Mountain West Football: Week 1 Winners and Losers
Who came out ahead and who left something to be desired in the last weekend of Mountain West football?
Some encouragement and some letdowns from the week that was.
With twelve games on the docket in Week 1, the Mountain West Conference certainty came into college football’s first full weekend of action with high expectations. What we got after twelve games was… decidedly more mixed.
Here are the winners and losers from Week 1 of Mountain West football.
1. New Mexico’s young offensive talent.
One look at the Lobos’ opening depth chart made you think that head coach Danny Gonzales and offensive coordinator Derek Warehime felt very good about the program’s most recent recruiting class and, on Saturday against Houston Baptist, the early returns looked very promising.
A trio of true freshmen were among the major contributors in UNM’s victory over the Huskies on Thursday. While the running game was more fine than fantastic, true freshman Aaron Dumas led the way with 57 yards on 15 carries. Wide receivers Luke Wysong and Keyonta Lanier, however, emerged as new quarterback Terry Wilson’s favorite targets with nine combined catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, accounting for all four of UNM’s explosive plays through the air (15 yards or more). There’s still plenty of work to be done, of course, but for one week the future’s foundation was on full display.
— New Mexico Football (@UNMLoboFB) September 3, 2021
2. Utah State defensive end Patrick Joyner Jr.
The Aggies’ defensive line led the charge in their late-night upset over Washington State and no one stood out more than the transfer from Miami (FL). His two tackles for loss, one of which was the first of nine made by USU in the game and the second of which resulted in a second-quarter safety, set the tone for a team that looked revitalized on both sides of the ball.
— USU Football (@USUFootball) September 5, 2021
3. Fresno State defensive end Arron Mosby.
After opening the year with a scoop-and-score defensive touchdown in Week 0 against UConn, Mosby went out against the Oregon Ducks and had one hell of an encore. Though the Bulldogs came up just short of a stunning upset on Saturday afternoon, he helped the defensive line overcome some early shakiness to collect 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and a fumble recovery
SACK ➕ FUMBLE = BULLDOGS' BALL
— Fresno State Football (@FresnoStateFB) September 4, 2021
1. Colorado State’s front seven. It’s one thing to lose to a FCS team — six different FBS squads did just that in Week 1 — but it’s another to get literally run out of your own building. South Dakota State leaned on its dynamic running back duo, Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis, and they averaged 8.25 yards per carry against what was believed to be one of the better defensive lines in the Mountain West.
Scott Patchan had himself a pretty good game individually (four tackles, three quarterback hurries, one TFL), but the Rams created little havoc as a unit with just three tackles for loss. They need to rediscover their discipline and physicality in a hurry or it could be another long season in the Mountain West.
Pierre Strong, Jr. through the left side and makes one miss from 48 yards out.
South Dakota State 7,
Colorado State 0
2:22 to play in first quarter
— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) September 4, 2021
2. Boise State running backs Andrew Van Buren and Cyrus Habibi-Likio. When word came out shortly before Thursday’s kickoff that George Holani and center Kekaniokoa Holomalia-Gonzalez would miss the game with injury, many people’s thoughts can probably be summed up as thus: “Uh oh.”
Sure enough, the Broncos running game was again reduced to a plodding mess in their loss to UCF. Van Buren had a 22-yard run… and then had nine more carries for four yards. Habibi-Likio didn’t fare much better with a long run of nine yards and just 23 yards on 12 total carries. The Knights racked up nine tackles for loss, as well, which set Boise State in far too many third-and-long scenarios that Hank Bachmeier struggled to overcome.
3. San Diego State quarterback Jordon Brookshire. When Aztecs head coach Brady Hoke announced that Brookshire had won the QB1 job over Lucas Johnson and Jalen Mayden, the hope was that he could bring more of the toughness and efficiency the team had seen during last year’s late-season loss to BYU. What they got against New Mexico State was, well…
Let’s put it this way. Finishing 6-for-19 with 76 yards and one interception, let alone against one of the worst teams at the FBS level, is worse than unacceptable. Hoke and offensive coordinator Jeff Hecklinski seem committed to letting him play through the struggles, which is to their credit, but SDSU will need more from its quarterback to keep Greg Bell from doing all of the heavy lifting and establish itself as a top-tier contender this fall.