5 things the Cowboys should be thankful for this season
LARAMIE -- Happy Thanksgiving!
It's a fun time of year. Family, food and football. What else do you need? That got us thinking -- what should the Cowboys be thankful for this year?
This wasn't an easy list to compile. The Wyoming football team has plenty of things to be grateful for this season.
Here are five that standout to us:
5. New faces in new places
Jake Dickert and Bart Miller. Boy, did Wyoming find a couple of diamonds in the rough with these guys. Dickert, who was the Cowboys safeties coach the previous two seasons, was promoted to defensive coordinator when Scott Hazelton high-tailed it for Manhattan, Kansas, and a Power-5 gig last January. It has been a seamless transition for Dickert, who has taken the Wyoming defense to new heights in 2019. The Cowboys boast the No. 7 rush defense in the nation, allowing just 94 yards per outing. Wyoming allows just under 18 points per game. That's good enough for 15th in the country. Miller came to Laramie from Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats' offensive line for one season. Klayton Adams was Craig Bohl's original selection to replace Scott Fuchs. He lasted a whole month before bolting to the NFL. Miller was the second option. So far, he's been arguably the Cowboys biggest offseason acquisition. Despite injuries and youth, Wyoming's offensive line has been one of the best in the country. The Cowboys are averaging 217 yards per game on the ground and have allowed just 18 sacks through 11 games. Five of those came last Friday night against Colorado State. Miller has emphasized toughness, grit and swagger to a line that has been inconsistent in year's past -- at best.
4. Tickets punched
Wyoming went 6-0 at home this season. That's is the first undefeated regular season at War Memorial Stadium since 2016. However, the Cowboys did fall to San Diego State in the Mountain West title game on a frigid December night in Laramie. The last time the home team truly went unbeaten all season at home was in 1996. That season, Josh Wallwork, Marcus Harris, Jay Jenkins, Brian Lee and Co., beat Idaho, Hawaii, Air Force, Western Michigan, Fresno State and SMU. But even that 10-2 squad didn't see 138,042 fans come through the turnstiles. That is the fifth-most in program history, according to the UW media guide. The most ever came back in 1990. That season, 149,625 entered "The War." There were seven home games that season, including home meetings with Air Force and BYU.
3. Tread depth
Bohl has been trying to build in Laramie what he once had in Fargo, North Dakota -- a powerhouse. That hasn't quite happened just yet, but the pieces are starting to fall in place. Finally, Wyoming fans are starting to see something they haven't witnessed in years -- depth. The recruiting is working. The roster is littered with youth. Bohl isn't about going to get the quick fix through the junior college route, he wants them home grown. It has taken time, and plenty of patience, but the proof is starting to show itself. For instance, Wyoming lost its starting quarterback, Sean Chambers, for the second straight season with a knee injury. Tyler Vander Waal has stepped right in. Last Friday night, he went down, too. True freshman Levi Williams entered his first collegiate game and bulldozed the Pokes biggest rival. Arguably the Cowboys best offensive lineman, Eric Abojei, was lost for the season in Week 5. All the squad has done is plug and play. Same can be said for the stable of running backs entering the season. Xazavian Valladay is the last man standing. He has carried the load and then some. This is what Bohl has been preaching for six seasons in Laramie. It's finally coming to fruition.
2. Rivalry rewind
While Mike Bobo down at Colorado State is still licking his wounds after his 12th straight rivalry loss, Bohl and Co., can smile knowing they have taken care of their biggest nemesis to the south in four consecutive seasons. Talk about demoralizing. Why has this game been so lopsided as of late? Well, in my opinion, you can't manufacture hatred. CSU sure tries, though. They play hype videos and have former players come talk to the team about the importance of this game. They post pictures of the Cowboys holding the Bronze Boot all over their locker room, too. None of it works. Why? They don't take the Cowboys serious. Not to mention most of their current recruits are coming by way of the south. Wyoming's roster, as always, has plenty of Colorful Colorado flavor to it. The Rams didn't think Andrew Wingard, Alijah Haliburton, Al Rich or Tanner Gentry, among hundreds of others, were good enough to play for them. That adds some juice to this game. I've always compared the fan bases like this: One wears Carhartt jackets and drinks whiskey; the other wears North Face and has oranges on the rim of their beer glass. Get the picture? There might not be a physical border between the states, but there might as well be one. The rage and hatred is not manufactured in the Cowboy State. It's for real. It's showing in the stands and in the record books. And the same can be said for this Saturday's opponent. Wyoming had topped Air Force in three consecutive seasons. If they can pull off the victory in Colorado Springs, this senior class will be the first in program history to sweep their Front Range rivals all four years. Call it, Colorado State Champions.
1. The Governor
Wyoming has been blessed to have one of the greatest linebackers in Mountain West history line up each and every week for four seasons in Laramie. And he's a local boy. That's Casper native, Logan Wilson. Wilson's impact has certainly been felt on the field. He has 10 career interceptions and just moved into fourth-place all-time in tackles in conference history. He is a one-man wrecking crew. The Cowboys weekly opponents have to know where No. 30 is. But most Saturdays, it doesn't matter. He still makes plays. Wilson is the lone non-Power 5 player to be named a finalist for the Butkus Award. That hardware is given to the nation's top linebacker. He wasn't added to the list for a cute story, either. He might just win it. Wilson has arguably made an even bigger impact off the field. First off, he is an ambassador for Wyoming. One of the best to ever do it. Secondly, his teammates love and respect him. He's put in the work. Wilson came to Laramie and undersized cornerback out of Natrona County High School. He wasn't heavily recruited. Hell, CSU thought he might make a nice placekicker. Could you imagine? All this guy has done is fly the red, white and blue flag with a white buffalo plastered on it. He lives, eats and breathes Wyoming. That is the part most will miss when he leaves this program and starts playing on Sundays next fall. Wilson, along with the rest of this special senior class, believed in Bohl when the Cowboys were at rock bottom. He told them if they came, they would one day be champions. They were in 2016. Guys like Wilson don't come around often. He likely has two games left in a Wyoming uniform. Enjoy every snap. You know he will.