MWC Football Predictions 2013
Mountain West (West Divison) Predictions 2013
#1 Fresno State
Offense: Derek Carr passed for over 4,000 yards last season. This season should be no different with WR's Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams, back. Adams had over 100 receptions, 1,3012 yards receiving, and nine touchdowns, in his freshman year. Replacing the schools leading rusher, Robbie Rouse, could be tough. BYU transfer Josh Quezada will get the first look. The line returns three starters and should get the job done for Carr.
Defense: The pass defense was one of the best on the West Coast. Three starters return, but they will miss NFL safety Phillip Thomas. The line will be solid with all three starters back. Jennings, Davison, and Motta combined for 9.5 sacks last season and 25 tackles for loss. Linebacker is the weakest part of the Bulldogs defense with only one starter returning. Although Fresno does have depth here with 7 returning players seeing time last season.
Special Teams: Kicker and punter will have to be replaced. Kicker Collin McGuire and Punter Garrett Swanson should be the starters.
Final Thoughts: The offense will be one of the best in the country. The defense will hold steady. Boise State comes into Fresno Sept. 20. Talk about a big time game! This is a top 25 team.
#2 San Diego State
Offense: The Aztecs return the top running back in the MWC. Last season Adam Muema broke out for a monster season with 16 touchdowns and 1,458 rushing yards. The left side of the line remains intact to pave the way for Muema. Quarterback Adam Dingwell started five games last season and will look to improve on his accuracy this season. The receiving core took a hit and will need someone to step up. Colin Lockett and Ezell Ruffin will be the likely candidates.
Defense: The front six are the best in the Mountain West. The Aztecs held opponents to only 133.5 rushing yards last season. Trying to get a running attack established against San Diego State is no easy task. Last season Jake linebackers Jake Fely and Derek Largent combined for 13.5 sacks. Two of the top three returning leading tacklers reside in the secondary, Nat Berhe and Eric Pinkins.
Special Teams: Seamus McMorrow will lead go both ways and kick and punt for the Aztecs.
Final Thoughts: The Aztecs have the top running back and line-backing core in the Mountain West. Questions come at corner and wide receiver. Mountain West title is not out of the question, but not likely. Big non-conference slate with a game at Ohio State and home game vs. Oregon State.
#3 San Jose State
Offense: If you didn't hear about him last season, you will this year. Fales threw for 4,193 yards, 33 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. The most impressive stat is his passing accuracy at 72.5%. Fales top target is back, Noel Grigsby. Grigsby caught 82 balls a year ago and Fales top target in the red-zone returns as well Chandler Jones. The new regime would like to establish a running game this season, but with who? Tyler Ervin is the top returning rusher with only 45 attempts. Four of the five linemen return.
Defense: Travis Riciti will be the focal point of the line after posting 8.5 sacks last season. The Spartans will be fine at linebacker with Keith Smith and Vince Buhagiar back. The two totaled 186 tackles last year.
Special Teams: Kicker Austin Lopez was perfect last year going 17 for 17. Harrison Wald is back in the punter role.
Final Thoughts: The rushing game doesn't need to be great, but keep defenses honest. Fales will have a special season. The defense might struggle against some of the Mountain West team's offenses. They end the season with three tough Mountain West games San Diego State, Nevada, and Fresno State.
Final Thoughts: The offense will take a big step forward with QB Nick Sherry and RB Tim Cornett. The defense must improve vs. the run, where they gave up 207.1 yards per game. The last four games of the season feature three home games vs. San Jose State, Utah State, and San Diego State.
Final Thoughts: Head Coach Chris Ault is gone. The running game must be an elite level for the Wolf Pack to win. A new running back and an inexperienced line could hold them back. The defense could take a step back with a downgraded secondary. Nevada is on the road at Boise State and Fresno State.
Final Thoughts: Plenty of starters return on both sides of the ball, but they led the Warriors to a 3-9 record. New QB Taylor Graham never took at snap at Ohio State, but found a home in Hawaii. The first five games are brutal.
Mountain West (Mountain Division) Predictions 2013
#1 Boise State
Offense: The offense wasn't as explosive as we have become accustomed to. Joe Southwick returns at quarterback. Southwick just did enough last season with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. This season though he will need to do more. In big games vs. San Diego St, Michigan St, BYU, and Fresno State, he failed to pass for over 200 yards in each game, and totaled only two TD's. The two returning linemen are two of the best in the MWC. WR Matt Miller has had at least 62 catches the past two season, expect that number to rise in 2013. Who replaces RB D.J. Harper? Jay Ajayi is the first option and was the backup last season.
Defense: The line will be impressive even with the dismissal of DE Sam Ukwuachu. Demarcus Lawrence is this next defensive lineman to get drafted to the NFL. The secondary and linebacker position may take a step back at first with unproven talent getting opportunities.
Special Teams: Kicker is up for grabs. Trevor Harman returns at punter.
Final Thoughts: The offense will have to get back to a high scoring attack. If the defense takes a step back, this team could be in trouble. Tough in conference road games vs. Fresno State and San Diego State. Game one vs. Washington will be telling. Hard to see the Broncos making it out of this season without at least two loses.
#2 Utah State
Offense: Quarterback Chuckie Keeton had 27 touchdowns through the air and eight on the ground. The offensive line returns all five starters and will be more then equipped to handle the MWC defensive lines. The wide receiver position took a hit with the top six pass catchers from 2012 departing. Bruce Natson and Ronald Butler will be two wide receivers to watch progress throughout the year. At running back Joe Hill will likely get the bulk of the carries.
Defense: Last year's defense was impressive. Holding opponents to an average of 15.4 points a game. Nine starters return from that squad. Sophomore linebacker Kyler Fackrell burst on the scene as a freshman, earning him Freshman All-American honors. Jordan Nielsen and Connor Williams made some noise last season with a combined 11 sacks coming from a 3-4 scheme. The secondary may have lost Will Davis to the NFL, but their depth is there this season.
Special Teams: Kicker will be determined in fall camp with Nick Diaz and Josh Thompson. Jaron Bentrude returns at punter.
Final Thoughts: The skill positions may be down, but having Keeton and five returning starters on the line will allow Utah State to continue to be explosive on offense. The defense will be just as impressive as last season. Utah State could take down Boise State in the division. They will get a shot at the Broncos at home on Oct. 12.
Offense: The Cowboys will need to bounce back from a disappointing 4-8 season. Quarterback Brett Smith can take them to a bowl this season. Smith led a solid passing attack last season that averaged 265 yards a game. He has three solid targets in Rufran, Herron, and Claiborne. Those three WR combined for 18 touchdowns. The running game must improve. D.J. May and Brandon Miller will be called on to improve it. The line will have to find new tackles and a center.
Defense: The defense had a hard time stopping anyone last season. Wyoming gave up an average of 470 total yards a game last season. The line returns three of four starters, but they didn't apply enough pressure to the QB. The linebackers will be asked to improve on stopping the run, which they were one of the worst teams at doing that a year ago. The secondary has a budding star in Blair Burns.
Special Teams: Stuart Williams will both kick and punt for the Pokes.
Final Thoughts: Brett Smith can lead this team to a bowl game. The defense could keep them out of a bowl if they don't fix some issues. The game vs. Air Force should be telling.
#4 Air Force
Final Thoughts: Only three starters return on defense and three on offense. Air Force may embrace a slightly more equal run:pass ratio, which is a change from there run heavy offense in years past. The secondary will be fine, but the front seven is full of newcomers.
#5 Colorado State
Final Thoughts: The offense struggled to score points last season and that won't change this season. The defense will take a step forward with a solid linebackers and secondary. Jim McElwain will take his team back to his old stomping grounds, Alabama.
#6 New Mexico
Final Thoughts: The passing game was non-existent last season, need to improve there to keep defenses honest. The turnover margin led the Lobos to four wins last season and they will need to repeat that this season to stay competitive.