2013 MW Preview - West Team Breakdown
San Diego State RB Adam Muema
San Diego State RB Adam Muema
Posted Aug 3, 2013

Preview 2013 - CFN Mountain West Team By Team Quick Looks and Predicted Finish

Preview 2013

MW West Team By Team

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1. Fresno State
2013 CFN Prediction: 11-1
2013 MW Prediction: 7-1

Offense: After finishing 16th in the nation in total offense and 17th in scoring, the potential is there to be even better. The line has an all-star in Austin Wentworth at left tackle to work around, and enough quickness and experience to be a bit stronger in pass protection while doing the job for the ground game. Workhorse Robbie Rouse is gone, but the combination of Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada should get the job done. The running attack will be fine, but it’ll be the passing attack that makes the offense devastating, getting back quarterback Derek Carr for one more season with an unstoppable receiving corps to work with. Davante Adams is coming off a breakout year, but the return of Josh Harper from injury should up the passing production even more.

Defense: The new coaching staff was supposed to come in with a reputation for cranking up the defense, and boy did Tim DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth do their jobs. Helped by a defensive front that got to the quarterback on a regular basis, cranking out 40 sacks on the year and 94 tackles for loss to turn up the intensity, everything else worked from there with the secondary getting time to dominate and make big plays. The Bulldogs finished second in the nation in pass defense and fourth in pass efficiency defense, and while the numbers are inflated a bit with few teams on the schedule who could throw, the defensive backs really were that good. Dominant safety Phillip Thomas is gone, but the rest of the key parts are back.

2. San Diego State
2013 CFN Prediction: 9-3
2013 MW Prediction: 6-2

Offense: New offensive coordinator Bob Toledo should add a little more pop to an attack that all but eliminated the passing game at times over the second half of the year, but was dominant on the ground. Adam Muema returns in the backfield and should have another All-America-caliber season behind a good line with a nice base of veterans returning. Adam Dingwell took over the starting quarterback job over the second half of last season and did a decent job, but he threw a few too many picks and didn’t involve the receiving corps enough. Star tight end Gavin Escobar is gone, but wideouts Colin Lockett and Ezell Ruffin should be far more explosive in the new-look offense that will emphasize more downfield passing

Defense: Rocky Long is one whale of a defensive coach. The head man took over the coordinator job a few years ago, and the results came through last season leading the Mountain West against the run and allowing a paltry 369 total yards per game. The front six of the 3-3-5 alignment should be terrific with everyone returning to the smallish, athletic front three and Jake Fely and Derek Largent two devastating pass rushing linebackers. The safeties will be a strength with Nat Berhe one of the league’s best hitters, but the cornerback situation is a question mark with untested, smallish options working around King Holder. The whole will be better than the sum, but it's an athletic whole.

T3. Nevada
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 MW Prediction: 5-3

Offense: Don't expect anything to change. Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich is known for his days as a bomber in the high-octane Hawaii offense, but he's controlling the Wolf Pack's Pistol offense that needs a little retooling after cranking up 271 rushing yards per game, 515 total yards per outing and 38 points per game. Cody Fajardo should be among the Mountain West's best quarterbacks, and he has a nice receiving corps to work with led by veteran Brandon Wimberly. RB Stefphon Jefferson is gone, and now it's up to JUCO transfer Don Jackson to be ready to rock right out of the box behind a rebuilt line that's replacing three starters.

Defense: Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton has to try to improve a defense that finished 110th in the nation against the run and allowed 442 yards and 34 points per game. The defensive front needs to be the centerpiece to work around with all four starters returning and two dangerous ends in Brock Hekking and Lenny Jones the stars. However, the run defense has to be far stronger and the pass rush has to come from other spots. The back seven has to undergo a massive makeover, but it’s a great-sized, athletic lot of prospects who look the part and have to play like it.

T3. San Jose State
2013 CFN Prediction: 6-6
2013 MW Prediction: 5-3

Offense: Kaboom. The Spartan passing game was terrific in 2011, but it was inefficient and didn’t explode. In 2012, thanks to the emergence of quarterback David Fales, the attack was occasionally unstoppable finishing sixth in the nation in passing and third in passing efficiency. Expect more of the same with a loaded receiving corps returning and four starters back on a decent line that should give Fales more time to work. The running game will never be special, but there are a slew of quick backs with the upside to combine forces to replace De’Leon Eskridge. But it’ll all come down to Fales, who needs to come up with a repeat performance for the team to have any chance in the Mountain West.

Defense: The defense came up with a phenomenal season with a night-and-day difference in the pass rush and huge improvement against the run. After allowing 204 yards per game on the ground and generating 16 sacks, the Spartans ripped off 42 tackles and allowed a paltry 122 rushing yards per game. There might be some key losses in the secondary, and losing pass rushing star Travis Johnson hurts, but the new 3-4 alignment should take advantage of the hybrid prospects on the outside while relying on tackle Travis Raciti to get behind the line on a regular basis. Outside linebacker Vince Buhaguar, inside linebacker Keith Smith and corner Bene Benwikere are all all-star candidates to rebuild around.

T5. Hawaii
2013 CFN Prediction: 2-10
2013 MW Prediction: 1-7

Offense: Let’s try this again. The Hawaii offense went into the tank finishing with the third-worst attack in college football averaging under 300 yards per game with a passing game that didn’t work. The big plays weren’t there, the pass protection was non-existent, and it was like pulling teeth to score. Take away the 54 points scored against Lamar and the 48 in the explosion late in the year against UNLV, and the team struggled to average two touchdowns a game. But there’s hope. New offensive coordinator Aaron Price has a veteran crew to work with along with an upgrade at quarterback. Ohio State transfer Taylor Graham should help a passing attack that welcomes back almost all the top targets, and while the line won’t be fantastic, it’s full of veterans and should be far stronger.

Defense: While there were problems against the run, and the D gave up way too many points, there was decent production at times led by a pass defense that finished 11th in the nation. However, there was a reason the pass defense stats were so great – the defensive front seven was destroyed by anyone who could run. Defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer likes to get aggressive and wants to pressure the quarterback and it showed with a decent year getting behind the line. The ends should be terrific and all three starters return at linebacker, but can anyone stop the run? The secondary should be a strength with three starters back including safeties John Hardy-Tuliau and Marrell Jackson two solid playmakers to work around.

2013 CFN Prediction: 3-9
2013 MW Prediction: 1-7

Offense: Offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach has an offense with the potential to be the breakout star of the Mountain West. All the pieces are there to be far better after years of building to this point, but the attack has to be far more consistent and more explosive. After a year of working the kinks out, quarterback Nick Sherry should be more efficient with Devante Davis and all the top receivers returning. The line was a plus last year, and now it gets back three starters and banged up tackle Brett Boyko to generate a push for Tim Cornett, one of the league’s best running backs.

Defense: It’s all relative, but the defense really did improve. Defensive coordinator Tim Hauck welcomes almost everyone back, and now it’s time to take an even bigger step forward. Leading tackler John Lotuleilei is the only starter missing, but there are plenty of veterans ready to pick up the slack. The run defense struggled too much against the teams that could run, the secondary didn’t stop the teams that could pass, and overall it was a fight to keep teams under 35 points, but the Rebels allowed almost eight fewer points per game. Again, there needs to be an improvement with all the youth and athleticism needing to translate into better production and bigger plays.