Fall camp is here. The season is getting closer every day. The Roundtable is close to wrapping up but there are still a few more remaining questions before the season starts. This week the question is: which team will have the best defense in the 2021 season?
Rudy Espino: Okay, as the newbie, I’ll take the first shot at this….
I think it starts with San Jose State, based on last year’s production and what they have returning. Some secondary questions in my opinion, but I think at least at the start of year they have the fewest question marks. The biggest question is who appears to have the second-best defense in the MW? Wyoming brings back a ton, I like San Diego State’s D Line, but when all is said and done going to play the Andy Avalos factor and predict that not only will the Broncos be improved from last year but ultimately might end up as the best in the conference, especially if the secondary plays up to their recruiting rankings.
Zach: Boise State probably has the most talent, Wyoming and San Diego State have proven themselves yearly. But I’m going to go with San Jose State. They have a great defensive line and bring back a ton of talent on that side of the ball. The Spartans have a championship defense, but will the offense have what it takes?
Mike: Glancing through the teams in preparation for this question, I have a strong feeling that this could be the year of the defense in the Mountain West. There are as many as five teams with the potential to have elite or near-elite defensive units. That group includes: Air Force, Boise State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Wyoming. Four of those five were fantastic last year and figure to be this year. San Diego State returns 9 starters but must replace key members of the secondary. Similarly, the Spartans lose one or two key defenders but basically bring back the core of a strong defense. Air Force and Wyoming actually get a number of former starters back, adding to what were already great defenses in 2020. Boise State may have the most talent on their defensive roster and their defensive line and new coaching could make them as tough as anyone else. There are no wrong answers out of this group of teams, but I’ll go with Air Force because veteran players return after turnbacks and their young players were up to the task last year, so the will have close to two starters at nearly every defensive position.
Alex: Last week, in the best offense roundtable, most of the teams mentioned were teams from the West division, Nevada, San Jose State, Hawaii, but for the best defense, most of those teams are in the Mountain division. Copying a little bit from the best defenses ranked in this week’s Peak Perspective, I will lean towards Wyoming. They have always been solid on defense and should he again this year after a sub-par 2020 season impacted by COVID. Boise State should have a good defense as well, but there are still some questions with a new head coach and a new system for 2021. Other teams to watch for are San Diego State, who should be better under Brady Hoke’s second season, San Jose State, and Air Force.
Adam: This will get laughed at, but I’m going to go full on homer with this and pick the New Mexico Lobos. Before you stop reading let me just tell you, this will be year two under Rocky Long this go round and that alone will bring improvement. Jerrick Reed will be a household name in the MWC by the end of the season. The defensive line will start two seniors and a junior, with Joey Noble on one edge leading the way. Tavian Combs is talented enough to step in and fill the shoes left by Brandon Shook. This is a team that is loaded with talent, will blitz the daylights out of everyone and will surprise many with how stingy they will be.
Graham_Gibson: Usually a team like SDSU or Air Force would be my pick for best defense in the Mountain West but this year I actually think it’s Boise State. They bring in Andy Avalos who should be able to get the defense going and they have what could end up being one of the best defensive lines in the nation. The Broncos return Riley Whimpey at linebacker and a star player in Demitri Washington, who was expected to have a big year last year. Not to mention that there has been high praise for cornerback Markell Reed going into this season. The Broncos have had good defenses the last few years but haven’t been able to force turnovers. This team has the opportunity to have a great defense this year.