Building off of last week’s roundtable, in which we looked at which team will have the defense in the conference, this week turns to the other side of the ball. This week, our question is which team will have the best offense in the Mountain West?
Jeremy: The answer to this question was clear in 2017, with Colorado State finishing 11th nationally in total offense. They were far and away the most complete unit. UNLV and Air Force were a surprise 2nd and 3rd in total offense, albeit ranked in the 40s overall. Boise State ranked 57th, much lower than they are used to. Hawaii, San Diego State, and Fresno rounded out the offenses that weren’t terrible in the 60s and 70s of those rankings. Fresno easily has the best offensive line and receiving corps, yet finished 72nd in 2017. They’ll return nearly everyone on offense, but clearly Marcus McMaryion and the running game have some proving to do.
That’s the issue here. Define “best”? Fresno has the most talent on the offensive line and receiver, but don’t have the numbers to backup claiming they’re the best offense in the conference. Boise State has the best quarterback, and the passing offense finished a solid 37th nationally despite being worthless before the BYU game, but their running game left so much to be desired. San Diego State’s running game is always to be feared, but that hasn’t always lead to an impressive points per game number.
In the scoring offense category, Colorado State finished 31st, Boise State 36th, Air Force and San Diego State back-to-back at 44th and 45th. Utah State, UNLV, Nevada, and Fresno rounded out the rest of the relevant units in the 60s and 70s. Considering the returning talent for 2018, combined with the stats from 2017 (all we have to base our opinions off of until the games begin again), Boise State seems to be the answer here, but I’ve answered straight chalk for these roundtable topics, so how about something bold this time around? I’ll say Nevada. With Ty Gangi coming into his own at quarterback, Kelton Moore leading a reloaded running back group and McLane Mannix heading a quietly very strong receiving group, I’ll say Nevada capitalizes on the offenses strong conclusion to the 2017 season and rocks the Mountain West’s strongest offense this upcoming season. UNLV is also a sneaky answer here.
Zach: In my mind Boise State and Nevada have the most complete offenses in the Mountain West. Nevada has an established quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, this might give them a slight advantage over the Broncos right now. Now, if we are talking about who is going to have the best offense at the end of the year, the correct answer is Boise State.
Boise State has a wealth of unproven riches. Octavius Evans is going to have a special year and emerge as one of the best receivers in the Mountain West. John Bates will fill in nicely for Jake Roh. Alexander Mattison is in the best shape he has been in since arriving at Boise State and should have no problem eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark again. The Wolfpack may have more recognizable names, but the Broncos will have better depth and a stronger offensive line anchored by Ezra Cleveland.
Matt: Last year, it was definitely Colorado State, but they’ll be rebuilding a lot of that offense, so don’t look to them to repeat. It actually looks like Boise will be the most complete offense at this time. They lose their top receiver from last year, and depth at multiple positions, but they also retain a lot. Especially with a senior Brett Rypien and Alexander Mattison behind the QB.
The one team that could surprise would be Fresno State. While they were a rather pedestrian 67th in offense last season, that was the first season under a new set of coaches, and starting QB Marcus McMaryion didn’t join the team until Fall camp. Now the team has had an entire year under the coaching staff, and a lot of time to gel as a unit. Not to mention they return 84% of their receiving yards from last year, and all of their rushers from last year. They also add in Oklahoma transfer Michiah Quick, and a strong crop of freshmen. The only question is Ronnie Rivers’ foot, as he suffered a broken bone during Spring ball.
There is also Nevada, whose Air Raid offense began to catch fire late in the season. They might not have the playmakers yet to match up with Boise, Fresno, or San Diego, but they should definitely provide some offensive fireworks and shootouts for the Wolf Pack.
Mike: This one is tough, as I don’t think there is an obvious answer based off of last season. Boise State is the safe answer, and probably the right answer, but their offense posted lower numbers than they have in previous years and much lower than the glory days with Coach Pete and Kellen Moore. It would not be surprising at all to see Rypien shine his senior season, Mattinson run all over the field, and a few WRs breakout. But it is far from a guarantee.
The fun answer is probably Nevada. The air-raid is certain to put up big passing numbers. It wasn’t the case for much of last year and that is important to say, although they seemed to hit their stride But a second year running the system could see a jump. Ty Gangi certainly looked the part in the second half of last season at quarterback. Big things are expected from slot receiver McLane Mannix after a breakout true freshman campaign. Though in running-back Kelton Moore and that’s a nice starter-kit for a great offense. I could see either one of these teams ending the year as top offense in the MWC.