It’s no secret that the Mountain West is having its worst year in quite some time. But why has the 2022 season been so disappointing? We take a look at that in today’s post.
A lack of good quarterbacks.
It has collectively been an awful year for Mountain West quarterbacks. Let’s run through the list of players who entered the season as the starting QB on every MWC team.
Haaziq Daniels: He has played very well but gets overlooked due to being a triple-option QB
Hank Bachmeier: He was ineffective and then transferred
Clay Millen: He was ineffective and then got injured
Jake Haener: He was having a good season and then got injured
Joey Yellen: He did not get off to a good start and was replaced by Brayden Schager
Shane Illingworth: He won a QB battle but has been largely ineffective and has split time with another QB
Miles Kendrick: Similarly, he won the job and hasn’t inspired enough confidence to keep it. He has now been benched.
Braxton Burmeister: He has alternated between being hurt and being ineffective. The Aztecs have played five different players at QB this season.
Chevan Cordeiro: Perhaps the only starting QB who has been productive this season without sustaining any injuries.
Doug Brumfield: He was having a good season and then got injured
Logan Bonner: He was having a rough season, was benched at one point, and then suffered a season-ending injury
Andrew Peasley: He has had a solid but not spectacular season
This list is surprising and not in a good way. Of the 12 quarterbacks who started the season, at least six have missed a game due to an injury, and five have been benched due to ineffectiveness for either a short period of time or permanently (some of those who have been benched have also been injured). This isn’t even counting Bachmeier, who transferred before he could be benched or injured. Only Daniels, Cordeiro, and Peasley have had relatively productive seasons that have matched what was expected of them.
It is difficult for teams to win without effective quarterback play. It can sometimes even be difficult for teams to win with effective quarterback play. And as a conference, the Mountain West has not had effective quarterback play.
Attrition from 2021
It is not being discussed too much, but the Mountain West has lost a ton of talent from the 2021 season. And it is not just because of the transfer portal, although that is a reason. Take a look:
Went to NFL: Jordan Jackson, Khalil Shakir, Trey McBride, DaRon Bland, Romeo Doubs, Colt Turner, Cam Thomas, Daniel Bellinger, Matt Araiza, Zach Thomas, and Chad Muma (plus another 43 either signed as an UDFA or invited to a minicamp).
Transferred out: Notable names include Micah Davis, Todd Centeio, Wylan Free, Cameron Lockridge, Darius Muasau, Khoury Bethley, Daiyan Henley, Cade Briggs, Aaron Dumas, Jacoby Windmon, Cam Lampkin, Keyon Blankenbaker, Rome Weber, Isaiah Neyor, Azizi Hearn, C.J Coldon, Xazavian Valladay, and Solomon Byrd.
Graduated: There are too many players to name, but numerous productive players ended their careers by exhausting their eligibility.
Talent leaves every conference every year, but the list above demonstrates how this past year, the talent left at a quicker rate than the Mountain West was able to bring it in. Also, the level of talent was extremely high last year. In 2021, the MWC boasted the nation’s top tight end as well as the top punter in college football and arguably the second-best college punter. Plus, a number of players who were all-conference last season and numerous players who are now playing critical roles for P5 teams. All of that being said, there was some undeniable talent that is no longer in the Mountain West Conference.
Numerous teams rebuilding
It is also important to remember several teams were not expected to be good this year. Consider the circumstances for these teams:
Colorado State: While the Rams weren’t necessarily expected to be bad, they also were not expected to be good. They brought over a lot of experienced players, but on the other hand, the new coaching staff is still implementing a new scheme, and the roster is filled with many players who are not used to playing together.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors lost the core of their team from last year, and the 2021 version was an average team, to begin with. Every significant player transferred, resulting in a catastrophic drop in talent entering 2022. Hawaii’s goal for this season was to reestablish the culture, and that is happening. Wins were a secondary goal, which is good because they have been at a premium.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack lost nearly their entire coaching staff and the vast majority of any player who took meaningful snaps for them last season. The program was left with only a few pieces to pick up and start rebuilding. Nevada was expected to finish near or at the bottom of the conference, and despite the distant memory of a 2-0 start, that is precisely what they are doing.
New Mexico: While the Lobos aren’t quite in the same category as the others, they are still worth discussing. They weren’t expected to be awful, but no one thought they would be good either. They lost some key players to the transfer portal, and those they added struggled to execute the schemes implemented by the coaches. In short, they didn’t take a step forward, contributing to the disappointing play of the conference.
All of these reasons have contributed to the down year in the Mountain West Conference. Hopefully, the conference will be able to bounce back next year, but they will have to improve in at least two out of the three categories mentioned above.