Week 1 is in the books. The Mountain West was happy to get back on the field after there season was non-existent until now. Not every team was able to play, however, but that is the way things have gone across all of college football this year. There were some great games and some blowouts. Since it’s all conference games, what was good for one team was not good for another team. 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 is still a lot of season left. But for now, we are going off of the results of these first games. Therefore, let’s take a look at the initial impressions and small sample size from the Mountain West.
It’s great to have football back.
Each game was enjoyable to watch. Some were one-sided (Boise State over Utah State, SDSU over UNLV, Hawaii over Fresno State), some were upsets (SJSU over Air Force), and some were down to the wire (Nevada over Wyoming). Yes, there was quite a bit of rust. Yes, the refs were not in mid-season form (or were they?). But real football games were bieng played and that is really all that matters this year. Regardless, it was great to watch football and each and every game should not be taken for granted.
Holani and Shakir a step above the rest.
George Holani and Khalil Shakir both looked dominant in their game on Saturday. Seemingly every touch they had went for an explosive play. The numbers back that up a bit, as nine of the team’s ten explosive plays were by one of these two players. Their athleticism is noticeably a step above most of the Mountain West competition. However, this weekend, it was their vision on the field that really made the difference. A number of times, they were both able to extend small gains into large ones by finding the open lane, waiting for a hole to open up, or taking the right angle on a defender. They will be difficult to stop this season.
Year of the Quarterback?
Last year’s post highlighted kickers after their week 1 success, this year it was the quarterback’s who made the highlights through the first game, for better or for worse. Carson Strong, Chevan Cordeiro, Hank Bachmeier and even Nick Starkel started their seasons off with great games. On the other hand, Jake Haener, Jason Shelley, and all three QBs for UNLV left a lot to be desired. Going off of that, five out of the ten teams have utilized at least two QBs thus far, for one reason or another. Quarterbacks are in the spotlight and that likely won’t be changing anytime soon.
Contenders and Pretenders will be separated quickly.
Wyoming, Air Force, and Fresno State all dropped games from the get go, despite at least two of the three expecting to be in the running for the the conference championship this season. None are eliminated, but with a shortened season, time is of the essence. AFA has to play Boise State, Army, and Wyoming the next three weeks. If any of these teams want to keep their hopes alive, they need to regroup in a hurry. Fresno State appears to have the easiest schedule of the three coming up, with games against Colorado State, UNLV, Utah State all in a row. Wyoming has Hawaii next with Colorado State before their matchup against Air Force. Not all will still be in the race by Thanksgiving.
It might be a long season for rebuilding teams.
Optimism lives large in the off-season. In the weeks leading up to games, every team is going to be drastically improved, every team looks poised to make a bowl, and anyone who says otherwise is a h8ter or idiot. Then the games start and reality hits. Sometimes hard.
For teams like Utah State and UNLV, reality hit quickly and hard. For the Aggies, the star power that has led them the past two years is gone and now they are looking for new players to step up and develop into producers on the field. That will happen, but it may take a large part of the season. For the Rebels, it’s one thing to get hyped for a new coaching staff and new era, but it’s a completely different thing to go through the growing pains. It’s going to get worse before it gets better and this season will likely be the low point. The older players will phase out, the young talent will make mistakes while they develop and it’s important to remember things will get better.
New Mexico, hope you were taking notes.
Stats extrapolated over a full season (8 games)
#SmallSampleSizeAlert (These are mostly just fun ways to look at numbers after one week, obviously none of this is likely to happen)
George Holani: 800 rushing yards, 8 rushing TDs, 264 receiving yards, 8 receiving TDs
Khalil Shakir: 984 receiving yards, 16 TDs.
Carson Strong: 3360 passing yards, 32 TDs.
Chevan Cordeiro: 1832 passing yards, 928 rushing yards, 0 passing TDs, 16 rushing TDs
Jake Haener: 2312 passing yards, 8 TDs, 24 INTs
Kyle Harmon/Chad Muma: 112 tackles
Eugene Ford: 16 INTs
Kwami Jones: 24 sacks Caden McDonald: 20 sacks
San Diego State offense: 2296 rushing yards, 1096 passing yards all season.
San Jose State: 8-0, 136 points scored all season. 2352 total yards all season.
UNLV: 0-8, 48 points scored all season. 1488 total yards all season.
Your turn: What were your impressions of the first week of games and what are your thoughts about our impressions?