LARAMIE -- Just how conservative was Craig Bohl on fourth down last season?

Only two programs in the country failed to reach double figures in attempts. One of those teams was Alabama.

The other? You guessed it. Wyoming.

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Nick Saban's team also ranked No. 23 in the nation in converting third downs. The Tide did that at a .451 clip. The Cowboys were just 56-of-152 in that category. That was good enough for 87th in the FBS.

'Bama also beat 12 teams by an average margin of nearly 19 points per game.

In other words, fourth-down attempts were not often a necessity.

The Cowboys converted 6-of-9 snaps on fourth, none bigger than an 11-yard pressure-filled touchdown toss from Andrew Peasley to tight end John Michael Gyllenborg in the second overtime frame of a 35-33 upset victory over Texas Tech on opening night.

Sam Scott put the nail in the visitor's coffin walking into the end zone untouched for the game-winning 2-point conversion.

Wyoming also converted a 4th-and-2 from the Red Raiders' 31-yard line midway through the third quarter. Scott picked up three. The then-sophomore running back would score from 16 yards out four snaps later to officially erase an early 17-0 deficit.

Jay Sawvel, when talking about the struggles of placekicker John Hoyland last fall, admitted the junior wasn't always handed the easiest assignments. Of his seven misses on the season, four came from 50-plus yards out. The other three were in the 40-to-49-yard range.

"It wasn't like he was missing extra points or things like that," Wyoming's rookie head coach said. "... There's probably been a few of those times when it's like 4th-and-2 at the 38 that I'm sitting there going -- go for this. So, that may be a little bit different that way. We'll kind of see how many times we trot him out there for 55 yarders."



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A perfect example of what Sawvel is talking about happened last October in Colorado Springs.

Leading 14-7 and facing a 4th-and-2 at the Falcons' 28, Bohl decided to send Hoyland out for a 45-yard attempt. At that point in the season, the Broomfield, Colo., product was 9-of-10, including a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond 50.

That kick sailed right and Air Force answered, tying the game eight plays later. They would go on to win 34-27.

Will Sawvel continue the decade-long tradition of playing it safe?

"To be determined," he said with a grin. "... There's a point to being reckless in a game and there's a point to being aggressive, right? There's a fine line in that. I've seen all the people that say, OK, this analytics guy goes for it all the time. Then I've seen him also go for some things in situations that it's like, OK, you've now put your team in a major hole.

"So, I think you have to be calculated in it. I think you got to be confident in the situation that you can get it."

Wyoming didn't attempt a single fourth-down conversion in seven of its 13 games. The final rick took place on the team's final drive of the Arizona Bowl. They had no other choice. Back-up signal caller Evan Svoboda took the snap at the Cowboys' 41-yard line with 2:07 remaining in regulation.

He needed to pick up a yard. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound QB bullied his way forward for three.

Hoyland capped the comeback with a 24-yard field goal to give Wyoming -- and its departing head coach -- a 16-15 win over Toledo.

Now the ultimate decision maker, Sawvel knows that situation will arise time and again this fall. A lifelong defensive coach, the 53-year-old said his job will be to have a finger on the pulse of this offense and what it can do.

"What do we think we'll get from the defense? How confident are we at running what we're running? How confident are we that we're going to get this blocked and get this done?," he said. "Then you can go, OK, yeah, this is a calculated gamble that we'll take."



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University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

During the summer of 2021, counted down the Top 50 football players in University of Wyoming history, presented by Premier Bone & Joint Centers, Worthy of Wyoming.

The rules are simple: What was the player's impact while in Laramie? That means NFL stats, draft status or any other accolade earned outside of UW is irrelevant when it comes to this list.

This isn't a one-man job. This task called for a panel of experts. Joining 7220's Cody Tucker are Robert GagliardiJared NewlandRyan Thorburn, and Kevin McKinney.

We all compiled our own list of 50 and let computer averages do the work. Think BCS -- only we hope this catalog is fairer.

Don't agree with a selection? Feel free to sound off on our Twitter: @7220sports - #Top50UWFB

Gallery Credit:

- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players

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