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Wyoming Cowboys 2023 Season Preview

Grit. Willpower. Determination. It’s nothing flashy, but can this freight train Cowboy defense bring the victory home to Laradise?

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-Wyoming at Ohio Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a season where they lost to Ohio in the Barstool Arizona Bowl in overtime heartbreaker fashion, Pokes fans are hungry for more success. They were able to show in this game that they are ready for success and worthy of being one of the top teams in the Mountain West.

Since 2016, this team has made bowl appearances in every season aside from two (one being 2020’s covid year). They’ve gone 3-2 over this course. Despite this, the Cowboys have still yet to win a MWC title.

Craig Bohl has made it evident that he can succeed with and without extreme talent on the offensive side of the ball, this year having been given the latter.

The Pokes went 7-6 (5-3) this past season, but could have been a lot different if their November matchup against Boise State went to plan. Starting QB Andrew Peasley was out with an injury, and his replacement Jayden Clemons was able to muster up just 30 passing yards with the Cowboys season on the line.

The Titus Swen situation happened as well, while top running back Swen was dismissed from the roster. He was the heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offense and was able to rush for 1039 yards on the season. He even had a 212 yard game against Boise State, and two touchdown hat tricks against Northern Colorado and Utah State.

Anyways, there were a lot of excuses for the Cowboys’ mediocrity last year, and I have a suspicion that those wonky mess-ups will be kept to a minimum this time around.

The additions were underwhelming this offseason, leaving it evident that the Cowboys have not yet hopped on the new wave of college football with things such as NIL and the transfer portal. The lack of utilization of new resources being introduced to college football by UW can be concerning for Pokes fans and makes it seems as if this streak of mediocrity will last forever.

Craig Bohl has the power in his hands this year, and with two Big 12 matchups to start the season in Texas Tech and Texas, the Cowboys could set the tone and become a top team in the Mountain West. Let’s take a look at this year’s team.


Reasons for optimism: Let’s be honest. Nobody is getting ramped up about Wyoming’s passing attack. You’re coming to Laramie for the bump-and-run vintage-style football. D.Q. James is posed to be the Cowboys’ starting running back, and the RB room will certainly be the main focus of this roster, especially with Dawaiian Mcneely out for the season.

One of the few transfer portal moves UW did make was picking up RB Harrison Waylee out of Northern Illinois. He was with the Huskies for three years and ran for 899 yards and five scores in 2022. This could be another guy who could get significant starting time this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bohl ends up starting Waylee come crunch time.

The combination of James and Waylee could be seriously exciting for the Cowboys and could be a nice sequel to the incredible season Titus Swen had in 2022. Craig Bohl has relied on his running backs for some time now, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping now.

Although they lost Emmanuel Prengon to USC, the offensive line could be one of the better of the Mountain West once again, with Frank Crum looking to finish out his college career with a bang.

And it’s not all nightmares on the passing side of the ball, UW still has their tight end Treyton Welch, who has simply been “that guy” for the Cowboys and will likely be Andrew Peasley’s main target this season.

Reasons for concern: Andrew Peasley is just not a top-of-the-line quarterback in this conference. He’s able to manage the game well enough, but so far hasn’t shown that he can be the focal point of this Cowboy offense. And that’s okay. If he can just keep the ball out of the other team’s hands, he’s done his job.

The wide receiver room feels pretty weak at this point, and Craig Bohl made an effort to replace Josh Cobbs with Devin Boddie out of Vanderbilt, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Wyatt Wieland will likely take the starting spot, but outside of him, it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot for Peasley to throw towards.

Luckily, the air game doesn’t need to flourish for the offense to do its job. As long as the rock is on the ground and in UW’s hands, it should be fine.

Key Stat: 13 players on offense departed, and only 4 were added to the transfer portal.

Wild Card: The wild cards are limited with UW because, for the most part, you know what you’re getting. Nonetheless, some of the guys in this wide receiver room could have some sneaky contributions to the squad, such as Will Pelissier, Alex Brown, or Ayir Asante.


Reasons for optimism: When you have Mountain West preseason defensive player of the year… It’s not too hard to be optimistic about the defense.

Easton Gibbs is one of the best players in the entire conference and looks to have a monster junior season. He alongside Shae Suiaunoa makes for a stellar middle linebacker tandem that could be one of the best in college football.

The defense in my opinion is easily the best in the Mountain West, with Cole Godbout coming back from injury, and Jordan Bertagnole clogging up the middle of the defensive line will surely be a game changer, and we can expect immense QB pressure coming from them.

To add to that, the edge defenders are incredible, led by DeVonne Harris and Braden Siders. I see the Cowboys having no problems getting to the quarterback this year, and I expect an extremely high sack season out of this group.

The secondary also has some shining pieces with Deron Harrell and Wyett Ekeler. This should be one of the premier defensive units in the Mountain West.

Reasons for concern: When you lose your starting corner in Cam Stone to an in-conference rival (Hawaii), things don’t usually seem to look the best. Aside from this, nothing else was lost on the defensive side of the ball.

Craig Bohl has decided to run it back with virtually the same defense as last year, and my only worry is that maybe some of the top guys get hurt, and their depth is too weak to step up to the plate.

Key stat: 20.1 The number of completions per game allowed by the Cowboy defense in 2022. The highest among the Mountain West.

Wild card: Wrook Brown is an interesting wild card for the Pokes’ secondary. I feel that if he can become a nice replacement for Cam Stone, the defense is in really good hands. The sophomore has a small body, but a big play style. He made some nice plays for the Pokes towards the close of last season, and I think his impact could be huge this year.

Special Teams

Reasons for optimism: The Pokes have 99 problems… but a kicker ain’t one. John Hoyland is one of the best kickers UW has ever seen and is a fan favorite in Laramie. He went 22-25 in 2022, which is good, but you’d like to see as much as you can out of your kicker, which I think Hoyland is more than capable of.

The punter, Clayton Stewart was also the number three ranked punter in the Mountain West and was added to the Ray Guy Award watch list.

Reasons for concern: Another trouble the Pokes will face with Cam Stone being gone is that they no longer have their starting kick returner. Wyatt Wieland will take back the kicks this time around. He was the kick return guy a few times last year, but we’ll see if he can take a few to the house.

Key stat: 4 was the amount of 50+ yard kicks Hoyland made in 2022, only missing one kick from 50 and beyond. His deepest was a 55-yarder against Tulsa that ultimately fulfilled their comeback efforts.

Wild card: Anybody could scoop up the kick return position, maybe Wrook Brown? Devin Bodie? We could see another body hop into the special teams room, a small and speedy Brown would be quite nice back there.

2023 Wyoming Schedule

Date - Opponent

Sept. 2 - TEXAS TECH


Sept. 16 - @ Texas


Sept. 30 - NEW MEXICO*


Oct 14 - @ Air Force*

Oct. 21 - BYE

Oct. 28 - @ Boise State*


Nov. 10 - @ UNLV*

Nov. 18 - HAWAII*

Nov. 25 - @ Nevada*

* Denotes conference game

Home games are in caps and bold

Thoughts: I’m gonna give it to you straight. This is a darn hard schedule. The preseason number 20 ranked school in Texas Tech comes to Laramie and could either crush the dreams of every UW student. Or, it could be the electricity that this team needs to get out on the right foot and take control of this Mountain West.

In week two you get thrown a bone in Portland State, that lets you get prepared for the big daddy of them all. Texas. With Quinn Ewers being a big question mark at QB for the Longhorns, they don’t know if he’ll be playing at a Heisman level or an average level. This could be an excellent opportunity for the Pokes’ defense to take the wheel and drive, and maybe buy a one-possession loss in Austin.

The front half of this schedule is loaded with talented teams, even in Mountain West conference play, the Cowboys have to face Fresno State, the reigning conference champions, and an Air Force team that always matches up well with UW.

After the bye, Boise State will be a tough matchup, but winnable. The easy stretch comes at the end, where the Pokes get to play Colorado State at home, UNLV, Hawaii, and Nevada. This should be a 4-0 stretch, at the least 3-1.

Best case scenario: The Cowboys come out of the gate hungry, and edge out a win against Texas Tech in an absolute thriller of an upset. They head to Austin and make their mark on the Longhorns but don’t quite get the job done, losing by one or two possessions. They enter conference play 3-1 and march through the Mountain West finishing 10-2. They compete and win the Mountain West championship for the first time in program history, and Laramie comes close to burning down.

A man can only dream…

Worst case scenario: Texas Tech embarrasses UW in War Memorial, losing by upwards of 40 points, and Andrew Peasley declines even harder. You go to Austin and get throttled by UT and lose to App State as well. 1-3 going into the conference slate and Fresno shows the Cowboys why they won the MW title a year ago. They pick up the easy wins, but just to make things even worse, UW loses to CSU at home and pays the price of losing the border war. A final record of 5-7, and it becomes evident that the scouts need to put in some extra work to bring in a QB.

What’s probably going to happen: Wyoming doesn’t pull off the fantasy land upsets against Texas Tech and UT, they finish their out-of-conference schedule going 2-2, and we see a vintage Cowboy season. 7-5 or 8-4 if you’re lucky. A trip to a low-tier bowl game will be the highlight of the Cowboys’ year, which has been a consistent threshold throughout the years. Beating CSU in the border war will also be an exciting moment for most, and that’ll be about it for Pokes fans.

No need to get upset before the season starts though, as the best-case scenario could still happen… it’s just not very likely.

Final takeaway: You get what you get with the Wyoming Cowboys. A black and white team that typically starts and finishes the same as every other year. However, the future is bright with what could be an all-time defensive unit having only three seniors or grad students to its name.

If there’s anything to be excited about this year, it is another year of elite defense in Craig Bohl’s hands, and a great running game to compliment. At the end of the day, it’s all up to how bad the players want it on Saturday nights in September.

Wyoming opens its 2023 campaign on Saturday, September 2nd, against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Laramie.