Three Reason Why The Mountain Division Is Wide Open
Diversity in schemes, location and returning quarterbacks mean that there will be plenty of points scored week in and week out in the Mountain division of the Mountain West.
Expect Plenty of Scoring in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West
“Tough places to play, unique schemes I think and the last thing would be quarterbacks,” that is how New Mexico head coach Bob Davie described the challenges of playing in the Mountain division of the Mountain West conference.
Davie was not alone, the other coaches in the division feel the same way which is why this could be an yet another explosive year offensively for the Mountain division and a division that any one of the six teams can win.
Diversity in Places
The Mountain West stands alone when it comes to climates and travel. There are three time zones, variations in elevation from sea level to seven thousand plus feet and a team smack in the middle of the desert.
In the Mountain division, the lowest elevation is Boise, Idaho, at a paltry 2,730 ft above sea level. This may not seem like a big deal but when you are a 275 pound defensive tackle trying to hunt down a quarterback or keep track of where the ball is in New Mexico’s triple-option offense, it can wear a player down faster than you think.
When defenses get tired, they begin to make mistakes and when that happens these offenses can capitalize in a hurry. You saw this last year especially at the end of the season in games like Wyoming at New Mexico, New Mexico at Colorado State, and Colorado State at Air Force.
Diversity in Schemes
When you break down the six teams in the Mountain division from you will see it all schematically when it comes to offenses. From the multiple-formation option look at Air Force to the sometimes traditional two-back power ‘I’ formation at Wyoming.
“There’s great players, great coaches and whole wide range of different schemes on offense and defense that really does challenge us,” said Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. Bohl’s team was able to overcome those challenges a year ago on their way to the Mountain division crown.
One game where Wyoming didn’t have success was against Davie’s New Mexico team which racked up 690 total yards in their 56-35 victory last season, and 568 of those yards were on the ground. New Mexico ended up leading the FBS in rushing a year ago averaging 350 yards per game.
If you are a defensive coordinator, imagine having to face New Mexico one week and then Boise State the next and Utah State after that? That’s three completely different schemes to get ready for each and every week.
Every starting quarterback from last year is back under center for each of the Mountain division teams.
While schemes vary from team to team, Boise State’s head coach Bryan Harsin believes it still comes down to quarterback play.
“There is diversity in this league but it’s still the quarterback play, the decision making, how those guys go out there and compete in the league,” Harsin said.
Harsin has one of the better quarterbacks in the Mountain division in junior Brett Rypien. He’s arguably the best passing quarterback in the division but yet it was Wyoming’s junior signal caller Josh Allen was voted All-Conference preseason first team quarterback.
Allen has NFL scouts drooling because of his size (6’5’ 233 pounds) but it’s his running ability that got him and the Cowboys out of more than a few binds last year.
While Rypien and Allen get most of the accolades, Colorado State quarterback Nick Stevens was arguably the hottest quarterback at the end of the year leading the Rams to four victories in five games while throwing 12 touchdowns to just one interception.
What does all this add up to? It adds up to another year in Mountain division with a lot of points scored and the chance for any one of the six teams to win the division. It also means a lot of sleepless nights for defensive coordinators across the conference.