Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Offensive Line Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Offensive Line Rankings

Which Mountain West teams have the best offensive lines (on paper, at least) at the end of spring football practice?

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Who has the most strength among their big men on offense?


OverallQuarterback | Running Back | Wide Receiver/Tight End | Offensive Line | Defensive Line | Linebacker | Cornerback/Safety | Kicker/Punter

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Note: Italics denote projected starters.

12. New Mexico

High ranking in group: 6th | Low ranking in group: 12th

Projected depth: J.C. Davis, Isaiah Sillemon, CJ James, Shancco Matautia, Devon Smith, DJ Wingfield, Arrison Cole

This Lobos offensive line straight up did not have a good time of things in 2022, finishing 130th in sack rate allowed and 116th in stuff rate allowed as part of an offense which was dead last by offensive SP+. The silver lining? Their two best performers by Pro Football Focus grading, Davis and James, are back for the upcoming season at left tackle and center, respectively.

The trick for new offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent and offensive line coach Cam Blankenship is figuring everything else out. Matautia and Sillemon had okay showings in their first extended stints of playing time, but they’ll need to beat out a lot of other options to secure a spot on the replenished two-deep come fall.


11. Hawaii

High ranking: 8th | Low ranking: 12th

Projected depth: Josh Atkins, Sergio Muasau, Eliki Tanuvasa, Solo Vaipulu, Luke Felix-Fualalo, Arasi Mose, Micah Mariteragi

There’s a lot of excitement about the run-and-shoot coming back to the islands, but one thing Timmy Chang no longer has is one of the Mountain West’s most experienced offensive lines. The interior trio of Muasau, Tanuvasa, and Vaipulu provide a solid foundation, but the real key to this year’s success will be how well they replace Ilm Manning and Austin Hopp at the tackle positions: Though the Warriors had a 4.6% sack rate allowed which ranked 34th among FBS offenses, Hopp gave up the most pressures (47) of any lineman in the conference and Manning allowed half that number (24).


10. Nevada

High ranking: 7th | Low ranking: 11th

Projected depth: Isaiah World, Zac Welch, Andrew Madrigal, Joey Capra, Kai Arneson, Frank Poso, Josh Grabowski

The Wolf Pack lost their top two offensive linemen to the transfer portal when Aaron Frost and Grant Starck left Reno for Arizona State and Oregon State, respectively, which means that the remaining cohort has a lot to prove.

Case in point: World started ten games as a redshirt freshman last season but, according to Pro Football Focus, graded out as the third-worst lineman in the Mountain West among those who played at least 100 snaps. Capra and Arneson didn’t fare much better, but the hope is that familiarity will lead to steadier protection on all fronts.


9. Colorado State

High ranking: 4th | Low ranking: 12th

Projected depth: Saveyon Henderson, Oliver Jervis, Jacob Gardner, Teivis Tuioti, Drew Moss, Brian Crespo-Jaquez, Keegan Hamilton

Rams fans certainly don’t need the reminder that this unit was one of the worst in FBS last year and, to his credit, neither did head coach Jay Norvell. That’s why CSU hit the transfer portal hard and Gardner is the lone holdover from last year’s line who looks, for the moment, to have an inside track on a starting job.

You have to think this starting five is far from set in stone, though, considering the Rams also recently picked up Missouri transfer Bobby Lawrence and still have young veterans like Crespo-Jaquez and Hamilton who made it through last year’s trials by fire. No matter who gets the nod, though, they have to improve upon the 54 sacks and 21.6% stuff rate allowed in 2022.



High ranking: 5th | Low ranking: 10th

Projected depth: Marcus Miller, Jalen St. John, Jack Hasz, Amani Trigg-Wright, Tiger Shanks, Graham Keating, Anthony Rosas

The Rebels almost certainly would rank better here if Preston Nichols hadn’t entered the transfer portal and ended up at Purdue in short order and, considering the talent elsewhere on offensive it’s one of the bigger question marks that could make or break whether new head coach Barry Odom has a fast start to his tenure. Trigg-Wright and Shanks provide a decent, if not spectacular, foundation on the right side of the line while Hasz brings starting experience at center from Buffalo, so the biggest wild cards here are St. John, who followed Odom to Las Vegas from Arkansas, and Miller, who got his first extended run at left tackle this spring.


7. Utah State

High ranking: 5th | Low ranking: 10th

Projected depth: Cole Motes, Wade Meacham, Falepule Alo, Jackson Owens, Calvin Knapp, Kingsley Holliday, Wyatt Bowles

Despite losing four different athletes who played at least 600 snaps last season, things could be a lot worse for the Aggies but 2023 will need to see a lot of last year’s part-timers step up into prime positions. Meacham and Alo could make for the start of a sound interior, but Motes will need to improve as a pass protector (nine sacks allowed between 2021 and 2022) regardless of whether he plays on the left or the right while others like Knapp, Bowles, and Elia Migao will have to prove they belong in bigger roles.


6. San Jose State

High ranking: 2nd | Low ranking: 10th

Projected depth: Fernando Carmona Jr., Tyler Ostrom, Anthony Pardue, Jamie Navarro, James McNorton, Malik Williams, Marist Talavou, Ryan Stewart

Chevan Cordeiro and Elijah Cooks deserve a lot of credit for the Spartans’ rebound in 2022, but so too does an offensive line that was by and large pretty young. It wasn’t always pretty — SJSU ranked 130th among FBS teams in power success rate and 108th in sack rate allowed — but continuity could go a long way: This unit is the only one in the Mountain West returning all five starters for 2023.

Additionally, with players like Williams, Talavou, and Stewart all having played at least 100 snaps a year ago, it has a pretty strong case for being the deepest and most experienced offensive line in the conference, too.



Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Quarterback Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Defensive Back Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Defensive Line Rankings

5. Wyoming

High ranking: 3rd | Low ranking: 8th

Projected depth: Frank Crum, Jack Walsh, Nofoafia Tulafono, Wes King, Caden Barnett, Rex Johnsen

Wyoming took a big hit for the second straight spring when USC swiped a major contributor, Emmanuel Pregnon, through the transfer portal, casting an added degree of uncertainty to a unit that looked like it could be solid. Losing four-star recruit Deshawn Woods to the portal doesn’t help matters, either, so while Crum, Tulafono and Walsh — the last of whom spent time at both guard positions in 2022 — is a strong foundation, filling out the rest of the two-deep with confidence should be a top priority.


At a minimum, it’s likely to mean we’ll learn a lot more about the sophomore Barnett, who actually graded out as the Pokes’ top lineman in 2022 with a 79.3 mark in 120 snaps, and redshirt freshmen like King, Johnsen, and Luke Sandy. You could make a case this group has earned the benefit of the doubt that things will get figured out, but there’s enough uncertainty to think it could also lead to more inconsistencies.

4. San Diego State

High ranking: 2nd | Low ranking: 7th

Depth chart: Christian Jones, Cade Bennett, Thomas Mirabella, Ross Ulugalu-Maseuli, Brandon Crenshaw-Dickson, Joey Wright, Ryan Dirksen, Dean Abdullah

The Aztecs offense certainly had an adventurous 2022 and the evolution of their offensive line is no exception: As a group, they finished the year much improved at pass protection while the long-vaunted running game cratered (128th in power success rate, 129th in stuff rate allowed) and now must bounce back while replacing Alama Uluave and, more unexpectedly, Josh Simmons.

Their answer? Lean into youth. Crenshaw-Dickson is the only senior listed among the 12 lineman on the post-spring depth chart linked above, which will make the likes of Jones and Ulugalu-Maseuli among the more important players anywhere in the conference when fall camp arrives.

3. Fresno State

High ranking: 3rd | Low ranking: 6th

Projected depth: Jacob Spomer, Jacob Isaia, Braylen Nelson, Mose Vavao, Toreon Penright, Daniel Taumalolo, Osmar Velez, Tyrone Sampson Jr.

This wasn’t the flashiest unit in the conference last season, but it did its job well enough for Jake Haener and company to thrive. Now, though, some restocking is in order since Bula Schmidt bolted for UCF through the transfer portal and Dontae Bull was recently the #1 overall pick in the CFL Draft.

Thankfully, the Bulldogs have flexibility and seem willing to get creative. Sampson Jr. has experience at guard and center and Nelson has spent time at guard and tackle, plus the Fresno Bee’s Robert Kuwada noted that Spomer got reps there this spring after spending all of 2022 at left tackle. The starting five may not be set in stone for a while, but Fresno State looks reasonably deep here and that always counts for something.

2. Boise State

High ranking: 1st | Low ranking: 5th

Projected depth: Cade Beresford, Garrett Curran, Ben Dooley, Mason Randolph, Nathan Cardona, Roger Carreon, Cord Kringlen

Despite the fact that Boise State must replace long-time left tackle John Ojukwu this fall, the Broncos return a wealth of experienced talent across their offensive line for 2023. The major key? Stay healthy: Beresford, Dooley, and Randolph all missed at least a little bit of time last year with injury. If fortune is on this group’s side, though, it wouldn’t be a shock if they finished in the top 25 nationally by stuff rate allowed, sack rate allowed, and line yards per carry, a feat they accomplished in 2022.

1. Air Force

High ranking: 1st | Low ranking: 2nd

Projected depth: Everett Smalley, Wesley Ndago, Thor Paglialong, Ethan Jackman, Kaleb Holcomb, Adam Karas, Ayden McCollough

You don’t have a running back who leads the nation in rushing yards without a dominant offensive line to open holes in front of him and, ho hum, that’s exactly what the Falcons possessed for the umpteenth year in 2022. Isaac Cochran is the lone major departure from a group that finished 16th in opportunity rate, ninth in power success rate, and third in stuff rate allowed, so while replacing Haaziq Daniels and Brad Roberts will be tall orders, their successors will benefit from one of the nastiest run-blocking units in the country.

More Mountain West Football!

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Quarterback Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Defensive Back Rankings

Mountain West Football: 2023 Post-Spring Practice Defensive Line Rankings


Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire