Posts Tagged ‘Hank Bachmeier’

Lots of change in the Mountain West as it enters the 2022 season. This season is the final year of the two division format before returning to a single division, aka, the way things used to be. Next, new head coaches at Colorado State, Fresno State (sort of) Hawaii and Nevada. Finally, stadium construction continues at San Jose State, begins in Hawaii and concludes at San Diego State.

Mountain (for the final season. At this point you should be teary eyed).

Utah State

Offense: Logan Bonner (QB) returns. 36 tds coupled with 3,628 passing yards saying “I’m back” does a lot of good for a football team. Calvin Perry (the Aggie’s 2021 #1 rusher) and the number three (John Gentry) return. Mr. Perry had a decent 4.5 yards per rush, however Mr. Gentry featured an anemic average of 3.6 ypr. USU’s 2021 average rush per game was only 3.6 yards. Boo. But, with Mr. Bonner returning, the run game, once again, will not be a point of emphasis in 2022. Mr. Bonner’s top five wide receivers return featuring yards per catch averages ranging from 16.7 to 10.3. Unlike other programs, these five are actually wide receivers and tight ends. No running backs allowed. The Aggies will stretch the field again in 2022.

Defense: Last year, the Aggie defense was just shy of allowing 400 yards of total offense per game (392.7). Expect the same this year as they return sixteen of their top twenty tacklers. Justin Rice (ILB) will lead the defense, though not equaling last year’s grand total of 124 tackles would indicate an improved USU defense.

Last Thought: Head coach Blake Anderson becomes a man much sought and leaves USU for a lot of money somewhere else at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Boise State

Offense: Hank Bachmeier returns. He had an impressive completion rate of 62.8% and threw a mere 8 interceptions in 401 attempts. The Broncos leading rusher from 2021 returns. George Holani earned an above average 4.8 ypr while playing in only nine games last year. His 2022 partner is likely Tyler Crowe (5.1 ypr). Only one (Stefan Cobbs, 12. 4 ypc) of the top five receivers returns for Boise. Mr. Cobbs, Davis Koetter (11.4 ypc) and Billy Bowens (11.7 ypc) will receive the majority of Mr. Bachmeier’s attempts.

Defense: Boise State’s defense continues the admirable practice of “bend, but don’t break”. 2021 opponents enjoyed greater yards per rush (4.0 to 3.1) and yards per catch (13.2 to 12.3) than Boise’s offense, but the Broncos defense was extra stingy giving away red zone touchdowns only 45% of the time (17/38). Not bad. They return eighteen of their top twenty tacklers, thus much like Utah State, expect more of the bending, but not breaking in 2022.

Last Thought: If Boise suffers a poorly timed stumble in MW play, Air Force steps in front.

Air Force

Offense: Guess what? Air Force’s 2021 starting qb returns. I detect a trend. Haaziq Daniels completed 50% of his 104 passes while registering as the Falcons #2 rusher. Speaking of rushing, three of the top five rushers return including Mr. Daniels. The most intriguing is Deandre Hughes and his 8.2 ypr. Wow! The returning receiving corps (in name only) features the number three, four and five receivers from last year. By the way, these three gentlemen (Dane Kinamon, David Cormier and Kyle Patterson) combined for a total of twenty-five catches. Impressive paucity.

Defense: Sixteen of the top twenty return which includes six of the top seven. Air Force’s defense was the only MW team that allowed fewer than 300 yards of total offense per game. They clicked in at 296.7. During the first quarter of 2021, the defense allowed a total of 27 points. Getting off to a fast start against the Falcons is difficult.

Last Thought: Please refer to the Boise State Last Thought.

Wyoming

Offense: I know, both 2021 qbs transferred. Head coach Craig Bohl broke new recruiting ground by advertising for a quarterback. Funny and desperate. I’m betting the former Utah State qb Andrew Peasley takes advantage of his status as the only d-1 quarterback on the team with experience. Wait until I address the Colorado State and New Mexico qb rooms, and you will understand why I choose Wyoming for the fourth spot in the Mountain. Titus Swen (5.9 ypr) will lead the ground game in 2022. Dawaiian McNeely (6.6 ypr) is his likely roommate in the backfield while Trey Smith (6.6 ypr) serves as the type of back up who should be a starter. Mr. Peasley will throw to a serviceable group of returning receivers in Joshua Cobbs (9.8 ypc), Ayden Eberhardt 14.2 ypc), Treyton Welch (8.6 ypc) and Parker Christensen (9.8 ypc). Less Mr. Eberhardt, the ypc averages from 2021 were pathetic.

Defense: Only nine of the top twenty return. Last year’s opponents average of 370.4 yards per game likely increases.

Last Thought: If head coach Craig Bohl retains his job at season’s end, send a card. Nearing the end of his second contract with a 45-50 record is bad voodoo.

Colorado State

Offense: Guess how many qbs the Rams list on their 2022 roster? C’mon. Six? Nope. Five? You wish. Four? Bingo. Guess how many are true freshmen? Two. Guess how many are redshirt freshmen? Two. Mmm hmm. Now you know why I chose Wyoming fourth. David Bailey (3.8 ypr) and A’Jon Vivens (3.6 ypr) highlight a sickly running game. Avery Morrow (one of eleven transfers from Nevada) adds another body to run the ball. The good news for whomever emerges as the starting qb is three of the top four 2021 receivers return. I trust Dante Wright (12.5 ypc), Ty McCullouch (17.3 ypc), Gary Williams (13.7 ypc) and E.J. Scott 12.9 ypc) will grow accustomed to waiting and waiting on a decent downfield toss. The Nevada transfer, Tory Horton (12.7 ypc), will discover freshmen and redshirt freshmen quarterbacks are not Carson Strong.

Defense: Lots of opportunity for Rams’ defenders in 2022. Why? Only eleven of the top twenty return. CSU needs defensive help. Last year, CSU’s defense gave up a sizable 216 points during the second and third quarters. Much as Wyoming, last year’s 377.3 average total yards per game for CSU opponents increases in 2022.

Last Thought: I know much excitement generated over the arrival of the former Nevada head coach, Jay Norvell, as well as his eleven transfers. However, Mr. Norvell’s task of working with inexperienced quarterbacks, also defined as not many quarterbacks, lends to not much of a 2022 season.

New Mexico

Offense: Ugh. The Lobos averaged 12.2 points per game in 2021. They averaged less than 10 yards per catch. The offense scored a meager 15 tds the entire season. Painful and inept. Three qbs with 2021 experience return. Similar to owning three pair of pants, yet all three have holes. C.J. Montes and Connor Genal struggled to complete passes (30% and 35.7% respectively). Isaiah Chavez posted a 70.8% completion rate . . . in twenty-four attempts. I need more proof. The Kansas transfer, Miles Kendrick, enters the mix as well. He wins the starting job. As for the running game, a mix of qbs and wide recievers less Peyton Dixon (a real running back, 4.1 ypr) indicate a rough start. The #1 (Luke Wysong, 9,3 ypc) ) and #4 (Andrew Erickson, 10.6 ypc) receivers from 2021 hope to catch a pass or two each game.

Defense: Fifteen of the top twenty return. Defensive coordinator, Rocky Long, enters year three, thus this year’s crew has a grasp and understanding of his 3-3-5 defense. They improve in 2022, but not near enough to compensate for a near non-existent offense.

Last Thought: Head coach Danny Gonzales gets this year and next year to show improvement at a difficult place to win. Good luck.

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West (re the above sentiment attached to the Mountain).

Fresno State

Offense: Jake Haener (67% completion, 4,096 yards passing and 33 td with only 9 interceptions) returns. Even though the Bulldogs lose Ronnie Rivers, who cares? Mr. Haener will shred many a defensive backfield during the 2022 season. Jordan Mims (5.6 ypr) is a capable replacement for Mr. Rivers, thus the Fresno running game continues to impact. Three of the five top receivers return. Zane Pope (18.8 ypc), Josh Kelly (14.9 ypc) and Jalen Cropper (10.5 ypc) will enjoy productive years courtesy of Mr. Haener.

Defense: A potential area of concern. Only eleven of the top twenty tacklers return. Last year’s 348.2 yards per game increases in 2022, but with the Bulldog’s explosive offense a less than stellar defense is not much of a concern.

Last Thought: I abide by my “the new-head-coach-has-a-sub-.500-first-year” rule, except in the case of Jeff Tedford. His second round as the head Bulldog results in lots of wins in 2022. Fresno State is in capable hands.

San Diego State

Offense: The Virginia Tech transfer Braxton Burmeister takes the quarterback reins for 2022. Mr. Burmeister posted passable (no pun intended) numbers at VT in 2021. The Aztecs hope, at a minimum, he posts the same numbers this year. The running game received a boost with the arrival of USC transfer Kenan Christon (5.7 ypr during his USC days). Chance Bell (4.7 ypr) andJordan Byrd (6.6 ypr) make a solid three back rotation. Only two of the top five receivers return, but one of those two is the 2021 #1 wide receiver, Jesse Matthews (11.2 ypc).

Defense: The defense returns twelve of the top twenty. However, transfers Cooper MacDonald (Washington), Justus Tavai (Hawaii) and Deven Lamp (Tulsa) have plenty of game experience, and lessen any impact of non-returning starters. Besides, in my not so humble opinion, the Aztecs’ defensive coordinator, Kurt Mattix, is the best in conference.

Last Thought: If Mr. Burmeister struggles, expect Will Haskell to take his spot.

San Jose State

Offense: The ever effective Nick Nash wins the qb competition over the Hawaii transfer Chad Cordeiro (and his 17 interceptions in 2021). Last year’s offense was surprisingly anemic (20 points per game). Losing their top rusher and receiver creates substantial challenges for the 2022 Spartan offense. Mr. Nash was the second leading rusher (5.7 ypr) in 2021, but I’m not a fan of starting qbs rushing often in the course of a game (Mr. Nash had 68 rushing attempts which was second on the team in 2021). Injury becomes far more likely. Three of the top four receivers return. Isaiah Hamilton (13.4 ypc), Jermaine Braddock (14.4 ypc) and Charles Ross (12.2 ypc) along with Nevada transfers Elijah Cooks (12 ypc) and Justin Lockhart (13.4 ypc) create a talented and deep group of receivers in 2022.

Defense: The Spartan defense returns seven of their top eight tacklers and fifteen of twenty overall. Last year the SJSU defense allowed a meager 3.5 ypr and only 9 rushing tds. However, they allowed an appalling 61% of fourth down conversions which contributed to a disappointing finish in 2021.

Last Thought: The Spartan offense has the potential to be the dominate passing force in the West in 2022 if Nick Nash can get the ball downfield. We shall see.

UNLV

Offense: Head coach Marcus Arroyo finally lands a worthy qb in Tennessee transfer Harrison Bailey. The starting competition will be between Mr. Bailey and last year’s starter Cameron Friel (62% completion, but 11 interceptions negated many a 2021 drive). The 2022 running game takes a step backward with the return of only one running back who enjoyed any notable play time; Chad Magyar (3.5 ypr). Two of the top three receivers return: Zyell Griffin (and his eye popping 22.8 ypc) and Kyle Williams (15.1 ypc).

Defense: Thirteen of the top twenty return. The Rebel defense must improve. Opponents scored a total of 114 points in the second quarter, 103 points in the third quarter and 90 points in the fourth quarter during 2021. 409.4 yards per game was given up as well. If the defense does not improve, expect very few wins in 2022.


Last Thought: If the Rebels do not at least double last year’s win total of two, Mr. Arroyo lands on the 2023 hot seat.

Hawaii

Offense: Brayden Schager (60.8%) has the inside lead in the 2022 qb competition. Washington State transfer Cammon Cooper will push Mr. Schager if he struggles. One of the top four rushers returns. Dedrick Parson (5.3 ypr) is looking for a partner. Receivers Zion Bowens (21.4 ypc) and Jonah Panoke (11.2 ypc) are also looking for company.

Defense: Ugh. Four of the top twenty return. Gonna be a long year in the state of Hawaii in 2022. Last year’s 31.4 points allowed per game increases this season. Winning will be a tall order.

Last Thought: Todd Graham and his dysfunctional coaching is no longer an issue. But, rebuilding from that disaster will take a few years.

Nevada

Offense: No more Carson Strong. Nate Cox, starting qb in waiting, is in limbo due to his, um, interaction with Nevada law enforcement. No other quarterback on the 2022 roster has any division one game experience. The good news is the return of Toa Taua (4.9 ypr) and to a lesser extent Devonte Lee (a mere 3.9 ypr). The top five 2021 receivers are gone. Jamaal Bell (8.5 ypc) is the only returning receiver who logged any substantial time on the field in 2021. Arizona transfer B.J. Casteel (9.9 ypc) offers game experience, but much more is needed.

Defense: Five of the top twenty return. Oh, no. Last year’s opponents held the ball almost three minutes more than the Wolf Pack offense. Almost three minutes balloons to five plus minutes by season’s end in 2022 as will the 406.7 yards per game on behalf of Wolfpack opponents.

Last Thought: New head coach Ken Wilson and staff will have a long, frustrating, difficult, when-will-this-season-end in 2022.

After the pandemic influenced 2020 season, I trust we will play the entire MWC schedule in 2021. My predictions are based on taking 2020 stats and expanding said numbers to reflect (always dangerous, but what the hell) a 12 game season for all Mountain West schools. Influencing my predicted finish will also include the specter of returning seniors, especially starting seniors, for senior season two. Here we go.

Boise State by quite a margin. As a sidelight, the Mountain division will be significantly weaker in 2021, thus Boise’s usual dominance becomes magnified. The Broncos rolled through opponents during the first half of last year’s games while giving back significant points in the second half, especially the fourth quarter. The offense generated a paltry 349 yds per game, but once inside the red zone, the Broncos offense scored.

Offense: Not one proven quarterback with talent, but two. Hank Bachmeier likely gets the 2021 starting nod over Jack Sears (senior year dos). Mr. Bachmeier should throw for more than 2,000 yards this year. An interesting note on Mr. Sears: He had only 4 incomplete passes in 27 attempts last year. Andrew Van Buren will again be the focal point of the rushing game. However, his tiny yards per rush (ypr) of 3.4 needs to improve. George Holani and Danny Smith will battle for the second back spot. Whomever quarterbacks will have two quality receivers waiting for the throw. Khalil Shakir (52 catches, almost 103 yards per game) and CT Thomas (better than 17 yards per catch) form a talented one-two tandem. Riley Smith is the next most likely receiver to enjoy an increase in catches.

Defense: The second lowest Mountain division return rate of top-20 tacklers gives pause for 2021. Only 15 of the 20 return including 7 of the top 10. Last year’s group gave up 373.3 yards per game which was more than the Boise offense generated. The Broncos’ defense abides by the “bend, but don’t break” dictum given their outstanding 27% of third downs allowed. Opponents once inside the red zone had a hard time scoring touchdowns (18 for 31).

Wyoming had the unbelievable bad luck of immediately losing quarterback Sean Chambers in 2020. The Cowboys four losses last year were by margins of 3, 10, 1 and 8. Perhaps the most competitive 2-4 team in the nation, but such praise is equivalent to a participation trophy. Last year’s grand total of 1 passing touchdown is the strangest Wyoming stat from 2020.

Offense: Mr. Chambers wins the starting qb competition over the returning Levi Williams who offered a dull 2020 result with a completion rate of 49.6%, the aforementioned 1 td and only 146.2 yards passed per game. With a healthy Mr. Chambers, Wyoming’s anemic 46% td rate in the red zone quickly improves. Xavier Valladay and Trey Smith return as starting running backs. Mr. Valladay averaged 110 ypg and 5.6 ypr while Mr. Smith averaged 81.3 ypg and 5.5 ypr. Not bad. Ayden Eberhardt was last year’s leading receiver, though I’m sure he blushes when the number 16 made him king of the catch in 2020. Isaiah Neyor will be Mr. Eberhardt’s partner in waiting for a well thrown ball.

Defense: The saving grace of 2020, and candidly ever since Craig Bohl arrived (by the way, the dumbest move by the university would be to fire Mr. Bohl. No other Mountain division coach does more with less than Mr. Bohl). Opponents averaged only 125 yards rushing per game against the Cowboy defense and 80 third down attempts succeeded only 29 times in 2020. Impressive and likely to improve with 19 of the top 20 tacklers returning. Final testament to the quality of Wyoming’s defense: Opponents attempted only 6 fourth down conversions in 2020 and failed each attempt.

Air Force offers the only threat to Wyoming for a second place finish (sad, sad, sad). Defense and running the football once again (yawn) will determine the academy’s 2021 success.

Offense: 305.7 yards rushing per game was the sole reason Air Force approached 400 yards total offense per game (389.3 was the actual number). 3 of the top 4 rushers return. Brad Roberts (7.2 ypr), Brandon Lewis, though listed as a receiver, but there is no such thing at the academy, (9.0 ypr) and Timothy Jackson (5.2 ypr) will lead the charge (yes, a military pun) in 2021 as the Cadets pound and ground to their collective delight. Much like Air Force wide receivers, Air Force quarterbacks do not exist. They are running backs who can throw 25 yards downfield a handful of attempts per game, i.e., they handoff and run . . . a lot.

Defense: The Cadets will not benefit as much as other MWC teams regarding returning seniors because these guys have the actual Air Force waiting for them upon graduation. However, Air Force fans fear not. Last year’s often dominating defensive performance repeats in 2021. Only one team scored more than 17 points against Air Force in 2020. Perhaps something difficult to repeat, but that fact sets the tone for opponents’ offense this year. A total of 10 tds were scored against last year’s Air Force defense. Stingy and then some.

Note: Regarding the final three spots in the Mountain division, please close your eyes and spin a wheel featuring the names Colorado State, University of New Mexico and Utah State to determine fourth, fifth and sixth place. Yes, these three schools will fare poorly in 2021.

New Mexico head coach Danny Gonzales had a mess to clean up upon his arrival. A mess, a car wreck and a train wreck. Establishing a culture of player responsibility takes time. 2021 is year two for Mr. Gonzales, so I choose the Lobos for third place in the hope that they present much more of a team as opposed to individuals.

Offense: All quarterbacks who had significant to enough-to-notice playing time in 2020 return. Trae Hall, Tevaka Tuioti, Isaiah Chavez and Connor Genal create battle galore during August practice to determine the starter. Unfortunately, UNM runs quarterbacks far too often. Mr. Tuioti (#3 rusher), Mr. Chavez (#4 rusher) and Mr. Hall (#6 rusher) need to spend more time in the pocket and less time bolting downfield were potential injury awaits. Speaking of rushers, 2020’s #1 rusher, an actual running back, returns in the form of Bobby Cole (5.6 ypr). The top 2 receivers return for 2021. Mannie Logan-Greene (30 catches) and Andrew Erickson (18 catches) hope to increase last year’s 7 game total.

Defense: I admit the ultimate reason I choose UNM over CSU and USU is because of Rocky Long. Rocky’s defensive coaching results in quick improvement (if you doubt me, please reference San Diego State defensive stats prior to Rocky’s arrival and the years that followed). Only 14 of 20 top tacklers return, which usually negatively influences my prediction, but not so much with Mr. Long as Lobo defensive coordinator. The 2020 Lobo defense was absolutely awful during the second and third quarters giving away far too many points usually field goals since the Lobo defense allowed a paltry 8/19 red zone touchdowns. Nonetheless, points are points. The 2021 defensive backfield needs to dramatically reduce last year’s 18 passing tds by opponents.

Colorado State has a simple problem: Their athletic director must fire his hire, Steve Addazio. Improvement is that simple. Watching a Rams game with nary a soul in that impressive stadium is pure sad.

Offense: As the 2020 “season” (CSU played 4 games) progressed, Patrick O’Brien lost the starting qb job to Todd Centeio. Why? Because Mr. Addazio is the head coach. Mr. O’Brien finished the year with a completion rate of 56% while Mr. Centeio offered an anemic 38.9%. As a result, guess which quarterback transferred? Not Mr. Centeio. Ironically, another O’Brien, Jonah O’Brien, will provide August competition for the starting spot. The Rams return the two running backs who had the most rushing attempts in 2020: A’Jon Vivens and Marcus McElroy. However, neither impressed. The top two receivers return and these guys do impress. Trey McBride (15.0 ypc) and Dante Wright (15.8 ypc) offer worthy downfield targets. Getting the ball to them will be a challenge.

Defense: 2020 featured 35.8 points allowed per game. Ick. The first half of all 4 games highlighted a CSU defense that was unprepared, distracted, lousy and/or careless. Please choose 3 of the 4. This same defense gave up 67% of fourth down conversions as well. A thin ray of sunshine was found: 2.5 ypr and only 108.5 yards rushing per game for CSU opponents. 18 of 20 top tacklers return. Hopefully so does their ability play an entire football game.

Utah State was ugly in 2020. I mean a dog walking backwards ugly. Gary Andersen did everything wrong. His replacement, Blake Anderson is looking at a long season in 2021. So much to fix and not a lot to work with.

Offense: Starting quarterback Jason Shelley hit the road when Mr. Andersen was fired. Andrew Peasley performed admirably as his replacement, but by no means is guaranteed to win the 2021 starting job. Devonta’e Henry-Cole offers the beginning of a running game (4.4 ypr), but would be better served as the #2 running back. The top 3 receivers return. Deven Thompkins (20 catches), Justin McGriff (15 catches) and Derek Wright (11 catches). Not much else to say.

Defense: Last year’s Aggie defense allowed 6.6 yards per play which resulted in 485 yards total offense per game. Yuck. 28 tds by opponents was evenly split between rushing and passing tds. How kind of the USU defense. Parity is important. The 2021 translation is get-better-now or USU will wish they only play 6 games (2020) instead of 12. They tie UNM with the least amount of returning op 20 tacklers: 14.