3 Quick takes: Craig Bohl must address offensive woes this offseason
LARAMIE -- Ayden Eberhardt wasn't about to throw anyone under the bus.
Craig Bohl never does.
They don't need to tonight -- the stats speak for themselves.
As you are well aware of by now, this Wyoming offense is a mess. The 17-9 loss to Boise State inside Saturday night's snow globe in Laramie showed once again that this unit is miles away from going anywhere near a conference title game.
You know, like the one the Broncos are headed to next week.
Here are some of those numbers I'm referring to:
- 146 yards of total offense is the worst output for this team since September of 2017. That was 183 yards against the visiting Oregon Ducks. Josh Allen was the quarterback.
- 2-of-17 on third-down conversions. That, coupled with last week's 1-for-11 performance against New Mexico, makes the Pokes' 3-of-28 on the money down. Wyoming went three-and-out on 8-of-9 possessions tonight, including six straight. Both games ended in a loss.
- Three times Wyoming was in the red zone tonight. They scored on every trip. Field goals, that is.
- Levi Williams and Gavin Beerup combined to complete 4-of-21 passes for 64 yards. Twenty nine of those came on a Williams' pass to Xazavian Valladay. In that still-shocking loss to the Lobos, those two connected on just 5-of-17 throws for 91 yards. There's also been three interceptions lumped in there.
This offense is downright offensive.
"There's 11 players on the field at a time," Eberhardt said. "All 11 have to be working together -- synchronized. We got to block, make the right reads, be able to run the route and not get caught up, see the ball, catch the ball and try to make a play after that."
Bohl can joke all he wants about red-blooded American males being good at coaching Little League and calling offensive plays. He can tell us until he's blue in the face that this team is not ever going to be confused for a Mike Leach coached team.
Yes, we know. That's obvious.
But why can't they covert on third down? Why doesn't a successful running game open more passing lanes? Why is this offense so out of sorts?
The cheeky comments won't cut it anymore. Real answers will suffice.
Change is a must, whether that's with the scheme, staff or overall mentality inside the High Altitude Performance Center offices. It's painfully obvious it's time for a new voice in the offensive headsets. A new vision. Some creativity and innovation.
Everyone is so quick to jump on offensive coordinator Brent Vigen -- and he's earned plenty of that -- but the truth of the matter is this: Bohl wants to ground and pound. He condones it. He tolerates it. He doesn't change it.
This is ultimately on him.
It's also on him to make the proper adjustments and changes. That's why he makes the big bucks.
Bohl is a hell of a good coach. He's a champion. He knows what it takes to win at every level of football.
This isn't it.
"We have a lot of months here and we're going to have to do a significant evaluation," Bohl said when asked what he can do to fix this offense. "Obviously, when you're down to your third-string quarterback and your second-string quarterback, that's going to have an impact. However, we've got to improve. There's going to be a major offseason program with a complete evaluation of everything we've done. There's many other things we have to improve on, but that's certainly one of them."
Let's check out some other damning stats:
- 2020: 23 points per, 164 passing yards per, 347 total yards
- 2019: 25 ppg, 136 passing yards, 350 total
- 2018: 21 ppg, 131 passing yards, 330 total
- 2017: 23 ppg, 177 passing yards, 286 total
That's called a pattern. A bad one.
Bohl and Co. could use the COVID-19 excuse. They can talk about opt outs, youth, inexperience, losing starting quarterback Sean Chambers and a truly bizarre season all the way around, but this has been going on for far too long.
How many times have you said this to your buddies: If Wyoming's offense -- mainly the passing game -- could be consistent, this team could really make some noise?
It's the truth. You know it. I know it. Bohl knows it.
"We'll have a chance to reevaluate everything," he said. "I think you can make all kinds of rational arguments that COVID-19 had an impact, but I don't think you can have an encompassing broad statement that we won two games this year because of COVID. There's some ownership that I have as a head football coach. I need to do better. There's things our players have to buy into and do better. It will be a learning experience as we go forward."
What did we learn during this abbreviated season?
The Cowboys look an awful lot like last year's Cowboys. And the year before that. And the year before that.
I bet if you asked an opposing coach to give his synopsis of Bohl's Wyoming teams it would go something like this: They have a solid, hard-nosed defense. They have a power running game. They can't throw the football with any consistency. Make them throw, they're doomed.
We saw that in the Pokes' first four losses in 2019. They couldn't come back against Tulsa, San Diego State, Utah State or Boise State. They fell by a combined 15 points.
They couldn't come back this year in Reno. They couldn't do it in Ft. Collins or Las Vegas. They sure didn't do it tonight. Those losses came by a combined 22 points.
This team is too talented to be this out of whack on that side of the ball. Let me be clear, this isn't on the players. It never has been.
Just like it wasn't back in 2017. Or 2018. Or 2019.
Boise State 17, Wyoming 9
Give the kid a ride
Cooper Rothe is not an easy man to replace.
At a school that has produced names like Wedel, Elling, Wallum, Feming and others, Rothe, statistically, is the best.
Replacing him was not going to be an easy task. Well, not as easy as John Hoyland has made it look anyway.
The true freshman walk-on from Colorado has been money all season. He got his first start in the opener. It was unexpected, too. Luke Glassock, who won the starting job, suffered an injury. All Hoyland did was nail all four of his field-goal attempts and get named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week.
Hoyland isn't a one-hit wonder, either.
The kid with the red shoe has connected on 13-of-14 kicks this season with a long of 42. He has hit every single one of his point-after attempts. In the last two weeks, Hoyland has basically been the Cowboys' offense, drilling all six of his field goals.
And who wouldn't want a kicker with this attitude?
"My job comes down to coach says kick the ball and I kick it," he said of swinging tonight in the snow. "I don't think I'm exactly nervous for those kinds of situations because that's what I was brought in to do.
"I just kind of go out there and do it."
Get this guy a scholarship.
Yes, 2-4 is not the record any Wyoming fan, player or coach imagined this fall. In fact, there were supposed to be eight games on the schedule. We all know why there wasn't.
That brings us to this -- how about the effort of this Wyoming team to make sure they were healthy and ready to go for all eight of those contests?
Imagine the sacrifice it took. From a bunch of college student, no less.
This team is very young. Just 11 seniors are on the roster. That's just another feather in the cap of the leadership of this group of Garrett Crall, Chad Muma, Keegan Cryder and Chambers.
I asked Bohl postgame if he could wrap this weird season up in a bow for us. Give us his thoughts on this odd six-game stretch. He wasn't ready to lay out all of his feelings.
But he passionately discussed the character and resolve of this squad.
"We had a plan for protocol. I had called our conference commissioner (Craig Thompson) offline and I said, 'one thing you can count on is the University of Wyoming is going to honor their commitment and show up every day,'" Bohl said. "By hook or crook, we were going to have to juggle personnel or do whatever we had to do, but if you go down that list, we were accountable for every time that we had a chance to play. We answered the bell."
It's sometimes hard to put things in perspective, especially after the Cowboys let another winnable game slip away, but this fact became abundantly clear: This season almost didn't happen. To make it happen, these players, coaches and support staff had giant cotton swabs jammed into their brain three times a week throughout the season.
They distanced themselves from the world, including their own families. If there's a word to describe this season, sacrifice is the first one that comes to mind.
Hats off to this group and staff. Well done.