It is Friday once again, and another roundtable is here. Although we are in a time between spring practices and fall camp, the 2023 football season is still being discussed. This week’s question is: what position group on your team are you most confident about for the upcoming season?
Mike: I’ll take Nevada this week. In the second year of the Ken Wilson era, this team is still figuring out what they want their identity to be and then doing their best to establish it during games. For the second straight offseason, they filled a big chunk of their roster with transfer players. However, it did bolster one position for sure. The Wolf Pack should once again have a stout running game in 2023. Both Sean Dollars and Ashton Hayes will be new to the program, but both are high-regarded transfers to the running back position. Look for Nevada to run early and often this season.
Looking at UNLV, there is a lot of unknowns given the new coaching staff, new schemes, and lots of new players coming in. One position that is pretty certain would be quarterback. Doug Brumfield enjoyed a breakout season in 2022 and helped lead the Rebels to their hot start until he got injured. If Brumfield can remain healthy for the 2023 season, his arm and running ability should excel in their new, up-tempo offense.
Matt: Pretty much the only area where Fresno State doesn’t have at least one question mark is at LB. They return both starters from last year in Levelle Bailey and Malachi Langley, and should have two USC transfers waiting in the wings with Raymond Scott and Tuasivi Nomura. It remains to be seen how Kevin Coyle utilizes the NB position in Year 2 of his tenure, which could drop one of the two transfers into that spot, or bring someone like Morice Norris into the linebacking rotation. I could also put CB on this list, but depth could be a concern if either Lockridge or Johnson suffers an injury.
Zach: For Boise State, I feel like the answer is pretty obvious. The Broncos should have the best group of running backs in the Mountain West. George Holani is a proven back with multiple 1,000 yard seasons and he may not be the best back on the roster with the emergence of Ashton Jeanty. The Broncos also have an incoming freshman in Jambres Dubar who could end up being just as good as Holani and Jeanty. This group should be very exciting.
Jack: It’s a toss-up between the defensive line and secondary, but I’ll give the edge to the one with more to prove, the defensive backs. Jack Howell is one of the best safeties in the conference, and his running mate Henry Blackburn is no slouch either. The corners are led by veteran Chigozie Anusiem and nickel Ayden Hector. Both are PAC-12 transfers who excelled in their first year in Fort Collins. The only question mark is who will be the other boundary corner, but Jay Norvell brought in plenty of help via the transfer portal. Ron Hardge III is an experienced addition from Oregon State, and Furman transfer Dominic Morris could win the starting role. With the Rams running the 4-2-5, they have to be deep, and they also have North Dakota State transfer Dom Jones to work into the mix.
NittanyFalcon: For the Falcons, I have to say once again that it’s the offensive line. The Falcons lose an All American in Isaac Cochran and perhaps their next best lineman in Everett Smalley, but the system established by Steed Lobotzke and Troy Calhoun has been exceptional the last 5 years regardless of the turnover. The line constantly rotates during games, allowing for a lot of experience for the non-starters. The other three positions will have multi-year starters and the reputation of the team as a perennial Joe Moore Award finalist has increased the talent level of entering recruits.
A close second goes to the safety position. Trey Taylor and Jayden Goodwin are multi year starters who have been included in many preseason All-MW teams. Camby Goff is not listed as a safety on game days, but often lines up at the position depending on the situation, and led the team in interceptions and pass breakups last year.
Jeremy: Trust the process, right? Hawaii went through hell last year in Timmy Chang’s first season, dealing with the consequences of losing so many key players to the transfer portal in winter 2022. A potential solution? Busting out ole’ reliable: the run-and-shoot offense. Hawaii is returning to the offensive system that made the program popular in the 2000s. The system returned under Nick Rolovich, and was abandoned again under Todd Graham. Chang is bringing it back. A pass-happy system designed to get the most out of what might not be the best players. Naturally, that leaves me excited for the wide receivers. Almost assuredly, some previous unknown talent is about to post 800+ receiving yards this season. Expect Hawaii to, at the very least statistically be better than anticipated this season.
Adam: For New Mexico this would be the quarterback position. With a new up-tempo, spread, offense, having Dylan Hopkins at the helm who has been in the system before is a huge plus. There will be no learning curve for him, meaning the offense can slide easier into the new scheme than had it been someone adept to the option. The offense Hopkins was in averaged over 36 points a game. There is no other position group I am more confident in heading into the 2023 season.