Same as last week, only on the other side of the ball. Which team do you think will have the best defense in the upcoming 2019 season?
Mike: This one didn’t jump out to me as much as last week’s offensive orientated one. Fresno State ended up being the best in 2018 but lost the core of that group to the next level (as did Wyoming). Boise State should have the best DL unit but there are some questions in their back 7. San Diego State seems like a safe choice, as they routinely have one of the top defenses in the conference.
I seriously considered both the Aztecs and Bulldogs, but I’m giving the nod to the Bulldogs. Mainly do to “star power” returning. SDSU has Tezino and Thompson, while Fresno State has Walker, Hughes and Bryant. Both teams have some holes to fill from last years group but it appears the players returning for the Bulldogs may be able to cover those holes a bit easier than others. But I wouldn’t be surprised if another team ends up proving me wrong by year’s end. I’ll also say I don’t expect a truly dominating defense in 2019.
Bruce: As for my response, I always think defense win meaningful ball games. But I got two defenses I think they can be tough to play against this year. The schools are Fresno State and Boise State.
The Bulldogs were the number one defense in the conference last year that helped the team captured the conference title, and the Las Vegas Bowl. But sadly, they lost key players this year due to going to the draft and graduation. But I think they can repeat themselves as the toughest defense in the MWC again.
For the boys playing in the blue turf (Boise State), they have a good and solid defensive line that can frustrate a lot of offenses around the conference. But their secondary is questionable if they want to get back to the conference title game, and hopefully get revenge on Fresno State.
Zach: This is a tough one. I think there are four candidates: Boise State, Fresno State, Wyoming, and San Diego State. We know it all starts in the trenches and Boise State should far and away have the best secondary in the conference. The linebacker corps should also be improved with the return of a healthy Riley Whimpey and Zeke Noa’s move to middle linebacker. With that being said, there are enough questions in the secondary to cause some concern.
Wyoming also lost a lot of key players, but you know they will be well coached and one of the toughest units in the conference. With that being said, I am going to go with San Diego State here. I think they have two players in Tezino and Thompson that have a legit shot at defensive player of the year.
Jeremy: I’m going with Fresno State. Statistically they have been undeniably dominant under Jeff Tedford. Yes, there are some personnel losses, but none of them are Leighton Vander Esch-sized losses. They’ll find other talented players. Boise State is another candidate, but for all their talent haven’t actually put together a truly dominant (Top 15 total defense) season in several years. Wyoming is my dark horse in this category. I could also see Utah State being strong defensively under Andersen.
FatDuckUW: Fresno State should be the favorite. The Bulldogs were clearly the best defense in the conference last season. However, they lost half of their secondary and their entire linebacking corps, so this defense is likely to take a step back towards the rest of the pack in the MWC this season. The team that I think is most likely to challenge Fresno State as the best defense in the MWC would be the San Diego State Aztecs. The Aztecs are always a good defensive team, and this years squad brings back good experience at linebacker and in the secondary. If a younger defensive line can perform, the Aztecs defense should excel against what looks to be a fairly easy schedule in 2019 for SDSU.
Matt: Fresno State should be the favorite until further notice. They lost their DC, and their entire D-line going into 2018, and ended up even better than the 2017 unit. Now they get to keep their DC, and most of their starters. Yes, they lost MWDPOY in Jeff Allison, Tank Kelly, and Mike Bell, but they retain Mykal Walker, 7 players that had playing time on the D-Line, and a back 7 that all has playing experience last year. I’d expect them to maintain their elite status for the time being, especially as the offense will take a step back to start the year. The one team that will probably be second, and could genuinely challenge the Bulldogs is going to be the Wyoming Cowboys. They’ve been an incredibly strong defense for years, and carried that team last year.