5 Things I Think is back after a much needed bye week for everybody. The Cowboys (2-2) are coming off a narrow victory over the powerful Wofford Terriers (sigh) and are now gearing up for Mountain West play. They will be hosting the Boise State Broncos (2-1) is currently ranked #25 in the coaches poll and are coming off a bye week of their own. They lost their last game 44-21 at Oklahoma State.
- A win is a win
The Wofford game was nerve wracking and the Cowboys stole one right at the end, but a win is a win. I could write all day about the negatives from that game, but the fact of the matter is that the Cowboys came into that game banged up after two physical football games against P5 schools. The offense was missing its top 2 running backs, 2 of their top 3 tight ends, and the offensive line was shuffled around a bit.
The Wyoming defense did a good job against Wofford’s option attack and they kept the Cowboys in the game. Tyler Vander Waal made some big time plays at the end of both halves with a couple of 2 minute drives that each ended with touchdown passes. It was encouraging to see him make those plays and give him something to build on, and it is a lot easier to build on those things after a win, rather than a loss.
- This bye week came at the perfect time
As I mentioned above, the Cowboys are banged up. This bye week came at the perfect time as the Pokes got an opportunity to get healthy as they head into conference play. We haven’t seen TE Austin Fort since the first game of the year and he should be back this week, which is huge because he looked poised for a big season. Top rusher Nico Evans has missed the last two games and it is obvious he is a key part, if not thee key part to the Cowboys offense. The Cowboys were actually down to their 3rd string running back, Xazavian Valladay against Wofford because back up Jevon Bigelow was out with a concussion and he should be back on the field as well.
Non conference play is over and the real season begins this week, Boise State is the clear favorite to win the Mountain West and will be a tough test for the Pokes. They need as much depth and skill on the field this week and going forward.
- It is time to let Tyler Vander Waal loose
At some point the coaching staff is going to have to let their freshman quarterback loose. I understand their game plan, especially with this defense and it makes sense against these P5 schools. Let the defense keep you in the game as long as possible and make changes as needed. As conference play approaches I would like to see them let TVW be a bit more aggressive early on and see how the Cowboys play with a lead, particularly the defense.
Now, I understand that defenses play different when the clock is under two minutes, but TVW really flourished against Wofford when he the play calling was more aggressive and their backs were against the wall. He made some great throws, scrambled for some yards, and most importantly, he looked comfortable. The offense is going to need to hit on some big plays against Boise to have a chance and they certainly need to be more aggressive to win some games in the Mountain West.
- The defense needs to produce some turnovers for the Cowboys to have a chance this week
It isn’t out of the question to think that Boise State is the best team the Cowboys will see this season. They are as good as they’ve been in the last 3 years and they have a very good senior quarterback in Brett Rypien. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and has a lot of experience. In order for the Cowboys to pull off the upset, they are going to have to make Rypien uncomfortable. The defensive line needs to get pressure and the defense needs to take advantage of any mistake Rypien might make. When the Cowboys beat Boise State in 2016 as double digit underdogs they caused turnovers and the defense came up with big plays in key situations. They don’t have Josh Allen slinging the ball around, so they need the defense to cause turnovers and make big plays more than ever. If they can force a couple first half turnovers and punts, that should get some momentum rolling and the crowd into it. That is going to be their formula for an upset.
- That September can’t end soon enough.
I mean this in the best way possible. It has been a long month for the Cowboys, they are banged up, have suffered double digit losses to two P5 teams, and cap off the month with the Mountain West’s premier program in Boise State. Many think Boise is the best group of 5 football team in the country and are heavy favorites in the Mountain West. The Cowboys come into Saturday as 17 point underdogs and still don’t seem to have an identity on offense. I am looking forward to getting into October when the schedule should get more favorable for the Cowboys and we should actually be able to gauge what kind of football team we have in Laramie. I would love to see the Cowboys pull off the upset and roll into October feeling good, but they are heavy underdogs for a reason. I just want them to play a competitive football game, stay healthy and let the chips fall where they may and live to fight another week.
Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter @Cdub13