We are a few weeks removed from the end of the 2015 football season and the Pokes were able to beat UNLV in a shootout to end the season. Wyoming finished their 2015 season 2-10 (2-6), obviously a disappointing record. Wyoming’s coaches have been busy recruiting and the guys got together this week to recap the 2015 season and give their initial thoughts looking at 2016.

The pokes finished 6-6 ATS in 2015 and it looks like all the guys were able to stay bowl eligible in all categories. Robert, Ryan, Chad, and Connor all finished 8-4 in the straight up column, while Brad, who was the lone 7-5’r in the straight up column finished with the best record ATS at 8-4. Ryan, Brad, and Connor were the overall winners with 15 combined wins.

The standings finished as follows:

 Straight UpAgainst the Spread
Robert Gagliardi8-46-6
Ryan Holmgren8-47-5
Brad Reed7-58-4
Chad Smith8-46-6
Connor Cunningham8-47-5

Robert Gagliardi, Wyosports.net

What did you take away from this season, what went right, what went wrong?

What went right was Brian Hill. The sophomore running back showed he is one of the best in the nation with 1,631 yards on a team that went 2-10 and knew that was Wyoming’s only consistent weapon. I thought the one year with Cam Coffman at quarterback was solid. Wish he could have stayed healthy all season. I also liked the wide receiver duo of juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt. Had Gentry not hurt his shoulder in the Nevada game he was on pace for an all-conference season.

What position group needs to improve the most for next season? 

Every unit on defense. It will be hard to replace senior defensive ends Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api. More depth at defensive end is badly needed, and the same with the interior defensive line. The linebacker spots probably need the most improvement. Junior Lucas Wacha was productive in the middle, but may be better suited outside. The move of D.J. May to outside linebacker was good, but more help and depth is needed. The secondary also needs to be better, but I liked how this young group progressed. All of those guys return, so hopefully a year of experience helps.

Same can be said for UW’s offensive line. Although two seniors are gone, five guys return who started games. More depth is needed there, too, but hopefully that group is better in 2016. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t say Wyoming needs to find a kicker, or have a huge improvement from true freshman walk-on Tristan Bailey (Bailey has since left the program).

Who do you see as next season’s breakout player or players?

If he stays healthy, Hill should again have a big season. Also look for Gentry to have another big year. Also look for freshman free safety Andrew Wingard to have another big year. Not sure if he will have a breakout year, but it appears Josh Allen will have every opportunity to be the guy at quarterback.

Why should Wyoming fans be optimistic about next season?

Because of all the returning players. About 60 percent of this roster was freshmen, and with only eight seniors gone, one has to think that the experience most of these young guys got will help. Hill is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player that doesn’t come around often. Fans should be excited for any team with a player like that. I also think another solid recruiting class will help boost fans’ optimism.

Wyoming hosts Northern Illinois and UC Davis and will travel to Nebraska and Eastern Michigan for their out of conference slate to go along with their 8 game conference schedule, care to make a prediction for next season?

I am going to say 5-7 with a shot at 6-6. Not sure if UW will be much better than 2-2 coming out of the nonconference. The Cowboys will be an underdog against Northern Illinois and Nebraska.

 

Ryan Holmgren, Casper Star-Tribune

What did you take away from this season, what went right, what went wrong?

I think the biggest takeaway was that Wyoming ended up being even young than anticipated. At the end of spring ball, I can’t imagine anyone expected Carl Granderson and Kevin Prosser to be the Cowboys’ top two backups at defensive end. Most would’ve assumed Jonathan Kongbo, Seth Edeen, Trevor Meader and Tavita Faaiu to fight for playing time while the youngsters redshirted. Similar instances played out at several others spots, too, due to injuries or otherwise (Nick Smith made two starts, the right side of the offensive line was often two redshirt freshmen, etc.). Because of that, not much went right. Brian Hill had a stellar year. What went wrong? The Pokes were poor in the red zone and allowed too many big plays.

What position group needs to improve the most for next season? 

Probably the defensive line. Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api will be lost to graduation and Uso Olive left the program. So suddenly three of four starters are gone. And the other regular starter, Chase Appleby, missed the final five games of the season due to a torn MCL. 

Who do you see as next season’s breakout player or players?

I think Josh Allen has an opportunity to become a really special player. His recovery and rehab from surgery to repair his broken right clavicle has went well and he should be ready to take over under center for spring ball. Another one to keep an eye on is Jalen Ortiz, the cornerback from UCLA who sat out this fall to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Why should Wyoming fans be optimistic about next season?

Well, it can’t get much worse. Or at least let’s hope not. Wyoming should be experienced enough to handle a team like UC-Davis, whereas this season it lost to North Dakota, which missed the FCS playoffs. I expect there will still be several growing pains, and the schedule (including Northern Illinois, Nebraska) will be a step up from this year.

Wyoming hosts Northern Illinois and UC Davis and will travel to Nebraska and Eastern Michigan for their out of conference slate to go along with their 8 game conference schedule, care to make a prediction for next season?

It’s really early, so this is a shot in the dark, but I think Wyoming is capable of winning four or five games next year. It’s hard to see six wins, but hey, the Pokes could potentially still reach a bowl game at 5-7!

 

Brad Reed, Wyonation.com

What did you take away from this season, what went right, what went wrong?

What went right? No games were delayed due to lightning. Brian Hill really likes running. Tanner Gentry really likes catching footballs. Eddie Yarbrough really likes hitting people behind the line of scrimmage. Andrew Wingard really likes tackling people. Chase Roullier really likes blocking. The band still really likes playing the beer song. The McMurry’s still really like being kind to UW and the athletic programs.

What went wrong? Everything else that isn’t on the list above. Lost to an FcS team. Lost to a 1-11 Eastern Michigan team. Tanner Gentry and Shaun Wick being lost for significant time due to injuries. Not winning the Boot back from the sheep. Too many young fellas forced into the lineup due to injuries, attrition, and depth. There are many many things to put on this list. It was tough to watch the Pokes towards the end of the season, but we’re all Pokes fans so we did anyways.

On the plus side of everything, a bad season doesn’t seem to be affecting recruiting too much. Recruits still love the coaching staff and at the time of this writing there are 15 or 16 verbals coming in next year. A lot of kids must like the direction this program is headed despite the fact the win/loss record took a nose dive.

What position group needs to improve the most for next season? 

Literally every single one. There is not a position on this program that doesn’t need improvement. The offensive line will need to grow up in a hurry if this team is going to have any kind of sustained success next season. The defensive line also needs to show a lot of improvement, especially with longtime starters Eddie Yarbrough and Saosi Hala’api’api graduating. The secondary will need to mature to keep up with the capable wide receivers in the Mountain West. Andrew Wingard can’t be relied upon to tackle everything. The wide receivers need to show improvement. Maulhardt and Gentry were fine, but the depth behind them will need to mature and learn to become reliable targets for incoming quarterback Josh Allen.

The only position I’m not concerned about is running back. Brian Hill’s play speaks for itself. His backup for most of this season, Kellen Overstreet, looks to be a very competent running back. He played sparingly this year but showed some flashes of being a good back when he would spell Hill. There’s a possibility that Shaun Wick could return for his senior season due to a medical redshirt. If he is able to continue his football career I would say running the ball will be in some very capable hands next season.

Who do you see as next season’s breakout player or players?

Josh Allen on offense. Carl Granderson on defense. Allen only played a few snaps this year before he separated his shoulder. He looked VERY capable of running this Craig Bohl offense. If that flash of his play was a preview of what’s to come I would say he’ll be an exciting player to watch.

Carl Granderson played sparingly this season in relief of Eddie. He’s a big, imposing creature who should wreak some havoc on offensive lines in years to come. If he can add 40 pounds to his frame over the next year or two he should become a very legitimate impact player for the Cowboy defense. His future appears to be very bright.

Why should Wyoming fans be optimistic about next season?

Because it can’t be any worse than this season? Seriously, this was one of the more painful seasons we’ve witnessed as Cowboy fans. That said, there’s a lot of reason to be hopeful. Josh Allen looks like he might be fairly talented. Tanner Gentry should be a pre-season Biletnikoff Award watch list player. Brian Hill will most definitely be a pre-season Doak Walker Award watch list player. Andrew Wingard could find himself on an award watch list. The offensive line should continue to mature. They were good enough to open 1600+ yards worth of running room for Brian Hill and Cam Coffman remained mostly upright during the season. There’s a lot of young talent on this team, which should excite everyone.

Wyoming hosts Northern Illinois and UC Davis and will travel to Nebraska and Eastern Michigan for their out of conference slate to go along with their 8 game conference schedule, care to make a prediction for next season?

Northern Illinois is going to be a tough game to open the season with. That’s a very talented MAC team. As UW fans we should be thrilled that a team of this caliber is coming to Laramie, and since it’s the season opener the stadium should be packed for this meeting. UC-Davis is not a very good Big Sky team. Traveling to Nebraska should be an interesting test for the Pokes. Craig Bohl will be returning to the Husker state for the first time as a head coach against his alma mater. Traveling to Ypsilanti should also be an interesting trip, hopefully a payback trip.

That said, I don’t know if the Pokes are talented enough to beat NIU. That’s a very good football team, the MAC runner-ups this year. Should be able to get past UC-Davis and Eastern Michigan. Nebraska will be a very tough game on the road. With that in mind, if the Pokes can go 2-2 in out of conference play and find a way to split their conference schedule they should go bowling next season. I think that’s a very reasonable goal and expectation. Next year’s team I feel like will be a little more talented than this year’s team, despite the losses of some talented seniors that were very good Cowboys on and off the field. I’m going to predict a 6-6 finish next year and we go to Albuquerque in the New Mexico Bowl.

 

Chad Smith, Wyonation.com

What did you take away from this season, what went right, what went wrong?

With a young football team Wyoming got off to a terrible start with home losses to North Dakota and Eastern Michigan. They were never able to truly recover from these losses and the defense was one of the worst of the season for the majority of the season. Those are two things that went wrong.

As far as what went right, Wyoming was very productive from am individual stadpoint and before injuries hit the offense Wyoming has the top ranked passer, risher and receiver in the Mountan West Conference

What position group needs to improve the most for next season? 

I think the answer without a doubt in the front seven of the defense. The defensive line and line backers need to take some pressure off the secondary and make some plays allowing the defensive backs to not make the majority of the tackles. Wyoming’s safety’s (Wingaard and Epps) were both ranked in the top three on the team in tackles. That can’t happen next season. 

Who do you see as next season’s breakout player or players?

There are two guys I have my eyes on.

WR James Price, should be able to step up and become a solid #3 WR behind Gentry and Maulhardt

LB Jaylon Watson, he redshirted this year but at 6 foot and 247 pounds he has true D-1 linebacker size which could allow Wacha to move to OLB which would suite his size and skill-set better.

Why should Wyoming fans be optimistic about next season?

The Cowboys will be a year older across the board and will have another spring ball and off-season putting in Coach Boh’s system. 

Wyoming hosts Northern Illinois and UC Davis and will travel to Nebraska and Eastern Michigan for their out of conference slate to go along with their 8 game conference schedule, care to make a prediction for next season?

It’s waaaaaaaaay too early to be thinking about this. Wyoming has an open QB job and right now and they have two, 200 pound defensive ends listed as starters if they were to play a game tomorrow. These are major problems. Let’s talk about this after spring ball when we know a little more about the make-up of this team.

 

Connor Cunningham, Wyonation.com

What did you take away from this season, what went right, what went wrong?

Unfortunately, outside of Brian Hill and 2 wins, not a whole lot went right. Wyoming had a lot of youth, injuries, and issues that lead to 10 losses. I don’t want to get into it too much because the season is over and I am ready to look forward to the 2016 season.

What position group needs to improve the most for next season? 

Offensively, it starts up front. Wyoming should be talented at RB and WR and the small sample size we got of Josh Allen gives hope there too. The offensive line needs to be better, if they are improved the passing game and running game should both flourish and Wyoming could potentially score a lot of points and have a more balanced offense.

Who do you see as next season’s breakout player or players?

On offense I am going to pick QB Josh Allen. We got to see him for a drive and a half last year until he broke his collar bone. I liked what I saw, he has a strong arm and will be dual threat. There was talk in the off season that he was better than Coffman, so Allen looks to be the guy for the next 3 years assuming he gets his medical hardship.

On defense, I am going to look to Carl Granderson. Granderson should be able to put on some weight in the off season and showed a lot of potential this year as a true freshman. The DL lost a lot of experience with the departure of both DE’s and now Uso Olive. Granderson will get a chance to start and be the guy. I think he makes a big leap between season 1 and 2.

Why should Wyoming fans be optimistic about next season?

Because Wyoming returns a lot of experience, unlike last season. Wyoming’s offense will much improved with everyone coming back for the most part and Allen looks to be an upgrade at the QB position. The defense should be better, I know the DL lost a lot but all starters at DB and LB will return and the DL will have Granderson and Appleby who both have experience. It is easy to say “it can’t get much worse,” but I disagree. I think it could have been a lot worse and another 2 win season would be worse. Unless we all of the sudden start hearing about kids not coming back, Wyoming will be much improved.

Wyoming hosts Northern Illinois and UC Davis and will travel to Nebraska and Eastern Michigan for their out of conference slate to go along with their 8 game conference schedule, care to make a prediction for next season?

I have a feeling Wyoming finds 7 wins next season. Call me a homer or an optimist, but I really believe in what Craig Bohl is trying to do and the offense and defense should be much improved. I will say 7-5 and going Bohling.

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