Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 3 Depth Chart

·5 min read

Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 3 Depth Chart

Ten Mountain West teams will play in Week 3. We identify new names atop each depth chart who could be important.

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Which unfamiliar names are worth following?

Air Force — Caleb Rillos, TE

Kyle Patterson was our staff’s preseason pick to be the top tight end in the Mountain West this year and while he’s been as good as ever while on the field (88.3 overall PFF grade, first in conference), he’s also split reps and starts with the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Golden, Colorado native through two games. Rillos has mostly held his own in the early going, sporting a 60.2 run-blocking grade for the Falcons, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 50-50 timeshare holds over the next few weeks.

Wyoming — Wyatt Ekeler, S

One small change that’s been made to the most recent Cowboys depth chart is that Ekeler, the younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers star Austin Ekeler, is no longer tied to Miles Williams with an “or”. He’s played well through the team’s first three games, compiling 17 total tackles, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble, and they’ll need those fundamentals with the Air Force Falcons coming to Laramie on Friday night.

Boise State — Billy Bowens, WR

The time is now for Broncos pass catchers to step up and help Hank Bachmeier re-establish himself, but the results through two games have been decidedly mixed. Bowens, a redshirt senior, exemplifies that better than most: He led the team with ten targets last Friday but only had three catches for 50 yards, 41 of which came on one play. If he can step up and have another good game against UT Martin, it’ll make Boise State’s passing game that much more dangerous going forward.

Colorado State — Ches Jackson, OT

With the news that offensive tackle Brian Crespo-Jaquez will miss the rest of the year because of injury, the Rams are already undergoing some shuffling on the offensive line. Jackson, at least, is a veteran with a half-dozen career starts under his belt but the starting job isn’t necessarily a given. As Kelly Lytle of the Coloradoan noted, current starting center Jacob Gardner protected Carson Strong’s blindside for two years at Nevada, as well.

Nevada — Matt Freem, P

The Wolf Pack weren’t the only team in the Mountain West replacing a very good punter coming into 2022, but the dropoff from Julian Diaz to Freem hasn’t been too steep in the early going. In three games, he’s averaged a respectable 42.31 yards on 16 total punts, though Nevada may need a big game from him in order to win a potential slugfest against Iowa this weekend.

San Diego State — Davaughn Celestine, S

We’re always told that patience is a virtue, but few players in the Mountain West model that axiom better than the Placentia, California native. A walk-on who first joined the Aztecs before 2019, Celestine finally made his first career start last week against Idaho State and showed out with nine tackles, including eight solo takedowns, and two pass breakups. If he can keep that up for at least one more week, San Diego State’s path to an upset against Utah becomes a little bit wider.

Fresno State — Jacob Spomer, OT

The Bulldogs came into 2022 with some lingering questions about how well they’d protect quarterback Jake Haener, but Spomer’s contributions to the remade unit have been one of the early season’s most pleasant surprises. He didn’t commit to Fresno State until March and though two games is a small sample size, it’s worth noting that the Diablo Valley College transfer currently sports the third-best overall PFF grade among all Mountain West tackles, 74.4, and the top run-blocking grade, 80.4.

The latter metric could come in handy against a USC team that, for all of its offensive weapons, has looked suspect in defending the run.

New Mexico — Tavien Ford, OT

The Lobos suffered a big blow when starting right tackle DJ Wingfield was lost for the year with an ACL injury, which explains why Greg Brown II got the starting nod at that position last Friday against Boise State. The expectation going forward, though, is that Ford, a transfer from Georgia Military College, will step up into that role. He played 53 snaps against Maine and 13 against the Broncos, though the assignment against UTEP’s strong defensive line could be a ruder introduction to FBS football.

UNLV — Jerrae Williams, NB

Williams came into 2022 with one of the most interesting individual narratives anywhere in the conference, having sat out both 2020 and 2021 after playing in a pair of games Arkansas-Monticello back in 2019. The wait has been worth it for both he and Rebels fans: He notched his first interception of the season against Cal on Saturday and currently ranks second among Mountain West safeties with a PFF coverage grade of 78.1. They’ll need every bit of that talent this weekend against a North Texas team that’s been explosive but erratic in the young campaign.

Hawaii — Sergio Muasau, G

The Warriors are likely to undergo a fair bit of lineup shuffling as the year progresses, playing for the future just as much for the present, and one area where that’s already happened is along the offensive line. Muasau, the younger brother of former Hawaii linebacker Darius Muasau, got his first career start against Michigan last Saturday and seems to have supplanted Stephen Bernal-Wendt at right guard. Hawaii should have a much easier time handling Duquesne than the Wolverines, so it’ll be interesting to see just how well the sophomore performs given a fairer shake.

More Week 3!

Week 3 College Football Rankings: Why Isn't Air Force Ranked?

Hawaii Football: First Look At The Duquesne Dukes

Fresno State Football: First Look At The USC Trojans

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Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire