For the next few weeks, we are going to be previewing some of the most intriguing positions in the Mountain West for the upcoming football season. This week we are previewing the running backs, traditionally one of the strongest positions in the conference. This year should be no different, where there are some established stars and some young guys looking to make a name for themselves.
San Diego State
Juwan Washington will be the most recognizable running back in the Mountain West this year. He was hampered by injuries in 2018, but he should be healthy in 2019. I expect Washington to be an all-conference running back and to use this season as a launching pad to a successful NFL career.
Boise State has to replace another NFL running back in Alexander Mattison, but there is plenty of depth at the position. The Broncos return junior Robert Mahone, who has proven to be a capable backup. But there are three four-star recruits waiting in the wings. Sophomore Andrew Van Buren will likely be the primary carrier, but the Broncos have a pair of true freshmen in George Holani and Keegan Duncan that will challenge for playing time.
I’m not sure if I would classify any of the Bulldog running backs as elite, but they might have the most proven crop of running backs in the conference. Ronnie Rivers, Jordan Mims, and Josh Hokit have all proven to be reliable ball carriers. Fresno State also has some young talent waiting in the wings. While this unit may not have one guy with mind blowing numbers, I expect their depth and versatility to be helpful in easing in the new quarterback.
I feel like this is a safe bet. As a triple option team, the Falcons rely heavily on their running game. 2019 will be no different, the Falcons will have a ton of depth at the position. Air Force will have two electric runners at the quarterback position with Arion Worthman and Donald Hammond III coming back. The Falcons also have a hard-hitting runner in fullback Cole Fagon, I expect Fagan to get quite a few carries for this squad.
The Cowboys best runner might very well be their quarterback Sean Chambers. When Chambers took over the job late in the season, the offense got a much needed boost. But outside of Chambers, there isn’t a whole lot to be excited about. Can the young guys step up for the Cowboys?
The move away from a traditional triple option had a noticeable impact on the Lobos running game. If New Mexico wants to make any noise in 2019, they will need to have a dynamic running game and I just can’t see that happening.
Let’s be honest, Hawaii is not overly concerned with putting up big numbers on the ground. Their running game can be effective when the passing game is clicking, but it goes as the quarterbacks go. Hawaii slowed down late in the season when teams started figuring them out. I don’t think their running game is solid enough to get them to the next level.
The Rams running game fell off of a cliff in 2018. The offensive line failed to establish holes and provide consistent protection, I don’t see that changing much in 2019. The Rams will once again be forced to rely on the arm of their quarterback.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned for next week’s edition, where we will be previewing the wide receiver units.