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Peak Perspective: Diving Into MWC Awards and Predictions.

Looking into the news from not media days.

This week’s column is typically devoted to the most significant news following the Mountain West Media Days. Last year focused heavily on the new MWC bowl agreements for the latest bowl cycle, as well as the updates that were given on the new media deal that would be finalized in the months to come.

This year, we didn’t get the chance to hear from Craig Thompson or any of the players and coaches, nor were we privy to any announcements or big news. Instead, this post will take a chance to look into the votes for the all-conference team, accolades, and the predicted order of finish. Let’s dive in.

UPDATE: Now that there is officially no season, this post is pretty much rendered meaningless. However, since there wasn’t time to get something else ready to go, pretend that we are in a simpler time when the biggest things we had to discuss were who was or wasn’t nominated for awards.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  • Boise State and San Diego State have both been seen as the class of the conference in their respective divisions over the years, and that continues going into this season. In an interesting twist, they have yet to meet in the MWC Championship game, so it will be interesting to see if this is the year they are both having strong seasons in the same year.
  • Nevada is getting a decent amount of love, as is Wyoming. The Wolf Pack has steadily improved the past two seasons and has a favorable schedule in 2020. The Cowboys lost some of their stars from last year, but have maintained consistency from season to season under Craig Bohl.
  • Air Force would’ve likely pulled a few first-place votes away from Boise State if voting had taken place before the Donald Hammond III news, or if the Hammond news had not taken place at all. That explains their drop to third in the division as well.
  • After their successful 2019 season, Hawaii’s drop should not be seen as a surprise, as voters are looking at the same factors we have mentioned here. Those factors would be a loss of their quarterback and main wide receivers, a late coaching change, and no spring practices to implement a new offensive scheme, making the impact of any returning offensive skill players a big question mark.
  • Fresno State and Utah State are two teams who are both only one season removed from great seasons but trended in the wrong direction last year. Heading into 2020, there isn’t much reason for optimism on paper. While there is enough there where either team could surprise, it’s called a surprise for a reason.
  • Colorado State being picked fifth in the division could be interpreted as a surprise by some, at least by some on here as they have been a popular pick to be a bowl team this season by our writers. San Jose State found some moderate success last year, but as many senior players built that, the jury is still out on any sustained success. On the other hand, they do boast talented wide receivers. And not being picked last in the division this year should be considered a step forward.
  • As with the two teams at the top of the league, New Mexico and UNLV have been at or near the bottom of the conference more often than not in recent years, and they are again heading into 2020. The Rebels have talent on their roster, but it’s young talent that is likely a year or two away from reaching their potential. While fans may disagree with them being picked last in the West, they have been regulated to prove-it status until further notice. In the Mountain, New Mexico is a year or even two behind the Rebels on paper. The Lobos are building things the right way (as has been chronicled in our Building A Program series), but not much is expected to go their way in Year 1. Although Danny Gonzales did have the early quote of the year with “Don’t care. We won’t be picked last for long around here.”

The All-Mountain West Team

  • Boise State led all teams with eight selections. Colorado State and San Diego State each had four. All teams except New Mexico were represented among the 28 selections.
  • We were deprived of a true Hammond vs. Hank Bachmeier battle for the quarterback selection.
  • The skill positions are loaded with talent this season, as productive players couldn’t find spots on the team at running back, wide receiver, and defensive back.
  • The trenches may not have the depth the positions mentioned above have, but there is undoubtedly star power on both sides of the ball.
  • The only genuinely questionable selection was Avery Williams as a defensive back after his struggles at the position last season.
  • I believe that Scale Igiehon is the single player on this list who wasn’t a starter last season. Although he has started games (5 in two seasons) in the past and performed admirably with starter-like numbers, it’s still high praise.
  • 8 of the 28 selections were not on either the first or second All-Mountain West teams to end 2019.
  • An interesting note was how the special teams’ positions were able to reload after attrition from some of their better players at those spots last year.

Accolades

  • Hammond III was the likely favorite for OPOY up until last weekend. Warren Jackson is definitely talented enough to be considered for the award. It just rarely go wide receivers. Still, heading into an odd season and with so many quarterbacks leaving after last season, if a WR were to win the award, this would be the year for it to happen. On the other hand, the running back talent in the conference is strong this season.
  • Justin Rice was a bit of a surprise to be voted into this award. Again, his ability is not in question. It’s more that he isn’t a flashy player; Rice is as solid as they come and does his job exceptionally well. Tariq Thompson was thought to be the front-runner as he stuffed the stat sheet in more categories than Rice. Keep an eye on the two of them all season battling for DPOY.
  • In my opinion, STPOY was a coin flip between Savon Scarver and Avery Williams. Williams had a better year last season, but Scarver is still in the conversation as teams also kicked away from both of them a good deal. If that trend continues, it may open this spot for one of the kickers to shine through.