Did Wyoming’s offensive line turn the corner last Saturday?
LARAMIE -- Frank Crum calls it a slump.
Logan Harris said if he knew the answer, he would tell you.
Derek Frazier added that consistency has to become the norm.
Why has Wyoming's offensive line underachieved at times through the first eight game this season? Those are your answers from the right tackle and guard and the Cowboys' first-year offensive line coach.
Some crucial statistics for that unit read like this:
* Rushing offense - 167.9 per game - 63rd in the nation
* Yards per carry - 4.22
* Sacks allowed - 1.88 per - 60th
* Tackles for loss allowed - 3.88 per - 31st
* Total offense - 331.9 per - 113th
Eight guys up front -- Alonzo Velazquez, Crum, Harris, Keegan Cryder, Eric Abojei, Rudy Stofer, Zach Watts and Latrell Bible -- all had starts under their belts heading into the 2021 campaign. In all, these guys accounted for 145 combined starts before taking a single snap in the opener against Montana State.
This was supposed to be the strength of this program, aided by tight ends Jackson Marcotte, Treyton Welch and Colin O'Brien. Not to mention fullbacks Parker Christensen and Caleb Driskill.
So, why the struggles this season?
Has learning a new scheme effected things that much?
"You know, things, they are different," Crum said. "It's not the (Brent) Vigen era anymore. Things change. Those fundamentals, I think, have only helped us. I don't think that's the reasoning for not scoring these past two weeks. You look at the first four games, our scoring was pretty prolific in that sense. I think we're just in a slump right now."
Wyoming did average 38 points per game in its first three outings of the season. During that timeframe, Sean Chambers averaged 200 yards per game through the air. and Xazavian Valladay, Titus Swen and crew sat at 173.
The Cowboys' defense also forced seven turnovers during that three-game winning streak, including three interceptions for touchdowns courtesy of Chad Muma (twice) and Keyon Blankenbaker.
After a narrow victory over UConn in Week 4, Wyoming has dropped four straight. To make matters worse, the offense went on a 10-quarter streak of scoring just a field goal. Here's the Cowboys averages during this skid:
* 140 yards passing per game
* 155 yards rushing per game
* Minus-10 turnover margin
* 9.5 points per game
Now, these numbers are a tad skewed thanks to a big rushing day last Saturday in a 27-21 loss at San Jose State. Valladay gashed the Spartans for 172 of the Cowboys' 221 yards on the ground.
Was that the spark this line needed to get things going again?
"Definitely," Harris said. "It was kind of just getting over that hump, even though we came up short in the game. It was good to get over hump we had going."
Craig Bohl agrees.
Wyoming's eighth-year head coach said that was the line's best performance in recent memory. Getting this traditional run game going, he added, can only help his struggling offense.
"We really established the line of scrimmage. I think the numbers bear that out," Bohl said. "... So, overall, that part of the game between the backs and the offensive line, full backs and tight ends -- all those people that blocked -- really did a good job."
Frazier said his unit wants the game on its shoulders. If the consistency comes, he added, good things will happen.
Why hasn't this veteran line shown that consistency throughout?
Frazier said it takes all five guys to make that happen.
"If everyone is doing their job -- and I'm not talking about a super-human effort -- on every play and all 11 guys blocking are blocking for one, we'll be doing our job. That job is to get the play going. One bad play, that ruins the whole thing."
Can that be fixed?
Saturday's opponent, Border War rival Colorado State, is allowing just 108.4 yards per game on the ground. The Rams front four has accounted for 16.5 of the Rams' 31 sacks. CSU's linebackers have added another 8.5.
It's no surprise that defense is ranked No. 3 in the country at getting to the quarterback.
"It's never something you can turn on and off," Frazier said. "We preach that all the time. It's got to be an all-the-time deal. The difference comes back to playing at a high rate, everyone on same page and everyone executing their job to a high standard.
"That's what we have to do right from the beginning and for 60 minutes of football."