Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 5 Depth Chart




 

Mountain West Football: Key Newcomers Atop Each Week 5 Depth Chart

Nine Mountain West teams will play in Week 5. We identify new names atop each depth chart who could be important.

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Which unfamiliar names are worth following?

Utah State - Poukesi Vakauta, DT

The Aggies defensive line has been hammered by injuries in the first month of the season, most notably with season-ending injuries to both Phillip Paea and Seni Tuiaki, which will only put more pressure on those left standing like veteran Hale Motu'apuaka and Vakauta, who have battled the bug themselves through recent weeks. Vakauta has only started one game so far and played no more than 13 snaps, but he could be pushed to do more starting with the BYU contest without much proven depth left behind him.

San Diego State - Aaron Greene, TE

Greene has started the last two games for the Aztecs but, for lack of a better term, has underwhelmed so far in 2022. He's played between 16 and 34 snaps in each of the team's four contests to date, but still has zero receptions and has struggled as a blocker with a PFF grade of 50.3 in run blocking. That could be problematic against a Boise State that might be beaten up a bit but still possesses plenty of talent to embrace a rock fight.

Boise State - Taylen Green, QB

Following the dismissal of offensive coordinator Tim Plough and the subsequent transfer portal departure of Hank Bachmeier, Green is now officially the man on the spot at a crucial juncture for the Broncos. He hasn't seen the field since coming on in relief of Bachmeier against Oregon State back in Week 1, so while he'll obviously bring a different skill set to bear as the new QB1, San Diego State just got finished making life difficult for a similar quarterback in Week 4, Toledo's Dequan Finn, so the chess match will be fascinating to watch.

New Mexico - A.J. Haulcy, LOBO

With the recent news that veteran safety Tavian Combs will miss the rest of 2022 with a torn ACL, Haulcy is now the man on the spot at the ever-important LOBO position in Rocky Long's defensive backfield. We already know the true freshman can be a playmaker, best evidenced by the fumble he forced for a touchback two weeks ago against UTEP, and he's currently the second-highest overall graded safety in the Mountain West, according to Pro Football Focus, at 82.8. Big things could lie ahead for Haulcy in a key conference matchup against UNLV this Saturday.

UNLV - Nick Williams, WR

One of the major differences in this year's Rebels offense is quality depth behind Kyle Williams at wide receiver and, coincidentally, no one is better proof of that than one of the other Williamses on the UNLV roster. A super senior transfer from Division II CSU-Pueblo, Nick Williams stepped up when starter Jeff Weimer was knocked out of commission in last Saturday's game against Utah State and finished the day with three catches for 53 yards.

Though he has just seven catches to his name so far in 2022, three of them have gone for 20 or more yards. That kind of explosiveness could come in handy as the Rebels look to solve a seasoned New Mexico secondary that won't be scared to play close in coverage.

Air Force - Jamari Bellamy, CB

The Falcons, like Utah State and others, have battled their fair share of injuries in the first several weeks of the season and that has provided opportunities for new athletes like the sophomore Bellamy, who made his first start of the year against Wyoming in Week 3 and then played 18 snaps in the victory over Nevada last Saturday.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bellamy's 62.8 coverage grade has been a little better than the starter for whom he's covered in recent days, Eian Castonguay (55.8), so that's a timeshare worth watching should the latter fully recover his health.

Fresno State - Chrishawn Gordon, S

Logan Fife is probably going to cause writers to spill more proverbial ink while replacing star quarterback Jake Haener, but Gordon's role in replacing Evan Williams at safety is arguably more important. The Bulldogs were lucky to avoid more serious injuries, as head coach Jeff Tedford described the most recent dings as "week to week" in general, and Gordon will have the perfect opportunity to get his feet wet against a lackluster UConn offense and establish himself as valuable depth (and possibly more in the long term) alongside others like Elijah Gates.

San Jose State - Chase Williams, S

One of the few new faces on a veteran Spartans defense, the USC transfer has made the most of a starting opportunity in the South Bay, notching an interception in his first start at Auburn two weeks ago and then picking up eight tackles in Saturday's home win over Western Michigan. Though two games is a small sample size, it's nonetheless intriguing that Williams has thus far posted a better overall PFF grade (70.8) than safety counterpart Tre Jenkins (66.4), meaning that he could be a key piece in keeping the Wyoming offense off-balance this weekend.

Wyoming - Nofoafia Tulafono, C

The sophomore heir apparent to Keegan Cryder has stepped in and held his own through the first month of the season. Pro Football Focus noted that he has played 319 snaps, the third-most among Mountain West centers, and excelled in pass protection with a 82.2 grade that ranks second among his conference peers. In an offense that will want to remain balanced against a stingy San Jose State defense, that may come in handy.

More Week 5!

Mountain West Football: Examining Each Opponent's Week 5 Depth Chart

Air Force Football: First Look At The Navy Midshipmen

Mountain West Football: First Look At The BYU Cougars

 

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire

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