With fall camp underway and the season fast approaching, the questions are getting simpler even if the answers aren’t always easy.
This week, the question is which team will have the best offense during the 2019 season?
Bruce- In my response, I think Fresno State’s offense will frustrate a lot of opponents this season. Last season, the Bulldogs’ offense posted a 68.4 percentage on pass attempts from their quarterbacks. During that season, the Bulldogs took the conference title game in overtime, and they beat Arizona State to capture the Las Vegas Bowl. Also, they tied with Boise State with the least amount of passes intercepted around the conference. This gives some big talks about how good Fresno State’s offense is from last season including a huge blowout win against Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins in Pasadena.
The Bulldogs will have to continue that scenario if they want to get back to the conference title game in late November, and possibly a top-10 CFP ranking position to get them in the hunt for at least a 3rd or 4th playoff spot in January. If this would work out, they would be the first ever Mountain West team to qualify for a CFP spot. They would have to lose no more than one game to be in the scenario, and beat some teams in dominant fashion.
Fresno State will have to start their journey to a trip to Los Angeles to face the historic USC Trojans to kick off their season. If they can beat them in any fashion, this will open some eyes wide open that Fresno State is ready to be a powerhouse.
Zach- I think it is a three horse race with Hawaii, Utah State, and Boise State. Hawaii has the best system, Utah State has the best quarterback, and Boise State has the best weapons. If we are looking at this from strictly a statistical standpoint, I think you have to go with Hawaii. Hawaii will likely lead the Mountain West in scoring this year with the return of Cole McDonald and a dynamic group of receivers led by Cedric Byrd.
While Hawaii will likely lead the conference in scoring, I think Boise State will have the most well-rounded offense. They are six deep at wide receiver, have four running backs that could start for many times in the conference, and have four quarterbacks that had Power 5 offers out of high school. However, if you are forcing me to pick one team I will go with the Rainbow Warriors. Unfortunately, I expect them to have a bunch of issues on the other side of the ball.
Matt- The easiest answer has to be Hawaii, right? They’re really the only offense in the conference that has full continuity. USU was dynamic last year, but has lost their coaching staff to Texas Tech. Fresno State was incredibly efficient, but is down their QB, top receivers, and 3 members of their O-Line. Boise lost their QB, top rusher, and multiple receivers. So are far as I can tell, Hawaii is really the only one returning pieces and coaches that can help them succeed. Now, if Hawaii can actually stop anyone on the other side of the ball remains to be seen. They may be stuck in a lot of track meet games where Cole McDonald and Cedric Byrd need to put up 50-60 points just to have the chance at winning.
Mike: Hawaii is the obvious answer and I really wracked my brain to think of another team. I think Utah State, Boise State and Fresno State just lose too much production from last season to be confident in. The Rainbow Warriors aren’t a pick just on offensive scheme. Cole McDonald or Chad Cordeiro (or both) are more than capable of leading the charge. Cedric Byrd, Jojo Ward, and Melquise Stovall should all be solid weapons and put up big numbers.
I’ll throw in a dark horse team to change it up a bit. UNLV should be fun to watch on offense if nothing else. The duo of a healthy Armani Rogers and WR Tyleek Collins, who could be in for a nice breakout year, are worth keeping an eye on. If RB Charles Williams can look more like the 2016 version (763 yards, 3 TDs), then the Rebels may have something going.
Adam: I’m going to take the team out there on the island. Hawaii’s offense was high flying last season in most games, and they will return much of their talent in key spots. Cole McDonald and Cedric Byrd alone will put up big numbers. John Ursua might be gone but JoJo Ward will step in just finely. All this talk about players, and I haven’t even gotten to their schedule.
Hawaii will open against three Pac-12 teams, but two have major question marks on defense. Not to mention a game against Central Arkansas, and in conference tilts against Nevada, San Jose State, New Mexico, and UNLV. All with major questions on defense heading into this season. And they end with Army in Honolulu, looking for some revenge.
The Rainbow Warriors averaged just 30 points per game under Rolovich and Co. in their third season. Their highest to date. And with much talent, and an easier schedule this season, there’s no reason why their offense won’t approach 40 points per game this season.
FatDuckUW: Smart money is probably Hawaii as many above have already stated. Utah State was great last season, but I think they just lost too much from their 2018 team to keep it going like last year. Especially, along the OL. Boise State typically reloads, and I love the experience that they bring back along the offensive line. The big uncertainty for the offense will be breaking in a new QB, so it might take awhile for the Broncos to get rolling. Still, I think the Broncos will put up some yards and points this season against a fairly easy schedule by their standards.
Kudos to Mike for his comment above as he stole my dark horse in UNLV. For much the same reasons that he stated, I think the Rebels could have a strong offense this season. Additionally, a healthy Armani Rogers for the whole season (only played in half of 2018 due to injury) could have a huge impact as UNLV put up 10 more points per game in 2018 with Rogers at QB than without him. Charles Williams has shown flashes at RB and might emerge this season behind an offensive line that returns a ton of experience. Such an experienced OL is something which should not be discounted and is oftentimes overlooked. In fact, I think much of Utah State’s success from 2018 goes back to the experience they had at offensive line.
Alex Wright: I’m going with a popular pick among the writers, Hawaii. If it wasn’t for Jordan Love, Cole McDonald would easily be the best quarterback in the conference entering the 2019 season. As a sophomore, McDonald had 3875 passing yards and 36 touchdowns, both lead the conference. McDonald also has two elite receivers playing on the outside. Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward were both named to the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award for the nation’s best receiver. The Rainbow Warriors will have a fun offense with McDonald throwing it deep to Byrd and Ward, who will both have huge numbers this season with John Ursua heading to the NFL. Hawaii also averaged just under 100 rushing yards per game last year, which helps open up the pass game. While Hawaii averaged about 200 more passing yards than rushing yards last season, being able to run to complement the pass game helps keep defenses honest when they play Hawaii.
Having the best offense does not automatically equal success. Last year, Hawaii was 50th in points per game (30.8), but 109th in opponents points per game (35.1). So while Hawaii will be putting up big point totals, it will not lead to a Mountain West title. Another offense to watch out for should be Fresno State, I think the Bulldogs will have another Top-30 caliber offense along with Hawaii. I like what Mike and FatDuckUW are seeing what I have been saying about the UNLV offense. The Rebels have a solid offensive line and a healthy Armani Rogers back. If UNLV gets production from their new running backs and receivers, they could have some high point totals as well. But just like Hawaii, the Rebel defense must improve if UNLV wants their potential high offensive stats to correlate with their win total.
Alex Valle: If they can build off of their performance from last year then I would have to pick Utah State being the best offense of 2019. The Aggies were very dominant last year scoring 79 touchdowns in 13 games. The next closest team to Utah State was Boise State who put up 61 touchdowns in just as many games. This offense was also the leader in the Mountain West in rushing touchdowns and second in passing touchdowns.
I can see Hawaii have a better season than they did last year and reaching close to the 40 point average that Utah State was able to accomplish. However with another favorable schedule for the Aggies I still believe they will have the best offense in the Mountain West in 2019.