This week, we will be starting our series that previews the upcoming season. What better way to preview a season than starting with the most important position group on the field? In this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” we will be looking at the quarterbacks of the Mountain West.
Hank Bachmeier, Chase Cord, Jack Sears...that’s impressive. You would be hard pressed to come up with a better quarterback room in any Group of Five school. In fact, I would take this group over most Power Five programs. Bachmeier will be the guy and may very well be the preseason player of the year. But if he goes down with another injury, we know the Broncos are in good hands.
Donald Hammond might be the best football player in the conference. Air Force is a dangerous football team when he is healthy. There is some uncertainty behind Hammond, and Air Force quarterbacks always have a hard time making it through a season unscathed. But Hammond and this Air Force squad has generated plenty of buzz this offseason, and it is possible that the Mountain Division could be decided by week two when Boise State travels to Colorado Springs.
I think Patrick O’Brien did enough late last season to make an argument that he is the third best quarterback in the Mountain West. I like what Colorado State brings to the table this year and think this team should be bowling in December. Rumor has it that the coaches are also high on redshirt freshman Aaron Syverson. With a weapon like Warren Jackson, the Rams should be dangerous through the air.
We probably won’t know who the starting quarterback will be week one, but we do know that they will make an impact in the running game. Wyoming’s offense took a noticeable hit after the injury to Sean Chambers, but Levi Williams proved to be a capable replacement the last few games of the season. Williams and Chambers are both dangerous runners, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams takes the job because he is a more capable passer.
I’m not going to lie, this is a risky pick, but I think Jake Haener is the real deal. Bulldog coaches seem to think the same thing. Haener will bring stability to a quarterback position that struggled last year. He has some talented weapons and should be able to do enough to have the Bulldogs in contention again.
I’m not as high on Carson Strong as a lot of people, but I think he is a solid quarterback. I also saw enough of Kaiden Bennett in the spring to know that he is dangerous with his legs. The Wolf Pack would be wise to work in some packages for the shifty transfer from Boise State. The Wolf Pack are a trendy pick this offseason; I think their future depends on the production of the quarterback.
Hawaii fans are going to hate me for this, but I came really close to putting the Rainbow Warriors quarterbacks in the “Bad” category. I think Chevan Cordeiro would have been a really good quarterback under Nick Rolovich, but I’m not sure he will have the same production under Todd Graham. Only time will tell, but for now I am giving Hawaii and Cordeiro the benefit of the doubt.
There might be an outside chance that Justin Rogers gets a waiver, but the quarterback situation is otherwise bleak. Armani Rogers is dangerous with his legs, but is a less than stellar passer. Kenyan Oblad started a handful of games late in the season and looked like a capable game manager. But there isn’t a star in this bunch.
San Jose State
The battle of the Nicks! It doesn’t matter if it is Starkel or Nash, the Spartans are going to have a noticeable dip in quarterback position. Their one saving grace might be the play of electric wide receiver Tre Walker. If I am the Spartans, I would go with Nash. He knows the system and is dangerous with his legs. But I have a feeling Starkel’s experience at Arkansas will win out.
San Diego State
The job is probably going to come down to Lucas Johnson, a grad transfer from Georgia Tech, or Carson Baker who helped lead the Aztecs to a victory over BYU. Whoever it is, I’m not sure if they are good enough to change the reputation that has followed the quarterback position at SDSU for years now. The Aztecs have been a quarterback away on multiple occasions, and I don’t think that changes in 2020.
The new staff has their hands full. New Mexico spent last season transitioning out of the triple option, and their play at quarterback was the product of a team that had no identity. I think this coaching staff will eventually get this program back on their feet, but it is going to take some time. The quarterback position will probably be decided late in fall camp.
Do you guys remember when Josh Allen left Wyoming? Cowboy fans thought they wouldn’t miss a beat with Tyler Vander Waal. Boy, were they wrong. I expect the situation at Utah State to be the same. Henry Colombi is more mobile than Love, but you don’t just replace a quarterback like Jordan Love. This team is going to struggle this year.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week, we will be taking a peek at one of the deepest position groups in the Mountain West, running backs.