Before the season started, did any of you think Wyoming would lose its first two games of the season at home to North Dakota and Eastern Michigan?
Even the biggest skeptics couldn’t have seen this coming.
But after the Cowboys’ 48-29 loss to Eastern Michigan Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, that’s exactly where they are at. And, the games only get tougher from here on out.
Here is coach Craig Bohl’s postgame news conference:
I really liked what sophomore quarterback Josh Allen did in his brief time. He showed good command of the offense. UW gave him some easy throws to make
early on, and he zipped one pass in there that showed off his arm strength. Unfortunately, Allen’s aggressiveness likely cost him his season. Instead of sliding on a 24-yard run up the middle on the Cowboys’ second possession of the game (he had ample opportunities to do that) he took on a tackler head on and injured his shoulder and/or collar bone. Bohl expects Allen to be out six to eight week, but UW there is a good chance UW will be able to get a medical redshirt for him.
The good news is senior starter Cameron Coffman should be back this week when UW plays at Washington State. It’s hard to be too critical of redshirt freshman Nick Smith, the No. 3 quarterback who ended up playing most of the game. Yes, Smith struggled big-time throwing the ball as he was 3 of 13 for zero yards. Even the simple throws were tough for him. But Smith ran for 65 yards, and showed some toughness there. He also showed some good mental toughness throughout the game after being put in a tough situation.
Here is Smith after the game:
Wyoming threw for just 32 yards, but ran for 430. Eastern Michigan knew that’s all UW could do, yet it really never stopped it. That in its own right was somewhat impressive. “I think that could be a sign of the times,” said Bohl of the run game.
But the defense?
Another long and frustrating game to watch. After forcing a three-and-out at the start, UW allowed Eastern Michigan to score on seven straight possessions between the first and third quarters — including six touchdowns.
The shortcomings were across the board: no pass rush, and when there was Eastern Michigan sophomore backup quarterback Brogan Roback scrambled and made some big plays in the passing game. Tackling wasn’t good, whether it was missed tackles for poor tackling angles. The secondary continued to struggle. Some of its criticism was a little unfair. When a group this young has to stick with its pass coverage for five to six seconds, it’s understandable why some big plays pop. Maybe I’m being a little soft here, but the guys in front of them has to do more to support this young group.
And, UW will face its biggest defensive challenge to date this week at Washington State, which is fifth in the nation in passing offense (392.5 ypg).
Bohl said one player he was impressed with was true freshman free safety Andrew Wingard, who made his first-ever start. Wingard had a game-high 12 tackles, and had a couple of nice plays. Here is Wingard after the game, and I thought his comments near the end of this interview were interesting.
For more on Wingard, see Monday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and log on to wyosports.net.
It will be interesting to see what UW’s injury report looks like this week. Besides Allen being out long term, Bohl said sophomore starting right tackle Taylor Knestis may be out for a while, too. Sophomore running back Brian Hill, who ran for 242 yards and two touchdowns, hyper-extended his elbow but did return. Same with senior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough, who hurt his leg on the first play of the game and needed help off the field. He also returned, but I have a feeling UW’s injury report will be pretty long this week.