3 keys to beating the ‘Bows
LARAMIE -- Was that what the Cowboys offense was supposed to look like all season long?
Short answer: Yep.
Wyoming rolled up 604 yards of total offense, including an uncharacteristic 242 through the air in a 44-17 stunner Utah State last Saturday inside Maverick Stadium.
Levi Williams did have more yards passing in the 2020 Border War, throwing for 321 in a loss to the Rams, but he has never been more efficient in his 10 career starts. The redshirt freshman from Canyon Lake, Texas connected on 80% of his throws in that win over the Aggies.
Titus Swen busted out the longest run in school history when he broke loose for a 98-yard touchdown in Logan. He also added a score from 43 yards out. Xazavian Valladay also gashed USU to the tune of 145 yards.
Basically, Craig Bohl's Cowboys did whatever they wanted on offense.
Read that sentence again. Weird, huh?
Maybe the most important stat of the night was 3-1. For the first time since a Week 3 win over Ball State, UW won the turnover battle.
Did we mention there was a 99-yard Cam Stone kick return for a score and a 73-yard Isaiah Neyor touchdown that was called back on a penalty? It was an explosive night all around.
Now the big question is: Was that an exception or the new rule?
We will see Saturday afternoon in the Cowboys season finale against Hawaii. Here are a few things the Cowboys need to do if they hope to bring home the Paniolo Trophy:
Wyoming's passing offense has been about as fun to watch as getting a root canal through a good majority of this season.
That changed last Saturday.
First-year offensive coordinator Tim Polasek deployed a nice mix of throwing to soften the box and get the Aggies thinking. Keying on just the running game didn't work this time around.
Williams had his most efficient day in a Cowboys uniform, completing 12-of-15 passes for 242 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The redshirt freshman missed high and wide on the first throw of the game. After that incompletion, he settled in to connect on six straight balls.
Utah State's pass defense won't be mistaken for, say, Wyoming's, anytime soon. However, Hawaii features statistically one of the worst secondary's in the country, sitting at 127th overall out of 130 FBS teams. The Rainbow Warriors give up nearly 300 yards per game through the air.
Saturday's opponent has given up 23 touchdown passes through 12 games.
Polasek and Co. might want to think about adding to all of those numbers, and more importantly, bottling that momentum the Cowboys gained in Logan.
Joshua Cobbs hauled in six passes for 76 yards and a score. Those were all career highs. Neyor continued to torment Mountain West defensive backs, snagging four balls for 125 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring. Even Wyatt Wieland has gotten in on the action. The walk-on from Colorado Springs has two catches in as many weeks.
Wyoming isn't guaranteed a bowl game. This one might be it. If it is, go out with a bang and prove to the faithful the last two weeks could be a glimpse into the future with a young QB and even younger unit of wide outs.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS:
* Wyoming tight end Colin O'Brien embraces art of blocking
* Cowboys in the NFL: Week 11
* Wyoming football: News and notes
* UW linebacker Chad Muma declaring for NFL Draft
* Stone named MW Special Teams Player of the Week
* Rants & Raves: Utah State Edition
* Joshua Cobbs looking to build on breakout performance
THREE AND OUT
The Cowboys defense held the Aggies high-powered offensive attack in check over the last three quarters of last Saturday night's win.
How impressive was that showing?
* Zero second-half points given up
* Four three-and-outs
* Four turnover on downs
* Three takeaways
* 181 passing yards, 134 under Utah State's season average.
The underrated stat of the night: 5-of-15. That's the Aggies' third-down conversion rate. Three of those came in garbage time with the game already well out of hand. Utah State was ranked in the Top 20 in the nation in converting third-down attempts.
The 'Bows have been successful on just 56-of-165 opportunities this season. The less Chevan Cordeiro has the ball in his hands, the better.
Wyoming's third-down defense has been middle of the road this season, allowing 63 conversions on 161 attempts. But, over the last four weeks, the Cowboys haven't given up more than seven in a game, including holding San Jose State to just 3-of-11.
As you well know, the defense hasn't been the issue this season, but if the Pokes offense can continue what it did in Logan, getting them on the field as much as possible should be the goal.
Control the clock, run the ball, hit some passes, win.
Hawaii is giving up quarterback sacks at an alarming rate this fall -- 37 to be exact -- the worst mark in the Mountain West.
That should be music to the ears of defensive end Garrett Crall, who will suit up one last time inside War Memorial Stadium this Saturday.
Not just Crall, but a deep stable of young, hungry Wyoming pass rushers like Jaylen Pate, DeVonne Harris and Jordan Bertagnole, among others.
The Cowboys have registered just 19 sacks this season. That is not ideal. Losing Solomon Byrd and Ravontae Holt for the season doesn't help matters. Neither does playing an Air Force and New Mexico squad, which threw the ball a combined 21 times.
Seeing as the UW offense was no threat to make any sort of a comeback midway through the season, even pass-happy Fresno State put it up just 28 times. San Jose State QB Nick Nash only attempted 22 throws against the Cowboys.
Wyoming only registered one official sack in that win in Logan. That was credited to Crall and Pate. However, according to ESPN, Logan Bonner got hurried just "five" times. Anyone who watched that game knows better than that, though college football doesn't keep stats for "knockdowns."
If they did, safe to say, the Pokes hit double digits in that category.
Sacks are nice, but pressure can be just as effective. Just ask Bonner.