Todd Graham, Hawaii
The Warriors team was sort of an unknown as the offense was changing from the run-n-shoot to a less wide-open offense. The team still moved the ball through the air despite having little to no running game.
Graham found a playmaker on offense in Calvin Turner who helped the lackluster ground game in the second half of the year. Turner also was a playmaker in the return game and catching passes.
Its 5-4 record was better than it seemed since three of the four losses were to teams with a winning record and the two teams that played in the conference title game in Boise State and San Jose State. The team’s defense could use a little bit of work as they allowed 27 points per game and the offense had to bail them out some. Get a good defense in ’21 and this Hawaii team could make some noise in the West Division.
Danny Gonzales, New Mexico
Roger Holien on Gonzales’ first year:
One could make the argument that first-year head coach Danny Gonzales has had more adversity than all the first year MWC coaches this season. To even get on the field to play this year with the Lobos playing their games at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2020 season because of Covid restrictions in Albuquerque.
To top that off by having to play their last two games of the year against Wyoming and Fresno State with a fifth-string walk-on true freshman, Isiah Chavez, to get victories in those games is very inspiring, to say the least.
The future looks solid with Gonzales and the Lobos and once he gets more of his own guys and a full offseason of practices, then New Mexico could very well be on the upswing.
Marcus Arroyo, UNLV
A failing grade is harsh but losing every game by double digits does not merit a good grade in Arroyo’s first year. He had issues at quarterback ranging from poor play to injuries during the year.
While 2020 was not a great year, there are some bright spots to look forward to UNLV next year and beyond. Starting running back Charles Williams announced he will be back and he is a huge piece for this offense.
Also, young players saw a lot of time and showed up to play well such as freshman wide receivers Zyell Griffen and Kyle Williams were first and third in yards. In that receiving game, UNLV is returning seven of its top eight pass catchers.
Defensively, they also return Jacoby Windmon as their stud linebacker and three of their four starters in the secondary return. There is a lot to fix and improve for the next year with Arroyo but allowing for young talent to see the field helps them grow and be ready for, hopefully, a traditional 2021.