Mountain West Football: Week 7 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in Week 7 of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
It was pretty clear that Week 7 of Mountain West football play was going to separate the wheat from the chaff and, boy, did it. The weekend’s action definitely brought its fair share of surprises, which made selecting from a bumper crop of winners and losers a particularly tough exercise this time around.
Here’s who stepped up and disappointed in Week 7.
1. Nevada quarterback Malik Henry. In his first start for the Wolf Pack, the former top prospect and Last Chance U athlete looked exactly like the shot in the arm Jay Norvell wanted for his offense. Henry wasn’t perfect, throwing two interceptions, but he threw for a season-high 352 yards, the most by Nevada’s passing attack since last year’s win against Colorado State, at 9.5 yards per attempt and a touchdown, helping the team bounce back into what looks like a wide-open West division race.
2. The Air Force offensive line. The Falcons lined up against Fresno State and lost one yards on their first play, then proceeded to punch the Bulldogs in the mouth over and over again, tallying 69 rushing attempts and allowing just two tackles for loss the rest of the year. Air Force would finish the game with eight rushing plays of more than ten yards, a testament to their overall dominance in the trenches against a defense that had two weeks to prepare for the triple option.
3. Colorado State wide receiver Warren Jackson. Do you think the Rams missed their top pass catcher? In his return to the starting lineup from injury, Jackson put up a dominant performance against New Mexico, catching nine passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns. That puts him in very good recent company, at least as far as talented CSU wideouts are concerned.
1. San Jose State’s running game. There’s not really one culprit for the team’s recent struggles, but it’s not a good sign that the per-play production (without adjusting for sacks) has gone backwards for four straight weeks and Dejon Packer and Tyler Nevens just combined for 21 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Nick Nash has been the team’s leading rusher in four of the Spartans’ first six games, which is probably unsustainable as they continue to push toward bowl eligibility.
2. Wyoming’s running game. The Cowboys needed the strength of their offense to give them as much as they could, and while there were some highlight moments, they weren’t efficient enough to close the deal against a tough San Diego State defense. Outside of four chunk plays on the ground, Xazavian Valladay, Sean Chambers and Titus Swen combined for only 2.4 YPC. There’s plenty of reason to believe they’ll bounce back, but this one may sting for a little while.
3. Fresno State offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. After trading haymakers in the first half against Air Force, the Bulldogs offense completely vanished after halftime. They ran just 13 plays and averaged 1.9 yards per play, while Ronnie Rivers had just one touch despite the team being down by just one score for most of the second half. Combined with Jared Rice’s continued near-absence from the attack, and in spite of some promising returns from the team’s young wide receiver corps, there’s plenty of consternation to go around.