The 2016 Wyoming Cowboys are 6-2 and 4-0 in the MWC and just knocked off #13 Boise State. That is a sentence I didn’t think I would be saying on November 2nd. What a thrilling victory and run it has been for the Cowboys. It seemed like everyone was making plays at big moments from the defense to the offense to special teams. The Cowboys seemed to have a turned the corner. Before I ramble on too much, here are the 5 things I think this week…
1. Saturday Night was fun.
What a night it was on Saturday. This football team has been such a joy to watch this season and their resolve is second to none. The Pokes started the game well causing a turnover, but they then turned it over and that lead to Boise’s first touchdown of the night. The Cowboys answered with a drive of their own but were eventually were stopped on 4th and goal from the 1. Boise was able to swing that stop into a 99-yard drive to go up 14-0.
At this point, the football game could’ve easily gotten away from the young Cowboys, but it didn’t. They kept fighting all night they were down 14-0 then 21-7 then right before half they found a way to get it to 21-17. The second half was a dog fight the whole way and it came down to a game winning safety. Are you kidding me!? The crowd was into the game from the start; the Pokes fought hard and everyone involved deserved that win. What a night.
2. Special teams kept the Cowboys in the game
I can’t say enough about kicker Cooper Rothe and punter Ethan Wood. These two were at their very best when they needed to. Rothe, who has had an up and down freshman season, hit a career long 40-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 and then stepped on the field in the fourth and knocked in a 39-yard FG goal to make it a 21-20 game. Rothe’s field goals came at big moments that allowed the Cowboys to seize a little momentum both times and also keep the Cowboys within striking distance.
Ethan Wood was just as good, if not better than Rothe on Saturday. Wood punted 5 times and 4 of those ended up inside the twenty and 3 of those inside the 10. None were bigger than Wood’s 4th quarter punt with 1:38 left and he pinned BSU at the 10. 2 plays later Chase Appleby got his strip sack, the ball rolled the back of the end zone and the rest is history.
3. Josh Allen was fantastic, especially on third down
Josh Allen threw an interception on the offense’s first possession of the game and after that he was fantastic. Sure, he might have missed some throws or opportunities. That is going to happen over the course of the game, but there was very little of that. Allen made some great throws, he extended plays with his legs, and was the best player on the field. Where Allen was especially good, was third down. He seemed to make a play on every big third down, including his 4th quarter touchdown throw to Tanner Gentry on a broken play. He then extended the play on the two-point conversation and found Maulhardt to tie the game at 28. The maturation of the RS sophomore from the start of the season to now has been impressive. The kid has a bright future.
4. The coaching staff brought their A game
Craig Bohl and staff were great all night and had their team ready to play. As I mentioned before this game could have gotten away from the Cowboys after being down 14 two different times in the first half, but it didn’t. I personally loved the call to go for it on 4th and goal. I loved that Bohl showed confidence in Rothe, which paid off. I thought Vigen called a good game on offense, he tried some trick plays, and he gave Allen opportunities to be successful on third down. I thought Stanard and the defensive staff made great adjustments after Boise’s offense had 21 points half way through the second quarter and only scored 7 more the rest of the way. The staff was on the right page all night and when they weren’t, they made the necessary adjustments to make sure they got on the right page.
5. Extend Craig Bohl A.S.A.P.
Staying on the subject of the coaching staff. What Craig Bohl has done for the football program to date is nothing short of remarkable. Bohl walked into a very tough situation. He literally gutted the roster and built it back up from scratch. He has a team that won 2 games a season ago sitting at 6-2 and 4-0 in the conference with wins over CSU, Air Force, and a top 15 Boise State.
Not only has Bohl brought a better product to the playing field, but he has reenergized the fan base and he played a big role in getting a $44 million facility. Bohl seems to genuinely love Wyoming, its culture, and its style. The athletic department needs to do everything in their power to pay Bohl and his staff whatever it wants in order to keep them around. If they aren’t willing to open the checkbook, the university could be in jeopardy of losing him.