The Wyoming Cowboys have been a strong defensive team for years, but the offense has been something to improve on since QB Josh Allen went into the NFL Draft and former offensive coordinator Brent Vigen left to be the head coach at Montana State at the FCS level. The Broncos need an answer at quarterback and need to be productive to move to the top of the Mountain West Conference or they will find themselves in the middle of the pack.
Wyoming Football 2023 Preview
THE CONF.: Mountain West Conference
2022 RECORD: 7-6 (Went to the Arizona Bowl and lost to Ohio U. 30-27)
CONF. FINISH: 5-3 (tied for 2nd in the West Division. This year the Mountain West has gotten rid of divisions).
HEAD COACH: Craig Bohl 10th season (record at Wyoming 52-56)
ALL-STAR CANDIDATES: Jr./LB Easton Gibbs 1st Team MW (121 tackles 3 sacks 6 TFL); Sr./TE Treyton Welch (22 receptions 308 yards 5 TD's); Sr./QB Andrew Peasley (144/275 52%, 1,574 yards 10 TD's 9 Int's, 81 carries 492 yards 2 TD's); Jr./DT Jordan Bertagnole 2nd Team Mountain West ( 51 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 TFL); DeVonne Harris (56 tackles, 8 sacks, 5 TFL).
THE NEWCOMER: WR Ayir Asante (transfer from Holy Cross). Asante had a very productive career at FCS Patriot League powerhouse Holy Cross. In three of four seasons he had more than 400 yards receiving for the Crusaders. Coming to Wyoming he will be a much-needed weapon, bringing his 1,718 yards and 16 TDs to the Cowboys. In 2022 Asante averaged 21.8 yards per catch.
The Cowboys have thumpers. Linebacker Easton Gibbs leads the unit but they have guys that will put you flat on your ass. Look to the interior with defensive tackles Cole Godbout and Jordan Bertagnole. On the edges is DeVonne Harris who had eight sacks last season which was good enough for the team lead. Joining Harris is Braden Siders who had seven sacks last year. Both combined for 26.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks. The Cowboys bring back 30.5 sacks out of their 37 sacks from last season. Joining Gibbs in the LB corps will be Shae Suianunoa and Wrook Brown. There is good depth behind those guys as well. There is experience in the back end of the defense with three starters back in the secondary — but not many interceptions. That is an area the Cowboys' defense could improve.
On offense, Wyoming struggled mightily through the air. The passing game was anemic, to say the least. When the QBs for the season average 51 percent completion percentage, that isn't going to win many games. The Cowboys are naturally a running team but you have to have the threat of a passing game to keep defenses honest. QB Andrew Peasley had flashes of being really good and being a dual-threat QB will make any defense honest. But his numbers (144/275, 1,574 yards 10 TD's 9 Int's) have to improve if the Cowboys want to get to where they want to be.
At running back the Cowboys will be by committee. Dawaiin McNeely rushed for 367 yards last season. Speedster D.Q. James is back, he had 40 carries for 355 yards and 8.7 yards per-carry average. The Cowboys added Northern Illinois RB Harrison Waylee who gashed the Cowboys' defense in 2021 for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The WR group lost Joshua Cobb, a MWC 2nd team selection. They added Asante and Vanderbilt transfer Devin Boddie. Wyoming has stud TE Treyton Welch back and he will be a valuable target for Peasley this season.
Outside of the Covid year, Craig Bohl has made this program .500 or better. The defense is ferocious and if it can get more out of the offense the Cowboys are dangerous in the MWC.
THE KEY GAME AND WHY
There isn't one game, it's the games against Air Force and Boise State. The Cowboys go to Colorado Springs on Oct. 14 and then to Boise on Oct. 28. The two toughest conference games are on the road but the Cowboys get a bye week in between both opponents. The Cowboys lost to the Broncos by three and beat the Falcons by three last season. Expect much of the same this season. It will be a one-possession game that will separate the winners and losers. A spot in the MW title game could come down to six points or less for Wyoming.
THE TOUGHEST GAME AND WHY
The toughest game for the Cowboys will be facing Texas. The Longhorns have a lot of hype and expectations. This will be a good chance for LB Easton Gibbs to help his draft stock. Our professional partner Draft Scout has Gibbs as its highest-graded prospect from the MWC. He is projected as a 5th rounder now but if he has a good showing against Texas it could raise his draft stock. The Cowboy's defense as a whole has a good chance to show just how good it is as a unit. If they make life miserable for the Longhorns it will speak volumes and serve notice to the Mountain West the Cowboys' defense is even better.
THE CHANCES OF MAKING CONF. TITLE GAME
The Cowboys have a good chance to be in the MWC title game, but it may come down to schedule rotation. They avoid upper-tier San Diego State and San Jose State, but they do get Air Force and Boise State and both games are on the road. If the Cowboys can go 2-0 in that stretch then they have a good chance and have to watch out for the trap game. Wyoming has found itself in that situation before. There is at least one Wyoming game each season you wonder how they lost it. Last year they went to the wire with Colorado State winning 14-13, but the game shouldn't have been that close.
The prediction is simple: The Cowboys will go as far as the offense will take them. The team has 15 starters back and the defense is really good. The offense has weapons so it is up to super senior QB Peasley. Wyoming will see Texas Tech and Texas in non-conference play, not an easy non-conference schedule. They will see Sun Belt foe App State as well. We will find out early if this offense can be better than last season. The defense for the Cowboys will keep them in every game but Wyoming has to avoid the head scratcher. In the last two seasons they lost a game they shouldn't have which derails their chance at getting into the title game. In 2023, Wyoming will once again be bowl eligible.
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