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MWCConnection Roundtable: Which team will have the best offense in 2023?

Let’s ask the team.

Frisco Bowl - Boise State v North Texas Photo by Emil T. Lippe/Getty Images

Fall camp is here. The season is getting closer every day. The Roundtable is close to wrapping up, but there are still a few more remaining questions before the season starts. This week the question is: which team will have the best offense in the 2023 season?

Graham: This is an interesting question. San Jose State and Boise State both return 9 offensive starters and experienced quarterbacks, New Mexico returns eight offensive starters, Colorado State returns seven starters, and San Diego State returns six starters as do Nevada and UNLV. All other teams in the Mountain West return five starters or below. This season Fresno State is projected to be in the top 10 in the conference in their offensive position groups and San Diego State, UNLV, and Nevada all have units that are projected to be in the top 10 in conference. However, my pick is going to be Boise State. The Broncos return Taylen Green and he has made strides to develop himself during Spring and Summer training. Boise State has George Holani and Ashton Jeanty, and has incredible depth in the receivers group. The Broncos lost Latrell Caples due to a season ending knee injury but still have Steffan Cobbs, Eric McAlister, and Riley Smith. Boise State also returns Cade Beresford, Ben Dooley, Garrett Curran, and Mason Randolph who has been training over the Spring and Summer to contribute as a center. I think it is the depth in the receivers room and the chemistry of George Holani and Ashton Jeanty that define this offense in what looks to be a very productive season for the Boise State offense.

Mike: A few teams should be in the conversation. Air Force, Boise State, and San Jose State all come to mind. The Falcons get a nod because their offensive system is usually able to succeed even when having to reload. However, I don’t think they end up being the best in 2023. The Broncos and Spartans both return a lot of offensive talent. The SJSU passing attack should look really good and the running game should be able to hold its own. Chevan Cordeiro, Justin Lockhart, and Kairee Robinson form a nice trio, and others will emerge as well. However, I think Boise State has the most weapons at its disposal. Even if Taylen Green doesn’t take the projected big step forward, he will still be very good. They have the best running back duo in the conference in George Holani and Ashton Jeanty. The wide receiver room took a hit with Latrell Caples being out for the year, but they return starters Stef Cobbs and Billy Bowens and are expecting a big year from last year’s breakout player Eric McAlister. They figure to get more contributors in the passing game as well. I’m going with Boise State.

Jack: As much as I’d like to be original, Boise State’s offense is just a cut above everyone else. Taylen Green is one of the conferences’ top QBs after just ten starts, and with his unique combination of size, speed, and poise, he could very well be playing on Sundays. George Holani and Ashton Jeanty are one of the best RB duos in the country, though Jeanty has been seeing time at slot receiver since Latrell Caples injury. This could open up some carries for highly touted recruit Breezy Dubar. Despite the loss of Caples for the year, the Broncos still have a plethora of pass catchers. Billy Bowens and Stefan Cobbs are both proven, athletic seniors. Eric McAlister is primed for a breakout season, with his incredible jump ball ability and impressive quickness. Riley Smith is entering his 4th year as the starting tight end, and is a reliable safety valve. The offensive line isn’t perfect, but should still be one of the best in the (Mountain) West. Cade Beresford is phenomenal, Mason Randolph emerged as their center of the future. Both guards will be manned by veterans, Garret Curran and Ben Dooley, and the left tackle spot is up for grabs, and is the only clear weak spot on the offense. The only other team I considered here was San Jose State, but they aren’t as solid as a whole as Boise State is.

Jeff: Overall, as a whole, the conference takes a big drop in offensive expectations and production estimates. There seems to be a bit more emphasis on defense and several teams exude possibilities of good to outstanding defenses (Air Force, Wyoming, San Diego State). On the offensive side of the all, there seem to be fewer playmakers to go around. Watch Tory Horton at CSU to have a banner year. This despite teams knowing they will be forced to throw the ball. But one player will not be enough. Air Force will have their step in and turnkey players. As a group, they will dominate the rushing department as always. Fresno State and San Diego State will see offensive contractions, trying to birth an effective offense. San Jose State returns Chevan Cordeiro at quarterback and he has a suitable backup in Oregon transfer Jay Butterfield. Running back Kairee Robinson returns for his senior year along with a deep compliment of receivers and tight ends. I’d like to see the Spartans as the top offense but Boise State has a bit more depth at more positions. Their running backs of Holani and Jeanty are the best in the conference. Taylen Green is one of the top two signal callers. Depth at receivers as well as offensive line should be enough to propel the Broncos to a successful season. If they handle Washington I wouldn’t be surprised to see them run the table and compete in a New Years Six Bowl. A lot can happen, but the Broncos look to be tops followed by the Spartans. Their matchup on October 7 could be one of the more exciting conference games.

Matt: For me at least, this conversation really comes to Boise and San Jose, as mentioned by our other writers. Both return a lot of offensive production, and experienced QBs. Chevan Cordeiro comes back as the most experienced QB on the block right now, although Taylen Green took the conference by storm in his freshman season. The loss of Latrell Caples for Boise is what I think will keep them behind the Spartans for 2023, at least for now. San Jose returning Kairee Robinson as well as Justin Lockhart gives them the edge in my mind at least, and it will be interesting to see how they transition Nick Nash to receiver from gadget play QB. Do they utilize him still for those short-yardage plays, or does his size benefit them as an outside receiver in goalline situations? I think that Boise and Taylen Green are one year at most away from staking their claim as the best offense in the conference, but you can’t expect that Fresno State and Colorado State will take too long to get rolling under Tedford and Norvell respectively.

Dom: There’s a lot of potential options that the rest of the team has mentioned. I agree that the best offense heading into 2023 belongs to Boise and San Jose State. QBs Taylen Green and Chevan Cordeiro are just too talented for their offensive production to dip. The only question will be which one will outperform the other, which I believe could be Cordeiro and the Spartans. This offense is far more experienced than Boise State with better depth as well. Kairee Robinson is coming off an incredible 2022 season. Justin Lockhart is heading into his second season with the Spartans and is ready to build off his career in 2022. No shots taken at Boise State, but experience and depth is always a big factor over potential. Green is going to have another fantastic season and is the future of the Mountain West. With all young studded players however, the risk of regression looms. Boise State is going to stay in the top two of offensive production, but until they can continue what they did last year, it’s all San Jose State.

Adam: I’m going to lean toward Boise State on this one. I mean, they have arguably the best quarterback in the conference with Taylen Green, arguably the best running back in the conference with George Holani, and his backup Ashton Jeanty could start anywhere in the conference, receivers Stefan Cobbs and Eric McAllister will give defensive backs fits. This offense will be unreal and will be giving defensive coordinators nightmares trying to prepare for them. I will give the readers a sleeper offense, and that is New Mexico. They have a new offensive coordinator in Bryant Vincent, and eight returning starters, technically nine with Dylan Hopkins running Vincent’s offense that they ran at UAB. They will put some points up this season and surprise some in the process. But definitely Boise State at the top.

Matt Hanifan: While many of my cohorts went with Boise State—which is a very good pick, and one I was considering myself (along with Air Force, especially because of their schedule)—I’m going to go with Colorado State. I know, I’m projecting here a bit, but hear me out!

They return one of the top WR duos in the MWC (and maybe G5) in Tory Horton—the conference’s best receiver—and Justus Ross-Simmons. Plus, they return tailback Avery Morrow, who rushed for 834 yards on nearly five yards per carry behind a poor offensive line last year, and Clay Millen, one of the best pure passers in the MWC.

Colorado State brings in Kobe Johnson—who rushed for 2,563 yards (on 6.7 ypc) and 18 touchdowns in four seasons at North Dakota State, including 961 yards (on 7.2 ypc) with nine touchdowns last season—to replace A’jon Vivens and tight end Dallin Hooker (from BYU) via the transfer portal. The biggest swing factor is the offensive line; it can’t possibly be as bad as it was in 2022, right? They reloaded their OL in the portal with more experience and size while also returning one of the conference’s best centers in Jacob Gardner.

There’s always risk with picking a team with a brand new OL to be the best offense. But this is year three for Millen and year four for Horton, Morrow and Gardner in Matt Mumme’s Air Raid offense that has a track record of success in the MWC—placing in the top-3 in offense in both 2020 and 2021 at Nevada. While Carson Strong (as a player; he’s now a voluntary assistant!), Elijah Cooks and Romeo Doubs aren’t walking through those doors, the Rams have the pieces/talent to be the best offense in the Mountain West, should the offensive line perform better and keep Millen upright.

If the OL can’t jell and is poor again, CSU won’t be in the discussion. But if they do and find their stride, you’ve been warned.