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2013 Wyoming Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 5, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Wyoming Cowboy Offense


Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Wyoming Preview | 2013 Wyoming Offense
- 2013 Wyoming Defense | 2013 Wyoming Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The offense might not have gotten enough out of the running game, and the line was a bit rocky, but quarterback Brett Smith took his game to another level and the receiving corps was phenomenal. Top target Chris McNeill is gone, but everyone else of not is back for a passing attack that finished second in the Mountain West and should be even more efficient. Both starting tackles have to be replaced, but the JUCO transfers from last year – 6-9 Walker Madden and 6-7 Connor Rains – are massive replacements. The backs are quick and experienced, but they need to be more effective.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Brett Smith
205-330, 2,837 yds, 27 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: D.J. May
77 carries, 374 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Dominic Rufran
39 catches, 529 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Junior QB Brett Smith
Player who has to step up and be a star: Redshirt freshman C Chase Roullier
Unsung star on the rise: Junior TE J.D. Krill
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Robert Herron
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) OG Tyler Strong, 3) Herron
Strength of the offense: Brett Smith, Receivers
Weakness of the offense: Line Consistency, Running Game

Quarterbacks

A concern a few years ago, quarterback quickly became a strength as Brett Smith took over and became the signature star of the Wyoming program. The 6-3, 205-pound junior from Oregon has the build of a pure passer, but he’s a runner and dual-threat playmaker completing 62% of his passes for 2,837 yards and 27 touchdowns, while rushing for 248 yards and six touchdowns. The biggest key to his game was his decision making, throwing just six picks on the season after pitching 11 as a true freshman, and even more impressively he gave away just two over the final ten games after throwing two against Texas and Toledo to open up the year. The talent and moxie aren’t a problem, but he could use more talent and help from the other spots.

Sophomore Jason Thompson is a 6-2, 212-pound dual-threat playmaker who saw a little time as a true freshman completing 52% of his throws for 22 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but he managed to run for 121 yards and a touchdown, doing most of his work against Air Force, showing the potential to be a strong No. 2 and the main man a few years from now. 6-3, 198-pound senior Colby Kirkegaard will once again be the No. 3 after seeing a little time last year, throwing for 123 yards and running for 21 as an emergency option against Cal Poly.

Watch Out For … Tommy Thornton, one of the team’s top recruits. The 6-1, 205-pounder out of Tempe signed on early last year, grayshirted, and now is coming in as the main man for the future. A sharp, accurate passer, he’s also a good runner who makes things happen on the move.
Strength: The pecking order. Smith got banged around a bit allowing Thompson and Kirkegaard to see a little action. Now, with Thornton in the equation, there’s a quarterback from every class and options to play around with if injuries strike again.
Weakness: Help from the running game and defense. The numbers were fantastic, but that was partly because the defense was so porous and the running game didn’t provide any help – UW had to throw to keep up. If the rest of the team could match the production of the passing attack,
Outlook: The passing game was fantastic, finishing second in the Mountain West in total yards and 30th in the nation in efficiency. Smith is an all-around playmaker who improved as last year went on, and unlike last season, there are some nice backup options to play around with.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

The running game needs to find more room to move and more pop from the backs, but it found a good one to work around in sophomore D.J. May, who led the team as a true freshman with 374 yards and a score, cranking out a season-high 84 yards and a touchdown against Air Force and finishing with 87 against San Diego State. One of the team’s best athletes, he should show more pop and explosion after not doing all that much to hit the home run.

Senior Brandon Miller had the biggest run of the year tearing off a 66-yard scoring dash against UNLV. The starter coming into the season, he was quickly pushed aside but still finished second on the team with 352 yards, mostly due to the one big touchdown dash. A tough runner with a good burst, the 6-0, 188-pounder was banged up a bit, and now he needs to get back into the equation this offseason.

5-11, 197-pound freshman Omar Stover will be thrown in the rotation right away in his first season after rushing leading his Illinois high school team to a 2011 state title and the playoffs last year. Tough and quick, he can run inside or out, while also growing into a receiver. 5-10, 190-pound sophomore Shaun Wick also saw time as a true freshman, stepping in and finishing fourth on the team with 350 yards and four scores, highlighted by a three-touchdown day in the loss to Cal Poly. Extremely quick with nice hands, he’s a good receiver as well as a dependable runner and return man.

Watch Out For … Timmy Hayes … maybe. Stover got into the rushing equation right away this offseason, but the 5-9, 185-pound Hayes is the better prospect. The Los Angeles native is the cousin of Reggie Bush, and while he doesn’t have the same talent, he’s tough fast and can cut on a dime. He was brought to Wyoming as a defensive back, but he could be used on the offensive side from time to time.
Strength: Quickness. The Cowboys recruit to a type with all the runners very quick, very athletic and all about the same size at around 5-11 and 195 pounds. It’s truly a case of next man up in the rotation with little drop-off.
Weakness: Explosion. Outside of the one big run by Miller, the running backs failed to come up with too much pop considering all the quickness. The team averaged just 3.4 yards per run and came up with a mere 13 touchdowns, with seven coming from the quarterbacks.
Outlook: Will the Cowboy runners be able to get enough room to bust out big runs? There will be a steady rotation of runners, but they all need to do more with the ball in their hands. There’s not much power and not enough big plays, but they’ll fill the role while letting the passing game carry the offense.
Unit Rating: 5

Receivers

Leading receiver Chris McNeill is gone, leaving a huge, gaping void for a No. 1 receiver. The hope will be for junior Dominic Rufran to take over the spot after leading the way with 44 catches two years ago and coming up with 39 grabs for 529 yards and five scores last year. All of a sudden he went from a decent possession receiver to a big play target, coming up with six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown against New Mexico and three grabs for 102 yards and score against Toledo. Steady, he needs to be the leader everyone works around.

Junior Jalen Claiborne was good for a few catches a game with two grabs for 52 yards and two scores against New Mexico. The 5-9, 175-pound speedster averaged 14.4 yards per play with 34 catches for 490 yards and five touchdowns as a dangerous inside receiver, while 5-10, 187-pound veteran Robert Herron is back as the best deep threat averaging 21.2 yards per catch making 31 grabs for 657 yards and eight scores in just eight games of action. He exploded for five catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns in the opener against Texas and finishing with ten grabs for 187 yards and two scores against San Diego State.

Trey Norman has seen time as a kick returner and last year started to do more as a receiver catching 18 passes for 228 yards. Extremely fast with dangerous upside, the 6-1, 170-pound junior didn’t break off too many big plays, but he showed he could grow into an even more reliable target.

6-6, 255-pound JUCO transfer J.D. Krill comes in from Saddleback CC with good size, nice hands and the talent to become a main target. He’s a good route runner who can hit, but with a little time he should be the team’s most reliable midrange receiver. Also serving as a tight end and H-back is sophomore Riley Lange, a 6-3, 250-pound blocker who caught two passes for nine yards, but scored on both grabs. The former defensive end might not be a pure receiver, but he’s learning the job and he’s physical.

Watch Out For … Krill. The receivers are the stars of the passing game, and the tight ends are mostly complementary targets who can block, but Krill has the upside to be far more. He could turn into a field stretcher, but mostly he’ll be a third down receiver and a safety valve.
Strength: Deep wheels. With a deep playmaker in Herron setting the tone, the Cowboy receivers make lots and lots of big plays with the ball in their hands. Rufran and Claiborne became more dangerous, and Norman has the speed to make things happen on the move.
Weakness: Chris McNeill. He turned into an ultra-reliable, go-to target good for about six catches per game, serving as the main man to bail out the quarterbacks. The Cowboys have several nice veterans to make the passing attack go, but it needs a sure-thing No. 1 like McNeill.
Outlook: With just about everyone returning but McNeill, the passing game that finished second in the Mountain West behind Fresno State and was third in efficiency should continue to blow up. Rufran and Claiborne are proven, and Herron is a blazer with all-star skills.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Offensive Line

The line was okay in pass protection considering the mobile quarterbacks, but it didn’t do enough for the ground game. First up to try taking over for left tackle Josh Leonard is 6-9, 280-pound junior Walker Madden, a massive blocker with great size and terrific frame. The former JUCO transfer from College of the Desert CC has decent feet and should be solid in pass protection, but he needs time in the offense. Also ready to take over a starting job is junior Connor Rains on the right side, taking over for Kyle Magnuson. Like Madden, Rains sat out last year after coming in from the JUCO ranks, dominating for American River CC. The 6-7, 318-pounder has massive size and good upside as a run blocker, but he’ll be battling with sophomore Austin Traphagan for the job. The 6-5, 308-pounder is a smart, strong blocker who can play either tackle spot or even be moved inside to guard.

Senior Tyler Strong is back at his starting left guard position, only a little bit bigger adding 20 pounds to get up 312 on his 6-3, frame. An all-star blocker, he started out his career as a promising defensive tackle before moving over to the offensive side and doing a nice job as an all-around blocker. Now that he’s bigger, he’ll do more of the blasting for the ground game. Also back is right guard Jake Jones, a 6-3, 295-pounder isn’t huge, but he’s strong and grew into the role as last season went on. With a good motor, he doesn’t take plays off.

The big loss up front is veteran center Nick Carlson, the anchor of the line for the last few years. 6-4, 312-pound redshirt freshman Chase Roullier was a terrific recruit for the defensive line, but he was quickly moved over to the offensive side as a possible guard or center prospect. Now he’ll take over the job with Ivy League smarts and excellent size. Last year’s backup, redshirt freshman Josh Teeter, is a smallish, quick option at 6-3, 268. He could see time in the middle and move Roullier over to guard.

Watch Out For … true freshman Connor Riese, not to be confused with tackle, Connor Rains. The 6-7, 305-pound Riese is the team’s top prospect for the line and a great get, able to take him out of Wisconsin and away from the Badgers and other Big Ten teams. Able to play anywhere up front, he’ll be a tackle, but he could grow into a huge center.
Strength: Size. This isn’t a massive line, but it’s full of 300 pounders up front with two giants at tackle in the 6-8 Madden and 6-7 Rains. The line looks the part.
Weakness: Veterans. With two new tackles and a brand new starting center, it’s going to take a little while for everyone to get their feet wet. The reserves are almost all underclassmen, so overall this is going to be a work in progress.
Outlook: The line didn’t exactly blast away on anyone last season, and that was with veteran tackles and a good center in Carlson. There will be some growing pains, but after not doing much for the ground game and struggling in pass protection, there shouldn’t be any sort of a drop.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2013 Wyoming Preview | 2013 Wyoming Offense
- 2013 Wyoming Defense | 2013 Wyoming Depth Chart