Posted: 11:54 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, 2013
By Jeremy Mauss
Head coach Dave Christensen made his way to Wyoming in 2009 after being the Missouri at offensive coordinator, and has had up and down success in beautiful Laramie, Wyo. There have been a pair of bowl appearances, yet has a 22-28 overall record. His spread attack has had hits and misses over the past four seasons, but he just may have the talent in 2013 to make some noise in the Mountain West.
There is no question that Brett Smith is the starter -- as well as being one of the best signal-callers in the league -- and he has the ability to run the spread attack. In 2011, Smith had a break out year by passing for 2,622 yards and rushed for another 710, Smith's 2012 season improved in the passing game but his rushing yards dropped by almost 500 yards.
It also did not help that Smith missed two games in 2012 due to injury, plus he was ejected late in one game. Had Smith not missed those two games he could have passed for over 3,000 yards this year, so he had a great year despite missing over two games. He is the real deal and is the best player that Wyoming has had in a very long time, and has been the best player since he stepped on campus three years ago.
Smith improved in every passing category in 2012 in particularly his 27 touchdowns to six interceptions is quite amazing. It will be tough to get better than that this year, however if Robert Herron can play an entire season healthy and the young running backs can make some noise that can surely help the whole offense, plus Smith to put up some gaudy numbers.
Smith is a perfect quarterback for Christensen's offense since he has the ability to scramble and move the pocket -- see 2011 rushing stats of 710 yards -- and he makes plays to his wide receivers. He just needs to not get ejected and learn a bit more to run out of bounds and overall avoid getting hurt.
If something happens to Smith, next in line is Justin Thompson and he only played in mop up duty outside of the Air Force game. In that one start, Thompson was pretty solid by completing 23 of 36 passes, but only for 195 yards and a touchdown. However, he did also rush for 75 yards in that same game. It is difficult to base off of one full game as for what Thompson could do in a larger roll, so that is a bit scary for Wyoming fans but based on one game he did OK.
In 2012 Wyoming started a pair of true freshman in Shaun Wick and D.J. May, plus they used the versatile Brandon Miller -- who has seen plenty of time at wide receiver -- in the rotation. Well, May is lost for the year with a torn pectoral and that puts more pressure on Miller and Wick.
With May out for the year and the fact that Miller missed spring practice that places Wick as the likely starter, but do not expect Wick to be a workhorse back to take up all the carries. Miller will get plenty of carries and Wyoming also will be looking to lean on true freshman Omar Stover for some carriers. He arrived early in spring and made an impression on the staff. Then there is the versatile true freshman Josh Tapscott who could sneak in some playing time.
This position has some potential to be pretty good but they are lacking experience at this FBS level. However, with four candidates expected to get some touches this position could have enough different looks to be decent.
This position belongs to Robert Herron. If he can stay healthy all year then a Smith to Herron passing attack could possibly be the best in the league. Last year in eight games, Herron had 31 catches with eight touchdowns and averaged 21 yards per catch, so he is a real playmaker for the Pokes.
While Herron is the man, the Cowboys return three other starters from last years team in Robert Herron, Dominic Rufran, Jalen Claiborne and Trey Norman. This position is a real strength for Wyoming and could be a reason that the team might possibly sneak up on some teams and who knows, maybe even sneak into a bowl game.
In addition to these players, Wyoming has faith in redshirt freshmen in Nico Brown and Eric Nzeocha to contribute this fall, and also the most improved receiver in the spring in Keenan Montgomery. While Wyoming does not use the tight position all that much, they may this year with the addition of 6-foot-6 and 255 pound JD Krill and make the offense more diverse.
Wyoming loses three of their five starters from the 2012 team, and this is the real question mark on the offense, even more so than running back depth.The key positions to replace is the center spot, as well as the two tackle positions. The three players who are looking to step into the tackles roles are Connor Rains, Walker Madden and Austin Traphagen. Wyoming brought in a junior college transfer Albert Perez and he is possibly looking to be the starting center.
The offensive line must gel together if they are going to help keep Smith upright and also make holes for the running game, and if they can get together quickly early in the season then the offense should be up to Christensen's liking.