Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 4 Depth Chart
11 Mountain West teams will play in Week 4. We identify new names atop each depth chart who could be important.
Which unfamiliar names are worth following?
Nevada — Zac Welch, G
The Wolf Pack have fallen on hard times over the last couple of weeks, but one player who’s continued to solidify himself as a key piece of the Nevada offense is Welch. Though Derek Sage’s offense has been more run heavy than we’ve seen in Reno for a while, Welch has posted a 75.3 pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus in the first four games, so it’ll be interesting to see how playcalling might adjust with that in mind going forward.
Air Force — Adam Karas, OT
One unexpected wrinkle in last week’s matchup against Wyoming is that Karas got his first start of the year ahead of Kaleb Holcomb, who had started the first two contests against Northern Iowa and Colorado. According to Pro Football Focus, Karas had already seen his snap count increase from 21 to 32 to 36 while Holcomb played only 18 snaps against the Cowboys last week.
Furthermore, if PFF grades are to be believed, Holcomb had more or less picked up where he left off in 2021 with a 78.8 overall grade that currently ranks second among Mountain West tackles, so this is something that bears watching as the Falcons look to get back on track against Nevada.
Boise State — Cade Beresford, OT
The Washington State transfer has played every snap opposite veteran John Ojukwu so far, 210 in all according to Pro Football Focus, but it’s difficult to say whether he’s made the offensive line any better or worse overall. He does own a slightly better PFF overall grade than Ojukwu, 63.6 to 63.0, but that ranks just 11th among all Mountain West offensive tackles. UTEP hasn’t been quite as strong as they were a year ago, but the Broncos have made a habit of struggling against everyone to some extent so far, so Beresford will need to improve going forward.
San Diego State — Desjhon Malone, CB
The Aztecs secondary hasn’t had it easy so far, getting pummeled by both Arizona and Utah in the young season, but Malone made his first start of the season last week against the Utes after Noah Avinger started the first two games and is now listed atop the depth chart opposite Dallas Branch. In three games, Malone has collected ten total tackles and one pass defended, but that starting role isn’t guaranteed since Noah Tumblin has also played reasonably well so far.
Colorado State — Justus Ross-Simmons, WR
Technically, Ross-Simmons is listed as a backup to Ty McCullouch on the most recent depth chart, but with the recent news that Melquan Stovall left the program, the true freshman seems the likeliest candidate to get a starting nod after playing 45 total snaps last week against Washington State and scoring his first collegiate touchdown. The Rams haven’t been shy about throwing the ball, so they’ll need everything he can give them to avoid an FCS upset for the second year in a row.
Wyoming — Emmanuel Pregnon, G
The relative newbie on a well-seasoned Cowboys offensive line, Pregnon hasn’t looked out of place stepping into the starting lineup so far this year. For one, only Hawaii’s Micah Vanterpool has played more snaps than Pregnon (256) to date and just two Mountain West guards, teammate Zach Watts and Air Force’s Isaac Cochran, have put up a PFF grade better than his 71.8. That kind of steady presence can only be an asset heading into a tough road contest at BYU.