Wyoming’s 2013 football season came to an end Saturday with a 35-7 loss at Utah State.
The final score wasn’t a surprise, but the way things transpired was — in a way.
Here’s video of the team coming off the field after the game, while Utah State (8-4, 7-1) celebrated its Mountain Division title.
The Cowboys played well defensively. Two turnovers from the offense gave Utah State short fields, which resulted in two touchdowns. UW also allowed a punt return for a touchdown.
Even though Utah State isn’t an offensive juggernaut without starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton, UW allowed a season-low 310 total yards. The Cowboys were not overwhelmed defensively, and I agree with coach Dave Christensen’s assessment that the defense played well enough for the team to win this game.
But the offense and special teams didn’t.
Season-lows 190 yards, 28 yards rushing, 10 first downs and 58 plays. Utah State’s defense is the best in the Mountain West, but UW’s offense was awful. It needed to take some chances — shots down the field — to loosen up that defense. It never happened, or at least not enough.
The play calling seemed conservative. The play sequence near the end of the first half was horrible. UW didn’t try to get into a position to even try a field goal. That may not have made a difference in the final outcome, but it didn’t send a very good message to the players. We’ve seen this a lot from Christensen in the past, unfortunately.
UW forced two turnovers, and got no points. It also gave the ball up on downs deep in Utah State territory late after a 41-yard return on a fumble by sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough.
The special teams were dreadful. A muffed punt by Jalen Claiborne resulted in points, and his poor judgment on a kickoff return didn’t help UW, either. When was the last time you saw Claiborne return a punt instead of just calling for a fair catch?
UW never won the field position battle. Its average starting spot was its own 24-yard line, and its own 17 in the first half. Seven penalties for 71 yards also didn’t help, nor did UW going 4 of 15 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down.
I thought senior free safety Marqueston Huff played well in his final game with a career-high 20 tackles, the third-most in UW history in a game. I also thought linebackers Devyn Harris (12 tackles) and junior Jordan Stanton (11) played well.
Here’s a video interview with Huff after the game.
Senior defensive tackle Justin Bernthaler had a sack and three in his last two games.
But in all, the final result was a 5-7 record and a 3-5 mark in the MW. UW wasn’t even close to competing with the teams that finished higher than it in the league, other than a 51-44 loss at San Jose State back in late October.
Should Christensen come back for a sixth season? I go into that in my Sunday column. For that, and more on the game, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.