Posted at: 07/20/2012 9:49 PM
By: J.P. Murrieta, KOB Eyewitness Sports 4
Next week in Las Vegas, the Mountain West Conference will release their preseason poll and All MWC teams. Two things are certain: 1) Boise State, based on their history, will be voted the preseason number one and 2) UNM, based on their history, will be voted last. both should come as no surprise. The Lobos have won 1 game in each of the last three years and, despite a new head coach, there's no reason to believe it will dramatically improve this season. Before I get to my predictions, here's a look at what some of the national publications are saying about the Mountain West:
7.San Diego State
5.San Diego State
4.San Diego State
2.San Diego State
Now to my preseason poll. I voted Boise State number one. I think the Broncos will not be the dominant team we've seen in the past couple seasons (QB Kellen Moore is gone), but it's tough to vote against a team that keeps winning year after year. I put Fresno State number two in the polls. They have the best RB/QB combo in the league. Quarterback Derek Carr will make a run at Offensive Player of the Year. He threw for over 3500 yards last season with 26 touchdowns, completing over 62 percent of his passes. Speaking of quarterbacks, this year's crop has a nice trifecta to watch. Along with Carr, Wyoming's Brett Smith caught a lot of people by surprise last season accounting for 3,332 yards of total offense for the Cowboys. I also think Nevada's Cody Fajardo will be one to watch. He was the WAC Freshman of the Year in 2011.
Back to the poll. I voted Nevada third and Wyoming fourth. Colorado State was fifth in my poll. When you return a running back like Chris Nwoke, I think you have the potential to do some damage. Nwoke had multiple games last season where he rushed for over 200 yards. I think Rocky Long gets more out of his talent than most coaches, but it's going to be tough to replace your starting quarterback and leading running back from last season. I put San Diego State sixth in the poll. Troy Calhoun is a good enough coach to get a job at a bigger name program in the future (5 straight bowl appearances for the Falcons), but I think his team will take a step back this year. Four year starting QB Tim Jefferson is gone. Air Force was my seventh selection. The last three will fight to stay out of the cellar. Hawaii has a new head coach with 66 year old Norm Chow, UNLV is the only team the Lobos beat last year (and that's saying something) and UNM does not have a lot of depth.
I'm no Carnac, but you can file these preseason selections until Tuesday when the All MWC team is announced.
Quarterback: Derek Carr, Fresno State
Running backs: Robbie Rouse, Fresno State and Chris Nwoke, Colorado State
Wide receivers: Colin Lockett, San Diego State and Matt Miller, Boise State
Tight End: Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
Offensive Line: This category is always tough to pick because you have to take individual parts from a successful unit. (you can likely pencil in Nevada's Chris Barker and Colorado State's Weston Richburg
Defensive Line: Paipai Falemalu from Hawaii, Mike Purcell from Wyoming, Mike Atkinson from Boise State and Jack Reynoso from Nevada (Reynoso is coming off a broken leg but he still managed 24 tackles in 8 games last year)
Linebackers: Shaquil Barrett from Colorado State, Travis Brown from Fresno State and James Skelton from Colorado State (I could have voted for SDSU's Jake Feely, but I have a soft spot for guys who started their careers as walk-on's like Skelton. Rocky Long made a living off guys like that)
Defensive backs: Duke Williams from Nevada, Leon McFadden from SDSU, Boise State's Jamar Taylor and Luke Ruff from Wyoming
Placekicker: Parker Herrington, Air Force
Punter: Pete Kontodiakos, Colorado State
Return Specialist: Mitch Burroughs, Boise State
Offensive Player of the Year: Derek Carr, Fresno State or Robbie Rouse (my vote went to Carr)
Defensive Player of the Year: Leon McFadden, SDSU
Special Teams Player of the Year: Mitch Burroughs, Boise State
and as they say in Las Vegas..."no more bets".