MW football notebook – Week 4

Here are news and notes from all 12 Mountain West football team compiled by the beat writers who cover each squad.

Look for this feature every Tuesday on this blog, and at



Jon Lee knew the question before it was asked. After all, he’s been hearing it everywhere.

It seems everyone wants to know: Are you growing frustrated?

“Not yet,” he said. “It’s still early in the season.”

The use of the Air Force tailback has, at the least, been perplexing. Lee averaged 6.7 yards per carry over 99 attempts through his first two seasons and opened his junior campaign by ripping into Colgate for 130 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries.

Since then he has received just 10 carries and gained 32 yards in lopsided losses to Utah State and Boise State. In those two games, Air Force has run the ball 101 times.

The simple explanation is that the Falcons tried to open the passing game against the Aggies, then went to an option look against the Broncos that put the ultimate decision-making not in the hands of the coaching staff but with quarterback Jaleel Awini, who called his own number 23 times. Awini ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

“The Boise State defense was playing me,” Lee said. “They were playing the pitch, so it was right that Jaleel ran the ball. Different teams are going to bring different schemes.

“It will get better.”

Next game: vs. Wyoming, 8:15 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU)

Notable: Receiver Ty MacArthur suffered a concussion while blocking a Boise State linebacker and is questionable. Linebacker Spencer Proctor (broken right thumb) is expected to play this week. Defensive lineman Joseph Champaign (knee) is out, as is backup fullback Aaron Clinton-Earls.

— Brent Briggeman, The Gazette (Colorado Springs)

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MW football power ratings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why. Look for his ratings on a weekly basis as the season continues.

1. Boise State (6-1 overall, 3-0 MW): The Broncos are No. 21 in the country and remain a solid No. 1 this week in the rankings. Boise State continues to be far and away the best defensive team in the MW. It’s tops in scoring defense (13.6 ppg), pass defense (158.7 ypg), total defense (316.9 ypg), turnover margin (+11) and pass efficiency defense (95.6). The offense isn’t bad by any means, but the defense outstanding.

2. Fresno State (5-3, 3-1): I said last week the Bulldogs are the most complete team in the league, and I stand by that. They’re second to Boise State in most defensive categories, and their spread offense can hurt you via the run and pass. This may be the most athletic and talented team in the league.

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Reaction, thoughts to Christensen suspension and fine

By now you know that Wyoming athletics director Tom Burman suspended football coach Dave Christensen Monday for one week and fined him $50,000 for his postgame, profanity-laced tirade with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun after the Cowboys’ 28-27 home loss on Oct. 13.

Christensen won’t be allowed any access to the team or facilities this week, and Burman said he will be reinstated Sunday morning. Christensen will be paid while he’s suspended, but Burman said a week’s pay for Christensen is “significantly less” than the fine he levied.

The discipline was not only a result of Christensen’s reaction to Calhoun after the game, but also from the YouTube video that surfaced last last week that captured the outburst. Burman said he first saw the video last Monday — two days after the game.

Why didn’t Burman suspend Christensen sooner is what many fans are asking? Burman said he didn’t want to make a “hasty” decision and wanted to consult with school president Tom Buchanan and UW’s legal advisers to see if what he had in mind would fly. Burman said Christensen’s actions were a suspendable offense as soon as he saw the video.

Burman also said he didn’t have his mind made up about the suspension and fine before last Saturday’s 42-14 loss at Fresno State, but knew something more needed to be done other than apologies from Christensen the Sunday and Monday after the Air Force game.

“In my mind it doesn’t matter which game you suspend him for if you choose to make that decision,” Burman said.

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Christensen quotes after Fresno State

Here are postgame quotes from Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen after the Cowboys’ 42-7 loss at Fresno State Saturday night.

Opening statement

“I thought our kids came out and they competed. I told them after the game, you’ve got to come out ready to play at kickoff, and they didn’t. They came back in the second half and defense did a great job, shut them out basically in the second half. Offense had one interception for a touchdown, but I think defense did great the second half. Offense did a little bit better. We were frazzled; we didn’t communicate well between protections, and hot routes. We didn’t execute at a very high level, and (have) a lot of work to get done.”

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Smith named to Manning Award watch list

Wyoming sophomore quarterback Brett Smith was named to the Manning Award watch list Monday as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.

Here’s the story on our new WyoSports website we launched over the weekend.

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