clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Defensive Line Preview

The big guys in the trenches will play a key role in determining the next Mountain West champion

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Navy at Air Force Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve wrapped up our previews for the offensive side of the ball and now it is time to turn our focus to the defense. This week, we will begin with a peek at the defensive line. Which team will be the best in the trenches? Let’s take a look.

The Good

Air Force

The Falcons are built to stop the run, and I don’t see that changing this fall. Air Force had one of the best run defenses in the country, but they were mediocre at getting to the quarterback. We know the philosophy of Troy Calhoun and his staff; they will always focus on stopping the run first. If they can figure out how to get to the quarterback more frequently, they will be elite.


The Cowboys had one of the best pass rush units in the conference last season but were only mediocre in stopping the run. Craig Bohl’s staff will likely make run defense a priority, and the Cowboys should have one of the best defensive line units in the conference.

San Diego State

There are some unknowns on the defensive line for the Aztecs. But, this unit always rises to the occasion, and the defensive line should be one of the biggest strengths this team has. The Aztecs have one of the most athletic defensive lines in the conference and should put up some impressive numbers this fall.

The Bad


For a team that has been really bad on the defensive side of the ball for quite some time, the Rebels took some steps in the right direction this past season. They were in the middle of the pack in both rush defense and pass rushing. UNLV lost some quality talent on the defensive line. However, I think this unit has the ability to continue taking steps in the right direction, but they won’t quite be able to reach the top tier of the conference.

Boise State

The defensive line is probably the biggest weakness for this Boise State team. They lost some key cogs in Scott Matlock and George Tarlas. The fate of this team is going to rest on the development of Herbert Gums and if the Broncos’ additions from the transfer portal are ready to roll. If this group can exceed expectations, it will go a long way in the Broncos earning another Mountain West Championship.

San Jose State

The Spartans had one of the best defensive lines in the country last season, but like the Broncos, they lost the majority of their production and will be relying on a lot of unproven talent. Kaleb Peleki was a quality add from the FCS ranks, but the Spartans are going to need more help if they want to replicate their success from this past season.

Fresno State

You can add the Bulldogs to a list of teams with multiple question marks on the defensive line. Losing David Perales is a significant blow to a team that has relied on his relentless style of play the past few seasons. Replacing Perales will be no easy task, it was a bit surprisng to see that Jeff Tedford and his staff did not make the defensive line a priority in the transfer portal.

New Mexico

The Lobos are helping the Washington State transfer, Gabriel Lopez, can fix a New Mexico defense that wasn’t up to the standard that Danny Gonzales had built during his time as a defensive coordinator. I like the addition of Lopez, but the Lobos need more help inside. Maybe a late additon at nose tackle is in order?

The Ugly

Colorado State

For a team that struggled to stop the run and get to the quarterback, I thought Jay Norvell would have emphasized landing some immediate contributors on the defensive line. They did a nice job with their high school class, but there aren’t any additions in the transfer portal that can make the immediate impact they need.


Ken Wilson may be a defensive-minded coach, but his philosophy on building an elite defensive line is a little headscratching. The Wolf Pack finished tenth in rush defense and eighth in sacks. Not only that, Nevada didn’t really add any help on the defensive line that is ready to contribute immediately.


The Rainbow Warriors had, by far, the worst defensive line in the conference last season. They had the fewest sacks and gave up more rushing yards than any team in the conference. The Rainbow Warriors emphasized adding some quality transfers; even if this unit can be “Bad,” it would be a step in the right direction.

Utah State

Aggie fans should be really concerned about their defensive line. They lost their best pass rusher and were awful at stopping the run. Not only did this unit struggle, the coaching staff didn’t do anything in the transfer portal to stop the bleeding. If the Aggies don’t develop some of their young linemen, it could be a long fall for this defense.

How does your team look in the trenches? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.