Tuck’s Takes: Spartans take Pokes to the woodshed in 33-16 setback
LARAMIE -- You can blame the officiating. You can blame the youth. You can blame the physical toll last week's loss in Provo took on this team. You can blame the play calling. Heck, blame every coach on the staff.
Sometimes you just get punched in the mouth.
Wyoming played the part of Rocky Balboa's hanging meat Saturday night.
"That film is going to look ugly," Craig Bohl said following the 33-16 loss to San Jose State in front of 17,765 fans inside War Memorial Stadium. "It's going to look like we got took to the woodshed.
"Most of the time I reserve judgment until I watch the tape -- I saw what I saw."
What the Cowboys' ninth-year head coach saw was another quarterback pick apart his secondary. This is nothing new. In fact, Bohl himself called it a "broken record" when describing the torched his backend just took for the second straight week.
Chevan Cordeiro, a signal caller Bohl has now faced four times, completed 21-of-37 throws for 314 yards and a touchdown. He added another with his feet to go along with 24 rushing yards. He avoided pressure, picked up numerous third-and-longs and for the second straight season led his team to a blowout in this building.
"I was concerned about that," Bohl said of Cordeiro's elusiveness, decision making and execution. "You know, we did get some pressure at times, but I think we let him get in a rhythm too much. Then, you know, I thought their wide receivers bested us."
They did, especially Elijah Cooks.
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The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Nevada transfer had 100 receiving yards by halftime. He finished with 177 on eight grabs. Seven other pass catchers got in on the mix, too. In last Saturday's loss at BYU, Jaren Hall threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns. Tulsa's Davis Brin tossed four touchdowns against the Cowboys in Week 1. He capped his career day with 460 yards through the air.
What is going on back there?
"That narrative has been coming up too many times," Bohl said. "You know, the answer, we've got to look and say, OK, do we need to tweak some things? Because when you say, OK, we're there, we're there and we aren't coming up with a play, after a while that has to change."
Easton Gibbs thinks the Cowboys are close in this category.
"It's not like you see blown coverages out there, which is encouraging," UW's sophomore middle linebacker said. "There are little things that we can fix. Right now, we aren't winning a lot of the 50-50 stuff and that will be a big emphasis for us."
What was maybe most surprising in this one was the way the Spartans' defensive front manhandled a UW line that has been solid all season long. Titus Swen was suffocated, picking up just 61 yards on 17 carries. Dawaiian McNeely was a non-factor, finishing with five yards on four attempts. Peasley was sacked twice and hurried seven times. It seemed like more.
"It's very frustrating, and I'll start with me," UW tight end Treyton Welch said. "I had a few plays where I needed to give it my all and I didn't. Across the board, I just know all of us guys want it back. That's just not what we need to be saying coming out of a game like that."
Yes, the Cowboys left LaVell Edwards Stadium with a bus full of bruises. Yes, there were some questionable calls tonight, including what appeared to be a SJSU fumble in the red zone that was later deemed an incomplete pass -- among others. Yes, a rushing attempt on a 3rd-and-20 late in this one did little to help Bohl's conservative reputation. Neither did a punt a couple of late punts while trailing by double digits.
It gets old hearing Bohl immediately dish out credit to the opponent after each game, but tonight, it was warranted.
Tonight, he wasn't accepting excuses, either.
"We didn't execute very well," he said. "And I think we got, I'm just telling you guys, I looked out there and there's a bunch of NFL guys on that (defensive) front four. They had some --dudes. Typically, we've been, you know, whether it's Illinois or whomever, we've matched up. Tonight, we did not match up, so there's some things that we have to work through there. We've got to get better at a lot of places.
"... It was not a good night. We're going to live to fight another day and the sun is going to come up tomorrow, I know that."
Luckily for the Cowboys, what awaits is a trip to Albuquerque to take on the Lobos.
Oh, wait ...
San Jose State 33, Wyoming 16
* A scary moment happened late in the third quarter when SJSU lineman Noah Wright went down and was motionless on the turf for the better part of 15 minutes. Teammates and coaches surrounded him and he was carefully strapped to a backboard and loaded on to an ambulance. "I think Noah Wright will be able to come home with us on the plane," Spartans' head coach Brent Brennan said postgame. Sounds like good news for the graduate, who finished this one with two tackles.
* For the fifth straight game, Wyoming came away with points on its opening drive. Unfortunately, those have all been John Hoyland field goals. I spoke to offensive coordinator Tim Polasek last week and he said he is happy with those results -- though he would obviously rather get the ball in the end zone -- but he pointed out the Pokes' woes on the opening drives of the second half. Wyoming did put three on the board in the season opener at Illinois, but since, it's looked like this: Punt, punt, punt, punt, interception.
* San Jose State's offense held on to the ball for 36:52 tonight, compared to just 23:08 for the Pokes. No surprise here, the visitors ran 76 plays. UW, 53. That won't get it done.
* Just when you thought the Cowboys had a chance to do something special in a down year for the Mountain West, this happens. Of course, the conference race is still young. UW also already has a victory over the team most expect to win the Mountain Division, Air Force. The schedule ahead is favorable, you'd think: at New Mexico, vs. Utah State, at Hawaii, BYE, at Colorado State. What did I learn tonight? SJSU might just be the team that comes out of the west. Remember, the Spartans won the conference title during the 2020 COVID-19-shortened season. If they play the way they did in Laramie, look out. By the way, Fresno State fell 19-14 at UConn today. The game of the year on the other side of the bracket might just be taking place next Friday night in the Bay Area when the Spartans host front-runner UNLV.
* Wyatt Wieland has continued to impress. The junior receiver from Colorado Springs had a nice series late in the first half that ended with points. First, he ran the punt kickoff back 22 yards. The former walk-on was smoked out of bounds, giving UW 15 more yards. He snagged a six-yard pass on a 3rd-and-6 and eventually hauled in a rainbow from Peasley from 38 yards out for his second-career touchdown, his first through the air.
* Jayden Clemons was forced into action tonight after what Bohl calls a hip injury Peasley sustained on the opening snap of the game. Clemons, a former Utah transfer and walk-on, attempted just one pass. It was a beautiful over-the-shoulder toss to Joshua Cobbs for 25 yards. Peasley, who started his night 0-6 throwing, came in the very next play. Did Bohl think about going back to Clemons? "We thought about going to Jayden on some other things," he said. "You know, thought about it but didn't."
* If you're wondering why there aren't any postgame quotes from Peasley, he was in the training room -- coach's orders.
* Bohl said his team did some "immature things" in this loss. One has to be the unsportsmanlike call on Oluwaseyi Omotosho with 6:22 to go in the third. Just when it appeared the Cowboys were going to get off the field after an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-10, the flags flew. "Taunting," Bohl said, was the culprit.
* Gibbs was nailed with a late hit out of bounds on the Spartans' final offensive drive of the first half. It was costly, too. At the time, the visitors were doing whatever they pleased on offense. The flag on Gibbs gave them the ball at the UW 12. With just a few ticks remaining in the second quarter, Cordeiro scored from a yard out. Sound familiar? BYU did the same last Saturday night.
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