UW’s receivers have heard the doubters loud and clear
LARAMIE -- Dontae Crow has seen your tweets.
The bad and the ugly ones.
The good, well, those have been far and few between when it comes to Wyoming's receiving corps. This group has been on the other end of plenty of rants from a fanbase that has grown tired of a passing game that is step for step with Air Force.
A history lesson: The Falcons threw the ball just 126 times last year compared to 755 rushing attempts.
That comparison isn't a welcome one, especially in a program that has produced receivers like Marcus Harris, Ryan Yarborough and Jovon Bouknight, among many others.
Crow, a senior from Sheridan, said the unit is not carrying any burden into the 2020 campaign.
"So, that one's tricky. It's nice because we have no pressure in the world because no one expects anything out of us," he said Friday night. "You go out there and mess up, you'll see same things on Twitter as a you always do. We've been so disrespected, everyone's like 'let's prove them all wrong.' We've been working hard like that.
"Everybody is against us. Let's beat the odds."
Statistically, how bad was Wyoming's passing offense last season?
- Ranked 11th out of 12 teams in the Mountain West
- Completed just 120 passes, also 11th ahead of only Air Force
- 46.9 completion percentage, worst in the league
- 1,770 passing yards, second fewest
- 11 touchdowns through the air, dead last in the MW
- 136.2 passing yards per contest, only the Falcons were worse
The Cowboys' leading receiver in 2019 was Rocket Ismail Jr., who caught just 23 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns.
Here are the stats from the guys returning this fall:
Ayden Eberhardt: 8 catches, 168 yards, 2 touchdowns
Gunner Gentry: 6 catches, 130 yards, 0 touchdowns
Dontae Crow: 5 catches, 70 yards, 0 touchdowns
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said late last week the wide receivers struggled in practice. He pointed to drops and failing to make contested catches as the culprit.
Bohl has preached the gospel of balance this offseason. He knows the passing game has to become a real threat if the Cowboys hope to compete for a MW title in December.
"I think we are going to need to improve significantly this year," he said of the receivers. "The quarterbacks certainly need to improve their completion numbers, but we need to come up with some contested catches, as well, and minimize our drops. I would say right now we are not where we need to be and we have to make some improvement here in the last two weeks."
Help could be on the way.
Bohl said his staff made a concerted effort to get bigger and faster at the wide receiver position in recruiting. From the looks of the roster, that's exactly what the Cowboys did.
Meet the new guys:
Alex Brown: 6-4, 205, R-Fr.
Joshua Cobbs: 6-4, 205, Fr.
Devin Jennings: 6-2, 189, R-Fr.
Isaiah Neyor: 6-3, 210, R-Fr.
Tyrese Grant: 6-0, 160, Fr.
All five of these guys, who all hail from Texas, will add depth -- and length -- to that position, aiding the completion percentages of UW's young gunslingers, Sean Chambers and Levi Williams.
Just because there are some shiny new toys to play with doesn't mean the old guard will forgotten. Bohl has been impressed with Eberhardt and Gentry throughout camp. He expects big things from the veterans this winter.
No one, however, expects more from that unit than the guys in it.
"I think we have a new mentality where we have to win. You don't have a choice," Crow said. "We're all super competitive. We are working hard on getting better every day."
Why the confidence?
Crow said the receivers spent more time with quarterbacks in the offseason than ever before. They ran routes against defenses three to four times per week. They also drilled against "air," Crow said.
Whatever it takes to get in sync.
"We're trying to build from the last couple of years," he said. "We've been in kind of a drought."