The Matchup: Bye Week

The Cowboys enter their first bye of the 2019 season at 4-1 (1-0). They took care of UNLV last week handily, defeating the Rebels 53-17. They will travel to San Diego next week to take on the Aztecs in a what should be a tough road test for the Pokes.

The Cowboys were 9.5-point favorites last weekend and easily covered the spread as well as going well over the total of 48.5 points.

The Standings:

 

Straight UpAgainst the SpreadO/U

Robert Gagliardi/Jesse Tachiquin

3-24-14-1

Cody Tucker

3-24-13-2

Brad Reed

4-13-2

3-2

Chad Smith4-12-3

3-2

Connor Cunningham3-24-1

4-1

Wyoming Cowboys4-14-1

Over: 2 Under: 3

 

Jesse Tachiquin, MWWire.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s win over UNLV last week?

That was exactly what the Pokes needed. The offensive line completely dominated this game with the Cowboys nearly finishing with 3-100 yard rushers and a kneel down away from putting up 60.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: RB Titus Swen Defense:  DE’s Davon Wells-Ross and Solomon Byrd

For his size, Swen seems nearly impossible to bring down. The Cowboys having a 3 headed running attack is going to be crucial as the competition starts to pick up.

Defensively, Ross and Byrd combined for 10 tackles, 2 sacks (Ross) and 3.5 tackles for loss but they spent as much time in the UNLV backfield as the Rebels QB’s. There were a couple plays where it looked like Byrd was going to get the quarterback before the snap. Wyoming’s undersized defensive line has really taken advantage of their speed in this revamped blitzing defense.

What has been the biggest surprise so far? Disappointment?

I’ve been incredibly impressed with the Cowboys offensive and defensive line. This team is probably a year away from really breaking out but having a dominate line of scrimmage can really mask some deficiencies.

The biggest disappointment this year has been the inefficiencies in the passing game. I don’t think there is one person to blame but there have been plenty of inaccurate passes from Chambers and plenty of drops from everyone. Wyoming doesn’t need to turn into Mike Leach’s Washington State Air Raid but I think the Cowboys need to have a serviceable passing game when they meet some of the better defenses in the conference.

Where do the Cowboys need to improve the most going forward?

Aside from the passing game, Cooper Rothe is going to play a huge part the rest of the way. I’m not sure what’s happened this season but he’s not automatic like last season, he’s already missed 4 field goals and 2 extra points. I don’t think there is a reason for Wyoming fans to panic yet but this team will need every point they can get as the competition increases down the stretch.

Wyoming enters their first bye 4-1 (1-0). You had the Pokes going 8-4 in 2019. Do you want a redo or do you still like your prediction

After reading this, you probably think I’m totally negative on where the team is at and I’m not. Over on MWWire before the season started, I predicted a 7-1 start to the season, I had a loss to Mizzou and a win over Tulsa through the first 5 games. I’m actually going to change my prediction to 9-3. I’m not sold yet on the team being at the same level as Boise State and Utah State this season but I am very confident in how the team matches up with New Mexico, Nevada, CSU and Air Force. I’m still not sure how good San Diego State is but I think the Cowboys will take that as a hard fought win. That would put Wyoming at 9-3 for the year.

 

Cody Tucker, 7220Sports.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s win over UNLV last week?

Total and thorough domination on both sides of the ball. It was great to see a wounded secondary step up and shutdown an opponent for once. Jordan Murry was awesome, and his vicious hit on Charles Williams changed this game. Solomon Byrd was a beast, and Titus Swen showed us a glimpse of what he is capable of. It was just a great effort all around.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: Guard Eric Abojei Defense:  LB Logan Wilson

For me, this one is easy. On offense, the 6-foot, 5-inch, 354-pound guard Abojei was an absolute game changer on the offensive line. After re-watching the game, Wyoming ran behind big No. 69 time and time again. He was a force.

Defensively, Logan Wilson was not only the best defensive player on the field, I think he was the best player in the stadium Saturday night. He finished with just four tackles and a tackle for loss, but also picked off his seventh-career pass. He looked lightning fast all night long.

What has been the biggest surprise so far? Disappointment?

Surprise: The unbelievable play of on both lines of scrimmage. With so much youth and inexperience, I think a lot of thought those units could be an issue this season, especially with mighty Mizzou coming to town first. These guys have been great. If you add in the number of injuries, it has made their performances even that much more impressive. Disappointment: The secondary. Coming in, I think the census was that Wyoming would have two great corners in Tyler Hall and Antonio Hull, and some hard-hitting, but young, safeties in Rome Weber and Alijah Halliburton. Well, injuries and inconsistencies have plagued this group from day one. Hall has been good, but missed the UNLV game. No clue what Hull’s status is. He is yet to play this season. Halliburton has been an absolute tackling machine. So had Keyon Blankenbaker. But, that’s a good thing and a bad thing. These guys showed marked improvement against the Rebels, but they need to keep that going against some of the better passing teams in this league. (Note: It has since been announced that Antonio Hull has left the team, citing personal reasons)

Where do the Cowboys need to improve the most going forward?

Secondary has to be better, and I still feel like the offense needs an element of a passing attack. It’s pretty apparent that Bohl and Co. are going to run, and run, and run. That is the identity of this team, but I think they need to be completing 15-18 passes per game to stick with Boise State, Utah State and Air Force, among others. I don’t think this offense is sustainable. Do you see Wyoming rushing 45 times at six yards per clip in Boise? I don’t.

Wyoming enters their first bye 4-1 (1-0). You had the Pokes going 6-6 in 2019. Do you want a redo or do you still like your prediction

Redo, please. I think the Pokes win at least eight this year. I think they take care of business at home and steal one or two on the road, possibly at SDSU, Utah State or Air Force. Winning in Boise is tough. We all know that. Would it surprise me if they did? No, not really. But it’s never a likely thing to bank on. Wyoming finishes the season 8-4, plays in a nice bowl game, and starts thinking about 2020 when nearly the entire squad will be back for the next two or three years.

 

Brad Reed, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s win over UNLV last week?

Dominant win for the Cowboys. Despite the offensive line being really thin on depth the offensive line controlled the trench and freed up the Cowboys to run all over UNLV. The passing game still isn’t really a thing, five completions on the day and two of those for touchdowns. The Rebels are simply a bad football team in nearly every aspect of the game and the Cowboys exploited it. Still not sure who Tony Sanchez has hoodwinked to keep that job. That being said, we’ll take a dominant win. The defense did a great job of holding the Mountain West’s leading rusher at bay. Logan Wilson is an angry man, it was fun watching him face tackle players. Titus Swen runs very angry and is a big load to bring down. Next week to get healed.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: RB Titus Swen Defense:  DE Solomon Byrd

Swen ran for 134 yards and a touchdown and kept grinding out important yards to wear down the UNLV defense.

On defense,  Alijah Halliburton had a great game, however I’m going to say Solomon Byrd this week. Byrd had six tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss on the day. He’s really emerging as a top defensive player on this squad.

What has been the biggest surprise so far? Disappointment?

Biggest surprise is the defense being so aggressive this season, looking like the defense of 2017. The 2018 defense fell off a bit from their outstanding 2017 and this season their fire is back. The pass defense is terrible, but the aggressiveness and their ability to hit people until they don’t want to be hit anymore impresses me. The ESPN announcers commented on Saturday evening that the Cowboys might be the hardest hitting team they’ve seen. It’s true, they will hit the will to play right out of you. UNLV showed it on Saturday, they avoided contact every chance they got. Biggest disappointment is the development of Sean Chambers. Chambers might be the best athlete Wyoming has had in a long time, but his development as a passing quarterback is basically where he was at last season before a season ending injury. I wasn’t overly impressed with his passing in his four games last season, and nothing has changed my mind this season, now five games in. I’ve been debating whether the problem is in the receiving corps or the quarterback. Both can be true, maybe 50/50, but Chambers seems to fire a lot of balls into uncatchable places. Chambers is still young, a redshirt freshman, so there’s plenty of time to make him an elite Mountain West quarterback, but that may not be this season.

Where do the Cowboys need to improve the most going forward?

I alluded to this above in the two instances I have in my head, but the defensive secondary has to figure out a way to hold quarterbacks under 300 yards passing. They’ve been just brutalized this season but seem to be holding tight in this bend but don’t break scenario. Definitely not sustainable headed deeper into conference play. The passing attack also needs to improve. I don’t know if the receivers are good or bad, running the correct routes, or what, but goodness, we might as well be running the triple option right now because the only teams passing worse than Wyoming run the triple option exclusively.

Wyoming enters their first bye 4-1 (1-0). You had the Pokes going 7-5 in 2019. Do you want a redo or do you still like your prediction

My prediction is still solid. The Pokes are about where I thought they would be, I just didn’t think the loss would have been to Tulsa. I see probably wins against Nevada and New Mexico, likely win against Colorado State, 50/50 against Air Force and San Diego State, and probably not against Boise State and Utah State.

 

Chad Smith, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s win over UNLV last week?

It was a comfortable win for the Pokes and the running game really got going. Nobody saw that scoreline coming and it was a welcome series of events. The run game and the defense are still the two identities of this team and they will have to continue to produce against better opposition for Wyoming to reach their goals.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: RB Titus Swen Defense: S Alijah Halliburton

Swen is a hard runner and has a great feel for the game. I think he has a chance to be one of the Wyoming greats at the position if he develops as I think he can.

On defense, it would have to be Halliburton who had 11 total tackles and ranks in the top ten in the nation in that category.

What has been the biggest surprise so far? Disappointment?

I’ve been surprised by the performance of the defense overall. I thought the defense would take a step back with the loss of Scottie Hazelton but they have been the strength of the team. The biggest disappointment has been the passing game and the blame for that falls on the coaches and the players. To be among the worse passing teams in the nation (126th) and only ahead of true option teams when you want to be a prostyle offense is truly embarrassing.

Where do the Cowboys need to improve the most going forward?

The passing game needs to improve. I will have a detailed blog on this next week so stay tuned!

Wyoming enters their first bye 4-1 (1-0). You saw the Pokes getting 6 or 7 wins in 2019. Do you want a redo or do you still like your prediction

With a 4-1 record, I will most certainly upgrade my prediction if the above passing game issues are fixed. With improved efficiency in the passing game, Wyoming could reach the 8 or 9 game mark but if they can’t find a way to gain some balance on offense they will hit my 6 or 7 game mark with the bulk of conference play still to come.

 

Connor Cunningham, WyoNation.com

Quick thoughts on Wyoming’s win over UNLV last week?

The Pokes really needed that. They started a bit slow but had an explosive 2nd quarter. The game completely changed after Charles Williams went out with an injury. It was nice to see no one else get injured as the Cowboys were already missing a handful of key players coming into the game. This bye week is well timed as they gear up for a tough stretch.

Who was your offensive and defensive MVP from last week’s game?

Offense: RB Titus Swen Defense:  LB Logan Wilson

Swen was so impressive, he really got the offense going with his long run of  59 yards to set up their second score. This kid has a bright future in the backfield with Chambers

On defense, I wanted to go with freshman, Jordan Murray. He played a great game in place of Tyler Hall and finished with 6 tackles including the one that took Williams out of the game. But I have to go with Logan Wilson. He continues to impress me every week, he has such a knack for the football and is lightning fast. His interception played a big roll in the second quarter outburst.

What has been the biggest surprise so far? Disappointment?

The biggest surprise and disappointment are one and the same for me. The lack of development and progression in Sean Chambers’ ability to throw has really hindered the offense. They have a dynamite rushing attack and have gotten away with it thus far but in order for this team to take the next step they have to throw the ball enough to keep defenses honest.

Where do the Cowboys need to improve the most going forward?

They need to improve the passing game, obviously, but i will take it a step further. Vigen needs to improve in one area, first down. I think the Cowboys need to be more willing to throw the ball in the early downs such as 1st and 10 and 2nd and medium to short. This will help with teams stacking the box and open everything else up. Of course, when they do that, Chambers needs to make defenses pay.

Wyoming enters their first bye 4-1 (1-0). You had the Pokes going 8-4 in 2019. Do you want a redo or do you still like your prediction

I like my prediction. I would like it a lot more had they beat Tulsa. But right now, I still see 4 more wins on the schedule. I like the Cowboys in their remaining home games and I like their chances to steal one of their 4 road conference games.

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