For a while it looked like Wyoming might end a long drought in terms of wins over schools from Power 5 conferences. It led 16-13 at halftime — after getting down 10-0. It took the second-half kickoff and made a field goal to extend the lead to 19-13.
But the wheels feel off after that as Washington State scored touchdowns on four of its five second-half offensive possession for a 41-19 victory in front of a nice crowd of 24,131 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.
Here is fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl after the game.
Some of the biggest takes from the game for me were these:
One, Nico Evans is the heart-and-soul of the Cowboys’ offense. The senior running back had 18 carries for 89 yards and one touchdown prior to his ribs injury early in the third quarter. Evans didn’t return, and UW gained just 52 yards of total offense the rest of the game. How long Evans is out is uncertain, but for a shaky Cowboys offense to start with a redshirt freshman quarterback, this doesn’t bode well.
Two, when will we see the passing game become a more viable option for UW? Yes, the coaches don’t want to put too much on Tyler Vander Waal right now, and they are correct in doing so. But it was evident against Washington State that Vander Waal and the passing game needs to do more, and the injury to Evans just reinforces that even more. But how much is too much? That’s why the coaches are paid the big bucks to figure those things out. And, who steps up in terms of the receivers. While Vander Waal wasn’t great against Washington State (8 of 20 for 67 yards, one interception and three sacks), his receivers had trouble getting open at times, and just didn’t have one of their better games. I think we also saw the effect of not having senior tight end Austin Fort (knee) in the game vs. Washington State.
Here is Vander Waal after the game.
Three, UW still has a good defense. But because it couldn’t generate a pass rush against Washington State, it put more pressure on the cornerbacks and Washington State exploited that. It doesn’t matter what teams you look at, when you face a pass-oriented team, a push up front is vital. I was as shocked as anyone that the Cowboys couldn’t generate one sack or one quarterback hurry against the Cougars. Credit to Washington State and its offensive line. But that doesn’t bode well heading into this coming week as UW goes to Missouri and goes up against a Heisman Trophy candidate in senior quarterback Drew Lock. The Tigers have a big and experienced offensive line, and guys at wide receiver and tight end that are — as a collective group — better than Washington State’s. Or at very least, just as good.
Lastly, UW can’t have 13 penalties for 109 yards and expect to win games. The Cowboys — even in the first two years with Bohl where they won just six games — have not been a heavily penalized team. They can’t be to have chances to win games. You can agree or disagree on some of the calls in the Washington State game, but the bottom line is the penalties were called.
Here is junior middle linebacker Logan Wilson after the game.
For more UW football coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.