The bout between the Wyoming Cowboys and the New Mexico Lobos on Saturday marked what should have been a turning point for the Pokes in their hopes of reshaping this season’s narrative. The New Mexico Lobos had other plans, defeating the Pokes in the low-scoring affair at War Memorial, 14-3. Next week, the Cowboys will travel down to the South Bay in California in hopes of upsetting the San Jose State Spartans.
Scoring was hard to come by when the Cowboys and Lobos took the field at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The New Mexico Lobos delivered the first blow of the day, capitalizing off a Sean Chambers interception in the first quarter that would lead to a nine-play drive that was finished off by a wide-open 43-yard touchdown pass from Isaiah Chavez to Trace Buckler making it 7-0 Lobos, early. The following two drives resulted in punts from each side, when finally the Cowboys were able to put up their first points since Week 5 with a John Hoyland Field Goal to cut down the deficit. However, on the ensuing Lobos possession, Chavez and the offense would continue their very efficient first-half showing with an eight-play 75-yard touchdown drive, extending their lead to 14-3. That would end up as the final score, as the second-half saw both offenses struggle to sustain a drive. The Pokes were unable to succeed in finding the end zone for their second straight week, and remain winless in the Mountain West. With both quarterbacks getting an extended amount of playing time and neither able to pull away with an efficient performance, it’ll once again be anyone’s guess as to who will get the nod vs. San Jose State next week.
Three biggest takeaways:
1. Offensive woes continue
It’s been two weeks now where I’ve expected Wyoming to be able to fix their offensive struggles in matchups that I believed to be winnable ones for them. Unfortunately, the team we once thought would have a shot at competing for the Mountain West, and that began the season 4-0, has dropped themselves completely out of that conversation. The Pokes have combined for a whopping 3 total points over their past two games and have shown no signs of giving up that trend. In his post-game presser, Coach Bohl addressed these concerns, stating that they have yet to find an offensive identity and will once again look into evaluating the team’s offense from every level.
“I don’t question the effort. We’ve got to make a better plan, we’ve got to execute a better plan, and that needs to be connected better with the coaches, with what we’re asking the players to do, and we got to put them in a position where they can go out and play with confidence…” - Craig Bohl
2. Turnover margin
Once again, the Pokes were unable to force a turnover against New Mexico, making it consecutive weeks where they have lost the turnover margin. It is a major concern for a team when not only are you turning the ball over, but you aren’t forcing any on the other side. While you may not attribute the loss on Saturday to the Wyoming defensive performance, it is worth noting that an inability to force anything on that side of the ball does not contribute well to an offense in a stifle. If Wyoming wants to put together a balanced performance, they can’t end up on the short end of the stick when it comes to turnovers.
3. Another sub-par performance on the ground
While the major cause for concern on offense is the quarterback position, the Wyoming run-game deserves a heavy load of criticism these past two weeks as well. Before the matchup against Fresno State, Valladay and Swen had been putting together solid performances from week to week. Since then, the two Poke running backs have combined for only 139 yards on the ground. One clear thing is that the offensive struggles seem to be universal for everyone that has a hand in what goes on, on offense. From the offensive line and running backs to the coaching staff and of course the quarterbacks, there are issues that need to be fixed all over. Chambers and Williams will always certainly take the brunt of the blame, but the problems run a lot deeper than in just one specific area.