Five games into the season, some things start to become a little clearer about your team. This game highlighted exactly where Wyoming is at the moment.
First, the Cowboy defense can’t stop a good passing offense.
After struggling against Washington State and Missouri, Wyoming was beat through the air again. This time by Boise State. Brett Rypien went 28/42 for 342 yards and 2 TD’s. Meanwhile, Wyoming did a good job against the run, holding Alexander Mattison to 57 yards on 20 carries (2.8 yds/carry). However, if a team can throw for over 300 yards at a 67% completion percentage, stopping the running game isn’t enough.
Second, Wyoming is not generating turnovers like they did last season.
Wyoming led the country in turnovers last season. That has not carried over into the start of 2018. Wyoming did not generate a turnover in this game. Meanwhile, the punting game really hurt Wyoming, contributing to one turnover (a fumbled punt by the punter) and another big play that is turnover-like (a blocked punt). Such plays allowed Boise State to get off to a 24 to 0 lead by the half. Wyoming can’t make such mistakes. The Cowboys are not going to win many games when they lose the turnover battle. What was even more frustrating is that Wyoming is missing out on opportunities. Wyoming had a couple of dropped interceptions (one by Hull and one by Epps) that could have really helped the Cowboys. Intercept those two balls and play clean special teams, and this could have been a much closer game. That said, Boise State made plays, and Wyoming didn’t. When the Cowboys are struggling to punt, and the Broncos are making plays like this, it just isn’t going to be your day.
Third, Wyoming lost their identity on offense.
The Cowboys are not a passing team and are not built to play from behind. Boise State took the opening kickoff and got a touchdown. After that, Wyoming got the ball three times before Boise State would score again. So what did Wyoming do with the ball on those drives? 6 pass attempts and 4 rushes. Nico Evans only got three touches on those drives. That’s not how the Wyoming offense is supposed to work. Evans finished with 141 yards on only 12 carries. It’s unfortunate that Wyoming did not feed Evans the ball more in this game before things got away from the Cowboys. Even if you take out the 75 yard run from Evans average, Evans had 66 yards on 11 carries (6 yards/carry). Wyoming really should have committed more to running the ball in this game.
Once you fall behind, you compound the issue because you need to throw the ball more to get a quicker score, rather than run the ball for a more time-consuming drive. Now, Wyoming loses the time of possession 19:47 to 40:13. That means, you put the defense back on the field too quickly against a very good passing offense in Boise State. It all just snowballs. Wyoming did not have a single, sustained drive all game. Two quick scores. That was it. However, those plays came about the right way - from running the football.
First, to start the second half:
Second, Wyoming ran the ball with Evans on first down. Then play action with Evans opened up this nice play.
4Q - 5:47 | @QB_18_V ➡️ @jamesprice252 for 72 yards and a score!— Wyoming Cowboy Football (@wyo_football) September 30, 2018
It's the longest pass of Tyler's career, and the longest reception for James.#RideForTheBrand #OneWyoming #GoWyo pic.twitter.com/QzFlYfIf6h
What it all means going forward
Wyoming is now 2-3 on the season. The three losses came against what might be the three toughest opponents on their schedule. Wyoming has issues against the passing game that they need to figure out quickly. Next week, Wyoming travels to Hawaii, and the Rainbow Warriors will be another team with a good passing attack. Hopefully, the Cowboys defense will start generating some more turnovers, and the Wyoming offense starts clicking as a run-first team. If not, Wyoming’s issues just might cost the Cowboys a chance at another winning season.