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Unanswered Questions - #5 Spring Ball Cancellations

Which Mountain West teams will be most impacted by the loss of spring football?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 23 San Jose State at UNLV Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spring sports were abruptly cancelled across the country to try and stop the spread of COVID-19 as we stopped large gatherings and started practicing social distancing. Just focusing on the impact to collegiate sports, we are left with some unanswered questions because of the sudden sports halt.

As such, this article series looks to discuss some of these unanswered questions and get your take (via a poll at the bottom of the article) on the sports questions that will have to go unanswered on some level since so many sporting events were cancelled.

Question #5 - Which Mountain West teams will be most impacted by the loss of spring football?

First off, every team will be impacted by losing spring ball. Practices and spring games were cancelled, so teams and players have missed out on the usual progression that comes from these spring activities. Every team will be trying to resolve more uncertainties come the fall now.

Here is a quick breakout of some of the issues teams are looking at going into 2020:

Air Force - The defense lost 7 key contributors to graduation. Air Force relied on many of those players to go from 56th to 19th in Team Defense from 2018 to 2019. The offense lost several players as well with 3 offensive lineman graduating along with Benjamin Waters and Geraud Sanders at wide receiver. Very little production returns at wide receiver. Depth at fullback (Taven Birdow) and quarterback (Isaiah Sanders) was also impacted by graduation. Also, the kicker and punter have graduated from last season.

Boise State - One of the biggest items facing the Broncos is on offense. Zak Hill is gone as offensive coordinator as he left for Arizona State. Zak Hill was also the quarterback coach, so this will have a huge impact on the continued development of Hank Bachmeier. Jaylon Henderson (who did a great job stepping in last season) has graduated at QB. Taking over for Hill is Eric Kiesau, who has been coaching the wide receivers for Boise State in recent years. Some MWC fans may remember him as the interim coach for Fresno State in 2016 when Kiesau took over after Tim DeRuyter was fired that season. Additionally, Boise State is replacing the majority of their experience on the offensive line, and they lose their top WR from 2019 in John Hightower. The other side of the ball loses the starting defensive line, including Curtis Weaver (declared early for the NFL). That will likely be a blow to a defense that finished 33rd in Total Defense in 2019.

Colorado State - Out is Mike Bobo. In is Steve Adazzio. Along with Adazzio comes new offensive and defensive coordinators. The positive is that they return experience on both sides of the ball. However, that experience did not get to run through things with the new coaches because of the cancellation of spring ball. This is a tough break for a team with 3 Power 5 teams on the schedule for September (Colorado, @ Oregon State & @ Vanderbilt). Also, Colorado State will play games @ Air Force, @ San Diego State & @ Boise State later on in the season. The Rams have a lot to prepare for this fall.

New Mexico - Another team impacted by a coaching change. Out is Bob Davie. In is Danny Gonzales. A tough go for a new coach taking over a team that went 2-10 in 2019. Another team replacing both coordinators (offensive/defensive). New Mexico should be excited about bringing back Rocky Long as defensive coordinator. That said, he has a tall task. The Lobos were 129th in total defense in 2019. The September schedule includes road games against Mississippi State and USC, so the rubber meets the road early on for this New Mexico football team.

Utah State - Jordan Love is off for the NFL. Mike Sanford Jr. is gone as offensive coordinator, having left for Minnesota. Top rusher, Gerold Bright, has graduated. Top receiver, Siaosi Mariner, has graduated. The Aggies lose their starting defensive line to graduation, so depth up front on defense will be tested. Lastly, Utah State has an absolutely brutal schedule. The Aggies start the year with Washington State. They have road games against Washington, BYU, Boise State, Nevada, and Wyoming. Plus, home games against San Diego State and Air Force. For those counting, that is 8 games against teams that made a bowl game in 2019.

Wyoming - Offensively, Wyoming should be better. The biggest graduations were at WR and TE. Wyoming was pretty terrible at throwing the ball, so those losses will likely not impact what has been a run-heavy offense. Experience returns at running back, quarterback, and the offensive line. The concern is the defense. The biggest loss is Logan Wilson at LB. Also, gone are Josiah Hall (DE), Cash Maluia (LB), Alijah Haliburton (S) & Tyler Hall (CB). Those were all important contributors to the defense, but arguably the biggest losses were on the coaching staff. New Washington State coach, Nick Rolovich, hired Jake Dickert (defensive coordinator), AJ Cooper (defensive run-game coordinator and defensive ends) & John Richardson (cornerbacks) from the Wyoming staff. Recent Wyoming teams have relied heavily on their defense, so how much these losses might hurt the defense will be a major item headed into the fall.

Fresno State - After Tedford stepped down at the end of last season, Fresno State brought in a familiar face as head coach in Kalen DeBoer (offensive coordinator for Tedford in 2017 & 18). DeBoer kept Ryan Grubb as offensive coordinator, but brought William Inge in as the new defensive coordinator. Of the MWC teams that changed coaches, this team will likely see the smoothest transition immediately because the Bulldogs have the most continuity among the coaching staff. Still, the Bulldogs will need to replace their QB, TE and several offensive lineman on offense. On defense, Fresno State also needs to replace some key pieces, starting with Juju Hughes and Mykal Walker.

Hawaii - Todd Graham is the new head coach after Nick Rolovich left for Washington State. Todd Graham brought in a new defensive coordinator in Victor Santa Cruz and a new offensive coordinator in GJ Kinne. Not a lot of continuity on the staff for a team that went 10-5 in 2019. Gone from the Rainbow Warriors offense are Cole McDonald (QB), Cedric Byrd (WR), JoJo Ward (WR) & Jason-Matthew Sharsh (WR). That is a ton of the yardage from the 2019 team. Defensively, Hawaii loses a lot of depth along the defensive line and a couple of key contributors in the secondary. For a team that was 96th in total defense, that likely puts a lot of pressure on the new offense to keep scoring points and putting up yardage like they did in 2020.

Nevada - Nevada returns some good experience on both sides of the ball, but they do still have some questions. Mostly on defense. Brian Ward comes in as the new defensive coordinator after Jeff Casteel was fired. He is tasked with trying to improve a unit that finished 75th in Total Defense in 2019. Ward will also serve as LB coach. That also happens to be the postion hit hardest by graduation. How the defense fares will likely decide how good of a season the Wolf Pack are going to have since the offense returns a ton of experience. Also, Nevada has a pretty favorable schedule in 2020.

San Diego State - Coach Long stepped down and has gone back to New Mexico to be a defensive coordinator. Back in as head coach is Brady Hoke (the man that Long replaced when he took the Aztecs job). The Aztecs have a new offensive coordinator (Jeff Hecklinski) and defensive coordinator (Kurt Mattix). Quite a bit of change for a team that went 10-3 in 2019. On offense, the Aztecs will need to replace a couple of offensive lineman, Ryan Agnew (starting QB), Parker Houston (TE), and Juwan Washington (RB). The defense returns some good experience for Mattix, but he will have to replace key contributors in Myles Cheatum (DE), Luq Barcoo (CB) & Khayva Tezino (LB).

San Jose State - This team is pretty hard hit by graduations. They lose Josh Love at QB after Love blossomed as a senior with a stellar 2019 season. Additionally, the Spartans lost most of their offensive line and their leading rusher in DeJon Packer. Nick Starkel comes in as a grad transfer to take over at QB, having previously played at Arkansas and Texas A&M. He has talented receivers to get the ball to (led by Tre Walker), but he will have to get on the same page with them quickly this fall. The defense loses several pieces as well - highlighted by Ethan Aguayo at LB. For a defense that ranked 106th in Total Defense last year, those losses put an even bigger importance on the retooled offense hitting the ground running. Especially since San Jose State plays @ Central Michigan, @ Penn State, @ Boise State and Air Force (all 2019 bowl teams) within the first 5 games.

UNLV - Yet another team impacted by a coaching change. Gone is Tony Sanchez. In comes Marcus Arroyo. Also, another team replacing coordinators on both sides of the ball. UNLV loses a lot of their experience on defense. You might argue that is not much of a loss for a team that finished 105th in Total Defense in 2019. The Rebels lose some experience up front on their offensive line. Otherwise, the production of the offense largely returns for Marcus Arroyo with experience at QB, RB & WR. The real problem for UNLV is the schedule. It is a doozy. They play 9 teams that made bowl games last year in: California, Louisiana Tech, Arizona State, Iowa State, San Diego State, Wyoming, Boise State, Hawaii & Nevada. A really tall order for a first year coach that will have to try to get everything implemented and running this fall.

Now, it is your turn.


Which Mountain West team will be most impacted by the loss of spring football?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Air Force
    (1 vote)
  • 27%
    Boise State
    (8 votes)
  • 13%
    Colorado State
    (4 votes)
  • 3%
    New Mexico
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    Utah State
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Fresno State
    (0 votes)
  • 13%
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    San Diego State
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    San Jose State
    (0 votes)
  • 20%
    (6 votes)
29 votes total Vote Now

Also, please leave your thoughts in the comments below about what team(s) most missed out because of the cancellation of spring ball.