought the Valley a share of it's first conference title since 1999. He is the conference's best quarterback on what is arguably the conference's best team.
2. David Fales, QB - San Jose State If Carr or Fales went to BCS schools, they would both be in Heisman contention every year. Fales statistically was better than Carr in every category but interceptions. The biggest question facing Fales this year is how will he respond with a new coach?
MK - Fales has become a darling of a prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, and his physical measurables make it easy to see why. He was just as good on the road as at home and got better as games went on, so he'll give the Spartans a fighting chance in their first tour of the MWC.
3. Adam Muema, RB - San Diego State Once again, the second best running back in the MWC last year, got unmercifully tossed to the side in these BR rankings. Only Robbie Rouse and Kasey Carrier gained more yards than Muema last season, however Muema averaged 6.2 YPC and scored 16 TDs, which was higher than either Rouse or Carrier.
4. Kasey Carrier, RB - New Mexico Carrier literally carried the Lobos to victory as soon as he entered the season. Some ridiculous stats include: 338 yards, 3 TDs in a loss to Air Force and 191 yards, 4 TDs in a win versus Texas State.
MK - The Lobos were not great in 2012, but it's hard to argue with Carrier's numbers. He'll have a target on his back as UNM continues its march back to respectability. For that reason, I give Carrier the edge despite similar production, though the Aztecs will be leaning more on Muema, as well.
5. Cody Fajardo, QB - Nevada Fajardo is better than Kaepernick at this point in his college career. There, I said it. Kaepernick broke out in his second year starting hitting the 2500/1000 club. Fajardo achieved that in his Freshman year, and can easily continue this trend for this year. So why is he only halfway on my top-10 list? Nevada has a nasty non-conference schedule that can shatter his confidence in an instant. So I will be low on Fajardo until the conference schedule begins.
MK - Fajardo is no Colin Kaepernick, but he is far and away the conference's greatest dual threat quarterback. 3,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards rushing is not a ridiculous notion running the Wolf Pack offense.
6. Davante Adams, WR - Fresno State Ranked slightly higher than Noel Grigsby (SJSU) in terms of total yards, and he was a freshman last year. While I don't expect a sophomore slump from the youngster, I personally think that experience (Grigsby) beats out ace (Adams). Note: I had Grigsby ranked higher than Adams, but with our weighed out numbers, Adams is ranked higher.
MK - There's an argument to be made that the Freshman All-American could be higher on the list, but a 102-catch effort means he won't sneak up on teams in 2013. Adams has a "prove it" label as the Bulldogs WR1, but he is talented enough to establish himself as the best in the MWC.
7. Chuckie Keeton, QB - Utah State Gary Andersen may have coached the Aggies to two straight bowl games, but Keeton has been the QB for Utah State during that time. Staying at Utah State showed his commitment to the team when realistically, he could have probably transferred to Wisconsin to be with Andersen. Expect the Fightin' Chuckies to challenge Boise State for the Mountain Division.
MK - He was the engine of the potent Aggies offense and was a first-team all-WAC selection in 2012. His top five targets are gone this year, though, so Keeton will have his work cut out for him.
8. Noel Grigsby, WR - San Jose State HOW DID THIS MAN NOT MAKE THE LIST??? He's played in nearly every single game of his career. Last year he racked up 82 receptions for 1307 yards (ranked 10th nationally) averaging 15.9 yds/rec. The only three players who averaged more yds/rec in that top-10 list? Terrance Williams (Baylor), DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) and Austin Hill (Arizona).
9. Tyler Larsen, C - Utah State MK - A two-time all-WAC selection, Larsen anchored the line for the high-powered Aggie offense in 2012 and figures to do the same against Mountain West defenses in 2013.
10. Demarcus Lawrence, DE - Boise State MK - The Broncos as a whole are often greater than the sum of their parts, but Lawrence led the conference in sacks in 2012 and could be better as the unit gains experience.
Jay Ajayi, RB - Boise State The freshman Ajayi was largely overshadowed by D.J. Harper last year, however he averaged 6.7 YPC last year when he was on the field (548 yards on only 82 carries). Since it looks like he'll be the starter this year, expect a lot bigger things from him.
Jake Fely, LB - San Diego State MK -The best of a very active linebacker group, Fely led the Aztecs in sacks and was second in tackles. He should be among the conference leaders in those categories again in 2013.
Do you agree with these rankings? Who makes your top-10 list? Answer in the comments below.