Mountain West Football: Week 9 Winners and Losers
Two games gives us some more data on these Mountain West teams.
Good performances and not so good performances
Another week of Mountain West football saw how teams are adjusting after the first week. While some teams made key changes others did not, and some teams had some bad luck. COVID-19 played a key role or an assumed role in how some of these games played out.
Here are the winners and losers from the first weekend of Mountain West football.
1. Boise State depth
During the pregame, it was announced that Boise State starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier did not make the trip to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force. In his place was USC transfer Jack Sears and he had a huge game in his first start by completing 17 of 20 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
The Broncos also lost a pair of defenders in Scale Igiehon who left with an undisclosed injury and in his place was Keegan Freeborn he ended up leading Boise State with nine tackles.
The bigger long-term injury impact is Demitri Washington who was carted off the field in an apparent serious injury. Shane Irwin took over for Washington and finished tied for second on the team with eight tackles.
2. San Diego State found its missing ground game
The 2019 Aztecs ground game was not living up to its standards but it seems all has changed this season. In the Aztecs victory over Utah State, San Diego State for 407 yards with 157 by Greg Bell, Chance Bell had 98 yards, and Jordan Byrd rushed once for 78 yards. All three had a touchdown as well in the victory over the Aggies.
That 407 yards is also the most by San Diego State since they rushed for 554 yards on 71 carries against San Jose State in 2017.
3. San Jose State is 2-0
The last time San Jose State started 2-0 it was when Ronald Regan was the President 33 years ago in 1987. The two wins this year are over Air Force and New Mexico. The Spartans look to have a good quarterback in Nick Starkel who took over for Josh Love. Starkel passed for 467 yards and five touchdowns in the win over New Mexico. In two games he is completing 73.7% of his passes.
1. New Mexico hitting the road
New Mexico already had its opener vs. Colorado State get canceled and their game this week vs. San Jose State was moved. The latest is that they will be training in Las Vegas to prepare for its next game that is at Hawaii. Currently, the state of New Mexico has a 14-day quarantine for anyone who enters the state so alls signs point to no Lobos home games and this team having to spend the season out of state.
This will put a physical and mental toll on this team with players not only living somewhere unfamiliar but traveling for every road game and all while still continuing their education.
2. Utah State’s offensive issues, specifically quarterback.
For the second game this year, the Utah State starting quarterback passed for under 100 yards with Jason Shelley was 13 of 21 but nothing downfield with only 88 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Freshman Andrew Peasley did make an appearance and not doing much better going 5 of 9 for 24 yards and a pick.
Big plays were an issue and that is something head coach Gary Andersen addressed after the game. “We’d be at first-and-10, then second down and 7 and then third-and-5 and then punt. There were no explosive plays. When we’d complete a pass, we’d get tackled. Offensive football is about explosive plays, and we didn’t have any.”
The rushing game was stifled with 103 total yards, zero touchdowns and leading rusher was Devontae Henry-Cole with 27 yards and 11 carries. Starting running back Jaylen Warren was out for undisclosed reasons.
3. Chevan Cordeiro‘s 180 turnaround
Hawaii’s offense looked really good in the opener against Fresno State but maybe that is why they looked so good. When the Warriors took on a better Wyoming team the quarterback play suffered for Chevan Cordeiro. There was no 100 rushing yards by the QB and just a single yard this week vs. the Cowboys, and the passing effort took a downward turn with only 110 yards on 11 of 26 passes and an interception.