Continuing with the week’s theme, today’s post will detail which teams have the best position units in the Mountain West. Voted on by our team, the results can be seen below.
This category may be a bit divisive as the Broncos probably have the third (or maybe fourth) best starting QB in the conference. However, they do have the best 1-2 punch at QB in the conference. Between Hank Bachmeier and Jack Sears, there is no shortage of pure talent, although they did lack consistent production at times last year. The starting spot is currently up for grabs, but both figure to see the field to some degree this season. Bachmeier is more of a pocket passer, while Sears is the better runner. They can both throw quick short passes as well as display nice touch on their deep throws.
Right off the bat, the Cowboys have one of the best running back in the conference returning with workhorse Xazavian Valladay. He should carry the load again for a team that likes to run the ball a substantial amount. He will be flanked by some talented backups, including Trey Smith, who filled in admirably last season when Valladay sat out or needed a breather. The rushing attack is alive and well in Wyoming.
The Wolf Pack are built on a dynamic passing attack, especially in the deep passing game. They have a plethora of talented receivers (which don’t even include tight ends and running backs who are utilized in the passing game). The unit is led by deep-threat Romeo Doubs, who has uncanny chemistry with QB Carson Strong. He is surrounded by Tory Horton, Melquan Stovall, Jamal Bell, and Justin Lockhart. Plus, Nevada gets other standout receiver Elijah Cooks back from a season-ending injury this year. The unit is deep.
Could this spot belong to anyone but the Rams? Trey McBride returns as the consensus top tight end in all the Mountain West for the second year in a row. He should build on last year’s pandemic-shortened numbers. Although he will have a new quarterback and other talented pass-catchers around him, McBride distinguishes himself catching passes down the seam, being a target on third downs and the red zone. Simply put, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the conference.
With the departure of most of the Air Force’s 2020 offensive line unit, the Cowboys now possess the best OL group in the conference. The trio of Keegan Cryder, Logan Harris, and Frank Crum is as talented of a trio as anyone else that comes to mind. Once Eric Abojei and Alonzo Velazquez are added in, it is clear to see how stacked the Cowboy o-line unit is.
San Jose State
The Spartans had a top ten pass-rushing unit in all of college football last season, according to PFF, and return most of that unit in 2021. Led by returning Mountain West DPOY Cade Hall, they should be just as formidable again this season. Also, look for the production of Vilami Fehoko on the other end of the line, as he makes for a solid secondary pass-rusher in the San Jose State defensive scheme. Nose tackle Jay Kakiva completed the starting unit and frees up space for the other two to wreak havoc.
The Cowboys have developed some standout linebackers over the past few years under the tutelage of Coach Bohl (or both Coach Bohls in this case). Chad Muma leads the talented group, but keep an eye on Easton Gibbs and Charles Hicks as well. All three should accumulate a ton of tackles by the end of the season, cementing them as the best LB unit in the Mountain West.
San Diego State
The Aztecs secondary is in a bit of a rebuild after losing a few starters to the NFL, but the talent is still there. Players like Trenton Thompson, Cedarious Barfield, Tayler Hawkins, Cassius Savage, and Kyron White should all play meaningful roles this season. That’s not even including the defensive back talent brought in with their past recruiting class. Plus, they have the coaches with a proven track record to develop DBs. They have this spot until proven otherwise.
The Wolf Pack special teams unit is headlined by Brandon Talton, who is as good as they come with field goals and extra points the past two years. Romeo Doubs has been a solid returner the past two seasons and figures to be once again. Matt Freem should step into the punter void left by Juan Diaz, and Austin Ortega brings steady experience as the long-snapper.
- Wyoming: 3
- Nevada: 2
- Boise State: 1
- Colorado State: 1
- San Diego State: 1
- San Jose State: 1
- The unanimous position votes were wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, and special teams.
- Linebacker and defensive back were the two positions that had the closest races.
- Quarterback and defensive line were the positions with the greatest diversity of votes, with three different teams being considered.
- Four teams held their ground from the postseason voting at the end of last year (RB, WR TE, DB). Out of those four, three of those teams (RB, TE, DB) also held the positions last preseason, which demonstrates great consistency.
- Looking at the team totals, the Cowboys led the way, followed by the Wolf Pack. Seven teams overall received votes, and considering there were nine positions, that displays balance in the conference.
There it is. So let’s hear it. Who did we snub? Who did we put on here that shouldn’t be? Let’s hear your feedback in the comments section.
Coming tomorrow: Our Kickoff Week continues as we debut the 2019 Preseason All Coach Team.