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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Mountain West Secondaries

Lots of young talent and plenty of room for growth

NCAA Football: San Diego State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

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: Secondaries

The Good:

Fresno State

The Bulldogs intercepted 19 passes; quarterbacks struggled to complete 50% of their passes, and they allowed only 15 touchdown passes. Those are some great numbers.


They only intercepted 10 passes, but the Cowboys allowed less than 200 yards per game through the air. That is really impressive for a team that spent way too much time on the field.

San Diego State

This is the closest I have ever been to putting a portion of the Aztec defense in the bad category. They allowed over 3000 yards through the air and seemed to get worse as the season went on, but quarterbacks completed only 60% of their passes and finished third in pass defense.

Utah State

The Aggies led the conference with 22 interceptions, and quarterbacks completed only 54% of their passes. Those are super impressive numbers, but they finished seventh in yards allowed through the air. Ultimately, 22 interceptions lands you in the good category.

The Bad:

Boise State

The Broncos are usually strong against this pass, but they ranked in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in 2018. The loss of safety DeAndre Pierce early in the season was huge for the Broncos. Avery Williams and Jalen Walker were frequently targeted in the red zone, and the loss of Tyler Horton will be huge in 2019. With that being said, the Broncos have recruited bigger corners in recent seasons; it will be interesting to see who replaces Horton this Fall. Boise State only intercepted seven passes in 2018; that number needs to improve.

Colorado State

Teams threw the ball less against the Rams than any team in the conference. While that might sound like a nice stat, it really isn’t. The Rams were terrible against the run, and this includes their secondary which had to make way too many tackles. Nearly ten percent of the pass attempts they defended resulted in touchdowns. That is not a good statistic.

Air Force

When looking at defensive statistics for the Falcons, you have to dig deep because their offense spends so much time on the field. Ultimately, I decided to look at yards per attempt, and the Falcons allowed nine yards per pass attempt - a number that would put them eleventh in the conference.


The Wolf Pack ranked ninth in the conference in pass defense and gave up 245 passing yards per game. They intercepted 11 passes and struggled against the deep ball at times.


I considered putting the Warriors in the ugly category, especially considering they only intercepted a league-worst five passes. However, the Warriors only gave up 235 yards passing per game. Those numbers might be a little skewed by the fact that teams had so much success running the ball against them.

The Ugly:

San Jose State

The Spartans had the worst pass defense in the Mountain West, surrendering nearly 284 yards a game. They were also last in the conference in allowing touchdown passes. San Jose State did manage to intercept 13 passes, but teams threw the ball against them a ton.


Much like the Spartans, teams had a ton of success throwing the ball against the Rebels. UNLV allowed 267 yards per game through the air, ranking them eleventh in the conference, and they only intercepted ten passes. Tony Sanchez has plenty of needs to address on the defensive side of the ball for a team that should have bowl game aspirations in 2019.

New Mexico

I’ve been forced to put the Lobos in this category a bunch, but facts are facts. They were a really poor football team in 2018. Bob Davie is living and dying by recruiting junior college players, a dangerous risk for a coach that should be firmly on the hot seat next season. New Mexico only intercepted 9 passes and allowed 256 yards passing per game in 2018.

Stay tuned. Next week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” will feature the special teams units of the Mountain West.