Head Coach Craig Bohl has vowed to build the Wyoming program from the ground up. And it is from the ground floor that they will start. Many national pre-season publications pick the Cowboys to finish last or next to last in the MW Mountain Division.
From the start, as indicated in an interview with the Denver Post, Bohl has been realistic, demanding and pragmatic.
"We talk about 'Cowboy Tough' football, and that's part of a blue-collar mentality," said Bohl "Those are things that you can put on a T-shirt and have slogans and all this other stuff, but that really comes down to grinding it out. We don't have that yet. The guys are starting to see how hard that is to do, but we're not there yet."
During a segment with KFBC AM 1240's Sport Zone, Wyoming Associate A.D. Kevin Mckinney also acknowledges that he sees progress, but that the Pokes have many things that are still not firmed up.
"The issue, and we know it's been this way for a while, is quality depth." Adding: "Especially the offensive line. I don't know if the depth is very good there yet."
There are some bright spots on offense.
Running back Brian Hill (145/796)is a bruiser and perfect for Bohl's grind it out, power based offense and All-MW selection Shaun Wick (127/753) has some Poke fans remembering Jim Kiick. Big10 transfer Cam Coffman appears to have the edge in a QB competition between six players that include promising and athletic Sophomore Josh Allen.
With Bohl's out-work-your-opponent mentality taking root in Laramie, this level of competition should prove to be fruitful. The offensive line has some experience, returning three of five starters, including All-MW selection Chase Roullier (OG) but the Cowboys lost last year's top 2 receivers to graduation, with Tanner Gentry (32 catches) being the most significant returning member. A big part of Fall camp will be to determine just what exactly the newly added youngsters can add to the attack.
The defense is definitely in transition, having lost 9 of 11 2014 opening day starters to graduation. Defensive ends Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala'apri'api are part of a defensive front line that returns 6 contributors. Yarbrough is predicted to be a next level player, while Hala'apri' api appears to be benefiting from highly regarded Cowboys strength and conditioning program.
At the start of 2015 Fall camp, the line-backing position may been the thinnest unit to take the field, returning only 2 players that saw significant action. The secondary will have to replace all starters at EVERY spot- clearly Bohl's will be depending on his recruiting classes to make contributions to the box players and to his secondary.
The Special teams will also be suspect, as depth particularly effects performance of these units. Last year's squad continually gave up field position to opponents. Again, to be successful, one should expect a lot of youngsters to contribute here as well.
After all is said and done, one should look for improvement from last years 4-8 team, but this improvement might not translate into more than five or six total wins. Look for this squad to be more disciplined and for the defense to give up less points due to the Cowboys' preference for ball control. If the Cowboys lose 8 games again this year, it won't be because they are outworked, it will be because they are out manned.