Bronco Beat

All-Mountain West football teams, postseason awards to be announced Tuesday

Boise State senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck will likely earn first-team All-Mountain West honors for a second straight year Tuesday.
Boise State senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck will likely earn first-team All-Mountain West honors for a second straight year Tuesday.

Even though the Boise State football team is not playing for the Mountain West championship, it will no doubt have a little bit of good news Tuesday.

The Mountain West all-conference teams and postseason awards will be announced at 3 p.m. MT. Click here to see them live.

Here is how I voted, with a little explainer as needed:

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Offensive player of the year

Jeremy McNichols, Boise State

-Not an easy decision, but he had the exact same amount of yards from scrimmage as San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey (2,113) while scoring 27 touchdowns to Pumphrey’s 15. In six games against common opponents (Colorado State, Wyoming, Utah State, UNLV, San Jose State and Hawaii), McNichols outgained Pumphrey 1,009-740. Plus, in games against teams with winning records, San Diego State had just two and Boise State had six. In those games, McNichols averaged 126.3 yards per game and Pumphrey 64.5.

Defensive player of the year

Damontae Kazee, San Diego State

-Tough to pick against Weston Steelhammer, but he anchored a defense that was best in the Mountain West in terms of pass efficiency, led the team with five interceptions and had 54 tackles. He also was penalized only twice all season.

Special teams player of the year

Rigoberto Sanchez, Hawaii

-Sanchez finished 15th in the nation with a 44.6-yard average punting on 67 punts (more than any of the 14 ahead of him) and was 12-of-12 on field goals, including a long of 55 yards.

Freshman of the year

Charles Williams, UNLV

-Williams was the Rebels’ top rusher with 763 yards on a team that was 16th nationally in rushing. He also had 422 kickoff return yards on 24 attempts.

Coach of the year

Craig Bohl, Wyoming

-Though the Cowboys swooned with losses in two of their last three, they beat the kings of the conference, Boise State and San Diego State. Wyoming went from 2-10 last season to 8-4 this season.

Quarterback

1. Josh Allen, Wyoming

2. Brett Rypien, Boise State

-Allen threw or ran for a touchdown in every game this season and outside of a five-interception game at Nebraska, was solid in nearly every other start. His 23 touchdowns matched Rypien, though he had 11 interceptions to Rypien’s six. Allen ran for 487 yards and seven touchdowns. Against Boise State and San Diego State, Allen had 556 passing yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions, rushing for 109 yards.

Running back

1. Jeremy McNichols, Boise State

2. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

3. Brian Hill, Wyoming

4. Teriyon Gipson, New Mexico

-As pointed out above, I feel that even though Pumphrey ran for more yards (1,908-1,663), McNichols was even better as an all-around back. It says something about the talent in the conference when Brian Hill, who rushed for 1,674 yards, is my No. 3.

Wide receiver

1. Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State

2. Michael Gallup, Colorado State

3. Cedrick Wilson, Boise State

4. Tanner Gentry, Wyoming

-Five Mountain West receivers went over 1,000 yards (I left off Hawaii’s Marcus Kemp). Sperbeck had seven games with at least 100 receiving yards and was once again Rypien’s most reliable target in leading the conference with 72 receptions. Gallup come on strong late with 594 yards and six touchdowns in the Rams’ last four games.

Tight end

1. Jacob Hollister, Wyoming

2. Wyatt Houston, Utah State

-Anyone watching the Wyoming-Boise State game saw how much of a talent Hollister is, with his six-catch, 144-yard, two-touchdown game. That probably won it for him right there, but he also was tops in the conference with 29 catches, 488 yards and six TDs.

Offensive line

1. Nico Siragusa, San Diego State

2. Travis Averill, Boise State

3. Dejon Allen, Hawaii

4. Chase Roullier, Wyoming

5. Will Kreitler, UNLV

6. Aaron Jenkins, New Mexico

7. Fred Zerblis, Colorado State

8. Austin Stephens, Utah State

9. Steven Baggett, Boise State

10. Colin Sandor, Air Force

-Siragusa is an NFL-level talent, as is Averill, who was the Broncos’ most consistent lineman. Allen graded out at 92 percent and did not allow a sack this season at left tackle.

Defensive line

1. Alex Barrett, San Diego State

2. Ryan Watson, Air Force

3. Sam McCaskill, Boise State

4. Malik Reed, Nevada

5. Nik D'Avanzo, New Mexico

6. Isaiah Irving, San Jose State

7. David Moa, Boise State

8. Ricky Ali'ifua, Utah State

-Barrett was everywhere for a defense that at times was dominant, racking up 6.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and four pass breakups. Watson had nine sacks to lead the conference, but missed the last two games. McCaskill was great, stepping into a bigger role with 5.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, five pass breakups and a blocked field goal.

Linebacker

1. Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii

2. Kevin Davis, Colorado State

3. Tau Lotulelei, UNLV

4. Haji Dunn, Air Force

5. Calvin Munson, San Diego State

6. Ben Weaver, Boise State

-I’m a big fan of super-productive linebackers, so Tavai got my top spot for putting up some impressive numbers: 118 tackles (17.5 for loss), seven sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. Davis forced four fumbles, and Lotulelei had 117 tackles (16.5 for loss).

Defensive back

1. Damontae Kazee, San Diego State

2. Weston Steelhammer, Air Force

3. Andre Chachere, San Jose State

4. Trayvon Henderson, Hawaii

5. Andrew Wingard, Wyoming

6. Jalen Davis, Utah State

7. Jonathan Moxey, Boise State

8. Troy Hawthorne, UNLV

-My affinity for Steelhammer is well known, and he very well could be the DPOY. Four of his six interceptions came against Navy and San Jose State. He also had 71 tackles, but I gave the slight nod to Kazee for being part of a better defense. Chachere is very underrated, picking off four passes and breaking up 14. Henderson is a force (85 tackles, 10.5 for loss, two interceptions).

Kicker

1. John Baron, San Diego State

2. Kody Kroening, Fresno State

-A Lou Groza semifinalist, Baron was 16-of-18 on field goals, including 6-of-8 from 40-plus. Another Groza semifinalist, Kroening was 15-of-17, with one miss blocked, that one being his only miss on seven kicks of 40-plus.

Punter

1. Sean Wale, Boise State

2. Rigoberto Sanchez, Hawaii

-Wale was consistently good for the Broncos, finishing No. 7 in the nation with a 45.2-yard average with three of his 47 punts going for touchbacks and 18 landing inside the 20. He had 13 punts of 50 yards or more.

Return specialist

1. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

2. Tim McVey, Air Force

-Penny may be the STPOY, even as teams avoided kicking to him for good reason. He only had 16 returns on the season, but averaged 28.9 yards, running two of them back for touchdowns. He ran three back for scores last season.

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