#97 Wyoming Football Preview

Wyoming Cowboys

Overall Rank: #97
#6 Mountain West Conference

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2010 Record: (3-9, 1-7)
2010 Bowl: none
Coach: Dave Christensen (10-15 at Wyoming, 10-15 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Gregg Brandon
Defensive Coordinator: Marty English

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Alvester Alexander, RB, 792 yards
Passing: Austin McCoy, QB, 34 yards
Receiving: Chris McNeill, WR, 257 yards
Tackles: Brian Hendricks, LB, 80
Sacks: Josh Biezuns, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Tashaun Gipson, CB, 3

Other Key Returnees: OT John Hutchins, C Nick Carlson, OG Brandon Self, DE Gabe Knapton, DT Patrick Mertens, LB Brian Hendricks, KR/PR: Marqueston Huff

Key Losses: QB, Austin Carta-Samuels, WR David Leonard, TE Zach Bolger,  LG Sam Sterner, LB Keith Lewis, CB Marcell Gipson, FS Chris Prosinski, PK Ian Watts

The resolution of the quarterback battle is going to be absolutely critical for Wyoming in 2011. The battle between three guys redshirt freshman Emory Miller and true freshmen Brett Smith and Adam Pittser should go down to the wire, but is already thinning down with the transfer of Miller. A nice nonconference schedule early against Weber State and Texas State should allow the winner to work his way into a comfort zone. Also, the long awaited spread offense of Coach Christensen and Gregg Brandon should finally hit the field for Wyoming

The biggest strength for the Cowboys will be their defensive line led by Josh Biezuns and Gabe Knapton. These guys are going to have to anchor the defense, control the line of scrimmage and keep their team in games early on while the inexperienced offense finds confidence in itself with a new quarterback. Also, the running game led by Alvester Alexander is going to be crucial to any run at a Bowl game for Wyoming. If they can run the ball their defense will be able to stay off the field and be fresher late in ball games.
In the kicking game, the Cowboys return one of the top punters in the country in Austin McCoy and this should help with the field position game for Wyoming.

The inexperience at quarterback is going to be a question that will test the Cowboys early on in the fall. The sooner this can be addressed the better off they will be and every other part of the offense will be able to form that all important chemistry necessary for success. The offensive line only returns two starters so they are going to have to together from day one of fall camp to help protect whoever wins the starting quarterback job. Also, the receiving corps needs to step up and be more effective in Gregg Brandon’s spread offense so teams can’t tack eight or nine guys in the box on defense. Defensively, Wyoming is very inexperienced in the secondary so it is going to be important that Tashaun Gipson carries the load as a senior and brings the three new starters up to speed as quickly as possible.

The Bottom Line:
The 2011 Wyoming Cowboys will only go as far as the quarterback position will take them, the defense should be able to keep games competitive and the schedule is very favorable for an early season confidence boost. Josh Biezuns leads a full set of starters coming back on the defensive line that should help improve the run defense and get more pressure on the quarterback. There is a good foundation in place with Dave Christensen as head coach but I see a very difficult journey for the Pokes to get back to a bowl game in 2011. This team should be better but the offensive uncertainty will be too much to overcome to become bowl eligible.

Projected Bowl: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 119.5 (98th in nation, 6th  in conference)
Passing Offense: 166.0 (100, 7)
Total Offense: 285.5 (116, 7)
Scoring Offense: 19.2 (107, 6)
Rushing Defense: 205.8 (109,7, )
Pass Defense: 207.9 (42, 5)
Total Defense: 413.7 (92, 6)
Scoring Defense: 30.3 (86, 6)
Turnover Margin: -0.25 (71, 6)
Sacks: 1.67 (85, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 2.58 (96, 7)

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