Nico Evans (22) will lead what looks to be a much improved Wyoming backfield. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

The Cowboys are 1-0 as they head into their home opener this Labor Day weekend. The Pokes looked good in their opening game, defeating the New Mexico State Aggies 29-7 and dominated the entire football game. This week presents a new challenge as Washington State comes to town. It seems like Craig Bohl is due for a statement victory over a P5 team, so why not this week. Here is what I am thinking.

I think…

  1. This defense has the tools to be elite

Wyoming’s defense lived up to every bit of their preseason hype on Saturday. They dominated the entire football game and NMSU was never really a threat to score until late, when the back ups gave up a touchdown in the final 3 minutes of the game.

New Mexico State had a hard time moving the ball and didn’t even record a first down until the final minute of the first half. Their dominant performance was spearheaded by the defensive line, which will be the strength of the defense all year. Wyoming allowed -9 yards rushing on the night, yes you read that correctly NEGATIVE NINE YARDS. On top of their rushing defense, the defense came up with 4 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. The craziest part about their defensive display is that it could’ve and probably should’ve been more dominant. Wyoming dropped 5 or 6 easy interceptions which would’ve led to more points. This isn’t very characteristic of a defense that led the country in turnovers a year ago.

I would expect the defense to only get stronger as the year goes on and they will certainly face a tougher opponent this week in Washington State. They are deep at just about every position and should be fun to watch as the year goes on.

  1. Tyler Vander Waal showed poise in his first start

I thought Tyler Vander Waal had a nice strong showing for his first collegiate start. The redshirt freshman finished the night 13/21 for 137 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but more importantly he didn’t commit any turnovers. Vander Waal missed on a couple throws that would’ve been touchdowns and certainly started stronger than he finished throwing the ball but all in all it was a strong performance. He never looked rattled and came out firing. Given the way the team ran the ball, Vander Waal wasn’t heavily relied on to make plays, which is ideal. I think the Cowboys have a very solid quarterback in the making and he will only get better as the season goes on. His improvement from last week to this week will be key, because the Cowboys are going to need him to make a couple plays in order for them to get a win.

  1. The running back questions appear to be answered

Last years biggest issue on offense was the lack of running game. The Cowboys could never find a consistent guy or guys to replace the production they lost in Brian Hill. There was no issue last week, as the Cowboys ran all over the Aggies. As a team they finished the night with 57 attempts for 312 yards (5.5 yards/carry) and 3 scores.

The RB group was led by senior Nico Evans. Evans came into the game with only 108 yards on  36 carries for his career to go along with 12 receptions and 87 yards. Evans burst onto the scene Saturday and immediately made his presence felt. He finished the night with 24 carries for 190 yards and touchdown runs of 24 and 56 yards. Evans wasn’t the only running back that had a nice game. The freshman duo of Jevon Bigelow and Xazavian Valladay combined for 118 yards on 30 carries and another score.

The running back concerns no longer to seem to be a concern at the moment, as it appears the Cowboys are much improved in that area and have 3 guys that look more than capable of gaining yards on the ground. Of course, none of the production is possible without an offensive line that is able to win the line of scrimmage. The Cowboys’ OL had a nice performance and got a good push all night long allowing the running backs to run wild, as well as protecting their freshman signal caller.

  1. What Craig Bohl has accomplished at Wyoming is nothing short of remarkable.

It is crazy to think that Craig Bohl’s record at Wyoming in his first two seasons was 6-18, only winning 2 games in his second season. A lot of fans were wondering if Bohl was going to be able to succeed and some even wanted him fired. Bohl had a plan all along it just needed time and credit to the athletic department, they gave him that time and the resources to accomplish what he was setting out to do.

Bohl came in and cleaned house, he knew what style of football needed to be played to succeed in Laramie and in the Mountain West and he only recruits players that fit this mold. In the last two years Craig Bohl has gone 16-11, while still not flashy numbers, he has guided the Cowboys to back to back 8 win seasons, hosted a conference championship, appeared in 2 bowls games, winning one of them, and had a quarterback drafted 7th overall.

The best part about the whole thing is that it looks like this is only the beginning of Craig Bohl’s master plan. For the first time in a long time the Wyoming Cowboys have a chance to win every single game on their schedule. I am not saying they are going to go undefeated, but they have a team that can compete with anyone they will go up against. The future of Wyoming football is very bright and we can thank Craig Bohl for that.

  1. War Memorial Stadium will be a fun atmosphere to be apart of Saturday

I don’t know if there is much more a football fan could want that they couldn’t find in Laramie this Saturday. The weather is going to be just about perfect and the Cowboys are hosting a very good football team out of the PAC 12 in Washington State. There is no reason that The War should not be packed and energetic. This Cowboys team and staff, led by Craig Bohl, have earned your support. For the first time in a long time there has been a consistent product on the field that Wyoming alumni and residents can be proud of. It is time Cowboy fans show up in bunches and give this football team the boost they need and deserve. There is no excuse for there to be empty seats. Get your tickets and be apart of the Cowboys welcoming the Cougars to earth.

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @Cdub13

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