Wyoming Non-Conference Preview: Idaho Vandals

USA TODAY Sports

Wyoming plays its first home game of the season against the newly independent Idaho Vandals

The Wyoming Cowboys play their first home game of the season against the Idaho Vandals at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie, Wyo. The game kicks off on Saturday, September 7 at a yet-to-be-determined timeslot and as of this writing, will not be aired on television.

Coach: Paul Petrino (first season)

2012 record: (1-11) (1-5 in the WAC)

2012 season in review: In the WAC's final season sponsoring football, it actually churned out several quality teams. The Idaho Vandals were far from one of them. Of the 12 games Idaho played in, just four were one-possession games, including their 26-18 victory over fellow 2013 independent New Mexico State. Outside of the passing game (69th in the country), the Vandals were one of the country's worst teams, finishing close-to-last in the nation in rushing yards (120th), points scored (123rd) and points allowed (122nd). This was a team that lost to FCS squad Eastern Washington by a score of 20-3 to start their 2012 season, and pretty much rolled downhill from there.

Returning Offensive Starters: 7

Returning Defensive Starters: 4

Key Returning Starters: WR Najee Lovett, C Mike Marboe, DE Maxx Forde

2013 Strengths: Can I say none? In all seriousness though, there's a lot of depth returning on the defensive line, and that should be a huge help as the team faces several strong passing attacks this fall. Maxx Forde (four sacks, five tackles for loss last season) is the motor that drives this group and he'll be the main reason the Vandals get any semblance of a pass rush going. On offense, Najee Lovett caught 50 passes in 2012 and will be the key to this young passing attack's success in 2013. In addition, Idaho returns four of five starters on the line, which should help ease in new starters at running back and quarterback.

2013 Weaknesses: Breaking in new starters at both quarterback and running back should prove a bit challenging for the Vandals, no matter how battle-tested the offensive line is, so right away, expect a learning curve. Though senior quarterback Taylor Davis is the only player on the roster to have thrown a pass, it doesn't mean he's the best man to do so, which means Idaho could be handing the ball to a freshman this year. At running back, they only picked up a miserable 1,056 yards in 2012, and they're only returning 535 yards of that. After last year's defense allowed over 42 points per game (!!!), the initial thought is that things couldn't get much worse. But in actuality, it very well could. With just one returning linebacker on the entire roster in Matthew Willis, and new starters at three of the four secondary positions, things could start off very ugly for Idaho and finish just as bad.

For more on this game check out Cowboy Altitude.

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