The Mountain West will hand out its end-of-the-season football awards Wednesday and a number of the top positions are truly up for grabs. Really, only the defensive player of the year is a slam-dunk choice. Nevada Sports Net was given a ballot this season. Here is a look at who we voted as our MW offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, special teams player of the year, freshman of the year, coach of the year and on the All-MW first and second teams.
Offensive player of the year
QB Josh Love, San Jose State: There was no clear-cut standout candidate here, so this was the most difficult choice on my ballot. Among the players nominated were Love, Hawaii's Cole McDonald, Boise State's John Hightower, Wyoming's Xazavian Valladay and Colorado State's Patrick O'Brien. For me, it came down to Love and McDonald, whose stats were close across the board. McDonald has the edge in passer rating (147.6 to 141.2), touchdowns (29 to 22) and completion percentage (64.8 to 60.9). Love has the edge in yards (3,923 to 3,401), yards per attempt (8.2 to 7.9) and interceptions (eight to 13). Hurting McDonald's case was the fact he was benched for Chevan Cordeiro late in the season. Helping his case is McDonald led Hawaii to its first West Division title. Hurting Love's case is San Jose State didn't make a bowl and went 2-6 in conference play. Helping his case is SJSU has been a dumpster fire in recent year and he made the Spartans respectable (5-7) with no running game, so there was a ton on his shoulders. In the closest call on my ballot, I went with Love.
Defensive player of the year
DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State: This one wasn't nearly as difficult. While San Diego State's Kyahva Tezino and Wyoming's Logan Wilson had excellent seasons and were nominated by their respective teams, this award goes to Weaver, the pass-rushing demon from Boise State. Weaver is fifth in the nation in sacks (13.5) and 10th in tackles for loss (18). Weaver also has an interception, a forced fumble, three passes defended and a career-high 47 tackles in 2019. Pro Football Focus' advanced metrics rate Weaver as one of the top defensive players in the nation and he could be a first-round draft pick this season despite being a junior. Teams must game plan against him, but he's still had a ton of production despite double teams.
Special team player of the year
K Brandon Talton, Nevada: Boise State's Avery Williams has returned two punts for touchdowns (tied for the most in the FBS), Utah State's Savon Scarver has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns (tied for the second most in the FBS), Colorado State's Ryan Stonehouse and New Mexico's Tyson Dyer rank ninth and 10th in the FBS in punt average (46.4 and 46.1, respectively) and Air Force's Jake Koehnke is one of only two kickers in the nation without a missed field goal (he's 12-of-12). So there are lots of good candidates here. But I went with Talton, an ESPN midseason All-American who has made 18-of-22 field goals, including two walk-off winners (a 56-yarder to beat Purdue and a 40-yarder to beat San Jose State). Without those makes, there's a good chance Nevada (7-5) doesn't make a bowl. Talton was 17-of-19 on field goals inside 50 yards.
Freshman of the year
George Holani, Boise State: If Wyoming quarterback Sean Chambers would have been healthy all season, he would have won this award. As is, Chambers was a strong candidate. Despite his accuracy issues, he's an excellent running quarterback who made big plays with his arm and limited turnovers in the pass game. But he only played eight games after suffering a season-ending knee injury in a win over Nevada. Same story with Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who was limited to seven games due to injury. Those injuries allowed Holani to swoop in and win the award (at least on this ballot). The 5-foot-11, 192-pound Holani rushed for 912 yards (5.5 per carry), caught 21 passes for 166 yards and scored nine touchdowns.
Coach of the year
Nick Rolovich, Hawaii: This one came down to three candidates for me: Rolovich, Air Force's Troy Calhoun and Boise State's Bryan Harsin. It's always going to be hard for Harsin to win this award because of the advantages Boise State's program has over the rest of the MW. He basically has to post an undefeated season, which he almost did with the Broncos going 11-1. Calhoun did a great job, grinding out a 10-2 season (both losses came to Top 25 teams) after back-to-back years missing the postseason. There's no shame in voting for either of those two, but Rolovich gets my vote. He opened the season with back-to-back wins over Pac-12 teams (Oregon State and Arizona) and overcame a so-so middle stretch (3-4 in a seven-game span) to win the final four games of the season, including the West Division title matchup over San Diego State. Hawaii's nine wins are the most since 2010 when the Rainbow Warriors went 10-4.
First team: Josh Love, San Jose State
Second team: Cole McDonald, Hawaii
First team: Charles Williams, UNLV; George Holani, Boise State
Second team: Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming; Ronnie Rivers, Fresno State
First team: Cedric Byrd II, Hawaii; Warren Jackson, Colorado State; Tre Walker, San Jose State
Second team: John Hightower, Boise State; JoJo Ward, Hawaii; Siaosi Mariner, Utah State
First team: Trey McBride, Colorado State
Second team: Caleb Repp, Utah State
First team: Ezra Cleveland, Boise State; John Molchon, Boise State; Daishawn Dixon, San Diego State; Keith Ismael, San Diego State; Justin Polu, UNLV
Second team: Scott Hattok, Air Force; Garrett Larson, Boise State; Ilm Manning, Hawaii; Keegan Cryder, Wyoming; Jack Snyder, San Jose State
First team: Curtis Weaver, Boise State; Dom Peterson, Nevada; Tipa Galeai, Utah State; Myles Cheatum, San Diego State
Second team: Jordan Jackson, Air Force; Ellison Hubbard, Colorado State; Keshawn Banks, San Diego State; Cameron Thomas, San Diego State
First team: Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State; Logan Wilson, Wyoming; Justin Rice, Fresno State; Mykal Walker, Fresno State
Second team: Ethan Aguayo, San Jose State; Alex Hart, New Mexico; Javin White, UNLV; David Woodward, Utah State
First team: Luq Barcoo, San Diego State; Dwayne Johnson Jr., San Diego State; Kekoa Nawahine, Boise State; Daniel Brown, Nevada
Second team: Jericho Flowers, UNLV; Tariq Thompson, San Diego State; Jamal Hicks, Colorado State; Alijah Halliburton, Wyoming
First team: Brandon Talton, Nevada
Second team: Dominik Eberle, Utah State
First team: Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
Second team: Tyson Dyer, New Mexico
First team: Avery Williams, Boise State
Second team: Austin Conway, Wyoming
First team: Savon Scarver, Utah State
Second team: John Hightower, Boise State