The 2017 college football season is almost upon us and the media that cover the Mountain West have converged on Las Vegas for the “Media Summit”. While at the summit the conference took a little poll and it has seen your Wyoming Cowboys take home some preseason honors. The Pokes landed three players on the 2017 Preseason All-MW team with QB Josh Allen, LB Logan Wilson and DB Andrew Wingard. These three honors matched the preseason honors seen in 2016 when RB Brian Hill, OL Chase Roullier and DB Andrew Wingard were also named to the first team.
It is the next set of awards though that were historic for the University of Wyoming. Josh Allen was named the MW preseason offensive player of the year and Andrew Wingard was named the preseason defensive player of the year. It is the first time in the history of the MW conference that two Wyoming players were selected for these honors. Allen and Wingard are both very deserving of these accolades but could face some challenges in meeting these expectations, let’s take a look below.
QB Josh Allen
Josh Allen may be the most talked about college football player during the offseason in the entire country. The strong armed and mobile quarterback actually decided to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft but his decision didn’t feel right after he slept on it and decided to come back to Laramie for his junior season. The NFL scouting community has been all over Allen since and he is projected to be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2018 draft class with several talent evaluators projecting him to be the number one overall pick. The Wyoming football program hasn’t had this much publicity in years and the coaching staff led by Coach Bohl will have to find a way to keep Allen and the rest of the team focused on the task at hand, winning football games.
Off the field, the Wyoming football program hasn’t had this much publicity in years and the coaching staff led by Coach Bohl will have to find a way to keep Allen and the rest of the team focused on the task at hand, winning football games.
There are some on the field challenges as well. Although the Pokes bring back a talented and experienced offensive line, Wyoming must replace their all-time leading rusher in Brian Hill and their top three leading receivers in WR Tanner Gentry, WR Jake Maulhardt and TE Jacob Hollister. The 2017 Wyoming offense will look much different than the 2016 version and it will be important for the Wyoming offense to do these two things for the team and Allen to find success in 2017:
◊ Develop a reliable running game featuring Milo Hall, Nico Evans and Kellen Overstreet in a likely running back by committee system.
◊ Gel quickly early in the season with his new leading passing targets projected to be C.J. Johnson, Austin Conway and Josh Harshman at tight end.
There is a very good chance Allen may not be productive as he was in 2016 where he threw for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns but don’t take that as a sign of regression from him. Efficiency is the key for Allen in 2017 and if he can be a more efficient passer and the Cowboy defense can take just a small step forward in preventing opposition points, the Pokes will be primed for success once again in 2017.
DB Andrew Wingard
Wingard is dealing with an injury that he picked up this spring (broken hand) that forced him to miss spring ball. He is reportedly ready to go for fall camp and we will find out for sure next Monday when UW hosts their own fall sports media day. The only potential stumbling block for Wingard to reach his goal of being named the pre and post season MW defensive player of the year is the revamped defense. Scottie Hazelton who worked under coach Bohl at North Dakota State is the new defensive coordinator as the Pokes look to get back to the roots of Bohl’s Tampa-2 system.
This change shouldn’t be much of a problem though as the Wyoming defense looked much more stout in the Spring. You can make a strong argument that the change in defense will improve Wingard as a player. I would expect to see Wingard lined up all over the field and for him to improve on his career total of two sacks as Wyoming will look to blitz more and not be so predictable in pass coverage.