For a second week in a row I am going to forgo “Know The Foe” because yet again who we are playing doesn’t matter at all. The problems the Cowboys are having fall squarely on themselves and until they execute properly it doesn’t matter if we are playing. Here are three areas that must be cleaned up starting with Idaho if we have any hope of salvaging the season (warning you have all heard these before, which makes this even more sickening to write).
1. Third Downs
On both offense and defense Wyoming has been awful in third down situations. The defense can’t make stops consistently to get off the field and the offense can’t convert on third down to extend drives. Wyoming’s offense is dead last in the nation ranking 124th in converting third downs at a putrid 17.1 percent. To put that in perspective that is almost 7 percent less than the worst conversion rate recorded in the last 5 years (Washington State 23.8% in 2009). Defensively Wyoming ranks in the bottom fifth of the country coming in at 106th with opponents converting 48% of the time on third down.
The Fix: The Cowboys should look to hit national averages for third down’s in the game versus Idaho to build confidence. That would be 37% on defense and 41% on offense.
2. Rushing Defense
It is pretty clear right now that the inability to stop the run has nothing to do with scheme. So far Tormey’s defense has been no better in slowing down the run than Marty English was. Wyoming ranks 122nd versus the run allowing 269 yards a game. If the scheme is not the problem then only one reason remains, the players. Wyoming currently does not have enough talent in the front seven to slow teams down.
The Fix: I’m not sure this can be fixed as it has been a major problems for four straight years now. Idaho is second to last in the country coming into this game in rushing offense averaging 39 yards per game and just 1.59 yards per carry. If the Wyoming defense can’t stop Idaho from running the ball then it is safe to say they can’t stop anyone.
The Pokes had a chance to win the game late versus Cal Poly but turned the ball over at the worst possible time. Wyoming is 108th in the nation in turnover margin at -4 and have only forced 2 turnovers ranking 107th. It is essential that Wyoming protect the ball on offense and make plays on defense leading to fumbles and interceptions.
The Fix: To win the turnover battle against Idaho, I would suggest that if a player commits a turnover they find themselves on the bench regardless of who they are.