Bronco Beat

Why Boise State’s Thomas Sperbeck should be MW player of year

I am on the voting panel for the Mountain West postseason awards, which are determined by a vote of coaches and select media members. Below is my ballot. The winners will be announced Tuesday.

For me, the most interesting question was who should be the Mountain West’s offensive player of the year. I chose Boise State junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck, and here’s why:

If you look at the top four running backs in the conference, their numbers are similar: Tyler Ervin of San Jose State (1,806 yards from scrimmage, 15 TDs), Donnel Pumphrey of San Diego State (1,797, 18), Brian Hill of Wyoming (1,763, six) and Jeremy McNichols of Boise State (1,608, 23). Also worth noting is that McNichols wasn’t nominated for player of the year by Boise State; Sperbeck was (nominations also were due before McNichols’ big game against San Jose State).

Quarterback play was similar across the top players, too: Wyoming’s Cameron Coffman led the conference with an efficiency rating of 147.4; Boise State’s Brett Rypien was sixth at 137.5. That’s not much separation.

But at wide receiver, Sperbeck stood alone. He finished with 82 catches (16 more than any other player), 1,334 yards (401 more than any other player) and eight touchdowns (tied for first). He also averaged 16.3 yards per catch, which was second-best among the top 10 players in receptions. So Sperbeck had 24 percent more catches than any other wide receiver and 43 percent more yards. The Broncos finished fourth in the league in pass efficiency, so Sperbeck didn’t benefit from the best quarterback play either.

You might also notice that I voted San Diego State’s Damontae Kazee as the No. 2 defensive back but as Defensive Player of the Year. I didn’t realize I did that until now — but I voted for Kazee for Defensive Player of the Year because he was the best player on the conference’s best defense.

My ballot:

QUARTERBACK

1 #5 Kenny Potter - QB - San Jose State

2 #4 Brett Rypien - QB - Boise State

RUNNING BACK

1 #13 Jeremy McNichols - RB - Boise State

2 #19 Donnel Pumphrey - RB - San Diego State

3 #8 Brian Hill - RB - Wyoming

4 #7 Tyler Ervin - RB - San Jose State

WIDE RECEIVER

1 #82 Thomas Sperbeck - WR - Boise State

2 #82 Rashard Higgins - WR - Colorado State

3 #83 Devonte Boyd - WR - UNLV

4 #4 Hunter Sharp - WR - Utah State

TIGHT END

1 #18 Billy Freeman - TE - San Jose State

2 #47 Jarred Gipson - TE - Nevada

OFFENSIVE LINE

1 #72 Marcus Henry - OL - Boise State

2 #56 Nico Siragusa - OL - San Diego State

3 #58 A.J. Ruechel - OL - Air Force

4 #59 Austin Stephens - OL - Utah State

5 #51 Eden Mahina - OL - New Mexico

6 #71 Rees Odhiambo - OL - Boise State

7 #72 Wes Schweitzer - OL - San Jose State

8 #54 Fred Zerblis - OL - Colorado State

9 #73 Chase Roullier - OL - Wyoming

10 #74 Sevrin Remmo - OL - Air Force

DEFENSIVE LINE

1 #90 Kennedy Tulimasealii - DE - Hawai'i

2 #58 Alex Barrett - DE - San Diego State

3 #55 Eddie Yarbrough - DE - Wyoming

4 #87 Alex Hansen - DL - Air Force

5 #8 Ian Seau - DE - Nevada

6 #92 Christian Heyward - DL - San Diego State

7 #51 David Moala - DL - Utah State

8 #8 Kamalei Correa - DE - Boise State

LINEBACKER

1 #9 Kyler Fackrell - LB - Utah State

2 #54 Calvin Munson - LB - San Diego State

3 #31 Ejiro Ederaine - LB - Fresno State

4 #41 Nick Vigil - LB - Utah State

5 #51 Ben Weaver - LB - Boise State

6 #42 Jake Fely - LB - San Diego State

DEFENSIVE BACK

1 #4 Darian Thompson - DB - Boise State

2 #23 Damontae Kazee - DB - San Diego State

3 #8 Weston Steelhammer - DB - Air Force

4 #25 Roland Ladipo - DB - Air Force

5 #5 Donte Deayon - DB - Boise State

6 #12 Malik Smith - DB - San Diego State

7 #23 Dameon Baber - DB - Nevada

8 #7 J.J. Whittaker - DB - San Diego State

PLACEKICKER

1 #49 Tyler Rausa - PK - Boise State

2 #40 Brent Zuzo - PK - Nevada

PUNTER

1 #49 Hayden Hunt - P - Colorado State

2 #17 Michael Carrizosa - P - San Jose State

RETURN SPECIALIST

1 #20 Rashaad Penny - RB - San Diego State

2 #24 Carlos Wiggins - RS - New Mexico

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1 #82 Thomas Sperbeck - WR - Boise State

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1 #23 Damontae Kazee - DB - San Diego State

SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE YEAR

1 #49 Hayden Hunt - P - Colorado State

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

1 #4 Brett Rypien - QB - Boise State

COACH OF THE YEAR

1 Rocky Long - Coach - San Diego State

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