The Daily Evergreen

What to expect from Wyoming

Here is what we learned from watching Cowboys’ season opening victory

University+of+Wyoming+and+WSU+players+face+off+on+the+line+of+scrimmage+Sept.+19%2C+2015+in+Martin+Stadium.
University of Wyoming and WSU players face off on the line of scrimmage Sept. 19, 2015 in Martin Stadium.

University of Wyoming and WSU players face off on the line of scrimmage Sept. 19, 2015 in Martin Stadium.

JESSICA HARJA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

JESSICA HARJA | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

University of Wyoming and WSU players face off on the line of scrimmage Sept. 19, 2015 in Martin Stadium.

JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen assistant sports editor

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The Cougars’ week one opponent, the University of Wyoming, partook in college football’s opening weekend, or week zero as some people are calling it, and it was a great opportunity to see what the Cougs can expect this week.

The Cowboys didn’t need to show too much of their playbook with an easy 29-7 win against New Mexico State University, but they showed just enough to get an idea of their offensive and defensive identities.

Offense

If you want to understand the offensive identity of Wyoming, look no further than this note: The Cowboys’ roster has four fullbacks. Yes, in 2018, where the fullback position could be considered an endangered species, the Cowboys’ roster has four of them. Somewhat of a fullback sanctuary, if you will.

All jokes aside, the Cowboys are a power run football team. They won’t try and disguise where they are running the football. Head Coach Craig Bohl will line his offense up in pro-style formations and say, “Here’s where we’re running the football, now try and stop us.”

On the passing side of the ball, Wyoming has chosen a successor to Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. That is redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal.

Bohl doesn’t ask Vander Waal to do nearly as much as his predecessor. Perhaps what Vander Waal does best is simply being aware that he isn’t Josh Allen.

He will dink and dunk as much as he needs to compliment his run game, and that is all he is asked to do. When Vander Waal is required to make plays with his arm, the Cowboys’ offense starts to stray from their comfort zone.

Although it didn’t prove to be much of an issue against New Mexico State, Wyoming’s offensive line has started this season banged up. The O-line is particularly young with three redshirt freshman starting.

The goal for the Cowboys on offense is to establish the run game early with their stable of running backs, headlined by senior Nico Evans, and stick with it until they are forced to do otherwise. They are about as slow and methodical of an offense as any and the clock-controlling drives are entirely by design.

Defense

The Cowboys’ defense starts and ends with their defensive line. Their downhill style of play is much like the Cougars. Wyoming clearly puts a premium on their defensive linemen getting in the backfield and creating tackles for losses.

When it comes to defending the pass, they take their foot off the gas a bit and just try to keep receivers in front of them. They trust their four-man front to get to the quarterback in passing situations without employing very many blitz packages.

In the secondary, they’re an equally physical group. In their matchup with New Mexico State they didn’t show any man-to-man or zone tendencies.

But they did almost always press their opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage and rely on their pass rushers to get to the quarterback.

In terms of players to watch, the Cowboys’ defense starts with their two interior lineman: 2017 First-Team All-Mountain West junior defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan and the Seoul, South Korea native nose tackle Sidney Malauulu.

These two set the tempo for the entire defense. They are both three-down defensive linemen who can defend the run just as well as they can rush the passer.

Senior safety Marcus Epps is another player to keep an eye on. The former walk-on leads the way for the Cowboys’ senior-driven secondary.

As a whole, Wyoming’s defense is the stronger half of its team, but still, one of the greater football coaching proverbs rings true for the Cowboys: The best defense is a good offense.

About the Writer
JACKSON GARDNER, Evergreen reporter

Jackson Gardner is a Senior Communication major from Woodinville, Wash. his brother John Gardner is a wide receiver for the University of Washington Huskies.

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What to expect from Wyoming