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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Defensive Backs

The last line of defense is highlighted this week

NCAA Football: Mountain West Championship-Fresno State at Boise State

We are within weeks of spring football beginning, and with it, we are one step closer to finishing our reviews of each position group from the 2022 Mountain West football season. Last week, we took a look at the top linebacker groups in the conference. This week we will review the top defensive line groups. With that being said, let’s take a look back at the top defensive back groups in the Mountain West.

The Good

Boise State

For most Bronco fans, the secondary was the biggest concern heading into the 2022 football season. While the group did have a tendency to allow more big plays than they should have, they were more than sufficient over the course of the season. The Broncos finished with the second best pass defense in the league, allowing only 167 yards per game through the air.

Air Force

This may have been the best Air Force pass defense that I can recall seeing. The team’s ability to control the clock and slow down opposing defenses was very impressive. The Falcons did not corral many interceptions (they finished with nine), but they finished first in passing yards allowed, giving up only 159 passing yards per game.

Fresno State

The Bulldog’s secondary was the strongest part of their defense and they showed significant improvement over the course of the season. Cameron Lockridge tied for the conference lead in interceptions, and the Bulldogs finished third in passing yards allowed.

Colorado State

For as bad as their rush defense was, the Colorado State secondary was actually pretty good. The Rams finished fourth in yards allowed, but they will need to be more opportunistic in forcing turnovers this fall. The Rams managed only eight interceptions.

The Bad

New Mexico

The Lobos had mixed results in the secondary, but in a conference with subpar quarterback play, they needed more out of this unit. The Lobos managed only nine interceptions and gave up more than 200 passing yards per game.

Utah State

Similar to the Lobos, the Aggies were on the verge of having a good secondary but they weren’t quite there. The Aggies were in the middle of the conference in interceptions (11) and pass yards allowed per game. For a team that had major injury issues, they need more from this unit.

San Diego State

There is no other way to slice it, the Aztec secondary was disappointing this year. For a team that usually shuts down opposing passing attacks, it was surprising to see how easily teams moved the ball through the air. On the good side, the Aztecs were able to reel in thirteen interceptions.


Similar to the Aztecs, it was surprising to see how much the Wyoming secondary struggled this season. The Cowboys finished eighth in passing yards allowed per game and last in interceptions with only six.

San Jose State

The Spartans were elite at forcing interceptions, finishing with fourteen (good for second in the conference). But they struggled to prevent teams from moving the ball through the air, and they didn’t exactly face a bunch of elite pass offense. Finishing ninth in pass yards allowed per game lands you in the “Bad” category.

The Ugly


The Hawaii defense was swiss cheese this year, allowing opposing defenses to carve them up in both phases of the game. The Rainbow Warriors finished the season with only ten interceptions and allowed more than 220 yards per game through the air.


For a team that showed improvement in the trenches, the secondary really kept this defense from taking that next step. While the Rebels did tie with Boise State for most interceptions (15), they were nearly last in passing yards allowed per game (225).


For a team that had one of the best defensive backs in the league in Bentlee Sanders, it is crazy to think that they had the worst pass defense in the conference. The Wolf Pack allowed more than 230 yards per game through the air. Improving this unit will be a major emphasis for Ken Wilson and his staff.

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