It’s the time of the year known as Spring Ball. Many teams have already started and some are close to wrapping things up or have actually finished. Others are either just beginning or will soon. Teams are allowed 15 total practices during this time. Of that total, eight can have contact or live tackling, and three can constitute as scrimmages. Spring practices are an important time to assess which players have improved thus far and which players are ready to be penciled in for more significant roles come the fall. It’s also a time to experiment with different schemes, lineups, or positions. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a time to begin to answer some questions that carry over from last season or are being discussed this off-season. This post will aim to identify one of the biggest questions each team faces this spring.
For those who are curious, here is last year’s post.
How will the Falcons go about rebuilding on offense?
The Falcons have been a well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball for quite some time under the Coach Calhoun era. This spring, they are once again faced with the task of having to replace a huge chunk of their offense production, including their starting quarterback and record-setting fullback. The Falcons have proved year after year they are able to reload as well as anyone, but it will take a lot of work to replace Brad Roberts and some stout offensive linemen. The spring will be important for developing players in key roles.
Can the Broncos maximize their talent on offense?
No Mountain West team currently has higher potential on offense than the Broncos. They have rising sophomore starters/co-starters at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, not to mention returning talent at running back and wide receiver as well. More importantly, they seem to have solved their long-standing issues at the offensive line, with players hitting their stride following the quarterback change. Now, with a new offensive coordinator in the fold, he will be tasked with identifying how to best utilize Boise State’s talent. The sky is the limit for the offense, but there is still a ways to go to reach their potential. The work begins this spring.
Can the Rams take a step forward in year 2?
Many people assumed that Colorado State would hit the ground running last season, but they never hit their stride. Particularly, the offense struggled mightily throughout the season. However, another spring represents a fresh start for the Rams. Often, the air-raid system takes a big step forward the second year the players are in the system. It remains to be seen if that will occur in 2023, but figuring out how to improve and score more points should be the primary focus of spring practices.
Can the Bulldogs reload?
The reigning Mountain West champions will be heading into 2023 without their star quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and safety, plus the reigning MWC DPOY and a handful of other players. The Bulldogs have a roster full of talent thanks to some great recruiting classes the past few years, and Coach Tedford’s staff can develop as well as anyone. The attempt at reloading will begin this spring, and how much the players progress will go a long way toward their ability to defend their title in the fall.
Can the Rainbow Warriors transition to the run-and-shoot?
Hawaii had a trying season, and now Coach Chang has decided to return to the program’s (and his) roots by shifting to the run-and-shoot on offense. The offense is complicated to perfect but also complicated to prepare for. It depends heavily on timing and chemistry between the quarterback and his wide receivers. They need to make similar observations about the defense and react accordingly. How well they are able to do that this spring will go a long way toward determining next season’s success for the Rainbow Warriors.
Can the Wolf Pack establish an identity?
Everyone knew what Nevada was under the old coaching regime, but what kind of team were they last season? They surprisingly began the season with two wins before losing every other game on their schedule. The Wolf Pack appeared to try to be a running team, but when that dried up, they attempted to develop a passing attack as well. This spring, Nevada needs to figure out where their talent lies on the roster and what kind of team identity they want to establish.
Can the Lobos figure out how to be a threat on offense?
In 2022, New Mexico was undeniably bad on offense. They ended up firing their offensive coordinator halfway through the season. During the Gonzales era, the Lobos have run a traditional offense, the triple option, and a mix between the option with some spread passing concepts. They have also shuffled through a ton of quarterbacks over the past three seasons. Over the years, their defensive units have ranged from good to great, but their offenses have left much to be desired. This spring, they embark on introducing a new scheme and incorporating new players. Any hint of a threat would go a long way for this team.
San Diego State
Can the Aztecs put together a winning formula?
San Diego State took a step back in 2022. After playing in the Mountain West championship game the year before, they were a 7-6 team last fall. Surprisingly, they were a bit more dynamic on offense once they fired their OC and made a change at quarterback. However, the Aztecs’ defense wasn’t as dominant, and that was most likely due to not having a game-changer on special teams to pin the opposite back against their own endzone. This spring, SDSU needs to determine the right combination of its three phases to contribute to a winning formula.
San Jose State
Can the Spartans compete with the top tier of the conference?
San Jose State may not be the 2020 version of themselves every year, but they have shown that they can be a bowl team most seasons under Coach Brennan, which is something to be proud of. The core of that title team has now moved on, but the staff has picked up some key transfers the last few seasons in hopes of avoiding dropping back to the bottom of the conference. Now, the question becomes, is that talent enough to compete with the top teams in the Mountain West? Putting hard work in this spring will help to answer that question.
Will the Rebels be able to sustain last year’s momentum?
UNLV has a promising 2022 season derailed by injuries. Then a coaching change and a group of departures to the transfer portal, and the team once again finds itself facing another spring where it has to start over. Things don’t look dire but any means, but the Rebels do have to reestablish their identity and learn new schemes on both sides of the ball. They established progress and momentum last season, but with so many changes, it will be challenging to keep it going this spring.
Can the Aggies figure out how to rebound on offense?
Part of the reason Utah State was so good in 2021 was their offense was extremely explosive, capable of scoring points in a hurry. That ability vanished for much of the 2022 season, and while part of that was injuries and inconsistency at quarterback, there seemed to be more to it. The Aggies will have a new OC, and Coach Anderson will be calling the plays next season. But the work begins now, and the sooner the offense can be in sync, the more likely they are to find their 2021 magic.
Can the Cowboys’ young players take a step forward?
Wyoming was one of the pleasant surprises in the Mountain West last season, winning seven games despite being one of the youngest teams in the entire country. This spring, they will be looking to repeat that formula for success after they lost more key players to the transfer portal after the season. The Cowboy coaching staff excels in player development and will need to spend the spring pouring into their young roster if they have any chance to end next season over .500.
Your turn: What other questions do you have for these teams? Comment below.