Entering the 2017 season many expected the Wyoming offense to struggle early in the season. After all, the Wyoming offense lost a quintet of talented players in RB Brian Hill, WR Tanner Gentry, WR Jake Maulhardt, TE Jacob Hollister and OL Chase Roullier. Four of these players (sorry Jake Maulhardt) are currently playing in the NFL so these players were not just talented at the college level but good enough to earn a paycheck playing the game professionally.
Seven Wyoming football games in the 2017 season are now in the books and the offensive numbers are pretty ugly. In fact, one can argue that this is the worst Wyoming offense so far in the Craig Bohl era. Take a look at these stats below and I will break them down the best I can.
Yards Per Pass Attempt
The Wyoming passing game has struggled immensely so far this season as Josh Allen looks to synch up with his new set of wide receivers. The reliable hands of Gentry, Maulhardt and Hollister are gone and a combination of poor reads/throws/mechanics by Allen and at times porous pass protection by the offensive line has led to a significant drop in the production in the passing game.
In 2017 the Cowboys averaged 8.5 yards per pass attempt (good for 16th in the country) but this year that number has dropped to 6.4 yards per pass attempt (currently 106th in the country). This number is almost a full yard per pass attempt less than the 2014 and 2015 seasons where the Pokes had less than stellar quarterback play.
Yards Per Rush
Replacing an all-time leading rusher at a school is never an easy thing. Brian Hill left Laramie after racking up 4,287 yards in just three seasons. To compound things further his back up Shaun Wick graduated as well and he ranked 6th all-time in rushing yards with 2,533 himself. This is a lot of rushing production to replace and it can be painfully seen so far this season.
Wyoming is averaging a dismal 3.12 yards per carry in 2017 a full yard per carry less than the Cowboys averaged in Bohl’s first season in charge. The 3.12 yards per carry ranks Wyoming 123rd in the country this season which is an unacceptable number for a coaching staff and system that hangs their hat on establishing a running game. To put this number in further perspective, Wyoming is one of SEVEN teams in the entire country who does not run for over 100 yards per game with their current 99.7 rushing yards per game.
The source of these problems? An offensive line who can’t consistently move the line of scrimmage and a group of inexperienced running backs who don’t yet have the feel for the game to make the proper reads and find the few running lanes that are there to be had. Trey Woods looks to have all the potential in the world but he has been playing the running back position at the college level for less than seven weeks.
Points Per Game
This season has seen Wyoming average 22.6 points per game through seven games this season. That makes the current scoring output the 2nd best of the Bohl era but it’s not all thanks to the offense. When you look at the adjusted points per game Wyoming is averaging just 18.0 points per game when you remove the points scored by special teams and the defense. Wyoming has already scored 32 defensive or special teams points this season surpassing the 26 of last year. The adjusted offensive points per game number this season is the worst average per game so far under Craig Bohl.
The scoring problem is not with the red zone conversions either. Wyoming is 14 of 14 this season in scoring in the red zone (number one in the Mountain West), the problem is sustaining drives that gets them to the red zone.
The Wyoming offense that ranked in the top five in the Mountain West in both points and yards in 2016 ranks last or second to last in those very same categories this season. Losing talented players to graduation and the NFL has certainly hurt the offense and the drop in offensive production has been drastic as can be seen in the offensive numbers above.
The offensive coaching staff does not seem to have a handle on the strengths and weaknesses of their players at running back, wide receiver and tight end. With a quarterback who most NFL scouts grade as a first round talent, the type of production we have seen in Laramie so far this season has been very disappointing.
The Pokes haven’t recovered from the skill players lost and the new skill players haven’t grown into the season as many have thought. With seven games already in the books, chances are we will not see much growth from the offense the rest of this season and this is what the Pokes are going to have to ride with unless there are drastic changes in personnel or scheme. Unless Wyoming’s offensive woes are fixed the Pokes will be facing an uphill battle as they still have to face high scoring offenses in Air Force, Colorado State and Fresno State in the final five games of the season.