Mountain West Football: San Jose State Gains, New Mexico Drops In Updated 2023 Returning Production Rankings
With significant roster shuffling over the last few months, what does the Mountain West look like now in terms of returning production?
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A decline overall, but some have been hit harder than others.
To go along with the updated SP+ rankings released this morning, ESPN’s Bill Connelly also provided an update on how teams are faring in terms of returning production ahead of the 2023 college football season.
Back in February, one Mountain West team stood head and shoulders above the rest of the conference and while that advantage still holds for the most part, a few other teams saw significant bumps in what they bring back thanks to updated rosters while it became evident in some other places just how significant a toll the transfer portal has taken.
How is the percentage measured? According to Connelly, it considers the following three questions: “How good has your team been recently? How well has it recruited? And perhaps most importantly, who returns from last year’s roster?” Additionally, quarterback production tends to weigh the heaviest of any individual position on offense, accounting for more than one-quarter of production, while defensive backs account for nearly half of the overall figure on defense.
- 127. Utah State — 41% (41% offense, 42% defense, -13% RP, -24 spots)
- 109. New Mexico — 53% (78% offense, 28% defense, -11% RP, -48 spots)
- 91. Fresno State — 57% (50% offense, 64% defense, -2% RP, -7 spots)
- 83. Hawaii — 58% (53% offense, 63% defense, +11% RP, +39 spots)
- 81. Air Force — 58% (47% offense, 70% defense, +1% RP, +5 spots)
- 72. Nevada — 59% (52% offense, 66% defense, +6% RP, +36 spots)
- 66. San Diego State — 61% (62% offense, 59% defense, +5% RP, +31 spots)
- 63. Colorado State — 61% (61% offense, 62% defense, -3% RP, -1 spot)
- 59. Boise State — 62% (69% offense, 56% defense, -5% RP, -10 spots)
- 54. UNLV — 64% (60% offense, 67% defense, -5% RP, -12 spots)
- 35. San Jose State — 69% (86% offense, 52% defense, +16% RP, +76 spots)
- 13. Wyoming — 74% (64% offense, 84% defense, -8% overall RP, -9 spots)
Just as in the winter, Wyoming still leads the way despite a few more departures from the program, but they have some company in the top 40 this time around thanks to San Jose State. They were one of two teams in the Mountain West to see a double-digit increase in overall returning production and made the biggest overall jump anywhere in the conference as a result.
The other team to improve by at least ten percent? That would be Hawaii, which had the lowest RP figure of any Mountain West team back in February but is now considerably closer to the middle, which may be a good sign for the team’s odds of defying prognosticators for the second straight year under Timmy Chang.
The only other teams to get a big boost in returning production are Nevada, thanks largely to a Wolf Pack defense that saw a bump from 54% to 66%, and San Diego State, which saw its defensive production percentage increase from 40% to 59%.
On the whole, however, it may not be surprising to see that there have been corresponding dips elsewhere, none more pronounced than those of New Mexico and Utah State. Both teams have been ravaged by the transfer portal, particularly on defense: The Lobos now return the second-lowest percentage of defensive production in the FBS, ahead of only Western Michigan, while the Aggies’ percentage fell from 66% to 42% after the departures of AJ Vongphachanh, Byron Vaughns, Daniel Grzesiak, and others.
It could be worse, though: As a conference, the Mountain West ranks eighth among the ten FBS conferences, but it is ahead of both the retooled American and the Sun Belt in terms of aggregate returning production at 59.8%.