2009 CFN Mountain West Team Capsules
Colorado State WR Dion Morton
Colorado State WR Dion Morton
Posted Aug 8, 2009

2009 CFN Mountain West Predictions and Team-by-Team Thumbnail Views

2009 CFN Mountain West Preview

CFN Team Capsules & Picks

Team Previews & Predictions
- Air Force | BYU | Colorado State | New Mexico
- San Diego State | TCU | UNLV | Utah | Wyoming

- 2009 CFN Mountain West Preview
- 2009 CFN All-Mountain West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2009 CFN Mountain West Team Capsules
- 2009 Mountain West Schedules & CFN Picks
- 2009 Mountain West Unit Rankings
- 2008 CFN Mountain West Preview 

BYU | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 11-1 Conf. Record: 8-0
Best Offensive Player: QB Max Hall, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: DE Jan Jorgensen, Sr.
Offense: Only four starters are returning, with four starters gone off the line and the receivers, including star Austin Collie, have to be replaced, but the attack should be explosive once again with QB Max Hall appearing to be ready for a special season. He makes everyone around him better, and the receiving corps should step up and shine with O'Neill Chambers and McKay Jacobson good ones to get excited about. Tight end Dennis Pitta is a special pass-catching tight end, while Andrew George is hardly a No. 2 with great hands and nice route-running ability. Two-time, 1,000-yard rusher Harvey Unga will handle the ground game working behind a massive, line that should be strong with a little bit of time. Matt Reynolds is one of the nation's best left tackles and should keep Hall clean.
Defense: After finishing tenth in the nation and ninth in points allowed, the defense took a major step back struggling mightily as the year went on. Everything was great early on with shutouts of Wyoming and UCLA while holding New Mexico to three points, and then came the second half of the year. The D failed to generate any pressure, there weren't enough big plays, and the Cougars lost three of their final seven games. This year, the front seven in the 3-4 is loaded with depth and skill with Jan Jorgensen leading a great looking line and Matt Bauman a strong tackler in the middle of the linebacking corps. The biggest issue is at corner where the depth is thin and there needs to be more production against the better passing teams. The safeties should help pick up the slack with Scott Johnson and Andrew Rich in for big seasons.

2. TCU | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 11-1 Conf. Record: 7-1
Best Offensive Player: OT Marshall Newhouse, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: DE Jerry Hughes, Sr.
Offense: The TCU offense put up yards and points finishing 21st in the nation scoring and 12th in yards, but it wasn't under a whole bunch of pressure to produce with a defense that wasn't going to allow more than two touchdowns a game. Offensive coordinator Mike Schultz left for Illinois and now it'll be up to running back coach Jarrett Anderson and quarterback coach Justin Fuente to handle the job of keeping things moving. It shouldn't be a problem with a strong line, led by tackle Marshall Newhouse, paving the way for a decent, but undistinguished stable of backs. Andy Dalton is more than just a serviceable quarterback, and he could explode with a deep and talented receiving corps to work with.
Defense: Gone from the nation's No. 1 defense, No. 1 run defense, No 2 in sacks and No. 2 scoring defense are the two first-team All-Mountain West linebackers in the 4-2-5 scheme, two of the three starting safeties, both of them all-stars, and three starters off the line including two first-team All-Mountain West tackles. So why doesn't there appear to be even the slightest bit of panic? Maybe it's because the defense will be even faster. Daryl Washington is about to become a superstar at linebacker, there's tremendous quickness all across the line to help out All-America DE Jerry Hughes, and there are lightning fast defensive backs in bunches to rotate in the open spots. The corner tandem of Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders should be among the best in the nation. There's even more of a chip on the defense's shoulder with all the new starters, and while it might not be as good as it was last year, it should still be a killer.
3. Utah | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 9-3 Conf. Record: 5-3
Best Offensive Player: OT Zane Beadles, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Stevenson Sylvester, Sr.
Offense: For all the good things the team and the offense did last year, the attack was a bit inconsistent. However, it always came through when it had to. The receiving corps is undergoing a total overhaul, RB Darrell Mack is gone, and QB Brian Johnson, the heart and soul, has to be replaced. Seven starters might be gone, but the offense might be even more talented. David Reed and Aiona Key lead an unproven, but ultra-athletic receiving corps with big-time upside. RB Matt Asiata should shine with a bigger role, and the line returns enough talent, with three starters coming back, to be solid. But the focus will be on the quarterback situation where Corbin Louks is a speedster who could add more of a rushing element than Johnson did, but JUCO transfer Terrance Cain is a good passer who'll see time if he doesn't win the job outright.
Defense: The defense dominated against the run last year allowing just 99 yards per game, and it should be even better with a great rotation up front, a fast, tough linebacking corps, and plenty of experience. The question on the line will be whether or not pass rushing terror Paul Kruger can be replaced, but Koa Misi is a strong threat from one side and Derrick Shelby has great potential on the other. Stevenson Sylvester and Mike Wright form a solid 1-2 linebacking punch, and safeties Robert Johnson and Joe Dale will earn all-star honors. While there's some concern at corner with the loss of first-team All-Mountain West stars Sean Smith and Brice McCain, but there's speed to burn at both spots.

T4. Air Force | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 6-6 Conf. Record: 4-4
Best Offensive Player: OG Nick Charles, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: SS Chris Thomas, Sr.
Offense: If last year was supposed to be about rebuilding with so many key players gone, then this season should be about blowing up. The Falcons weren't their normally explosive selves, but they still finished sixth in the nation in rushing, were ultra-efficient, held on to the ball, and showed good pop in the passing game. There's a ton of experience returning, led by all-stars Nick Charles and Chris Campbell on a veteran line that led the nation in sacks allowed (5). The receiving corps should be terrific, at least for Air Force, with the top three wide receivers back, and the quarterback situation has become interesting with RB Asher Clark being moved over to push the incumbent, Tim Jefferson. There will be rushing production from a variety of sources, but if it's not Clark, there isn't any one tailback who'll likely stand out.
Defense: The switch to the 3-4 scheme two years ago turned out to be a huge help last year as the inexperienced defense turned in a strong year. The pass rush was unstoppable at times, the secondary decent, and overall, the lack of bulk wasn't a huge problem. However, the defense only did a strong job against the mediocre offenses. Wyoming, Southern Utah, San Diego State and Army were some of the teams that had problems, while Utah, Houston, BYU and TCU lit it up. Even so, there's plenty to get excited about for not just this year, but next year as well with seven starters back, good replacements in the open spots, and plenty of non-seniors to count on for the future. The problem area will be the pass rush, at least early on, needing Rick Ricketts and Myles Morales to replace the tremendous end tandem of Jake Paulsen and Ryan Kemp. Ken Lamendola leads a good linebacking corps that'll put up big-time stats, while Reggie Rembert, hard-hitting Chris Thomas, and rising star Jon Davis are part of a secondary that could be the best the program has had in a decade.

T4. Colorado State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 6-6 Conf. Record: 4-4
Best Offensive Player: WR Dion Morton, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Mychal Sisson, Soph.
Offense: If the backfield develops quickly, this could be one of the most effective offenses in the Mountain West. Steve Fairchild had said from day one that his offense wasn't going to do anything cute. It was going to pound away with the big offensive line, and it did. But the supposed weakness, the deep passing game, turned out to be the strength, and it should be a major positive again with the tremendous twosome of Dion Morton and Rashaun Greer returning. But who'll throw to them? It'll be a battle up until the end, and maybe even beyond, with Klay Kubiak and Grant Stucker the two main options. The running game loses all its power with Gartrell Johnson and Kyle Bell gone, but there's more speed now with John Mosure and Alex Square getting more work. However, it'll be up to JUCO transfer Leonard Grant to be the main man when it comes to a workhorse. Whoever's running the ball will have a veteran line to work behind with four senior starters.
Defense: There hasn't been much of a defense in Fort Collins for the last few years. Last year was a nightmare with the worst pass rush in America leading to a tough year in pass coverage. Making matters worse was the lack of production against the run. Now, for good and bad, everyone of note has to be replaced on the line while the linebacking corps has to undergo a major change with Ricky Brewer getting booted from the team and Jake Pottorff needing to retire thanks to shoulder problems. The secondary has upside, but it needs far more help from the dead defensive front that has quickness, but little pass rushing potential. Mychal Sisson should have another huge year at linebacker as he'll have to come up with big plays all over the field.

T4. New Mexico | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 5-7 Conf. Record: 4-4
Best Offensive Player: C Erik Cook, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Clint McPeek, Sr.
Offense: The offense wanted to go more to the spread late in the Rocky Long era, and now it's diving in head first under new head coach Mike Locksley, the former offensive coordinator at Illinois. While the Lobos don't have a Juice Williams to do a little of everything under center, Donovan Porterie, despite a disastrous 2008 with no production and a devastating knee injury, is a veteran talent who should do a good job of directing traffic. However, he's not the runner the offense needs meaning Tate Smith and Brad Gruner will factor into the mix. The receiving corps is experienced, but it's not very good, while the backfield is good, but has little experience. Helping the cause will be a strong line that has to make a big adjustment, but has if full of mid-range NFL talent to keep the adjustment period relatively painless. Erik Cook might be the Mountain West's best center, while Byron Bell is on the verge of becoming a special tackle.
Defense: New defensive coordinator Doug Mallory comes over from LSU and will incorporate his attacking style to try to utilize all the team's speed and quickness. However, this is a very small defense with only three starters returning and a whole bunch of question marks, most notably, health. The move from a 3-3-5 alignment to a 4-3 will help the back seven, because now Clint McPeek can be a full-time outside linebacker and Ian Clark and Frankie Solomon can take on traditional safety roles, but there's a big problem up front with concerns at the end and uncertainty at tackle. Where's the pass rush going to come from? If there isn't a regular push into the backfield, there will be a big problem considering the corners are extremely green after the departure of Glover Quin and DeAndre Wright. There's a lot of work to be done, but this could be a D that improves by leaps and bounds week after week.

7. UNLV | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 5-7 Conf. Record: 3-5
Best Offensive Player: WR Ryan Wolfe, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: LB Jason Beauchamp, Sr.
Offense: The Shotgun Spread offense has had its moments over the last few years, and it was more efficient throwing the ball last year with Omar Clayton turning in a fantastic season. Now it's about being more explosive and getting more out of the running game. Ryan Wolfe is one of the Mountain West's best receivers and will be the star the offense works around, but he's hardly the lone target for defenses to worry about with Phillip Payne growing into a star. The line is strong on the outside with tackles Matt Murphy and Evan Marchal, but the interior is suspect outside of C/G Joe Hawley. There's no power in the backfield, but there are several quick, athletic running backs to rotate.
Defense: The defense was a disaster last season allowing 40 points or more six times and giving up 32.58 points per game. After years of having problems getting into the backfield, the Rebels could have another tough season without a pure pass rusher to count on. While they finished 115th in the nation in sacks, 116th in tackles for loss, and 110th against the run, there's hope for a big improvement with a veteran front seven returning led by a very good, very athletic linebacking corps. If Starr Fuimaono returns 100% from a knee injury, he'll combine with Jason Beauchamp and Ronnie Paulo to form a tremendous trio. The secondary is the biggest concern with three JUCO transfers needing to play big roles right away and a few returning veterans needing to go from good to great.

8. San Diego State | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 4-8 Conf. Record: 1-7
Best Offensive Player: WR Vincent Brown, Jr.
Best Defensive Player: DE B.J. Williams, Jr.
Offense: New offensive coordinator Al Borges, who was blamed, for right or wrong, for Auburn's offensive inconsistencies a few years ago, but he should do a good job for the Aztec attack. There are plenty of veterans returning and enough experienced depth to hope for an overall improvement, and most of all, it should be more consistent. QB Ryan Lindley struggled to grasp the attack this offseason and needs to work on his accuracy, but he's the passer who'll be the main man for the offense and he has a good group of receivers to work with. Vincent Brown is an excellent No. 1 target, while there's speed and athleticism among the rest of the receivers to stretch the field a bit more. The line is very big and has been groomed for the last few years to be ready to shine now. It'll be good in pass protection, but it has to be far better at blasting open holes for the ground game. The backs are extremely quick and they've been around for a long time, but they have to produce after doing nothing last year.
Defense: The defense was an utter disaster finishing 113th in the nation in both total defense and scoring, but there could be a major change right away with the addition of defensive coordinator Rocky Long, the former New Mexico head coach who should be terrific now that he only has to concentrate on the D. He'll change things up to a 3-3-5 alignment and will turn the back eight lose to be more disruptive and try to make more big plays, but the improvement on the defense is up to the line. The Aztec front three has the talent with B.J. Williams and Jonathan Soto two big ends working around Ernie Lawson in the middle. They need to hold up better against the run and there has to be far, far more production into the backfield, but in the new system they should shine. The linebackers have promise, while the secondary will get plenty of opportunities to make big plays.

9. Wyoming | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart
Projected Record: 2-10 Conf. Record: 0-8
Best Offensive Player: DT John Fletcher, Sr.
Best Defensive Player: WR Greg Bolling, Sr.
Offense: After finishing last season with the nation's worst scoring offense, averaging just 12.67 points per game, and finishing 108th in the nation in yards, any improvement to the attack will be welcome. In comes the no-huddle spread attack that will try to quicken up the pace and keep defenses on their toes. On the plus side, the line should be solid thanks to tackles Ryan Otterson and Clayton Kirven, while there's speed in the backfield (but almost no experience). The problem is the passing game with five prospects to fight it out this summer for the starting quarterback job. Longtime Cowboy Karsten Sween has the inside track, but he'll have to work even harder and be even more consistent to secure the job. The receivers aren't bad, but they need to be able to hold on to the ball and they have to make plays whenever they get a chance. Greg Bolling leads the promising group that should benefit in a big way from the change in coaching staffs.
Defense: Considering there wasn't any offense to help out the cause for the second year in a row, the defense wasn't all that bad. Now, with eight starters returning and decent depth, at least compared to the offense, the D should be solid across the board. The line has the potential to be fantastic with John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein leading the 3-4. Weston Johnson and Gabe Knapton are good veteran linebackers to rely on, while Brian Hendricks is about to be a star taking over in place of long-time star Ward Dobbs on the weakside. The secondary could eventually be special with the Gipson brothers, Marcell and Tashaun, starring at the corners and Chris Prosinski a playmaker at free safety.

- 2009 CFN Mountain West Preview
- 2009 CFN All-Mountain West Team & Top 30 Players
- 2009 CFN Mountain West Team Capsules
- 2009 Mountain West Schedules & CFN Picks
- 2009 Mountain West Unit Rankings
- 2008 CFN Mountain West Preview