#44 Wyoming Football 2017 Preview

Wyoming Cowboys
Overall Rank: #44
#2 Mountain West
Wyoming took big step forward in year three under the direction of head coach Craig Bohl. The Cowboys had a great deal of balance on offense thanks to Josh Allen at quarterback and pounding the rock with Bryan Hill at running back. Also, Wyoming played with a toughness that resembled Bohl’s teams at North Dakota State as they knocked off Boise State and San Diego State during the regular season. Now, the key for the Cowboys will be stringing together back to back high-quality seasons, which has been a challenge for this program over the years.
2016 Record: 8-6, 6-2
2016 Bowl: Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU (L 21-24)
Coach: Craig Bohl (14-24 at Wyoming, 118-56 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Vigen
Defensive Coordinator: Scottie Hazelton
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Josh Allen, QB, 523 yards
Passing: Josh Allen, QB, 3,203 yards
Receiving: C.J. Johnson, WR, 304 yards
Tackles: Andrew Wingard, S, 131
Sacks: Kevin Prosser, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Three players tied with 3
Other Key Returnees: LT Zach Wallace, C Gavin Rush, RG Kaden Jackson, RT Ryan Cummings, OL Brinkley Jolly, K Cooper Rothe, RB Nico Evans, RB, Kellen Overstreet, WR Austin Conway, DE Carl Granderson, DE Josiah Hall, NT Conner Cain, MLB Logan Wilson, CB Antonio Hull, CB Rico Gafford, S Marcus Epps
Key Losses:  RB Bryan Hill, C Chase Roullier, WR Tanner Gentry, WR Jake Maulhardt, TE Jacob Hollister, LB Lucas Wacha, LB D.J. May, P Ethan Wood, NT Chase Appleby
Josh Allen is back at quarterback and that will keep the Cowboys in pretty much every game as long as Allen stays healthy and takes care of the football. Allen threw for 3,203 yards last season with 28 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. The interception total will have to get into single digits if Wyoming is going to make a run at nine or more wins. Running back is a big question mark heading into the season as the Cowboys have to replace the lost production of Brian Hill, who ran for 1,860 yards last season. Look for the combination of Nico Evans and Kellen Overstreet to lead a running back by committee approach for Wyoming until somebody takes control of the job. Wide receiver will take some to come together too with C.J. Johnson leading an inexperienced group of receivers. The offensive line should be pretty solid as four guys with starting experience return in 2017.
In order for this program to take the next step in its development there will need to be some progress on the defensive side of the football for the Cowboys. Linebacker Logan Wilson had an outstanding freshman season and was named Freshman of the Year in the Mountain West Conference. Kevin Prosser is back at defensive end and will bring plenty of heat off the edge after recording 6.5 sacks last season. Carl Granderson’s health is a lingering question heading into the 2017 season and his ability to fully recover from an ACL injury will be a big difference maker in the progress of the defense.  The secondary is back intact led by Andrew Wingard, who had a team leading 131 tackles last season, and Marcus Epps, who is another relentless ballhawk in the secondary.
The Bottom Line:
A trip to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes in the season opener won’t be easy but if Wyoming can play well it can give them some confidence when they host Oregon on September 16th. Trips to Boise State and Air Force highlight the conference schedule along with a home game on November 4th against Colorado State.  If the Cowboys can get out of the non-conference portion of their schedule with just one loss, they should be in an excellent position to have another eight to nine-win season without too much difficulty. Meanwhile, Craig Bohl continues to mold this Wyoming program in the image of his North Dakota State teams that ruled FCS football.
Projected Bowl: New Mexico Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 205.4 (36th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 229.1 (67, 3)
Total Offense: 434.5 (48, 5)
Scoring Offense: 35.9 (25, 2)
Rushing Defense: 203.6 (92, 7)
Pass Defense: 249.5 (88, 11)
Total Defense: 453.1 (104, 10)
Scoring Defense: 34.1 (101, 9)
Turnover Margin: 0.21 (46, 4)
Sacks: 2.14 (60, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.86 (49, 8)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#11 Josh Allen