The Cowboys turned in their best performance of the 2017 season on Saturday and defeated New Mexico 42-3 and it wasn’t even as close as the scoreboard may have indicated. The Pokes dominated on both sides of the ball as the defense and special teams caused 7 turnovers and the offense did a good job of taking advantage of those.
This week the Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) host their rival Colorado State (6-3, 4-1) in a battle for the Bronze boot and sole possession of 2nd place in the Mountain Division standing. As usual, I have some thoughts heading into the game.
- Last week’s defensive performance was as dominant as I have seen.
Take away the 7 turnovers and the Wyoming defense still would’ve dominated the football game last week. That’s how good they were. New Mexico was searching for answers on offense all night. DC Scottie Hazleton had the perfect game plan for New Mexico and was one step ahead of the Lobos from the get go. It was especially satisfying after the Cowboys laid an egg in Albuquerque last year.
This defensive unit continues to play at a high level and it has legitimate play makers everywhere on the field. The formula that has worked for the Cowboys all season is to cause turnovers and score off them. I truly believe they were a turnover away from beating Boise, but they couldn’t get one. They will have another tough test Saturday night when CSU comes to town and their chances start with the defense.
- The offense may have found something in the win over New Mexico.
The offensive numbers weren’t the gaudiest in terms of total yards, thanks to the defense setting them up, but they found good rhythm. For the most part the offense scored with ease and when the Cowboys got short fields they didn’t waste any time and by the end of the half were converting big plays downfield. It was nice to see them play at a high level. The receivers are a lot more confident and the emergence of Austin Fort has made a huge difference. The running game is still not there, but Vigen and company have been more willing to use Allen’s legs than they were early on. I liked what I saw in the New Mexico game from them and I think it could propel the Cowboys on that side of the ball going forward. Colorado State brings in a good offensive attack and the Cowboy offense is going to need to continue that rhythm they found last week.
- Carl Granderson has reached another level.
Junior DE, Carl Granderson, was enjoying a breakout sophomore campaign last year before his season was cut short when he tore his ACL early in the Air Force game. It was a major blow to the Cowboy defense. I thought Granderson would come back bigger and stronger after the injury, but I thought it would take some time. I was wrong. Granderson has been a monster all season, but he took things to another level in October. Granderson has become an absolute monster and I don’t think there is an offensive linemen that can handle him in the Mountain West. Granderson currently has 49 tackles, 13 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and two interceptions through 8 games this year, and 22 tackles, 6 for loss, 4.5 sacks, and his 2 interceptions came in the month of October.
Granderson’s breakout, combined with improved play all around, has been the compliment Logan Wilson and Andrew Wingard needed to get the defense where it needed to be. Granderson has hardly even scratched the surface with what he is capable of doing and is still learning the game. I expect him to continue to dominate this season and next, then it is onto Sundays for big #91.
- Josh Allen’s confidence is back.
I don’t think there is any question that Josh Allen’s confidence was shaken after the first 3 games, but since then he has slowly gotten better and now I think he is just starting to hit his stride. The turnaround for him was his second half against Utah State. Allen completely put the team on his back and won that football game for the Cowboys with his arm and his legs. I thought he started the Boise game really well but he tapered off a the end, likely a result of taking a lot of big hits, but still I think he showed signs of who we know he is. Last week against New Mexico was his best yet. Allen finished the game with 16 of 28 for 234 and 4 scores and ran for another 20 and a score. I thought his throws were on point from his first attempt that went for six, but got called back. Josh is throwing the ball with a lot of confidence, starting to trust his receivers more and showing more willingness to run (for better or worse). I think Allen is due for a big end of the season and he will continue his strong play when the Rams come to town Saturday.
- Saturday’s battle for the Bronze Boot is the biggest game of the season.
I know, your next game is always your biggest, but this is different. The Pokes are coming off their best performance of the season, they are one win from bowl eligibility, they are playing their biggest rival at home, and they are in the thick of things for a Mountain division title. What more could you ask for? I think that we will see one of the biggest crowds of the season and War Memorial Stadium should be a fun and loud place to be. Pokes fan show up, because you don’t want to miss this game because it should be exciting. I like the Cowboys chances to continue their strong play on defense, pair that with an offense that may have found some of their identity, they keep the boot where it belongs.
Thank you for your keen insight. G0 POKES