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Peak Perspective: 2023 Week 1 Instant impressions and small sample sizes.

Let’s overreact to the first week of the MWC season.

Week 1 is in the books. The Mountain West has gone 1-2 in their opening round of games (12 teams playing this past weekend, plus three teams also playing in Week 0), and so far,

Unlike last year, not everything went according to the script. There were two P5 upsets, as well as some huge losses to other P5 teams. However, they did take care of business against FCS teams.

Though it’s still only one week, impressions can start to form from the games we saw this weekend. Clearly, sample sizes are, in fact small, and there is still a lot of season left. But for now, we are going off of the results of these first games. Therefore, let’s look at the initial impressions and small sample size from the Mountain West.

The Mountain West played tough against Power 5 competition...

Over Week 0 and Week 1, the Moutain West has played eleven games against teams from the Power 5 conference. They have already had a better showing than 2022, doubling their regular season win total in those type of games, going from one to two.

Of those eleven games, the Mountain West was competitive (a win or close loss) in five of them, which is just under half. Two upset wins by Fresno State and Wyoming made the weekend successful. Productive showings from Hawaii (in both of their first two games), along with Utah State, demonstrate that the conference is overall stronger than last season and isn’t rolling over in big games. All in all, it was a positive opening weekend for the Mountain West.

...Unless they didn’t.

Despite the five competitive games, that still means the Mountain West succomed to some awful in the other six contests against Power 5 teams. Boise State, Colorado State, Nevada, New Mexico, and San Jose State (twice) lost by an average of 35 points, which is embarrassing no matter how you look at it. Both the Broncos and Spartans are expected to be two of the better teams in the conference, so their poor showings do not reflect well on the conference. The Rams are hoping to make a bowl game, while the Wolf Pack and Lobos performed as most people expected, which is to say not well. Obviously there is an entire season to play better, but they did not get off on the right foot, to say the least.

Quarterbacks are emerging in the Mountain West.

Last year, quite a few quarterbacks were benched or injured in their first game of the season and it was an omen of things to come, with at least five teams making intentional quarterback changes while a few more had their starter miss time due to injuries.

Fast forward to 2023 and Mountain West quarterback play has looked good or great in the young season. Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Chevan Cordeiro has looked every bit the dynamic player many expected him to be to start the season. New Fresno State quarterback Mikey Keane threw four touchdowns in his impressive debut. AFA’s signal caller Zac Larrier put up 95 yards in the air and 99 on the ground running the option system, while Jalen Mayden and Doug Brumfield also looked impressive with their running ability thus far. Andrew Peasley of Wyoming had a tremendous game and Brendon Lewis and Cooper Legas looked good overall. Bounceback performances should also be expected from a few more players, It could very well be the year of the quarterback in the Mountain West Conference in 2023.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

There are always areas that Mountain West teams is on brand. There are certainly exceptions, but here are more examples of continuing trends that have been going on for years:

  • Moutain West kickers having great showings.
  • San Diego struggling to generate a passing game
  • Boise State is still struggling to generate explosive plays to begin the year
  • Air Force running all over the competition
  • New Mexico struggling to put points on the board

Stats extrapolated over a full season (12 games)

#SmallSampleSizeAlert (These are mostly just fun ways to look at numbers after one week. Obviously, none of this is likely to happen)

Individual Stats

  • Mikey Keane 4392 passing yards, 48 TDs
  • Brayden Schager 4236 passing yards, 36 TDs
  • Nick Nash 18 receiving touchdowns
  • John Eldridge III 864 rushing yards on only 48 attempts
  • Erik Brooks 2040 receiving yards 24 TDs
  • Ashton Jeanty 1308 receiving yards on 48 receptions
  • Avery Morrow 377 rushing yards
  • Ricky White III 60 receiving yards
  • Shae Suiaunoa 144 tackles
  • Cedarious Barfield 12 INTs

Team Stats

  • New Meixco offense: 10 ppg, 12 TDs, 2664 total yards
  • UNLV offense: 44 ppg, 72 rushing TDs, 4728 total yards
  • Air Force defense: 7 ppg, 156 ypg

Your turn: What were your impressions of the first week of games, and what are your thoughts about our impressions?