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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Defensive Lines

Looking back at the trenches

NCAA Football: Frisco Bowl-North Texas at Boise State Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl season has concluded and basketball season is in full swing, but we still have plenty of football to talk about. For the next few months, we will take a look back at the 2022 season and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of each team. With that being said, let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly of the defensive lines in the Mountain West.

The Good

Air Force

The Falcons had far and away the best rush defense in the Mountain West, allowing only 95 yards per game. The Falcons were one of the worst pass-rushing teams in the league, but some of that is by design. Troy Calhoun and his staff have always tried to force teams to beat them through the air.

San Jose State

The defensive line was the strength of the Spartans' defense. They lead the league in sacks, finishing the year with 39. The Spartans also lead the conference in yards allowed per carry. Opponents were only able to gain 3.2 yards per rushing attempt.

Boise State

The Broncos’ defensive line was among the top half of the conference, but it still felt like this unit underperformed to some extent. However, when we look at the numbers, this unit was still one of the best in the conference. The Broncos finished fourth in rushing defense and fifth in sacks.


When it comes to the standard that this program sets for their defensive line, the Cowboys did not meet expectations. However, the Cowboys finished second in the conference with 37 sacks, but they allowed 4.3 yards per carry.

San Diego State

Similar to Wyoming, this wasn’t one of the Aztecs’ best defensive lines. However, their numbers were still respectable. The Aztecs had the second-best rush defense, allowing only 3.4 yards per carry. They also had 37 sacks. Most Mountain West schools would love to have this kind of year.

Fresno State

Similar to Boise State, the Mountain West champions had mixed success in the trenches. The Bulldogs were a solid pass-rushing unit, finishing with 30 sacks. But the run defense struggled to stop the run, allowing 4.3 yards per carry. This unit wasn’t great, but they were good enough to contribute to a championship squad.

The Bad

Utah State

The Aggie defensive line was a decent pass-rushing unit with 28 sacks this year. However, they were awful at stopping the run, allowing 4.8 yards per carry. If this team is going to get back to 2021 levels of success, they will have to be much better in the trenches.


UNLV was in the bottom half of both stats that measure defensive line play. The Rebels finished seventh with 28 sacks, and eighth in rushing yards allowed. For a team that is searching to take that next step, these statistics will need to improve in 2023.


The Wolf Pack usually pride themselves on discipline in the trenches, but the 2022 season was a struggle for this unit. They managed only 26 sacks and finished tenth in rush defense, allowing 4.3 yards per carry.

The Ugly


Priority number one for Timmy Chang needs to be improvement on the defensive line. The Rainbow Warriors allowed 5.6 yards per carry, a number that is impossible to overcome. Hawaii also finished last in the league in sacks with only 17.

Colorado State

The more I dive into the numbers, the worse this football team looks. The offensive statistics were alarming and the defensive statistics aren’t much better. The Rams allowed 4.2 yards per carry and managed only 24 sacks.

Which team in the Mountain West had the best defensive line? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.