Mountain West Football: Examining Each Opponent’s Week 3 Depth Chart
What stands out in the depth charts released by each of the Mountain West’s eight Week 3 non-conference opponents?
What to keep in mind before kickoff.
What stands out: After starting nearly all of last year, quarterback Darius Perrantes has taken a back seat to the athlete he replaced: Joe Mischler.
Why that could be important: Perrantes had a solid 2021 in a pinch, but it may have always been a matter of time until the job belonged to Mischler. And why not? He was a first-team all-conference selection in the FCS spring season and averaged 9.2 yards per attempt with nine touchdowns in five games, so Hawaii finding its footing on defense may not necessarily be a given.
UTEP (link to game notes, depth chart on page 5)
What stands out: With Justin Garrett and Jacob Cowing now gone, the depth chart at wide receiver is now led by Tyrin Smith, Reynaldo Flores, and Kelly Akharaiyi.
Why that could be important: In short, the Miners were one of the most explosive passing attacks anywhere in the Group of 5 last year but they’re struggled to replicate that without their two 2021 stars. Smith has seen his yards per catch average drop from 17.3 to 13.4 while Flores, though he’s already surpassed last year’s catch total with 19 so far, has seen a drop from 15.7 to 12.4.
It’s not for a lack of trying, but the New Mexico Lobos secondary could find itself in a position of strength once again on Saturday.
North Texas (link to depth chart)
What stands out: The Mean Green have talent in their front seven, but cornerback Ridge Texada has been thrust into a big spot opposite veteran DeShawn Gaddie in the secondary.
Why that could be important: If UNT has a potential Achilles heel for UNLV to exploit, it might be their porous pass defense. The Mean Green got shredded by SMU two weeks ago and even FCS Texas Southern did some damage through the air, but Texada and Gaddie have had two pass breakups each in the early going and will have their hands full with Kyle Williams, Ricky White, and company.
UT Martin (link to game notes, depth chart on page 9)
What stands out: The Skyhawks had an open quarterback competition headed into the season, but incumbent Dresser Winn currently sits atop the depth chart and started both of UTM’s first two games over Cornelious Brown IV.
Why that could be important: After ascending to the QB1 role in a tight spot late last season, Winn hasn’t made the Skyhawks regret their decision in the young season. Against Western Illinois and Missouri State, he’s completed 65.3% of his throws, averaged 8.5 yards per attempt, and throws six touchdowns against just one interception. Obviously, facing the Boise State defense marks an extra degree of difficulty or three, but UT Martin has the offensive talent to hang around on the blue if the passing game remains sharp.
Washington State (link to game notes, depth chart on page 28)
What stands out: The Cougars offense has gotten off to a slow start this season, but you can’t really pin that too much on left tackle Jarrett Kingston.
Why that could be important: Technically, Kingston didn’t start last week’s contest at Wisconsin, but there’s a lot of proof to suggest he’s been Wazzu’s top offensive lineman in the first two games of the season. Not only was he named the Pac-12’s lineman of the week for his efforts against the Badgers last Saturday, he currently sports the fourth-best overall PFF grade, 75.8, of any offensive tackle in his conference. Against a Colorado State defense which has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush, that could be a problem.
Iowa (link to depth chart)
What stands out: The Hawkeyes offense has been the subject of much discussion after its first two games, but one subject that is being overlooked is sophomore center Logan Jones.
Why that could be important: As it turns out, replacing a first-round NFL Draft pick isn’t always easy. Jones, who missed nearly all of 2021 with injury and then converted to offense from defense in the spring, has so far put up the second-worst PFF overall grade, 48.1, of any Big Ten player at his position after Tyler Linderbaum led the entire country last year. If Nevada is going to spring an upset, it might start with how Jones manages (or doesn’t) Wolf Pack star Dom Peterson.
Utah (link to depth chart)
What stands out: On a Utes defense rich with playmakers, one noteworthy change to the two-deep from the first two weeks is true freshman Lander Barton getting the nod at strong-side linebacker, alongside Mohamoud Diabate and Karene Reid.
Why that could be important: Ironically, Barton saw a healthy amount of playing time against both Florida and Southern Utah, but he didn’t actually start either game. He did notch his first career sack against the Thunderbirds on Saturday, however, and could be a key piece against a San Diego State offense that isn’t likely to utilize much more than muscle between the tackles to beat the Utes for a second straight year.
USC (link to depth chart)
What stands out: The Trojans are obviously littered with stars and impact transfer portal arrivals on both sides of the ball, which makes redshirt freshman Ceyair Wright stand out, as he’s listed opposite Mekhi Blackmon at cornerback.
Why that could be important: Fresno State is going to need to throw to survive the inevitable offensive onslaught, so while Blackmon has been as good as advertised after coming to Los Angeles from Colorado, Wright has mostly held his own, too, against Rice and Stanford. Regardless of whether he’s assigned to cover Jalen Moreno-Cropper, Josh Kelly, or Nikko Remigio, the hometown prospect could play a big role in helping avoid an upset bid.