Last year, every Mountain West offense averaged 20-plus points per game, with eight averaging over 25. With head coaching changes, players graduating and being drafted, it is safe to assume there will be changes among the teams that will be able to score and those that will struggle to do so. The conference owns a plethora of talented offenses, but let’s take a look at the top five it has to offer.
Donald Hammond III. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.
In all seriousness, Air Force is returning the best quarterback in the conference, as well as running back Kadin Remsberg and starting offensive lineman Parker Ferguson and Nolan Laufenberg. Donald recorded 1,316 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions through the air, while also adding 553 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Remsberg rushed 181 times, picking up 1,050 yards and 8 touchdowns, proving to be a deadly runner when paired with Hammond.
They are losing both leading receivers, however, in Geraud Sanders and Benjamin Waters, who were the entire receiving game with no other wideout owning north of three receptions last season. The Falcons are also going to have to fill the remaining three starting positions across their offensive line, which is essential to the teams success. Even with some turnover at key positions, Air Force should remain an offensive powerhouse with Hammond and Remsberg heading the backfield.
Boise State is bringing back potentially the most firepower of any roster in the Mountain West. As a true freshman Hank Bachmeier started eight games, throwing for 1,879 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions, flashing immense potential as the school’s signal-caller. He suffered an injury during a week 7 matchup against Hawaii, but will be 100-percent for the 2020 season. Yet another true freshman a year ago, George Holani led the team in rushing, gaining 1,014 yards and 7 touchdowns on 192 carries and reeling in 26 catches for 206 yards and another 3 scores. The last notable offensive returner, Khalil Shakir was the Broncos leading receiver and with John Hightower moving on to the NFL, he should see even more targets next season.
BSU will be returning just two offensive lineman that received significant snaps in 2019, which means they have to fill three holes before the start of the season. Outside of that, with a full year of Bachmeier, Holani, and Shakir running the offense, the Broncos should be a force to be reckoned with in 2020.
Being in a division with Air Force, Boise State, and Wyoming is difficult, but the Rams have the offense to compete for a spot near the top. In his first year at the helm, Patrick O’Brien notched 2,804 passing yards at 8.2 yards per attempt. He also threw 13 TDs to 7 interceptions and should only improve on that next season with a year of experience under his belt. CSU will be without their leading rusher Marvin Kinsey Jr., due to off the field issues, who had over 700 yards in 7 games played. They will have both Marcus McElroy and Jaylen Thomas at running back, but neither will cause defenses to stack the box.
The real reason Colorado State is here is because of their elite receiving corps, which includes receivers Warren Jackson and Dante Wright, as well as star tight end Trey McBride. All three players had 500-plus yards and 4 or more touchdowns, all while averaging over 12 yards per reception. The offensive line sees three starters return, namely versatile tackle/guard Barry Wesley, who was stellar in both pass and run blocking. Do not sleep on the Rams roster coming into 2020.
The Wolf Pack are receiving quite a bit of hype ahead of 2020 and a great deal is deserved. Forgive me, but Carson Strong had, well, a strong outing last year. He completed over 63 percent of his passes for 2,335 yards and 11 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. They are losing three receivers who all had 25-plus receptions, but are bringing back Elijah Cooks and Romeo Doubs who were the teams leading receivers and it was not very close. Both running backs, Toa Taua and Devonte Lee, averaged more than 4 yards per carry as well as a combined 13 touchdowns on the ground (Taua 6, Lee 7).
On top of returning their QB, RB, and leading WRs, Nevada will also have their entire starting offensive line for back to back seasons. Outside of quarterback and wide receiver consistency, the offensive line is where you want to the least amount of shake up. If Strong can build off his 2019 campaign, the Wolf Pack will look to make noise in the West division.
The fifth spot was the hardest to decide. I want to put Hawaii or San Jose State here simply due to their success a season ago, but with a few of their crucial players leaving, including both their starting quarterbacks, I just could not put them here.
Quarterback Kenyon Oblad is entering his redshirt sophomore season after starting the final eight games for the Rebels last year. He offers almost nothing in the running game, but what he lacks in his legs he makes up for in his arm and decision making. He completed 167 of 313 passes for 2,081 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Las Vegas is also returning nearly all their receivers, tight ends, and running backs, even three of their five offensive lineman. That much consistency is more than many other offenses in the conference can attest to, so do not be surprised when they put up points next season.
Honorable Mentions: Hawaii and San Jose State
Limiting a list to five of 12 teams is not easy and there were some strong candidates left off. Returning quarterbacks played a big deal for me as it eliminates the unknown of the most important position on the football field. Which teams should have made it? Which ones should not have? Leave me your reactions in the comments below!