#57 Wyoming 2018 Football Preview

Wyoming Cowboys
Overall Rank: #57
#4 Mountain West
 Wyoming Logo
For the second straight season, Wyoming won eight games. Last year the regular season did not end well with a couple losses to Fresno State and San Jose State, but the Cowboys did get a nice victory over Central Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl. But without Josh Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Wyoming has one big hole to fill.
2017 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2017 Bowl: Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Central Michigan (W 37-14)
Coach: Craig Bohl (22-29 at Wyoming, 22-29 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Vigen
Defensive Coordinator: Scottie Hazelton
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kellen Overstreet, RB, 481 yards
Passing: Nick Smith, QB, 471 yards
Receiving: Austin Conway, WR, 553 yards
Tackles: Logan Wilson, LB, 119
Sacks: Carl Granderson, LB, 9.5
Interceptions: Andrew Wingard, S, 5
Other Key Returnees: WR C.J. Johnson, DT Youhanna Ghaifan, LB Cassh Maluia, S Marcus Epps
Key Losses: RB Trey Woods, QB Josh Allen, DB Rico Gafford
Despite Allen’s best efforts, Wyoming struggled on the offensive side of the ball. The new quarterback will be either senior Nick Smith or freshman Tyler Vander Waal. Smith started a couple of games late last season and played well, but Vander Waal is a promising talent. Returning all their wide receivers and tight ends will help usher in the new quarterback. Austin Conway was the most productive receiver, catching 62 passes for 553 yards and three touchdowns. The big play receiver was CJ Johnson, who caught 30 passes for 531 yards and seven touchdowns. Coach Craig Bohl will want to establish a ground game more so this season than last and Trey Woods and Kellen Overstreet form a potent, experienced duo.
Wyoming boasted one of the best defenses in the country last year. They ranked ninth in scoring defense, allowing a mere 17.5 points per game, and led the nation in turnovers. With eight starters back, there are high hopes for a repeat performance. Carl Granderson and Youhanna Ghaifan are both returning All-Conference players who combined for 16.5 sacks. Cassh Maluia and Logan Wilson are back at linebacker. Wilson led the team with 119 tackles, while Maluia added 74. The secondary has a couple stars too with Andrew Wingard and Marcus Epps. Wingard totaled 114 tackles and five interceptions, while Epps added four more interceptions.
The Bottom Line:
Behind a strong defense, Wyoming will compete for a Mountain Division title. If the offense can manage to replace Allen and find a better ground game, this team can score a few points too. If a division title is in the cards, the big game this season will be against Boise State in the conference opener on September 29th. With a win there, Wyoming will get an early leg up on a Mountain Division title. But with a loss, the Cowboys should still reach a third straight bowl for the first time in program history.
Projected Bowl: New Mexico Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 108.8 (117th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 177.2 (103, 9)
Total Offense: 286.0 (125, 12)
Scoring Offense: 23.5 (104, 9)
Rushing Defense: 160.3 (60, 5)
Pass Defense: 174.9 (13, 2)
Total Defense: 335.2 (23, 4)
Scoring Defense: 17.5 (9, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.85 (1, 1)
Sacks: 2.54 (28, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.00 (60, 6)