Rico Gafford and Carl Granderson are important players on a much improved Wyoming defense. Photo Credit: Pete Arnold

With four games in the books, the Wyoming Cowboys are 2-2 and one-third of the way through their 2017 season. Now is a good time to look at some key statistics to gauge how this year’s edition of the Cowboy football team is doing. Today we will tackle some of the positives on the defensive side of the ball, be sure take a look at yesterday’s blog as we will outlined some of the negatives for the offense. Now on to three stats that should cause optimism for Wyoming football.

Points Allowed Per Game: 23.5

Stopping your opponent from scoring points is always good and Scottie Hazelton has the Pokes off to a great start after four games including two of those versus power five schools. This number may not seem great on the surface but when you compare it to the 32.8, 34.0 and 34.1 points per game allowed totals in the first three seasons under Craig Bohl it’s hard not to get at least a little excited. Scottie Hazelton should receive quite a bit of credit for this turnaround, his adjustment to make the defensive scheme much more simple for the players has done wonders especially in the secondary where the corners and safeties look much more in synch in both the running and passing defense.

Total Yards Per Game: 366.5

The number you see above is an 86.6 yards per game improvement over the total yards per game posted last season of 453.1. What makes this number impressive so far this year is the improvement the defense has made despite being on the field more than Bohl’s teams in the first three seasons. To date, Wyoming’s opponents have run 53 more offensive plays than the Cowboys this season. That totals to about 13.5 plays per game which is pretty substantial considering the average college football team runs around 72 plays per game. Those 13.5 extra plays per game constitute an additional 18.7% plays per game for the Wyoming defense and yet Wyoming’s total yards per game numbers are 19% down from last season.

Explosive Plays Allowed: 12

For this purpose explosive plays are defined as plays by the opponent (passing and rushing) of twenty yards or more. The Wyoming defense is on pace to allow just 36 explosive plays over the course of their 12 game season. This is quite impressive at this point because last season Wyoming allowed an unbelievable 98 explosive plays ranking the Brown & Gold 128th and dead last in the country. Wyoming currently ranks 28th in the country and the lack of explosive plays allowed has improved the two other defensive metrics presented above.

The Wyoming defense has taken a step forward through four games this season. As we get deeper into conference play after this week’s Texas State game the main question will be, can the Wyoming defense keep it up? I think they can and Craig Bohl has finally built up the Wyoming football program to have the defensive players and depth it needs to consistently compete at the top levels of the Mountain West. If the offense can eventually catch up to something resembling their 2016 form then Coach Bohl and his staff will really be onto as they say building something.