2013 Mountain West Spring Preview - Mountain
New Mexico RB Kasey Carrier
New Mexico RB Kasey Carrier
Posted Mar 6, 2013

The 2013 CFN Mountain West - Mountain - Spring Preview, Lookaheads & Analysis.

2013 Spring Preview   


2013 Mountain West Spring Preview
- CFN 2013 Mountain West Spring Preview - West 
- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - Mountain
- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - West

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Air Force
Start: February 26, Spring Finish: March 20

Why To Be Excited It's Air Force, so rebuilding and reloading isn't any big deal considering the apprentice system of making sure there are good prospects waiting in the wings ready to be the next men in. However, the one area with excellent experience is in the secondary with three starters returning from a decent group that got torched a bit too often deep, but allowed just 11 touchdown passes before getting bombed on by Fresno State and rice in the final two games. Corners Steffon Batts and Chris Miller should be factors on the outside to go along with third-leading tackler Christian Spears at safety.

Why To Be Grouchy Yes, it's Air Force, but losing nine starters on offense including quarterback Connor Dietz and running backs Wes Cobb and Cody Getz will hurt. The two returning starters on up front with guards David Lore and Drew Kerber two woefully undersized blockers for the interior, and there's almost no beef whatsoever up front. That might be by design for the nation's second-ranked rushing offense, but size is still a bit of an issue in the new and improved league. The strength of the defense that didn't do much against the run was the linebacking corps, but Alex Means, Austin Niklas and the other two starters in the 3-4 are gone.

What Needs Working On Pass rush. Air Force never has a pass rush, struggling to get into the backfield on a regular basis since 2008, but even though it's by design it still hurts the secondary that got hit way too hard by good quarterbacks with time to work. The pass rush doesn't necessarily come from the front three, but that's one spot where there's some experience returning with the linebacker-sized end coming back. This is more of a read-and-react D that has to start attacking more and forcing more turnovers after coming up with just eight picks and eight recovered fumbles.

Boise State
Start: March 26, Spring Game: April 13

Why To Be Excited There aren't any more questions about the quarterback situation and who'll replace Kellen Moore. Joe Southwick didn't exactly set the world on fire in place of the Bronco legend, but the team went 11-2 losing its two games by a combined total of six points – Southwick was fine. With top target Matt Miller coming back along with big senior Kirby Moore, the passing game should be even sharper and more consistent. On the other side of the ball, the entire defensive front is back after finishing 11th in the nation in sacks and second in the Mountain West against the run.

Why To Be Grouchy Who's going to protect Southwick? Boise State never seems to have problems finding replacements up front to step up and produce, but it's still a problem with three starters gone including tackle Brenel Myers and guard Michael Ames. Defensively, the back seven needs to come up with massive changes losing top tackler J.C. Percy and linebacker running mate Tommy Smith. Also gone are starting corners Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins from the nation's fifth-ranked pass defense.

What Needs Working On The kicking game needs to be stronger. Punter Trevor Harman wasn't bad, averaging over 41 yards per kick, but overall the unit didn't work with the punting game averaging just 34 yards per try. Michael Frisina hit 15-of-20 field goals and didn't miss any important kicks, but now he's gone and untested Dan Goodale is stepping in. The team could also use a bit more pop out of an offense that was efficient, didn't make mistakes, and was effective enough to win 11 games, but it didn't have the normal explosion against the good teams. The Broncos failed to score more than 28 points against any team that ended up in a bowl game.

Colorado State
Start: March , Spring Game: April 20

Why To Be Excited If experience means anything, the Rams should be ready to make a big step forward under Steve Fairchild. It's been a fight to get back to respectability, but CSU managed to win three of the final five games and started to show a little bit of offensive fight. 19 starters are back including nine to a defense that did a nice job of closing down the mediocre offenses and wasn't bad against the pass. End Lanston Tanyi is done along with tackle Zach Tiedgen, but that's it. This was a young team last season that's now starting to mature.

Why To Be Grouchy The four wins last year came against four miserable teams – Colorado, Hawaii, UNLV and New Mexico. There are still several bad teams to play this season, but the Rams weren't even remotely close against the good ones with all eight loses coming by double digits. It's not like the offense went anywhere, and there aren't any irreplaceable parts, but receiver Marquise Law is gone from the outside and top tackle Joe Caprioglio is done from the left side. The O still has to find a steady quarterback with M.J. McPeek gone and Conner Smith and Garrett Grayson fighting for time.

What Needs Working On The offense has to be more effective, and for what seems like the 19th year in a row, the ground game and line have to be stronger. The offensive front never seemed able to generate a steady push with just one 200-yard rushing game all year and a mere 12 scores on the ground. Three seniors will start in the interior, and running back Donnell Alexander came on late to look like a potential star, but now it all has to work. Getting steady quarterback play would take the heat off; teams have to stop being able to cheat up to stuff the run.

New Mexico
Start: March 26, Spring Game: April 27

Why To Be Excited Does Bob Davie have the right team in place to do what he wants? The running game started to work last year averaging over 300 yards per game, but it came at the expense of the passing attack. The offensive line that was so terrific at times welcomes back four starters to pave the way for Kasey Carrier, who might not be all that big but held up well. The passing attack can't be any less efficient and it can't be any worse, and it won't be with Cole Gautsche ready to push for more work after taking over late in his true freshman season.

Why To Be Grouchy The defense that was so bad against the pass isn't likely to be appreciably better right away with three starters gone including the team's leading tackler, safety Matt Raymer, along with fellow safety Freddy Young and corner Destry Berry. Linebacker Dallas Bollema is back along with top pass rushing end Jacori Greer, but the rest of the starting front seven has to be replaced. It's going to be an interesting spring in a fight for jobs.

What Needs Working On Out of all the things New Mexico has to work on, improving the passing game has to be at the top of the list. Davie's offense did a great job of pounding away at times cranking out 300 yards per more in every game but the loses to Texas, Texas Tech and, oddly enough, Colorado State, but the passing attack wasn't even a part of the plan in the ground-only style. On the year the Lobos threw five touchdown passes – with just one in the first eight games – and only hit the 100-yard mark three times.

Utah State
Start: March 19, Spring Game: April 20

Why To Be Excited There's no reason to think that the offense is going to start slowing down despite the loss of head coach Gary Andersen. Matt Wells has a loaded team returning with eight starters back on an offense that averaged close to 470 yards per game, while the defense gets back most of the key parts after finishing 14th in the nation in yards allowed and seventh in scoring. Quarterback Chuckie Keeton should be one of the Mountain West's biggest stars, and while he doesn't have Kerwynn Williams to hand off to anymore, all five starters return to a strong offensive line that should blast away for Joe Hill and the rest of the Aggie backs.

Why To Be Grouchy Andersen really was special. Wells is walking into a great situation, but Andersen was a miracle worker who managed to take a moribund program and make it good enough to go 11-2 and within five points of being perfect. The defensive front that was so great at getting into the backfield loses outside defenders Al Lapuaho and Bojay Filimoeatu. While the top pass rushers are back, it's going to be a bit of a fight to find more producers up front and replace star corner Will Davis.

What Needs Working On The defense needs to be better at forcing fumbles. As good as it was throughout the year against the run and as fantastic as it was at getting behind the line, the defense didn't do enough to get the ball on the ground. The pass D picked off 14 passes with 11 in the final six games, but on the year the Aggies forced a mere 11 fumbles and recovered just six. Turnover margin wasn't a problem overall, but it would be nice it turned into a positive.

Start: March 26, Spring Game: April 27

Why To Be Excited Experience hasn't always translated into production for Wyoming over the years, but it certainly doesn't hurt. With eight starters returning on each side of the ball along with the specialists, the Cowboys should know what they're doing after finishing the season hot winning three of their final four games. As disappointing as the 4-8 season might have been, four of the losses were by a touchdown or less and the team certainly wasn't miserable. A few improvements could be just enough to get back into the bowl picture.

Why To Be Grouchy The offensive line wasn't exactly a rock last season, and it didn't do nearly enough for the running game, and now it has some work to do with three starters gone including tackles Josh Leonard and Kyle Magnuson along with center Nick Carlson. The defense has to replace leading tackler Ghaali Muhammad at one outside linebacker spot and losing tackles Mike Purcell and B.J. Sumter take away a bulk of the side in the interior.

What Needs Working On The pass rush has to be better. The defense was lousy throughout last season, especially against the run, and part of the problem was the lack of a steady push behind the line with hit-or-miss production. It wasn't just the lack of sacks – generating 14 on the year going eight games with one or fewer – it was the lack of tackles for loss. There simply wasn't enough disruption to screw up opposing backfields, and now it'll be up to ends Eddie Yarbrough and Justin Bernthaler to do more.

2013 Mountain West Spring Preview
- CFN 2013 Mountain West Spring Preview - West 
- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - Mountain
- CFN 2013 Pre-Preseason Mountain West Rankings - West