School is in session and it’s officially game week! The Cowboys are now focusing their preparation on Nebraska and hopes are high in Laramie. Everyone in the country is 0-0 and we have no reason to think Wyoming can’t compete with anyone they play this year, right? It is always fun to predict what might happen during the season, whether your predictions are players’ stats, team record, conference standings, or bowl games, not to mention it always makes for interesting conversations/arguments. Brad, Chad, and myself have each pulled together a couple bold predictions that we think could actually come to fruition this season for the Cowboys. Keep in mind that these predictions are meant to be BOLD and a little out of the box.
Connor’s Bold Predictions:
Wyoming is 7-1 (4-0) when Fresno State visits Laramie.
I think the Cowboys will go down to Lincoln and put up a strong fight as the offense is able to put up enough points to keep Wyoming in the game for the better part of 3 quarters eventually the Nebraska offense will be too much and the Huskers will walk away with a 14 point win. After that UW will host Idaho and then the Big Sky Conference’s Northern Colorado. Both should be easy wins. After that Wyoming will travel to Colorado Springs and the Cowboys have a pretty good history of keeping the AFA option attack to a minimum and the Falcons don’t typically score points against Wyoming. I think the players win this one for Christensen, pushing their record to 3-1. After that the Cowboys travel down to San Marcos, Texas to play Texas State and will come back to Laramie with a win (4-1). Next, the Lobos come to Laramie and Wyoming should get an easy win there to make their record 5-1. Then CSU comes to Laramie and Christensen simply doesn’t lose to the Rams, and this year won’t be any different, 6-1. San Jose St. is up next and the Cowboys will head to San Jose with a lot of momentum and in a tight game they will pull out the W, bringing their record to 7-1 when Fresno comes to town. Wyoming will have 2 weeks to prepare for Fresno, get healthy, and let the hype build. Along with the bold prediction that Wyoming will be 7-1 going into this game, I also think War memorial will have 27,000+ on hand for this one. The two weeks between San Jose and Fresno will give the AD time to promote and I think Wyoming winning is the easiest way to put butts in the bleachers. Wyoming will come into this game fresh and in front of a big crowd and Uncle Mo on their side anything could happen! I am not ready to predict this game yet, but if UW is in fact 7-1 coming into this game, I like their chances at home.
Newcomers at WR will make their presence felt:
Nico Brown, Tanner Gentry, Jarrod Darden, and Eric Nzeocha all had pretty good fall camps and at one time or another they all made a fairly strong splash. Brown and Darden stole the show in the first scrimmage each catching long touchdowns. Brown finished the fall camp with 8 catches 129 yards and a TD, Darden had 4-97 and a TD, Gentry had 9-104, and Nzeocha had 9-116. These are all pretty solid numbers and Christensen has been particularly high on Tanner Gentry and has been quoted saying that he will play a lot. Gentry has gotten a number of reps with the 1’s in practice. I expect Gentry to have an impact right away, I think Darden is going to be big on 3rd and short situations and goal line passes, since he is such a big target. I think Nzeocha will play a lot and make some catches throughout the season as he continues to get comfortable, he does seem to have issues with dropping passes however. If Nico Brown proves on a consistent basis that he can be a threat like he was in the first scrimmage, he will be starting by the end of the season and will turn heads. He simply has too much talent, speed, and athleticism to keep him off the field. Brett Smith isn’t lacking weapons this season and it appears he has a few new ones to go along with Herron, Rufran, Claiborne, Miller and Norman.
Wyoming will have a real rushing attack
Wyoming will have a rushing attack this year and it will include more than Brett Smith! Yes, that’s right, I said it. The Cowboys will have a rushing attack and it will be productive from other positions other than the quarterback spot. It’s been quite a while since the quarterback wasn’t the primary rusher, dating back to before Brett Smith and Austyn Carta-Samuels. We have to go back to the days of the mostly immobile Karsten Sween to find a rusher.. a couple of guys they called Thunder and Lightning, Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon. This year I think the Pokes will have an improved offensive line which means less running for his life from Brett Smith and better rushing on the edges from Shaun Wick and Brandon Miller. Transfer center Albert Perez is showing glimpses of being a good find and behind a nice anchor like that the ball should move down field more efficiently. With the Cowboys and Dave Christensen wanting to move the ball downfield at a quicker pace I suspect that playing a little ball control will tire defenses out in a hurry, especially when playing in the comfy confines of War Memorial Stadium.
Wyoming will be near the top of the Mountain
Wyoming will finish 2nd in the Mountain division. Might as well write this one down as gospel because it’s going to happen. I see one team in the way of Wyoming finishing at the top of the Mountain division and that’s Boise. The Broncos are the pre-season favorite to win the conference, and I don’t have any doubts about that right now. The road to a MW championship runs through Boise, Idaho. After that I think it’s wide open. I’m not convinced that Air Force will be improved over last year; Colorado State hasn’t done anything to improve. New Mexico should be better but not even close to an elite MW team. Then there’s Utah State and Mr. Charles Keeton. The Aggies should give the Pokes a great game, but a new coaching staff could be a big problem for the Aggies. We won’t know how they’re adjusting to the new staff until the first couple of games but I think if the Pokes are going to knock off the Aggies and give Boise a scare in their britches at the top the Pokes need to win that game, and a heightened importance will be on it as it’s the last game of the regular season for both teams. Could this game determine who goes to the Mountain West championship game? Maybe, but doubtful. That’s why this is a bold prediction!
Forced Turnovers Increase
Last season Wyoming only forced 20 turnovers ranking them 6th in the Mountain West and 76th in the nation. The switch to the 3-4 defense will allow the Cowboys to be less predictable on defense as they will be able to mask where that fourth pass rusher is coming from. The unit as a whole will also be more athletic by removing a defensive lineman and adding a linebacker. his move will pay off and the Pokes will increase their turnovers forced from 20 to 30 allowing the offense to have a few more short fields when taking over.
The slightly built (5-10, 187lb) and shifty wide receiver with top end speed from California will have a banner season. Herron will stay healthy and the senior will be Brett Smith’s go to receiver. This will see Herron top 50 receptions, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as he is named to the All-MWC team.
These are just a few things we think could happen for Wyoming this year. Let’s hear some of your BOLD predictions.