The holiday season is upon us, and the first up is Thanksgiving. While it is a time to eat a lot of food and watch a lot of football, it’s also a time to stop and contemplate what one is thankful for. This post contemplates what each of the twelve Mountain West teams are thankful for during the 2022 season. Read on to find out.
A system that always reloads.
The Falcons have had some great players over the years, but their offensive and defensive systems are what keep them competitive year after year. This year has been no different, even if they won’t win a Mountain West championship as they hoped. Air Force will lose many of its best players at the conclusion of this season, but they are able to reload as well as anyone due to the success of their system. Due to this, they always have a chance at a great season, which is something to be thankful for.
Taylen Green and Dirk Koetter
Where would the Broncos be with this duo? They took a 2-2 season with the possibility of missing a bowl game and turned it into a four-game win streak to boost them into the division lead. Boise State is thankful for the reminder that they can reload talent with the best of them, and the next great season is always right around the corner. Most of all, they are thankful their bowl-eligibility streak is still intact, and they appear to be set up extremely well for the future with their young, talented quarterback.
Better days ahead
When Jay Norvell was hired, some fans assumed the Rams were immediately going to a bowl or would compete for a conference championship. Clearly, that was not the case. However, there is reason to believe things will get better, as the air raid is usually better after the year one. Because of the hope that Coach Norvell has a track record of consistent bowl teams, Colorado State is thankful that better days are ahead.
The return of Jeff Tedford
The Bulldogs were good last year under Coach DeBoer, but there was a missing piece to the program. When Coach Tedford’s return was announced last winter, there was an instant energy stemming from the Fresno State program was again. Though the season hasn’t gone according to plan, mainly due to injuries, that energy and Tedford’s coaching ability have the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat to win the west division and get back in the Mountain West championship game. And the Red Wave is thankful for that.
Establishing a culture
No one knew what kind of team the Rainbow Warriors would be this season, but there were zero expectations. Which was a good thing because it turns out the team is not very good. The only goal for Hawaii this year was establishing the right culture, and that goal is being accomplished this season. For that, the program is thankful for the job Coach Chang is doing. They have to look on the bright side. Otherwise, maybe they are grateful for the weather?
The Wolf Pack will always have that 2-0 start. They are definitely thankful for the victories during the first month of the season and the memories of better times before the big losing streak hit. For a program that was in disarray entering the season, getting some positives early in the year made the inevitable losing a little easier to bear.
Imagine what the Lobos would look like without an above-average defense. Yes, it would be pretty bad, and their record would be even worse. And that is why New Mexico is extremely thankful that Coach Long decided to step down from being the head coach of San Diego State and return to his alma mater to assist Danny Gonzales as the defensive coordinator for the end of his career. Rocky is among the best defensive minds in college football, and the Lobos are better off for having him.
San Diego State
The Aztecs opened up a brand new stadium this year in what is their 100th season of football. Everyone loves new stadiums and the excitement it brings to the program. It provided a boost for recruiting and a buzz around the team and might even be helping them to get a PAC-12 invite. All of that being said, there’s no reason for San Diego State not to be thankful for its new stadium.
San Jose State
Another run with their core
The 2020 season was magical for the Spartan team, defying the odds and winning a Mountain West championship. However, when they faltered in 2021, many pegged them as a one-hit-wonder. In 2022, they aren’t taking the season by storm, but they have emerged as one of the better teams in the Mountain West, which is something for fans to be thankful for. The core of their championship team is still around and is complemented by some key transfers, and they have played well enough to earn another bowl berth.
The first two years of the Marcus Arroyo era left a lot to be desired. He inherited a dire situation and spent a lot of time recruiting high school talent and mining the transfer portal over the past three cycles. This year, they needed to demonstrate improvement on the field, and that is just what the Rebels did. Not every step of the way has been pretty, and they are currently on a losing streak, but UNLV should be feeling better now that there is a glimmer of hope and a newfound bout of confidence.
The quest to defend their conference championship didn’t go according to plan for the Aggies. One of those reasons was the ineffectiveness and health of their starting QB, who was essential to their dynamic offense last season. When he was announced out for the year, Cooper Legas was inserted into the starting lineup, and Utah State has actually moved the ball better since the change was made. In fact, USU has demonstrated notable depth at quarterback this year, with four different QBs seeing snaps, which the program is very thankful for.
A youth movement
The Cowboys took some heavy losses to some key positions in the transfer portal at the end of last season. Although they added a few transfers of their own, many true and redshirt freshmen were scattered along the two-deep of the depth chart. No one knew what to expect of the 2022 Wyoming football team, but no one would have been surprised if they had struggled. Instead, the Cowboys have put together a strong season and seem poised to build upon it for years to come. Wyoming has to be thankful it all worked out.
Your turn: What else should these teams be thankful for this season?