Making the grade: UW vs. Texas State
LARAMIE – We all get graded, right?
Whether it’s in school, at work or your significant other,
we are always under some sort of pressure to learn and produce results.
So, let’s see what Wyoming’s final grades were after a 23-14
win over Texas State Saturday night in San Marcos.
Sean Chambers cracked the century mark in passing Saturday night in steamy San Marcos. That’s the good news. The redshirt freshman struggled to find his groove once again, completing just 8-of-18 passes. He averaged 5.7 yards per pass. That isn’t good. After struggling in the opener against Missouri where he hit just 6-of-16 passes, many figured the Bobcats were just what the doctor ordered for the young Chambers. Instead, they sacked him once and contained him to just 50 yards rushing. Chambers did score on a seven-yard scamper in the second quarter and extended a drive with a 25-yard run in the third. Craig Bohl said the emphasis in practice this week will be getting the passing game going. Is FCS Idaho just what the doctor ordered? We will see.
RUNNING BACKS: B-
It would’ve been hard for the Cowboys to duplicate their week-one successes in Texas. That’s because they put up 297 rushing yards. That doesn’t happen every week. A prideful Bobcats defense stacked the box all night long, and for the most part, held Wyoming in check aside from a pair of sustained drives late in the third and fourth quarters. Trey Smith led all Cowboy backs with 54 yards on 16 carries. Chambers picked up 50, and Titus Swen carried the ball 12 times for 45 yards. Xazavian Valladay, who suffered an ankle injury, had just 10 rushed for 31 yards. As a team, the Cowboys tallied 190 yards on 49 – yes, 49 – carries. That’s an average of only 3.9 per carry. The rushing game was effective when it came to clock management, but they weren’t the dominant bunch we saw in the opener.
WIDE RECEIVERS/ TIGHT ENDS: C-
Jackson Marcotte had a nice catch near the goal line in the fourth. It probably saved a Chambers’ interception. Gunner Gentry hauled in his first collegiate pass. It was a 44-yard beauty from Chambers down the sideline. Austin Conway led all pass catchers with three snags for 11 yards. Ayden Eberhardt, Josh Harshman and John Okwoli each had a catch. But it’s the same story as it was last week – when the quarterback struggles, so do these guys. Bohl put plenty of blame on Chambers for the Cowboys’ passing woes, but he added that receivers need to start making more plays. That comes from creating separation. That hasn’t happened consistently, yet. There were some dropped balls and some missed opportunities in San Marcos. Gentry said the passing game isn’t quite on the same page yet. Well, they better hurry because against a good opponent, these numbers won’t cut it.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B
A week after giving up no sacks and opening holes to the tune of 297 rushing yards, the Cowboys line was solid again Saturday night in Texas. Chambers was sacked once, but that had more to do with coverage than it did the line. Running backs didn’t quite average the 7.9 yards per carry they did against Mizzou, but they got first downs and kept drives alive, especially late. This unit was still very much the strength of the offense in week two. Wyoming put up nearly 200 rushing yards and wore down an experienced Texas State front. Give some credit to the Bobcats though, they did not lay down and let the Cowboys run wild.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B
This unit was well on its way to earning a big red “F” through the first 30 minutes of play. Then, they woke up. Jake Dickert, the Cowboys first-year defensive coordinator, said his guys were playing a bit too soft in the first half. They were too concerned with closing gaps and keeping plays in front of them. In the second half, he took the training wheels off. And, boy, did it pay major dividends. Garrett Crall, Mario Mora, Cole Godbout and Co., sacked Texas State quarterback Gresch Jensen five times. The Cowboys forced a fumble and had Jensen on the run all night. It’s hard to believe that the front four could dial it up that much in the final 30 minutes, but it’s a good sign of things to come. The first half was painful. Zero pass rush. Zero pressure. Zero results. Good on Dickert to let them go.
Even the rare blitz from Wyoming linebackers wasn’t making a difference in the first half. Logan Wilson and Cassh Maluia played conservative, too. They stayed back and let plays develop in front of them. They made tackles, but more times than not it was eight-to-10 yards down field. They got the message in the halftime locker room, too. Wilson, who cracked the school’s Top-10 list in tackles Saturday night, led the team with 11 stops and a tackle for loss. Maluia was in on a sack and Leevi Lafaele leveled Jensen in the fourth. These guys, as usual, were tough and making plays all over the field. Maybe a more aggressive game plan will lead to even more dominance with Idaho coming to Laramie Saturday.
SAFETIES/ CORNERS: B-
Wyoming played Saturday night without the serviced of starting senior cornerback, Antonio Hull, who is back home in California dealing with a “personal matter.” During the first two quarters, it appeared that the absence of Hull was hurting more than one might of thought heading in. Texas State racked up 394 passing yards, 203 of which came in the first half. They gave up explosive plays, including a 50-yard slant pass that Jah'Marae Sheread took to the house. The defensive backs played way too soft. Bohl admitted as much. So did Dickert. However, if it wasn’t for an opportunistic play from Tyler Hall, the Cowboys might not walk out of Bobcat Stadium with a W. In the third, Jensen made the mistake of throwing from the right hash all the way to the left sideline. Hall was waiting, cutting off the receiver and going 72 yards for a pick six. It was the second straight week that a Wyoming defensive back reached the end zone. It was the turning point of the game. Braden Smith, who entered the game early after Rome Weber left with a concussion, also picked off a pass Saturday night. The defense is plus-5 in turnover margin, but the yards continue to rack up on their watch. That needs to change.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
When Cooper Rothe missed a 43-yard field goal to stall the opening drive of the game, some might have thought, “oh no, this isn’t the Cowboys night.” Then, something most of us have never seen happened. Rothe’s 47-yard boot in the second was put under review. The refs on the field both raised their arms. Texas State wanted them to take another look. The jumbo-tron didn’t look like it would be favorable for Wyoming’s Mr. Consistent, but the kick stood. Rothe connected on three field goals on the night. Senior punter Ryan Galovich had a solid night, banging six punts for a 40.5-yard average. He had a long of 52. Bohl praised Galovich for flipping the field all night long. Hall, could’ve made this grade an “A” if he would’ve made one move on the opening kickoff. He went 52 yards and put the Pokes in business on the Bobcats’ side of the field. Conway returned just one punt for seven yards, and the kick coverage was stellar. Overall, nice night for the special teams.