2013 Pre-Preseason M-West WEST Rankings
Fresno State QB Derek Carr
Fresno State QB Derek Carr
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 23, 2013


The too early look at how good the Mountain West - West teams should be in 2013.


CFN 2013 First Look Rankings

Mountain West - West
 

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It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, where does everyone stand before Signing Day and spring ball? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2013 based on how good they appear to be at the moment. 

- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - Mountain
 
1. Fresno State (9-4)

A disastrous loss to SMU in the Hawaii Bowl should only serve as motivation for a team that turned things around in a big hurry in Tim DeRuyter’s first season, and as soon as quarterback Derek Carr announced he was coming back for his senior year, the expectations became Mountain West title or bust. The return of Carr should help ease the pain of losing workhorse running back Robbie Rouse and most of the top backups. Davante Adams is one of the nation’s best young receivers leading a potentially devastating corps. Three starters return up front, but center Richard Helepiko and left guard Matt Hunt are done. The defense gets eight starters back from a group that finished second in the nation in pass defense and ninth in sacks. Unfortunately, ball-hawking safety Phillip Thomas is one of the losses, as is big-tackling linebacker Travis Brown. Tyeler Davison, Nikko Motta, Andy Jennings and Todd Hunt form a nice rotation for the front three that needs to be stronger against the run.

2. San Diego State (9-4)

Welcome to a potentially dangerous sleeper on a national scale. The Aztecs came up with a shocking 9-4 rebound year, and now they’re loaded with 20 starters back including ten on defense, depending on the alignment. Unfortunately, the one big loss is corner Leon McFadden, but the D that led the Mountain West in rushing gets everyone else back including linebacker Jake Fely and safety Nat Berhe. The offense is also ready to roll with nine starters returning led by quarterback Adam Dingwell and running back Adam Muema, who pounded out 112 yards per game. Gavin Escobar is one of the nation’s top returning tight ends, and wide receiver Colin Lockett will be on a few All-America watch lists.

3. San Jose State (11-2)

How do you possibly top one of the greatest seasons in school history and the loss of miracle worker head coach Mike MacIntyre? Ron Caragher stepped in for Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and did a strong job, and while it’s asking for too much to repeat last year’s success, the talent is in place to keep on winning. Ultra-accurate quarterback David Fales will go from underground sensation to national storyline, but he loses tight end Ryan Otten and running back De’Leon Eskridge. With four senior starters back up front, Fales should get time to work. The defense has to overcome the loss of pass rushing sensation Travis Johnson, but tackle Travis Raciti should be a factor and linebacker Keith Smith will be one of the best in the conference.

4. Nevada (7-6)

New coach, same Wolf Pack? With Hall of Famer Chris Ault retiring (again), new head man Brian Polian has never been a head coach or even a coordinator, but he gets to try to make the program his with quarterback Cody Fajardo leading a good ground game that should keep on rolling despite the early departure of running back Stefphon Jefferson. The big problem is a line that loses three starters, but with offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich miraculously coming back, the offense should keep on rolling. The defense has to replace five starters but gets back top pass rusher Brock Hekking and three other starters on the line. Losing three starters from the secondary, and not having top corner and star punt returner Khalid Wooten anymore makes it worse.

5. UNLV (2-11)

Head coach Bobby Hauck continues to fight the uphill battle of trying to make UNLV football relevant, and after yet another miserable season, he needs to find something that works this year out of a veteran team that gets 20 starters back. Ten starters are back on a baby-young D, but the one departure – weakside linebacker John Lotulelei – is a big one. Tim Hasson is a safety-sized linebacker who should put up big numbers, and with depth across the board, finding options won’t be a problem. Tim Cornett is a dangerous back who’ll be the focal point of the attack once again, but quarterback Nick Sherry has to make the job his after fighting through freshman year growing pains. Devante Davis is a big, talented young receiver.

6. Hawaii (3-9)

Yes, Norm Chow’s first season – at least the first ten games - couldn’t have been more disastrous with just three wins and an offense that stunk from the start, but the production might quickly turn everything around with all 11 starters back. While experience is great, the same players that were awful last year have to suddenly become better at playing college football. Is Jeremy Higgins the answer at quarterback, or will Sean Schroeder get another shot? Billy Ray Stutzmann is a good receiver to ramp up the offense, while Joey Iosefa is a big back who should fit what Chow wants to do. Now the line has to block someone. The defense was a surprising bright spot, especially against the pass, and while corner Mike Edwards is leaving early for the NFL, eight returning starters including linebacker John Laurel and strong safety John Hardy-Tulian are excellent veterans to help keep the momentum going.

- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - Mountain