Mountain West Football: Week 3 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in Week 3 of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
Just like last week, another Saturday of non-conference action definitely had its ups and downs. The Mountain West went 5-4 against its Week 3 slate and notched another win against the Power 5, but there were just as many dismal performances as strong ones.
Despite a deep well of candidates, here are Mountain West football’s winners and losers in Week 3.
1. Boise State STUD Curtis Weaver. It’s a rare feat to make the winners list in back-to-back weeks, but there’s a rule that says when you tie a school record for sacks in a game, as Weaver did on Saturday night against Portland State, you have to make the list. The Vikings proved themselves to be pesky, but the junior pass rusher’s four takedowns helped to make sure that was all they were.
2. Air Force free safety Jeremy Fejedelem. The Falcons got plenty of strong performances in their overtime win over Colorado, but none of them were as important as the one from their senior defensive back. He led the team with 14 tackles and chipped in with two tackles for loss and a sack, anchoring a secondary which held Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez to just 5.1 yards per attempt.
3. San Diego State’s defensive line. You could probably choose any number of Aztec defenders to fill this spot, but the trio of Cameron Thomas, Keshawn Banks, and Myles Cheatum had their strongest performance of the year in an overwhelming victory against New Mexico State. They accounted for five of SDSU’s seven sacks and combined for 15 tackles, proving they can have just as much of an impact as the stars behind them.
1. New Mexico’s passing game. Yes, taking down Notre Dame was always going to be the longest of longshots, but the #Throwbos were basically DOA on Saturday afternoon. Sheriron Jones made his first start of the season and it was an outright disaster, then Tevaka Tuioti wasn’t much better in his relief stint, leading to one of the worst passing days in Mountain West history. When 68% of your passing yards come on just three of 29 attempts, you know it’s not good at all.
2. Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers. The Cowboys won against visiting Idaho but, man, it was not pretty. A fair chunk of that responsibility falls onto Wyoming’s quarterback, who was only 4-of-12 for 50 yards and, to date, has completed only 39% of his throws for 5.3 yards per attempt with zero touchdowns. The schedule remains manageable for the near future, with a road date at Tulsa and a home game against UNLV in the next two weeks, but Brent Vigen will need to sort things out soon if the Pokes want to be a major factor in the Mountain division.
3. UNLV offensive coordinator Garin Justice. An abysmal second-half performance sunk the Rebels’ chances at an upset against Northwestern, but it seemed particularly egregious that Charles Williams, who is now second in the FBS with 455 rushing yards and has averaged 9.1 yards per carry to date (far and away the highest figure among runners with 50 carries), had just four carries after halftime.
Keep in mind that the Rebels entered the third quarter trailing by just two points and trailed by nine for most of the second half, during which time Armani Rogers threw an interception at the Northwestern 35 and fumbled twice on his own side of the field, Darran Williams came up short on a third-and-1 attempt, and the defense did everything it could to keep them in the game. It was a total failure to respond to NU’s adjustments and keep the offense’s most effective player involved.