Transient Mountain West Begins Odd Season

By: Michael Robinson | Thursday, August 16, 2012

The new-look Mountain West Conference has lost TCU, but has three new schools in what looks to be an exciting season before another shakeup at year-end that will see Boise State and San Diego State depart.

The coaching news starts with Fresno State’s Pat Hill departing after 15 seasons. Tim DeRuyeter steps in after being a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.  The new offensive coordinator is David Schramm from Utah and he’s running an up-tempo offense, which could lead to both more points scored and allowed (with a tired defense).

Colorado State has a new coach in Jim McElwain. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama and should turn around the Rams quickly. Norm Chow is a high-profile former offensive coordinator who’s now the head man in Hawaii. He’s another guy who is going to spread things out offensively and put up points.

Bob Davie has left the broadcast booth to go to New Mexico. It’s going to take him awhile to build up that program, and he might have been better off staying in broadcasting.

Looking at quarterbacks, Nevada’s Cody Fajardo is a good run-and-pass guy who completed 69 percent of his passes in his freshman year. Fresno State’s Derek Carr is going to love the new offense after throwing for 26 TDs last season. He could put up huge numbers this year.

Wyoming is a fun team, especially with sophomore quarterback Brett Smith. He had 20 TDs vs. 11 picks as a frosh and those numbers will get better. New Mexico senior B.R. Holbrook and UNLV junior Caleb Herring are two more to watch.

Running backs in focus include Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse. He had 1,549 yards last year and will find a lot of holes again despite his small stature. Colorado State’s Chris Nwoke had 1,130 yards and nine TDs, while UNLV’s Tim Cornett averaged 5.6 YPC and will get a lot of carries this season/ 

Wideouts to watch include Wyoming’s Chris McNeill, who had 42 receptions for over 500 yards and will improve those stats if he stays healthy.

Boise State is listed with a 9½-win total and shaded to the ‘over.’ The Broncos start things by visiting Michigan State and they have a very good receiver in Matt Miller. He has good size, hands and route running ability.

Boise State lost a ton to graduation, but coach Chris Peterson is reloading with talent. The team will miss quarterback Kellen Moore, but there’s far more depth there than most realize.

Nevada has done a great job in winning over the years and will rely on some junior college transfers to go along with its returning starters.  Already in the College Football Hall of Fame, head coach Chris Ault has reloaded and this could be an underrated and experienced defenses.

Fresno State has a lot of experience with tons of returning starters. Air Force was hit a lot harder with graduation, but they are used to it.

Finally, Wyoming has nine returning starters on defense and seven on offense. Another bowl bid looks like a good bet.

Follow Don Best throughout the preseason as we preview each and every football conference: ACC ... Big 12 ... Big East ... Big Ten ... Conference USA ... Mid-American Conference ... Mountain West ... Sun Belt ... WAC .

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