From the Mountain West Media Days, the media has released the preseason players of the year, the preseason all conference selections, and the favorites for which team will win the division (no overall conference champion was voted). With these come obvious selections, interesting ones, and ones that could potentially be head scratchers. Though a lot of these seem subjective, I like to think that a lot of thought and time went into which player would have an upcoming season where he would perform well.
Who will win each division?
1. Boise State (28 first-place votes), 177
2. Utah State (2), 150
3. Colorado State, 108
4. Air Force, 90
5. Wyoming, 64
6. New Mexico, 41
1. San Diego State (27), 177
2. Fresno State (3), 141
3. Nevada, 113
4. San Jose State, 91
5. Hawaii, 70
6. UNLV, 38
For the Mountain division, the overall winner is a no-brainer. But what is this? It is not unanimous?!
RELEASE THE HOUNDS!
This is a point of contention that one could scratch the respective noggin. With Utah State getting the two votes, it makes you wonder what those individuals see in Utah State, or don’t see in Boise State.
If the question is: which conference mate could conceivably be Boise State’s biggest challenge? Then Utah State should, rightfully, be on the top of that list. But I do not believe that is the question presented here. It seems to be more of the "what team do you think is going to win the Mountain Division" variety. And apparently two individuals have the confidence in voting Utah State as that winner.
So that begs the question as to "why?" In what scenarios could Boise State NOT repeat as the Mountain Division winner?
He’s good. Sure. And aside from the injury bug, he has done… things. And apparently those things have been good enough to warrant a LOT of credit. One side note: he has yet to do those things versus Boise State. He’s been playing for Utah State since the early 90s and he still has yet to play a game against the Broncos.
Utah State at home? Loss of Ajayi and Hedrick?
The former is a "meh" issue, at least where the Broncos are concerned, as thrashings can happen anywhere. The latter may have an impact, but hopefully the Broncos have those issues hammered out long before the Utah State game. If we need a reminder, the Broncos beat the Aggies 50-19 last year. If you want to give the Aggies a few more points due to home field, fine, and take away a few for Boise State because of Ajayi and Hedrick, ok. But the Broncos defense, at least on paper, is going to be good. At least enough to keep the offense out of trouble.
There are other scenarios that could prevent a Boise State division title. Losing to Air Force, or Colorado State, but there are a lot of "ifs" there. I would not put my money on those "ifs".
The division title, until proven otherwise, goes through Boise.
The West Division: San Diego State definitely looks like the team to beat. Though, apparently, with even less confidence with the Broncos. At least Boise State gets the "easy" half of the West schedule, like Utah State did last year.
Mountain West Preseason All-Conference Team
QB: Chuckie Keeton, sr., Utah State
WR: Rashard Higgins, jr., Colorado State
WR: Devonte Boyd, so., UNLV
RB: Donnel Pumphrey, jr., San Diego State
RB: Marteze Waller, sr., Fresno State
OL: Marcus Henry, sr., Boise State
OL: Rees Odhiambo, sr., Boise State
OL: Alex Fifita, sr., Fresno State
OL: Ben Clarke, sr., Hawaii
OL: Pearce Slater, sr., San Diego State
TE: Steven Walker, sr., Colorado State
DL: Alex Hansen, sr., Air Force
DL: Kamalei Correa, jr., Boise State
DL: Ian Seau, sr., Nevada
DL: Eddie Yarbrough, sr., Wyoming
LB: Tanner Vallejo, jr., Boise State
LB: Kyler Fackrell, sr., Utah State
LB: Nick Vigil, jr., Utah State
DB: Weston Steelhammer, jr., Air Force
DB: Donte Deayon, sr., Boise State
DB: Darian Thompson, sr., Boise State
DB: Damontae Kazee, jr., San Diego State
P: Alex Boy, sr., Nevada
K: Donny Hageman, sr., San Diego State
KR: Carolos Wiggins, sr., New Mexico
Nothing too glaring here. Boise State with six (the most in the conference) is fair. Not too many players on offense, but Henry and Odhiambo anchoring an experienced line shows how much confidence the media has in the offensive line all together.
As far as potential Boise State snubs on the offensive list: SWR, Roh, and maybe McNichols. I can see why these players weren’t on the first team list, but hopefully they take this "snub" as another chip on the shoulder.
For Defense, I am surprised not seeing Boise State’s entire lineup. No. I’m kidding. (But only kind of.) Any number of Broncos could have a breakout year: Martarano, Turner, Deuce, DSG, Nance.
Really, the options could be pretty wide. While I hope all of these athletes have great seasons for good reasons, this many good athletes could actually have a negative effect on tangible numbers.
Keeton as the preseason QB? Ok. If you follow me on Twitter, you would have seen I did not take this news very well. That was mostly a gut reaction and for some fun. I can see why he gets the nod. When healthy, he can be very dangerous. But I just don’t think he will last, and do not see him beating Boise State.
(Yes, I am saying any potential player needs to beat Boise State to earn an award. Which is why I was really amazed anyone from the Mountain Division made any of the lists outside of Air Force.)
Preseason Players of the year:
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Rashard Higgins, WR, jr., Colorado State
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Kyler Fackrell, LB, sr., Utah State
Preseason Special Teams Player of the Year: Donny Hageman, sr., K, San Diego State
Ok. Now THIS is where I have a beef. Fackrell over Darian Thompson OR Correa?
I do not mean this as a knock on Fackrell. I am sure he is a very talented athlete on a good defense. I am sure that he will do very well with the Aggies and help them win games.
The frustration is that Boise State has an athlete on FOUR preseason watch list (Fackrell is on two) who will most likely get drafted and another athlete who is also on two lists but has the physical ability, and talent, to leave early (like Lawrence before him). I may be even angrier about this one than Boise State not getting unanimous Mountain Division selection.
Preseason lists, polls, do not really mean anything. The games still need to be played and anything could happen during a season. Mostly they give bloggers something to complain about (/waves) and sets an expectation for the season to come.
There are arguments to be made that coaches probably prefer less recognition--not more. Which is fair. It gives opponents a "cheat sheet" on who to watch. Could create ego problems. Set expectations too high with the fanbase (too late) among other potential problems.
As with anything subjective-based, a grain of salt is most likely required.