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"Now that they're spreading the field from sideline to sideline, it's not a physical game anymore," Long said. "It's not a pound it at you game. So, it's the quarterback. The quarterback is key on offense. On defense, it's a pass rush."

football coaches are usually going to talk about how wide open their league is, how everybody has a shot and how anybody can beat anybody on any given Saturday.

A couple other teams return quarterbacks who had Puma Disc Blaze White solid seasons, such as Boise State's Grant Hedrick (he came in for the injured Joe Southwick last season) and San Diego State's Quinn Kaehler. But at least half of the teams in the conference face the unknown at the game's most critical position.

The Mountain West's 12 football teams return just two quarterbacks who finished among the top six in the conference in total offense last season. Fajardo was fourth and Puma Shoes Pink Dolphin

Fresno State went 11 2 last year and won the MWC championship despite allowing 30.2 points per game largely because of Carr, who was the only player in the country to top 5,000 passing yards and throw 50 touchdowns.

"If you don't have a good quarterback, you can be damn good on defense and you can be damn good on offense and still only win half your games. And if you have a great quarterback, (an NFL) first round draft choice, you can be pretty average on defense, and you can have pretty average talent on offense and you might win every game. That's just the way it is."

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"The quarterbacks have to step up and make plays in key moments," Polian said. "And if you don't have that guy, it's hard. It's hard to win without one. .

And the coaches' belief in parity this season boils down to one simple premise: quarterback uncertainty.

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"I hope he has a special year," Polian said. "That's why we have a chance, because we've got (a proven quarterback)."

When asked who might be the favorite in the West, UNLV's Bobby Hauck said it was wide open, then added, "Reno with the quarterback coming back. Anybody who's got a quarterback coming back has got the upper hand. But it will be fun to watch it unfold."

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It would be a stretch to say that Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter has moved into damage control, but he has gone out of his way to make sure his 2014 Bulldogs don't focus on what they've lost, which would include standout receivers Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse.

Division I level and pro level, the difference in the teams are the quarterbacks. The quarterbacks control who the good teams are.

Colorado State's Garrett Grayson was fifth.

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Mountain West teams face QB uncertainty

Even when there is a clear cut favorite, college Puma Shoes Golf

The message from the coaches is simple: If you have a quarterback, you have a chance.

"David Carr's not here. Isaiah Burse is not here," DeRuyter said he told the team in a meeting. "We're not the Fightin' David Carrs, we're the Bulldogs."

They all, no doubt, would love to be in Nevada coach Brian Polian's shoes from that perspective. Fajardo is a proven four year starter.

The changing philosophies of the game have created such high importance in the quarterback position. Spread offenses have put an emphasis on the passing game and have de emphasized the power game.

Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of the more veteran quarterbacks in a wide open Mountain West Conference.(Photo: Russ Isabella/USA TODAY Sports)

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"Let's be frank. You can give up 30 points a game and win 11 when you've got the best quarterback in the league by a significant margin."

Only one of those four, Fajardo, is back this season, which is why some MWC coaches believe the Wolf Pack has as good a shot as anyone to win the West.

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2013 was touted as the year of the quarterback in the MWC, and it lived up to its billing. Four of the top 12 players in total offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision were MWC quarterbacks Fresno State's David Carr (first), San Jose State's David Fales (fourth), Wyoming's Brett Smith (11th) and Nevada's Cody Fajardo (12th).

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"The Derek Carrs and David Faleses, those guys are gone," Hawaii coach Norm Chow said at the conference's annual media event in Las Vegas last month. "I think the leading quarterback now is probably Cody Fajardo at Reno. . I think because of uncertainty at the quarterback spot, yeah, it does leave it a little wider open than it has been."

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But when it comes to the Mountain West Conference's West Division, it's not just rhetoric.

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Utah State's Chuckie Keeton, who missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL, also returns and was named the preseason offensive player of the year by the conference's media.

"Everybody at this level has good players," San Diego State coach Rocky Long said. "The name of the game in football, at the major college, Puma Deep Summer

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