The Wyoming football season has been over for about a month now, giving us time here at WyoNation to think and reflect on the Cowboys’ 2-10 football season. Here is the third and final of our three-part season review/reflection of sorts looking at the special teams.
Wyoming’s special teams this season were kind of a mixed bag, some good and some bad.
The first aspect of special teams that we will take a look at is the return game. Kick returning was lead by Jr. D.J. May who was a running back turned LB. May was as solid as returner as UW has had since Jovon Bouknight. May averaged 26.2 yards a return on 26 returns with a long of 49. May was very close to breaking one for six a couple times and consistently put UW in good field position. It is worth noting he had a couple solid returns called back for penalties. No other UW KR had more than 2 KR to their name.
Wyoming’s punt return department was lead by Jr. WR Tanner Gentry who had 7 returns for 73 yards with a long of 24 yards. Gentry, who only played 7 games was among the nation’s leaders in avg. at 10.4 yards per return. After Gentry’s season ending injury, the return duties were split between May and Fr. safety Andrew Wingard, who had 7 combined returns for 32 yards. I would fully expect the same return men in 2016 when the Pokes take the field, but a couple players to keep an eye on are RB Milo Hall and WR Justice Murphy.
The next facet of special teams that we are going to look at is punting. The punting duties were again held by Jr. Ethan Wood. This was Wood’s third straight season as Wyoming’s punter and his average was right on with his career average at 41.8 yards per punt. Wood did however have a career high with 19 punts inside the 20 and had 12 punts over 50 yards and also tied his career high with a punt of 67 yards. Wood’s lowlight of the season was his one blocked punt against Utah State. Wood was solid at both punting and handling the kick off duties (16 touchbacks) and he has shown improvement each and every year.
Wyoming’s FG kicking was definitely the worst part of their special teams and quite possibly the worst position on the entire field all season. The Cowboys’ red zone woes were well documented throughout the season and having the inability to kick field goals in range were a key contributor to those woes, if not thee key contribution. True freshmen Tristan Bailey was the man kicking for Wyoming and he finished the season 2-8 with a long of 41 yards and was 28/31 on XP. Bailey, who has since left the team, was not close on most of his field goal attempts and it was evident the coaching staff did not have confidence in him. I don’t want to harp too much on the subject, but Wyoming’s inability to make a field goal or lack of willingness to attempt one cost Wyoming points on multiple occasions and hampered their chances of staying in football games.
I would fully expect the coaching staff to bring in multiple guys to compete for the kicking duties. There is at least one guy coming in, that would be Cooper Rothe out of Longmont, CO. Rothe committed to Wyo back in October and comes in with a career long of 55 yards and should be an immediate upgrade at the position. Wyoming will be better on special teams next year, seeing as they are returning everyone that contributed except their kicker and that position can’t get worse.
This will wrap up the 2015 review, here is to 2016 being better and we are only a few short months away from spring ball! Thanks for reading all of our coverage and Go Pokes!