Week 1 is in the books. The Mountain West made a big statement, with a record of 9-3 through everyone’s first game. Not all of those wins and losses were created equally, however. Some of the wins were unimpressive. Some of the losses were strong showings, even in defeat. Though it’s still only one game, impressions can start to be formed from the games we saw this weekend. Clearly, sample sizes here are small, and there are a lot of games to be played between now and November. But for now, we are going off of the results of these first games. Therefore, let’s take a look at the small sample size first impressions from the Mountain West.
Hawaii is wild, and we love it.
Can any other team be on the brink of victory and defeat in as thrilling of a fashion as the Rainbow Warriors? Their offense looked unstoppable, well opponents can’t stop them anyway. But as skilled as Hawaii was at explosive plays, they were just as skilled at getting in their own way and turning the ball over. Literally just as skilled, with an interception for every touchdown throw. Their defense looks shaky at best until Manly Williams runs 40 yards to make the game-saving tackle at the 1-yard line in an ending made for a movie (In fact, it’s vaguely like the ending scene of Friday Night Lights).
All of that is what makes Hawaii so much fun to watch. Their style of play gives them the potential to beat anyway. It also makes them susceptible to by beat by anyone. Regardless, they are in every game, and they control their own destiny in every game. It’s all part of their style.
Aggies offense has no Love or tempo loss, but the effectiveness was missing.
If you watched the game and felt like the Aggies left points on the field and should’ve beaten Wake Forest, you’re probably right. Even with the new coaching staff and all the turnover, it looked like the 2018 USU offense out there. It was fast. Full of short, quick passes. Except they weren’t able to score at will like they seemingly were last year. It could merely be that teams know what to expect now. Perhaps they just went up against a Demon Deacons defense which was able to neutralize what they do best. Or maybe they just haven’t got in-sync yet, as is the case with so many teams in week one. Whatever it was, it was evident Friday night.
Some MWC teams have strong offenses.... with lagging defenses.
Hawaii, Colorado State, Nevada, Utah State. All of these teams had little trouble putting up a ton of points in their opening games. However, none of these teams did much on defense in the grand scheme of things. It’s classic MWC to feature high-powered offenses from teams that give up as many points as it scores. It makes games exciting, but for the Aggies (and arguably the Rams), it helped contribute to a missed opportunity at a big upset.
Year of the Kicker?
Kickers were at the forefront of some MWC games this weekend, and for good things! Nevada’s
walk-on scholarship freshman kicker Brandon Talton made the game-winning field goal Friday night to be B1G Purdue. Boise State, who is no stranger heartbreaking losses due to kicking/special teams woes, had a senior grad-transfer from the DIII world kicker who was awarded a scholarship at the end of fall camp. He debuted at the FBS level and went 5-5 on field goals. Wyoming kicker Cooper Rothe was named the conference’s preseason special teams player of the year, a deserving nod to the senior who has been great during his college tenure. Likewise, Aggies senior kicker Dominik Eberle figures to get a look from the NFL if he produces another strong season.
2019 must be the year of the kicker in the Mountain West.
The Mountain West is better than the PAC-12, B1G, ACC, and the SEC.
The Rainbow Warriors made the Wildcat defense look completely lost. But maybe that was just a fluke, right? Then the Wolf Pack staged a comeback with an ending made for Hollywood as a walk-on kicker made a game-winning field goal. Speaking of comebacks, Boise State was down 31-13 last in the second quarter and won 36-31. With a true freshman quarterback. With a hurricane making the game a true road match. Wyoming didn’t need a comeback, they just prevented one taking it to Missouri and with the defense holding on after Chambers ran up and down the field.
The MWC won the weekend, taking it to the P5 conferences and showing that when they are given a chance, they are rising to the occasion.
The Mountain West is barely better than the FCS level of football.
San Jose State paid actual money to lose to an FCS team last year, so winning by 17 points is a significant accomplishment for them. They looked good, and wins should not be taken for granted. San Diego State, did not look good in their win facing Weber State. Sure they shut out the Wildcats, but they could only muster two field goals in their new spread offense.
New Mexico and UNLV also took care of business, using the easy wins as warm-ups and confidence boosters.
Stats extrapolated over a full season (12 games)
Cole McDonald: 4536 passing yards, 48 TDs, 48 INTs
Sean Chambers: 1104 passing yards, 1440 rushing yards, 0 passing TDs, 12 rushing TDs
Cedric Byrd: 2688 receiving yards, 48 TDs
Elijah Cooks: 36 highlight-reel level catches.
Ethan Aguayo: 240 tackles.
David Woodward: 288 tackles, 42 TFL, 24 forced fumbles, 12 sacks
Brandon Talton: 24-24, 12 game-winning FGs
San Jose State: 12-0
Utah State: 0-12
San Diego State: 72 points all season, 0 offensive touchdowns. 0 points allowed.
Air Force 5076 rushing yards, 492 passing yards.