Craig Bohl has built a stable football program at Wyoming with the backbone of the team being a strong running game and a solid defense. He clearly has the respect of his fellow Mountain West coaches and they know that when they play the Cowboys it’s going to be a tough game. Looking at the overall win and loss numbers during Boh’s tenure at Wyoming so far, his success has mostly come against non-winning programs. Bohl has an overall record of 38-44 at Wyoming but just 10 of those 38 wins have come against FBS winning programs (and only 2 wins vs winning FBS programs in the past three seasons, both in 2019). Bohl as the Cowboys head coach has an overall record of 10-33 versus winning FBS teams, 23-10 vs non-winning FBS teams and a 5-1 record vs FCS teams with the lone loss being at home to North Dakota in 2015.
The current Wyoming football formula clearly has Wyoming competitive but not at the level stated and desired by the coaches. If the motto of the program was, “building something competitive”, I would say without a doubt that mission has been accomplished but their motto is “building something special” and so far that hasn’t come to fruition and Wyoming will have to take a major step forward as a football program to do that.
Their championship vision hasn’t panned out so far because of a lack of a consistent balanced offense that can score points at a Mountain West championship level. I have documented the abysmal passing game and overall offensive numbers the past few seasons and it’s safe to say those issues haven’t been addressed at all or nearly enough. Watching Wyoming try to throw the football efficiently and score points against quality programs the past three seasons has been a lot like watching Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day. The only difference being instead of learning from Bill Murray as he learns to ice sculpt and play the piano (you know, improve himself) in a vain attempt to win over Andie MacDowell. The Wyoming offense and coaching staff repeatedly hear that morning alarm and keep running the ball up the middle and taking mostly deep shots in the vertical passing game like the previous football game never happened.
The run game has been very strong under Bohl the last three seasons from a production standpoint, with the Cowboys ranking 4th or higher in the Mountain West in rushing yards per game. While researching this success and looking at the game logs for the past three seasons a clear magic number for Wyoming football exists and that number is 200. Wyoming generally wins when they are able to rush the ball for over 200 yards and they generally lose when they don’t gain over 200 yards.
When Wyoming has the ability to physically dominate a weaker opponent, they often hit the 200-yard rushing mark and look good doing so. The problem is the majority of these wins are against poor opposition including the likes of UNLV, Idaho and lowly San Jose State (before their rebirth this season). Wyoming has just 4 wins in the last three years when rushing the ball under 200 yards. Those wins are Wofford (2018), Air Force (2018), Texas State (2019), and CSU (2019). When you move this magic rushing number to 190 yards you flip two games to the over column (Texas State and CSU) and your overall records become 14-3 over 190 rushing yards and 2-13 with under 190 rushing yards. An even more significant trend!
Craig Bohl in a season-ending press conference yesterday said every member of his staff would, “receive a deep evaluation.” With spring football now being pushed back to April/May due to COVID he has time to do that as well as take a look at the struggles in the passing game that he stated was “off the mark” this season. After closing out this delayed campaign with an embarrassing loss to New Mexico and a home loss to Boise State that saw the lowest output in terms of total offense in the seven years of the Bohl era. This deep evaluation is long overdue and could result in significant changes to the offensive side of the ball within the footprint of Bohl’s offensive philosophy.
In order for this to happen, Coach Bohl needs to have the courage and instincts that he had four years ago when he let go of defensive coordinator Steve Stanard after reaching the conference title game. We’ve seen what the defense has become since making that move and the program wouldn’t be where it is today if Steve Stanard were still the defensive coordinator. If a change in the leadership on the offensive side of the ball had half as much as the impact as the defensive change has had Wyoming very well could take a significant step towards becoming the program Bohl has envisioned.
Will this be the winter Craig Bohl emerges from his program evaluation and doesn’t see his shadow, ushering in an early spring for the Wyoming offense? For the sake of Wyoming football fans let’s hope Bohl’s comments yesterday were more than just words because we’ve seen enough of winter on the offensive side of the ball.