2009 Year in Review: Wyoming Cowboys

In a year where they were expected to finish last in the Mountain West the Wyoming Cowboys filled the entire season with surprises.  Despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation a young Cowboy squad came together under first year head coach Dave Christensen.  They were plenty of tough moments for Wyoming but the positive far outweighs the negative when looking back at the 2009 season.  There future looks bright in Laramie after years of sub .500 football.

 


Cowboys Football Schedule

Weber St. Sat 09/05 W 29 - 22
Texas Sat 09/12 L 10 - 41
@ Colorado Sat 09/19 L 0 - 24
UNLV Sat 09/26 W 30 - 27
@ Florida Atlantic Sat 10/03 W 30 - 28
New Mexico Sat 10/10 W 37 - 13
@ Air Force Sat 10/17 L 0 - 10
@ Utah Sat 10/31 L 10 - 22
BYU Sat 11/07 L 0 - 52
@ San Diego St. Sat 11/14 W 30 - 27
TCU Sat 11/21 L 10 - 45
@ Colorado St. Fri 11/27 W 17 - 16
Fresno St. Sat 12/19 W 35 - 28

 

Dave Christensen came from Missouri and only had a few weeks to put together his recruiting class.  During the spring and summer he worked on installing his spread offense and trying to find personnel capable of running the offense.

JUCO Transfer QB Robert Benjamin started the first three games for the Pokes which started with 29-22 victory over FCS Weber State.  The Pokes actually led in the first half over Texas before the Longhorns pulled away in the second half.  A 24-0 shutloss to Colorado signaled the end of Benjamin's tenure as starting quarterback. 

True freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels took the reins at QB and led the Cowboys to three straight wins including back to back fourth quarter comebacks over UNLV and Florida Atlantic.  Samuels proved to tough defend on the ground and in the air plus an unbelievable calm and determination under pressure. 

With their record sitting at 4-2 the Cowboys looked to be on their way to a bowl berth.  Two close losses to Air Force and Utah hurt but a 52-0 shutout by the BYU Cougars really took the wind out of the Pokes.

With a chance at the post season on the line the San Diego State Aztecs led 27-6 heading into the fourth quarter.  Carta-Samuels and the Wyoming special forces stepped up huge to score 24 unanswered points for a 30-27 victory. 

After a loss to undefeated TCU the Cowboys headed into Fort Collins with a 5-6 record and their sights set on reclaiming the Bronze Boot and becoming bowl eligible.  The Border War is always an intense game no matter the teams records and this year proved no different.  A late field goal by Ian Watts secured a 17-16 victory for the Pokes and a berth in the New Mexico Bowl.

The media mocked the underdog Cowboys who faced the 8-4 Fresno State Bulldogs in the New Mexico Bowl.  Some even wondered if the 6-6 Pokes were the worst team to every play in a bowl game.  Despite not defeating a team with a winning during the regular season the Cowboys were a young team that started 12 true freshman throughout the season.

Despite being 12 point underdogs the Cowboys led early in the game and went into the locker room tied 14-14 at the half.  Fresno had a 28-17 lead in the fourth quarter before ACS pulled off another miracle drive to force the game into overtime. 

The defense line for Cowboys stuffed the talented Ryan Mathews and the his Bulldog teammates on four consecutive goal line plays on the first series.  The Pokes had a chance to win but the usually reliable Ian Watts was wide on his field goal attempt. 

The Cowboys got the ball back and Samuels found David Leonard for a 13 yard touchdown pass to give the Pokes a 35-28 lead.  Ryan Colburn failed to move the ball for Fresno and was sacked on fourth down to give the Wyoming Cowboys their first bowl since 2004. 

Wyoming is headed in the right direction under Dave Christensen and he is starting to lay the foundation for a truly great future in Laramie.  The Cowboys are losing a number of starters on the defensive line for 2010 but most of the offense and secondary is returning.

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