Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” For the next few weeks, we are going to focus on how teams performed at various positions. Up this week: Defensive Lines.
The Broncos overcame a variety of injuries to have solid play on the defensive line in 2018. David Moa missed the majority of the season with a foot injury, while Durrant Miles and Sonatane Lui also missed significant time with injuries. Depth was tested early and often, but young stars like Scale Igiehon emerged to provide muscle up front. Boise State led the conference in sacks with 39. Curtis Weaver has led the team in sacks the previous two seasons and will be back for the Broncos.
The Wolf Pack finished second in the conference with 35 sacks and held opponents to 3.6 yards per carry. Nevada’s defensive line improved significantly from the 2017 season, but will have some holes to fill in 2019. The Wolf Pack will have to replace hybrid linebacker/lineman Malik Reed, who led the team with eight sacks.
The Aggies finished third in the conference with 32 sacks and held opposing teams to 3.5 yards per carry. Tipa Galeai led the conference with ten sacks; he is listed on their roster as a linebacker, but plays more of a hybrid role. The Aggies have plenty of talent returning up front and should be a force in 2019.
San Diego State
The Aztecs had a disappointing season in terms of getting to the quarterback with only 25 sacks. However, their ability to stop the run puts them in this category. They were first in the conference, giving up only 3.0 yards per carry.
The Bulldogs barely made this category, and I probably could have justified putting them in the bad category. Like the Aztecs, they were middle of the pack in terms of getting to the quarterback with 25 sacks. However, they were pretty solid against the run, giving up 3.7 yards per carry.
Expectations were sky high for this unit entering the season. Like I have said in previous articles, they may be the victim of being on the field too much. The Cowboys finished tenth in the conference with only 19 sacks. That was a disappointing number considering what was expected.
Like the Bulldogs, the Falcons were a fringe team in this category. They were good against the run, giving up only 3.5 yards per carry, but their inability to get to the quarterback (20 sacks), led to them having one of the worst pass defenses in the conference.
26 sacks is a respectable number, but surrendering 4.9 yards per carry is bad. The Lobos had their issues on both sides of the ball, but teams had their way running the ball against them. Stopping the run will be an emphasis for Bob Davie and the Lobos entering the 2019 season.
Hawaii and New Mexico have very similar defensive numbers. The Warriors actually finished fourth in the conference with 30 sacks, but they surrendered 4.9 yards per carry. Hawaii will have their hands full next year, as they have to replace their leader in sacks, KK Padello.
San Jose State
I really wish I had something nice to say here, but when you only manage to sack the quarterback eleven times and you surrender 4.7 yards per carry, that is the definition of ugly. At least the Spartans didn’t finish last in run defense.
Bobo’s Rams have a long way to go on defense. Colorado State managed only 15 sacks this season and allowed a conference-worst 5.3 yards per carry. The Rams also gave up 36.8 points per game.
The Rebels gave up more points than any team in the conference, giving up more than 37 points per game. UNLV finished eighth in the conference with 21 sacks and gave up 4.8 yards per rush. The future of Tony Sanchez may be in the hands of his defensive line.
Stay tuned. Next week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” will feature the defensive backs of the Mountain West.