Last season, the Mountain West had three teams with double digit wins and seven teams that were bowl eligible. It was a landmark year for the conference even though they did not land the New Year’s Six representative. We have spent the last few weeks previewing the upcoming season, but we are going to take a different approach to this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” We are going to look at some of the best and worst moments of 2018 and how they may impact the upcoming season.
Utah State’s Electric Offense
I’m not sure if anyone really saw this coming. I anticipated the Aggies to have a solid 2018 season, but I did not know their offense would be as dynamic as it was. Jordan Love emerged as a superstar behind an experienced offensive line and used a favorable schedule to propel the Aggies into a legit contender. However, 2019 looks much tougher for Utah State. It will be interesting to see if new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. makes any tweaks to an offense that was one of the best in the nation.
Prior to the 2018 season, Nevada’s dynamic offense made them a trendy pick for a bounceback season. However, it was the play of their defense that made them a bowl team last season. Nevada will have a lot of questions entering the 2019 season, but if their defense can take the next step, they will have an excellent chance to go bowling in December.
Hawaii Emerges as a Legit Contender
Contender is a strong word, but the Warriors looked like a legit threat to the Aztecs and the Bulldogs the first half of the season. However, the second half of the season was a different story. Cole McDonald was inconsistent and opponents slowly started to figure their new offensive system out. Hawaii brings back plenty of talent this season, but a tough schedule will make it difficult for them to take the next step.
The Bulldogs Are Back
To be fair, they have been back for two seasons now. But, 2018 proved that 2017 wasn’t a fluke. I remember the flack the Bulldogs received when they hired Jeff Tedford; plenty of fans were upset with the hire. They sure look silly now. Tedford will have his hands full in 2019 as he has to replace Marcus McMaryion and KeeSean Johnson.
If the Mountain West is going to put itself into the conversation for top Group of Five conference, they need to start winning some marquee out-of-conference games. The Aggies came close to a major win in East Lansing, but ultimately fell short. Boise State dropped the ball in their showdown against Oklahoma State. There are plenty of opportunities for signature wins in the upcoming season. Hopefully the Mountain West can come away with a few victories.
San Jose State’s Quarterback Carousel
The Spartans gave four quarterbacks significant snaps last season. Hopefully, they can use that experience to find a reliable signal caller that can help San Jose State win some games in 2019.
I was in the stands for this game, and it was miserable. It clearly impacted the playing style of both squads, and the field was like an ice skating rink. It was interesting to say the least.
Boise State’s Injuries
Injuries have been a significant theme for the Broncos in recent seasons, but 2019 was on a whole different level. The Broncos were consistently beat up on both sides of the ball, but it was the defense that took the most significant hit. David Moa, DeAndre Pierce, and Riley Whimpey all missed significant time with injuries, while Kekoa Nawahine, Tyler Horton, Avery Williams and Sonatane Lui were all banged up over the course of the season. If the Broncos defense can stay healthy in 2019, they should be a force.
New Mexico’s New Offense
I’m not sure why Bob Davie decided to ditch the triple option. Maybe he thought it needed to be done to make the program more desirable to recruits, or maybe he thought it could make the Lobos more competitive. Whatever the reason was, it did not have its desired impact in 2018. I’m curious to see what kind of approach the Lobos take on the offesnive side of the ball in 2019.
Colorado State’s Defense
The Rams defense wasn’t just bad, it was historically bad. The Rams struggled to stop anyone both on the ground and through the air. Colorado State will need to be significantly better on that side of the ball if they hope to win more games in 2019.
Cancelled Bowl Game
After losing the Mountain West Championship game, the Broncos were fortunate enough to land a marquee bowl game against Boston College of the ACC. Unfortunately, the weather put the Broncos on the bad side of history. Lightning strikes in the area halted the game late in the first quarter, and with a bigger storm approaching, the game was cancelled. It was a tough pill to swallow for the players and fans that traveled to Dallas.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned next week, as I make my crystal ball predictions for the 2019 season.