Saturday night in Logan is probably best left completely forgotten as the Pokes were pounded by the Utah State Aggies of the WAC by a score of 63-19. The Pokes had a 12-0 lead very early in the first quarter but where then out scored 63 to 7 in the remainder of the game. I would hate to be a player in the film room this week (if the coaches choose not to burn it) because it is going to be a painful and mistake filled film session. Now on to the review and grades!
When the Cowboys Ran:
On the surface the Wyoming running numbers aren’t too bad with129 yards on 27 carries which is a solid 4.8 yards per carry. The problem is the Wyoming offense abandoned the running game way too early and when the game was still in doubt during the first half the Pokes ran the ball only 12 times. The production was there especially from Alexander and Muhammad both who averaged more than 8 yards per carry. The running backs should have used more in the search of balance and if they would have been the game would not have gotten away so quickly.
When the Cowboys Passed:
Wyoming had a bright start in the passing game with Brett Smith going 9 of 12 for 96 yard in the 1st quarter but the passing game mostly failed after that. Too often the passing game was based on dink and dunk with Smith averaging just 5.8 yards per pass attempt. This type of production typically ranks you near the cellar in modern college football’s pass happy culture. This Missouri style spread system does emphasize the short and quick passing game but moving forward the Cowboys need to find a way to consistently stretch the field if they want to post the type of numbers this offense is capable of. The Wyoming WR’s are improved this year but Smith needs to do a better job of leading the receivers so they can actually get some yards after the catch when they receive the ball.
When the Aggies Ran:
For the second game in a row the Cowboys allowed over 300 yards rushing to their opponents. This is simply unacceptable and the Wyoming deficiencies on the defensive line are going to kill any hope this team has of achieving any meaningful goals this season. The book on Wyoming’s defense is clear as day now to offense coordinators around the Mountain West. Run the ball right up the middle at Wyoming and you will have success gaining huge chucks of yardage. I wrote in the off-season that the play of the defensive line would be much more important than the QB position if this team wanted to have success and so far that has played out to be true. The problem is Wyoming lacks both size and depth on the defensive line and until they do this team will struggle to stop other teams from running the ball.
When the Aggies Passed:
Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton had a solid day going 15 of 20 for 213 yards and 4 touchdowns. It would be easy to blame the defensive backs for allowing the Aggies to pass the ball so easily but the defensive line must also take much of the blame as they failed to put any pressure on Keeton and did not have a single sack during the game. The only saving grace for the Pokes in terms of pass defense was the fact Utah State pulled Keeton in the 4th quarter and only threw the ball a total of 6 times in the second half or the Aggies probably could have made it to the 70 point mark.
The special teams were not horrible on Saturday night as James Caraway made a heads up play recovering the ball in the end-zone for a touchdown when the Utah State kick returner failed to cover the ball as it bounced through his legs. Nothing special happened in the kick return game and outside of one long kick return the kick coverage unit did a good enough job. Austin McCoy had a below average game punting the ball 7 times with an average of 38 yards but the biggest problem for the Pokes lies at field goal kicker. Daniel Sullivan missed another extra point and so far this year the freshman has struggled so far this year making only one of his three field goal attempts and missing three extra point attempts. The Pokes need to get the kicking position figured out soon because one point could be the difference between winning and losing at some point this season.
Dave Christensen and his staff coming off a bye week did a horrible job in getting this team prepared to play. He was totally out coached and went away from the initial game plan way too early. He did take the blame in the post game press conference saying, “If we play like that, we’re going to get killed the rest of the year. We didn’t come out and play, and it starts with me. I have to do a better job of coaching. Our staff has to do a better job of coaching.” It is good to see Coach Christensen take ownership for this loss and not blame the players for not executing as he did in the past. Now let’s see what he can do as a very poor team in UNLV comes to Laramie next week. The game plan and preparation need to be much improved if the Pokes want to get back on the right track. The bigger problem though is Marty English at the defensive coordinator position. The defense was a complete failure last season and it has failed to improve so far this year, English has 7 more games to prove he should keep his job.