Spring football has already started for some Mountain West teams (Air Force) and the rest will start hitting the field in the next month. We are going to spend the next few months previewing each position group and where each team stands. For our first week, we are going to start out with gunslingers.
San Jose State
Nick Starkell had a legitimate shot at being the offensive player and has decided to return for his 100th year of eligibility (joking). Starkell will do a nice job bringing along some new talent at wide receiver, but his production may drop with the loss of Tre Walker and Billy Gaither.
Carson Strong is the best quarterback in the Mountain West, and I am not sure it is particularly close. Strong has the measurables and the arm to be an NFL quarterback. Strong is only a junior, but a big season might lead to him declaring early for the NFL. Strong is the reigning offensive player of the year and will likely be the preseason pick for the award.
The Broncos have a good problem. They have two quarterbacks that could start for most teams in Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears. Bachmeier will likely be the starter, but staying healthy will be a challenge. The Broncos return all of their wide receiver production, and the new offense is very quarterback friendly. I think the Broncos will lead the conference in passing yards.
Chevan Cordeiro is back and he got better as last season progressed. Hawaii should be a better team this next year if they can figure out how to stop the run and get the offense back on the field. Cordeiro is in for a big 2021.
Honestly, evaluating Air Force quarterbacks is an impossible feat. It is almost better to lump them in with running backs. They have depth at the position and were able to play some younger guys, which they don’t typically do. If the Falcons are solid at the quarterback position, they could give the Broncos a run for their money.
The Bulldogs hit the jackpot on the grad transfer market yet again. Jake Haener proved to be a capable quarterback and continued to improve as the season progressed. If the Bulldogs are allowed to have spring football and Haener gets more time with the system, the Bulldogs are a lock to be a bowl team in 2021.
I thought landing Justin Rogers as a grad transfer was going to be a game changer for the Rebels. However, I honestly think it might be in the best long term interest of UNLV to give Doug Brumfield the keys to the car. He is an intriguing quarterback with great size and athletic ability. In the small sample size I saw of him, he was very raw, but there were glimpses of some real talent.
I could see the Lobos surprising some people in 2021 if they can stay healthy. They were decimated at the quarterback position this past season. They would be well suited to have a true quarterback competition and get as many guys as possible some experience.
I think the only hope to the problems that this Wyoming team has is a change in their offensive philosophy. They can’t continue to get by with a running game and nothing through the air. Sean Chambers is probably their only hope, but coming back from two significant leg injuries is not a small task. I don’t think Levi Williams or Gavin Beerup have what it takes to get the Cowboys to the next level.
I like what I saw out of Andrew Peasley as the season went on, and maybe Blake Anderson has something up his sleeve. But it is hard to see the Aggies having the talent at quarterback or at any of the offensive skill positions to compete for a title this year. Aggie fans need to give Anderson a few years; he is the real deal.
San Diego State
I feel like a broken record here, but the Aztecs have to figure this out. They haven’t had a consistent quarterback for a long time. They have had defenses, offensive lines, and running backs that can compete with most teams in college football. Maybe Hoke will be able to recruit the quarterback position better than Rocky Long.
I’m not sure what Steve Addazio was doing by not going with Patrick O’Brien at quarterback to start the season. Todd Centeio is not the answer. Maybe Eastern Ilinois transfer Jonah O’Brien can play. I really like incoming quarterback Luke McAllister; the true freshman should compete for some snaps.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week we will be taking a peek at the running backs.