The Mountain West has had some great quarterbacks, but 2019 was a down year for the conference, as there was not a lot of star power at that position. I think that will change in 2020; there are some intriguing competitions to keep an eye on. Let’s take a look at where each school stands at the quarterback position.
The Broncos should have the best quarterback situation in the Mountain West. Hank Bachmeier will be the starter and a likely candidate for preseason, offensive player of the year. They also have a reliable backup in Chase Cord who should see snaps if he can stay healthy. The Broncos are still in the market for a grad transfer to add depth. The success of the quarterback will ultimately rest in the hands of a largely new offensive line.
I was hesitant to put the Falcons in this category, but ultimately, the talent of Donald Hammond III outweighed my concerns about depth. Like Bachmeier, Hammond should receive plenty of votes for preseason, offensive player of the year. However, Hammond also has a history of injuries, and depth at quarterback matters more for Air Force than any school in the Mountain West. The Falcons will also be breaking in three, new offensive linemen.
The Bulldogs were probably the hardest team to evaluate at quarterback. They will have a new starter and it will most likely be Washington transfer Jake Haener. Fresno State found success with a PAC 12 transfer in Marcus`McMaryion. The West will be wide open this year, and I think Haener will be a huge upgrade for the Bulldogs.
Is it better to have quality depth or one superstar? The Wolf Pack should have some nice depth with Carson Strong and Kaiden Bennett. I watched Bennett play in the spring scrimmage while at Boise State, and I think he is capable of pushing Strong. Is either guy talented enough to lead Nevada to a conference title? I don’t think so, but they are capable of keeping them in the bowl picture.
Sean Chambers or Levi Williams? Levi Williams or Sean Chambers? There are plenty of questions about who will be the starting quarterback for Wyoming heading into the 2020 season. We know both guys can run and will be very effective in that regard, but can either guy throw the ball consistently? If Wyoming can have any semblance of a passing game, they could be looking at double digit wins.
The Aggies are replacing an NFL quarterback; that is no easy task. Jordan Love was a talent that could have taken the Aggies to the promised land, but a young offensive line and poor talent at the skill position was ultimately too much for Love to overcome. I know quite a few Aggie fans are really high on Henry Colombi, and he should bring more of a dual threat element to the offense. But let’s face it, he is no Jordan Love.
Many Hawaii fans are excited about what Chevan Cordeiro brings to their offense. The loss of Cole McDonald will sting, and a tough schedule might be too much for Cordeiro to overcome. Cordeiro will be an upgrade in terms of running ability, but he does not have the arm talent of Cole McDonald and the Rainbow Warriors will not have the talent at skill positions to overcome his deficiencies in the passing game.
The Rams will be breaking in a new quarterback and could still be looking at grad transfers this spring and summer. I am confident that Colorado State will have a strong passing attack with the talent that they have at the receiver position. This is one ranking that I might have to reevaluate after spring ball concludes.
I think the Rebels are a year away from being in the “Good” category. The signing of Justin Rogers could be a game changer. He is seeking a waiver, but could be forced to redshirt this year. Kenyon Oblad showed signs of growth over the course of the season, but if he is their starting quarterback, it is hard to see the Rebels becoming bowl eligible, especially with the schedule they have to start the season.
San Jose State
Nick Nash or Nick Starkel? Whichever Nick the Spartans decide on, they will be looking at a significant downgrade. Hopefully Tre Walker can help the new quarterback overcome some of the issues that they are likely to face, but I expect the Spartans to take a step back in 2020.
San Diego State
Things were looking really good for the Aztecs; it looked like Jack Sears was going to join the team, and they would be set at quarterback. Unfortunately for SDSU, they continue to have one glaring deficiency, and that is an below average quarterback. Until I see consistent play at this position, the Aztecs will continue to have an “Ugly” quarterback situation.
I love the Danny Gonzales hire, but this defensive-minded coach is going to have his hands full on the offensive side of the ball. The Lobos will likely be looking at a completely revamped offense and are probably a few years out from having a quarterback that can get the job done. Will Gonzales and staff find a transfer that can step in and upgrade the offense immediately?
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week we will preview the running back position.