Three takes: Where on earth has this been all season?
LOGAN, Utah -- Is this the re-engineered offense Craig Bohl has been talking about since last December?
It wasn't far off.
"It's been a long time coming, I can tell you that," Wyoming's eighth-year head coach said after his Cowboys routed Mountain Division frontrunner Utah State 44-17 Saturday night inside Maverik Stadium. "This is what we wanted. I think we hit our stride."
You aren't the only one, coach.
After watching Wyoming roll up 604 yards of total offense with a brilliantly called game plan and completely stymie one of the best offenses in America for four quarters, there's really only one logical question: Where on earth has this been all season?
That got a chuckle out of Bohl in his postgame press conference, but it's a legit query.
"It's been frustrating because I felt like this football team has got good potential, but we haven't been producing," Bohl said he told Utah State head coach Blake Anderson before the game. "You know, I saw some signs of different things coming. Tonight was kind of a culmination of that."
I served up three keys to victory before this one:
* Limit explosive plays
* Don't kick the ball to Savon Scarver
* Win the turnover battle
Check, ehh, check.
The Cowboys did most of that, including forcing two fumbles and finishing with an Isaac White interception late in the fourth quarter. They also added a school record 98-yard touchdown run from Titus Swen, a 99-yard Cameron Stone kickoff return and a pair of first-half passing touchdowns to Isaiah Neyor and Josh Cobbs.
Levi Williams also had his most efficient day in a Wyoming uniform.
The redshirt freshman quarterback completed 12-of-15 throws for 242 yards and those two touchdown strikes. After a misfire on his first pass of the game, Williams settled in and started confidently finding openings all over the Aggies' secondary.
"You know, that's who I want to be. Obviously, I wasn't perfect" Williams said of his performance. "... It was a great night and a great team win."
He had plenty of time to operate, too.
The Cowboys embattled front five, along with some big-time blocks from tight end's Colin O'Brien, Jackson Marcotte, Treyton Welch and the fullbacks, gave Williams a clean pocket to work with all night long.
Those fellas put a goose egg on the board in the sack category.
They also paved the way for Xazavian Valladay (145) and Swen (169), who both eclipsed the century mark in the win. The Aggies' defense had given up just 73 rushing yards in their last three outings. Saturday, that number was 362. Wyoming averaged 7.4 yards per rush.
Utah State was also supposed to possess the quick-strike offense. At times, early on, it was. But it was the visitors who took the air out of Saturday's senior day crowd with big plays in all three phases of the game.
Swen added a 43-yard touchdown jaunt in the third quarter to give the Cowboys a commanding 31-17 lead. Neyor opened the scoring, hauling in a 40-yard touchdown strike.
Think about this: Neyor had a 73-yard touchdown called back on a Cobbs' holding call. Williams was also picked off at the Utah State goal line, mostly thanks to a missed pass-interference call on Shaq Bond, the guy who ultimately snagged the interception.
This score could've been much more lopsided.
"It's just what the doctor needed," Williams said with a smile. "I mean, we've been prescribed that for a while. It was awesome."
Yes, it was.
And make no mistake, this one meant a lot to the old ball coach.
"You know what, it was great. We had a big celebration in the locker room and I even danced with the rifle a little bit," Bohl said of the traveling trophy between these two longtime rivals, Jim Bridger's Rifle. "... They had it. Well, we took it back and it's where it belongs.
"It needs to be in Laramie."
Wyoming 44, Utah State 17
BLANKETING MR. BILETNIKOFF
The offense is going to get a ton of credit for this win.
That side of the ball has endured so many inconsistencies and maddening sequences that even the most loyal fans have scrambled for the exits and the power button.
As proficient as Tim Polasek's offensive scheme was in this one, second-year defensive coordinator, Jay Sawvel, had the unenviable task of stopping the nation's leading receiver and an offense with 52 plays of 20 yards or more under its belt.
Deven Thompkins, the Aggies all-world wide out who was named a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Trophy earlier in the week, came in averaging 155 receiving yards per game over his last six outings, including a nine-catch, 215-yard performance in a win over New Mexico State.
Tonight, the senior caught five balls for 67 yards. Forty-one of those came on one touchdown catch.
"I'm very satisfied," said cornerback CJ Coldon, who finished with seven tackles and a pass breakup. "You know, we came in here and it was a tough task. No different than the last five weeks really."
Bohl said this defensive game plan centered on the play of the Cowboys' corners, Azizi Hearn and Coldon. Those two, along with the rest of the Wyoming secondary, feature the No. 4 pass defense in the nation.
They played like every bit of that Saturday night, also holding Derek Wright to just three catches for 30 yards.
"I thought they played excellent," Bohl said. "That was our plan. We knew we could leverage that. Then you basically take those guys out and play nine men against everybody else. You know, they weren't really running the quarterback so we were able to have deep middle players.
"That all can be attributed to how our corners played. They were great."
Utah State averaged 315 yards per game through the air over its first 10 games. Tonight, quarterback Logan Bonner, who spent a majority of the night staring at the full moon overhead from getting blasted to the turf so often, finished with just 181.
Hats off to the Cowboys' defense and staff. That was truly a masterpiece.
The last time a Wyoming kick returner took one to the house was back in 2017.
That man was Tyler Hall. He took one to the house against Texas State from 95 yards out. He now cashes NFL checks as a member of the Los Angeles Rams.
Saturday night, Cam Stone, who was just awarded the job as the team's kick returner last week, scooped up bouncing ball around the Cowboys' goal line and immediately found a crease.
Actually, let's let him tell the tale.
"When I picked up the ball, I was like, 'what am I about to do with this?'" He said with a smile -- and sunglasses on -- during his postgame interview. "Because the way he kicked it, I was like, 'follow somebody.' I followed a few blockers and then I just saw green grass. I just went from there."
The Texas product said he has never returned a kick for a touchdown.
Not in Pee-wee football.
Not in junior high.
Not in high school.
Now, he has a 99-yarder under his belt and gives the Cowboys a new threat on special teams, one that hasn't been seen around here since Hall was doing his thing.
"I saw a hole and I was like 'he's gone,'" Coldon said of Stone's return. "I just watched him run past me and I'm like, 'he did it.' I was happy for him."
Wyoming's specialists accounted for 20 of the Pokes' 44 points in this one. You're going to win a bunch of games when you can do that.
More credit to the coaches, Shannon Moore and Benny Boyd. Although I begged and pleaded this week to not give Scarver a chance at a return -- they did. Five of them, to be exact -- these youngsters on the kick coverage team have really come into their own since some early season gaffs.
Scarver, who is tied for the all-time FBS record with seven returns for touchdowns, averaged just 18.6 per attempt Saturday night.
Boasting a rare kickoff return for a score is just icing on the cake for this unit.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players