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MWCConnection Roundtable: Biggest question for teams as they enter fall camp?

The team weighs in.

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Counting this week, we are down to the last four roundtables of the offseason. Today, fall camp begins for the majority of the teams in the Mountain West. That leads to, what is the biggest question facing each team as they enter fall camp?

Bruce (San Jose State): “Will Brett Brennan lead the Spartans to a bowl game this year, or be cleaning out his office desk after this season?”

Brett Brennan came back to San Jose State to be the Spartans head coach in 2017. He was the wide receiver and tight ends coach from 2005 to 2008. Since coming back to San Jose, he has won just three games in his two years as a head coach. During the summer of this year, he is on the hot seat of losing his job if he doesn’t bring the Spartans to a bowl game this year.

San Jose State hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2015 when they won the Cure Bowl against Georgia State in Orlando, Florida. They are seeking to end that bowl drought this year.

If Brennan wants to bring the Spartans to a bowl game, he will have to get a hot start to this season, and upset a few teams like Fresno State or Boise State. Also, it will help him keep his job if they post a winning record, or be eligible for a bowl game in December.

Zach (Boise State): The obvious answer involves the quarterbacks. But there is a ton of talent at the position and whoever wins the job will have earned it. I want to focus on the defense and the loss of Andy Avalaos. So my biggest question is: How will the Broncos respond to the loss of Andy Avalos?

Jeff Schmedding and Spencer Danielson are sharing the coordinator responsibilities this season. Schmedding was the defensive coordinator for an Eastern Washington squad that played for the FCS championship. He is known for having an aggressive defense that blitzes frequently. If that trend continues, it will be different than Avalos who often implemented a bend, don’t break defense.

Adam (New Mexico): In much the same way that Bruce was talking of SJSU’s Brennan, the same can be said of Bob Davie at New Mexico. Two consecutive 3-9 finishes, along with dwindling attendance, has Coach Davie’s seat scorching hot. The question is; will this be Davie’s pivotal season in his coaching career?

He can help cool it off a bit if the Lobos can emerge from non-conference play with no worse than a 2-2 record. If UNM is 1-3, or 0-4, entering MWC play, then Coach Davie might get an early start cleaning out his desk. The Lobos need to get off to a great start in out of conference play in order to get to a bowl, which might be the only thing to save Davie’s job.

Matt (Fresno State): Who steps up in the receiving game? After losing 11 seniors last year from the receiver/tight end group, they’re going to require some instant reinforcements. The good news is that Jared Rice returns. The 2nd leading receiver on the team last year comes back with a chance for another historic season for a TE. Derrion Grim and Cam Sutton also return after getting valuable experience as back-ups last season, but now must assume starting roles and leadership roles as seniors. The next question is who else fills those receiving spots? Keric Wheatfall comes in from Blinn College with eyes on starting, and returners like Emoryie Edwards and Chris Coleman are hoping for their big moment. Keep an eye out for Jalen Cropper, the local star who may be looking to play early and often for the Bulldogs.

Jacob McNeil (MWC at-large): Would you rather bring back your QB, or the guys around him? Boise State and Utah State could help us to answer that question this year.

Up in Boise, the Broncos have an offensive line that is returning all five starters and 107 career starts. They also return perhaps the deepest, most talented group of pass targets (WR and TE) in the conference. All that remains to be seen is who will be throwing to them. The options at quarterback are Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson, and Hank Bachmeier. With an early matchup against Florida State in Jacksonville looming, the Broncos will need one of these guys to step up immediately.

Meanwhile, in Logan, the Aggies are bringing back All-MWC selection -- and preseason awards list frequent-flyer -- Jordan Love at QB. He will be tasked with leading an offense that is replacing four of five starters on the offensive line, as well as the top five receivers (based on receiving yards) from last year’s team. While there is plenty of talent in both groups (specifically look for Savon Scarver and Jordan Nathan to come through at WR), a Week One trip to Wake Forest will put a strain on Love and the new-look Aggie offense.

By the time these two teams play each other in November, each side will have had plenty of time to sort things out and gain game experience. However, the weeks leading up to that showdown could dictate whether the game will decide anything more than pecking order in the Mountain Division.

Alex Wright (UNLV): For UNLV, there are many questions that need to be answered, such as Tony Sanchez’s job security, Armani Rogers’s health, running back and receiver production, but the biggest question is revolves around the defense. Can the Rebel defense perform to an acceptable level?

UNLV’s defense, and specifically the secondary, was the weakest link among the Rebel units last season. They gave up 37 points per game last season, and with a team that played its backup half the season, it was not a great recipe for success. UNLV’s front seven should be respectable with players like Gabe McCoy, Vic Viriamontes and Javin White. All eyes will be on the secondary, and to see if they can marginally improved so the defense does not give up more than five touchdowns per game again. Players like Jericho Flowers and Drew Tejchman will need to avoid giving up big plays to help UNLV’s offense stay in the game.

The defense does not need to be like the ‘85 Bears, there just needs to be some clear improvement from last season. A sign of progress could be not allowing more than 30 per game this year. The Rebel offense has some questions to be answered as well, and while they work to answer those questions, they will need the defense to improve their play to take some pressure of the offense. The offense, if the defense struggles, could feel added pressure, knowing their defense could give up a lot of points, to play over their heads to keep up with the high point totals. The defense cannot be the reason UNLV loses games, and a somewhat improved Rebel defense will be key to get the program to a winning record this season.

Mike (MWC At-Large): I’ll discuss Colorado State this week.

In the first three seasons of the Mike Bobo era, the Rams were the epitome of above average. They would routinely go to a bowl game but never seemed able to get over the hump. As everyone knows, last year was a complete and total disaster. There are lots of questions for Colorado State coming into the season, but they can all be lumped under: Does the team have any signs of life in them to bounce back in 2019?

The questions are endless though. Eyes will be on the health and performance of QB Collin Hill. How do they replace their top two wide receivers? Can the defense make any progress towards being competent? Will their successful recruiting endeavors ever translate to the field? Is Coach Bobo fully healthy? Will he have a job come December? All this and more coming your way over the weeks and months.