Commentary

Can't wait to see these things this fall

Originally Published: May 13, 2008
By Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Mountain West
Ivan Maisel
Mark Schlabach
Max Hall1. Brigham Young has won 10 consecutive games. The Cougars have five of the eight returning players from the all-conference team. Yes, there are only three returning starters on defense, and none of them are in the secondary, but when hasn't Bronco Mendenhall been able to field a tough defense? BYU must do better than last season's 1-2 start. Consecutive games at Washington and home against UCLA (again) will determine whether the Cougars have a shot at a BCS bid when Mountain West play begins.

2. New Mexico has six returning starters on each side of the ball, yet this figures to be a rebuilding year for the Lobos. Only one offensive lineman, tackle Erik Cook, is back, and four of the departed players made the All-MWC first team. The defensive line is just as green and the schedule is harder. (Hello, Texas A&M and Tulsa; goodbye, Sacramento State.) Rocky Long is 61-61 in 10 seasons in Albuquerque. Unless the Lobos find some linemen, another .500 season awaits.

3. The MWC has a great passing legacy it isn't living up to. BYU junior QB Max Hall, the leading passer among the returnees, finished only 30th nationally in 2007. Blame a league with an increased emphasis on defense, and blame youth. Five of the six returning starters at QB are sophomores or juniors. Look for Hall and sophomore Andy Dalton of TCU to break out.
Gary Patterson1. After winning 11 games in consecutive seasons, TCU stumbled to an 8-5 record in 2007. A team that was expected to contend for a lucrative BCS at-large berth ended up finishing the season in the Texas Bowl. Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs will have to try to bounce back without top defensive ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz.

2. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall isn't shy about his team's goals for the 2008 season. He coined the motto "Quest for Perfection" during spring practice, and he might not be overstating his team's chances this coming season. BYU returns 10 of 11 starters on offense and will be as explosive as any offense west of the Mississippi River. The Cougars bring the longest winning streak in the nation (10 games) into the season, which will be tested in back-to-back games at Washington and against UCLA in September.

Joe Glenn3. Remember when Wyoming's Joe Glenn was considered the hottest under-the-radar coach in America? The Cowboys started the 2007 season with a 4-1 record, including a 23-3 upset of Virginia, but then lost six of their last seven games to finish 5-7. Glenn will try to get his team back on track by being more physical with a grinding running game on offense. The Cowboys also have to learn how to win road games.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball

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