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2007 Wyoming Cowboys

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jan 21, 2008


2007 Wyoming Cowboys Season Game-By-Game Recaps and More

2007 Wyoming Cowboys

Recap: Through five games, the once-beaten Cowboys had the look of a potential Mountain West sleeper, having knocked off Virginia and TCU, and playing Boise State tough on the road.  Over the final seven games, however, the bottom fell out on the program, which lost six games, squandering a chance to bowl for just the second time in the last decade.  While there was no single culprit for Wyoming’s demise, the offense sure didn’t make matters better, finishing last in the league in total offense, and getting minimal support from the offensive line and QB Karsten Sween.    

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Devin Moore

Defensive Player of the Year: CB Julius Stinson

Biggest Surprise: While it didn’t look so shocking at the time, beating Virginia, 23-3, in the opener got more impressive as the season progressed.  In every facet of the game, the Cowboys ambushed the Cavaliers, a team that would go on to win nine games and earn a berth in the Gator Bowl.    

Biggest Disappointment: On the heels of their big upset of TCU, the Cowboys flopped at home to New Mexico, losing 20-3 in nasty weather to set off their second half slide.  Wyoming managed just 48 yards rushing on 30 carries, handling the elements worse than its opponent from balmy Albuquerque.         

Looking Ahead: While 2007 was a major disappointment for Wyoming, there’s enough returning talent on both sides of the ball for the program to make a quick rebound.  To help get the lagging offense over the hump, head coach Joe Glenn replaced offensive coordinator Bill Cockhill with Florida A&M’s Bob Cole, a disciple of the spread-option attack.

- 2007 Wyoming Preview
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2006 Wyoming Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
5-7
2007 Record: 5
-7

Sept. 1 Virginia W 23-3
Sept. 8
Utah State W 32-18
Sept. 15 at Boise St L 24-14
Sept. 22
at Ohio W 34-33
Oct. 6 TCU W 24-21
Oct. 13
New Mexico L 20-3
Oct. 20 at Air Force L 20-12
Oct. 27
UNLV W 29-24
Nov. 3 at SDSU L 27-24
Nov. 10 at Utah L 50-0
Nov. 17
BYU L 35-10
Nov. 23 at Colorado St L 36-28

Nov. 23
Colorado State 36 ... Wyoming 28
Michael Myers stepped in for a banged up Gartrell Johnson and tore off an 18-yard touchdown run to give Colorado State the lead, and Jason Smith put it away with a 39-yard field goal. The Rams got 31-yard touchdown catch from Johnson along with a three-yard scoring dash, but Devin Moore took the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and also scored on a one-yard run. Wynel Seldon added two short scoring runs, but the offense couldn't get going over the final 12 minutes with two drives without a first down and a fumble on the third. 
Player of the game: Colorado State RB Gartrell Johnson ran 25 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 31-yard touchdown pass
Stat Leaders: Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 20-33, 204 yds
Rushing: Devin Moore, 14-76, 1 TD. Receiving: Wynel Seldon, 6-39
Colorado State - Passing: Caleb Hanie, 16-22, 245 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Gartrell Johnson, 25-103, 1 TD. Receiving: Johnny Walker, 5-56

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Considering the start to the season, is there a more disappointing team over the final month? Losing to Utah and BYU is one thing, but blowing chances to become bowl eligible in losses to San Diego State and Colorado State is unacceptable. From penalties to brutal inefficiency on third downs, the Cowboys blew it against the Rams to close out the year with a four-game losing streak. This is a better team than it showed over the final month.

Nov. 17
BYU 35 ... Wyoming 10
BYU held Wyoming to nine net yards rushing and gave up only a field goal and a two-yard Wynel Seldon touchdown run on the way to the easy win. The Cougars got out to a 21-0 lead on two of Max Hall's three touchdown passes and a two-yard Harvey Unga run, and then put the game away on the opening drive of the second half going 69 yards in ten plays with Michael Reed catching a ten-yard scoring pass. Unga closed things out with a two-yard run. BYU held on to the ball for 34:39.
Player of the game: BYU QB Max Hall completed 26 of 37 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns
Stat Leaders: BYU - Passing: Max Hall, 26-37, 331 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Harvey Unga, 23-110, 2 TD. Receiving: Austin Collie, 8-103
Wyoming- Passing: Karsten Sween, 17-29, 217 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Wynel Seldon, 9-28, 1 TD. Receiving: Michael Ford, 7-71

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... What happened to the offense? The defense has struggled to come up with any sort of meaningful stop lately, but the offense has gone MIA for the entire Mountain West season. This was supposed to be a balanced attack with Karsten Sween growing into a playmaker of a passer, but it hasn't happened, and now things have gone from bad to worse getting just one touchdown in the last two games. Even so, a 6-6 season is still possible with a win over Colorado State. All things considered in this disastrous collapse, that wouldn't be that bad a final result.

Nov. 10
Utah 50 ... Wyoming 0
Utah destroyed the Cowboys with 505 yards to 122 and a 30-point second quarter to win a laugher. Darrell Mack ran for two one-yard scores and Louie Sakoda connected on field goals from 32-26 and 41 yards out. Wyoming was sacked six times, with Gabe Long coming up with three of them, and held on to the ball for just 22:03. The two teams combined for 19 penalties.
Player of the game: Utah DL Gabe Long made five tackles, three sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Wyoming - Passing: Ian Hetrick, 5-9, 44 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Wynel Seldon, 8-40. Receiving: Michael Ford, 5-31
Utah - Passing: Brian Johnson, 17-29, 167 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Darrell Mack, 14-97, 2 TD. Receiving: Derrek Richards, 6-86

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cowboy season has quickly gone into the tank with an all-timer of a dud against Utah just when the team needed a big game. Karsten Sween, who threw well in the loss to San Diego State, was under pressure all day and never got a chance to get the offense going. With five turnovers and eight penalties, the Cowboys weren't sharp from the opening snap. To have any chances against BYU, the defense will have to start holding up against the run like it did earlier in the season, and the offense has to be consistent and mistake-free.

Nov. 3
San Diego State 27 ... Wyoming 24
San Diego State's Kevin O'Connell connected with Vincent Brown for a 27-yard score with 1:06 to play, and the defense held on for the win. O'Connell connected with Chaz Schilens for a five-yard touchdown to start a comeback after the Cowboys got up 21-0 in the first half on two Michael Ford touchdown catches and an 80-yard Quincy Rogers interception return for a score, O'Connell ran for a 29-yard score, but the extra point was blocked and Brandon Sullivan tore off a six-yard touchdown run to pull the Aztecs within one. Wyoming's only second half points came on a 44-yard Billy Vinnedge field goal to take the lead early in the fourth. The Cowboys controlled the ball for 36 minutes.
Player of the game: San Diego State QB Kevin O-Connell completed 20 of 44 passes for 249 yards and two scores with two interceptions, and ran 14 times for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 22-30, 159 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Devin Moore, 20-57. Receiving: Wynel Seldon, 5-2
San Diego State - Passing: Kevin O’Connell, 20-44, 249 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Kevin O’Connell, 14-41, 1 TD. Receiving: Brett Swain, 6-95

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
After getting up 21-0, Wyoming should've been able to use its strong running backs to put the San Diego State game away. It didn't happen with Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon combining for a mere 107 yards on 34 carries. With two road games and a date with BYU left to play, this might have been a devastating loss for bowl hopes. The offensive line, which allowed four sacks, has to play far better in the final three weeks to get within range of a 13th game.

Oct. 27
Wyoming 29 ... UNLV 24
Wyoming got a three-yard Wade Betschart touchdown catch with just under six minutes to play for the lead, and then hung on as UNLV had two more drives that stalled. With three Billy Vinnedge field goals in the first quarter, the Cowboys got up, but failed to put the Rebels away. A 22-yard Casey Flair touchdown catch and an 11-yard Beau Bell interception return for a score gave UNLV the lead, but the Cowboys bounced back with a 21-yard David Leonard touchdown catch and a one-yard Devin Moore run before the Rebels took the lead back on a one-yard Omar Clayton run.
Player of the game: Wyoming LB Ward Dobbs made 15 tackles
Stat Leaders: UNLV - Passing: Omar Clayton, 21-39, 223 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Frank Summers, 21-58. Receiving: Casey Flair, 10-121, 1 TD
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 8-17, 92 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 24-86, 1 TD. Receiving: Michael Ford, 3-51

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Wyoming outgained UNLV 364 yards to 266 and 208 yards to 43 on the ground, but it struggled to finally come up with the win. 11 penalties for 120 yards wasn't a plus, but the big problem was the inability to score touchdowns early. Three times the Cowboys punched it deep into Rebel territory only to come away with field goals. Two touchdowns instead would've ended it before the end of the first quarter. Now it gets tough with three road games and a home date against BYU to close things out.

Oct. 20
Air Force 20 ... Wyoming 12
Down 9-7 and with Wyoming driving for an apparent touchdown, Air Force got a stop from Bobby Giannini, who threw Wynel Seldon down, got the ball, and ran 85 yards for a touchdown when everyone else stopped. After review, the play stood, and the Falcons went on to up the lead with a 25-yard Mark Root touchdown catch for a 20-9 lead before Wyoming could get back on the board with Billy Vinnedge's second field goal of the game. It wasn't enough. Chad Hall ran for 167 yards and caught a five-yard touchdown pass for the Falcons.
Player of the game: Air Force S Bobby Giannini made 15 tackles, three tackles for loss, forced two fumble, and took one 85 yards for a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Shaun Carney, 6-10, 52 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Chad Hall, 28-167. Receiving: Travis Dekker, 2-19
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 14-23, 171 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 25-105. Receiving: Michael Ford, 7-115

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The
offense did its part, moving the ball against Air Force, but it couldn't stop screwing up with five turnovers. The defense gave up 256 rushing yards and couldn't come up with a game-changing play like the Falcons were able to, and now the Mountain West title hopes are long gone. Wins over UNLV and San Diego State over the next two weeks are a must to have any hope of getting a bowl bid. To win those, there needs to be more offensive pop. This is an effective offense, but not an explosive one.

Oct. 13
New Mexico 20 ... Wyoming 3
In the snow and sloppy weather, with a midgame delay, New Mexico dominated after the break with a 63-yard Travis Brown touchdown catch at the end of the first half, and then controlled the second on a two-yard Ian Clark fumble recovery for a score and John Sullivan's second field goal of the game. The Cowboys only came up with 238 yards of total offense and a 26-yard Billy Vinnedge field goal.
Player of the game: New Mexico S Ian Clark made eight tackles and recovered a fumble for a touchdown
Stat Leaders: New Mexico - Passing: Donovan Porterie, 12-21, 191 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Rodney Ferguson, 26-89. Receiving: Marcus Smith, 5-75
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 18-28, 176 yds
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 12-30. Receiving: Michael Ford, 5-58

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Wyoming couldn't run the ball on New Mexico, and it seemed like the offense panicked. Averaging only 1.6 yards per carry, the attack had to try to bomb its way back in the game, and it wasn't working. Now there's no margin for error the rest of the way. Gearing it up for a tougher-than-originally-expected road game at Air Force is a must with the lightweights, UNLV and San Diego State, to follow. To win those, Devin Moore, Wynel Seldon and the ground game has to produce and start controlling the tempo of the game better than it did this week.

Oct. 6
Wyoming 24 ... TCU 21
TCU had a chance to complete a late comeback and send it into overtime, but Chris Manfredini's 48-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, and the Cowboys escaped. Wyoming got Hoost Marsh touchdown catches from 65 and eight yards out, and Wynel Seldon ran for a two-yard score on the way to a 24-6 lead, and then held on. TCU got Andy Dalton touchdown passes to Ervin Dickerson and Bart Johnson late in the fourth quarter to pull within three, and then the defense forced a three-and-out leading to the final drive, ending with the missed field goal.
Player of the game: Wyoming WR Hoost Marsh caught four passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: TCU - Passing: Andy Dalton, 20-31,184 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Aaron Brown, 14-50. Receiving: Donald Massey, 4-38
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 12-26, 134 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 23-135. Receiving: Hoost Marsh, 4-87, 2 TDs
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cowboys sure made it interesting. They had TCU beaten without a problem, and then the defense struggled to come up with a stop on the three final drives, and caught a huge break on a missed field goal that would've sent it into overtime with all the momentum on the Horned Frog side of the field. Karsten Sween wasn't great, but he didn't make many big mistakes under the TCU pressure, and Devin Moore ran extremely well. With BYU coming up late in the year, UW can't make any mistakes to stay in the Mountain West race.

Sept. 22
Wyoming 34 ... Ohio 33
Down 30-20 in the fourth quarter after a Jameson Hartke interception return for a touchdown, Wyoming got a four-yard Wynel Seldon touchdown run and answered a field goal with a five-yard Michael Ford touchdown catch with just over two minutes to play. Ohio's final drive never got going, and UW had held. The Bobcats got four Michael Braunstein field goals and a 94-yard kickoff return from Chris Garrett to make up for an offense that was held to 37 rushing yards. The Wyoming offense rolled for 441 yards and got two Karsten Sween touchdown passes along with two second half touchdown runs from Devin Moore, but turned the ball over seven times.
Player of the game: Wyoming RB Devin Moore rushed for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, and had four catches for five yards.
Stat Leaders: Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 26-36, 174 yds, 2 TDs, 4 INTs
Rushing: Devin Moore, 19-198, 2 TDs. Receiving: Greg Bolling, 6-47
Ohio - Passing: Brad Bower, 14-28, 227 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing:
Kalvin McRae, 16-57. Receiving: Matt Donahue, 4-113
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It's safe to say Wyoming isn't going to win a whole bunch of games when it turns it over seven times, with five interceptions, and gets sacked four times. Throw in seven penalties for 102 yards in the win over Ohio, and the Cowboys came up with as sloppy a game as it could crank out and still win. Give credit to the Cowboy defense for coming up with stop after stop, led by six sacks, to win. The team will have to be much, much sharper, with a far more effective game from QB Karsten Sween, to get by TCU.

Sept. 15
Boise State 24 ... Wyoming 14
Boise State got out to a 21-0 lead on two Taylor Tharp touchdown passes and an eight-yard D.J. Harper run, but it was a struggle. Wyoming kept the Bronco offense in check, for the most part, but Boise State's defense swarmed, allowing just 35 rushing yards. The Cowboys got on the board with a 21-yard Devin Moore catch midway through the fourth, but it was too late. Wynel Seldon added a two-yard touchdown run in the final minute.
Player of the game: Boise State QB Taylor Tharp completed 15 of 30 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Boise State - Passing: Taylor Tharp, 15-30, 182 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Ian Johnson, 24-83. Receiving: Jeremy Childs, 4-88, 1 TD
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 26-48, 227 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 8-27. Receiving: Greg Bolling, 6-59

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The defense did a nice job against Boise State of keeping the game manageable, but the offense couldn't get anything going on the ground and couldn't get the one big play needed to change the momentum before it was too late. The run defense was strong yet again, with LB Sean Claffey and FS Quincy Rogers having big days, and there was a good pass rush. Chalk this up as a loss to a good team on the road, but also take it as a good sign. The Cowboys aren't going to be a pushover against anyone once the Mountain West schedule kicks in.

Sept. 8
Wyoming 32 ... Utah State 18
Utah State went on 15-point third quarter run to take a 18-14 lead on a 38-yard De'von Hall interception return for a score and a 16-yard Kevin Robinson touchdown grab, but Wyoming rallied with 18 unanswered points as Billy Vinnedge nailed a 25-yard field goal and Wynel Seldon ran for two-one-yard runs. The Cowboy defense forced the Aggies to go 0 of 13 on third down conversions.
Player of the game: Wyoming RB Wynel Seldon ran for two scores and 85 yards on 16 carries, and had a six-yard reception.
Stat Leaders: Utah State
- Passing: Leon Jackson, 17-25, 147 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Curtis Marsh, 17-61. Receiving: Curtis Marsh, 6-13
Wyoming
- Passing: Karsten Sween, 19-32, 180 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Rushing: Wynel Seldon, 16-85. Receiving: Greg Bolling, 6-79, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Cowboys escaped the letdown after the big win over Virginia, but they needed a fourth quarter comeback against Utah State to do it. The ground game came through when it had to, and the defense held tough time and again to get the Aggie offense off the field, but it wasn't the even performance the team might have liked before having to face Boise State. Wynel Seldon and Devin Moore once again proved to be a nice 12 punch, but the team's success is on QB Karsten Sween. He has to limit his mistakes and let his running game and defense do the work.

Sept. 1
Wyoming 23 ... Virginia 3
Wyoming's defense embarrassed Virginia, holding the Cavalier offense to 110 yards of total offense and only allowing a 42-yard field goal at the end of the first half. Billy Vinnedge nailed field goals from 48, 40 and 39 yards for the Cowboys, Karsten Sween threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Greg Bolling, and Devin Moore all but sealed it with a 49-yard scoring dash midway through the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers were outgained 218 yards to seven on the ground.
Player of the game ... Wyoming RB Devin Moore ran for 125 yards and a score on 18 carries, and added three catches for 47 yards.
Stat Leaders: Virginia- Passing: Jameel Sewell, 11-23, 87 yds, 2 INTs
Rushing: Cedric Peerman, 7-18  Receiving: Maurice Covington, 4-20
Wyoming - Passing: Karsten Sween, 25-34, 253 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Devin Moore, 18-125, 1 TD  Receiving: Greg Bolling, 5-43, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Wyoming is a dangerous, dangerous team at home, and Virginia found that out in a hurry. The defense was all over the field, holding the anemic Cavalier offense to five first downs and just seven rushing yards. It wasn't like the Cowboys got a lot of sacks; Virginia simply couldn't run. Karsten Sween had a nice game throwing the ball, but not a dominant one. He didn't have to. The running game did its job thanks to a great game from the offensive line, but this game fully belonged to the defense. It needs to shine next week against Utah State to tune up for a showdown with Boise State.

Sept. 1 - Virginia
Offense: Until the receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense, but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.

Sept. 8 - Utah State
Offense: The offense did next to nothing last season scoring fewer than 14 points seven times and finishing averaging 10.83 points and 254 yards per game. The offensive line isn't bad and the starting receivers, led by Kevin Robinson, are solid, but the quarterback situation isn't settled with Riley Nelson out on a church mission, and there's no experience whatsoever at running back after Marcus Cross transferred. Basically, the attack needs to find one thing it can do well.
Defense:
If experience counts for anything, the Aggies should be far better with 11 returning starters and a ton of veteran backups ready to fill in. Now the defense has to stop someone after getting ripped apart by just about everyone. How bad did things get? The Aggies allowed an average of 48.8 points per game over the final five games. Ben Calderwood leads an undersized line that has to do more to get into the backfield. The corners are way too small, the linebackers are way too small, and the tackles are way too small. If the overall team quickness isn't accounting for big plays, there will be problems.


Sept. 15 – at Boise State
Offense: As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country, but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla (by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several different formations and several different looks from game to game.
Defense: As expected, the defense was the best in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark outside of the quarterback situation.

Sept. 22 – at Ohio
Offense: You know the fastball is coming, but can you hit it? Ohio will try to add more passing to the attack, but this is a running team that'll pound away with Kalvin McRae behind a good, though not as good as last year, offensive line. The attack has to be more versatile after being stuck in the mud against the good teams on the schedule, and that's where new starting quarterback Brad Bower comes in. He'll be looking to add more passing to the mix, but he doesn't have a great receiving corps to work with. The tight ends will get more involved this year to try to keep things moving.
Defense: The defense made a night-and-day improvement from 2005, and should be among the best in the MAC again if replacements can be found for the three star linebackers and All-MAC corner T.J. Wright. The defensive line is big and active, and it needs to be stronger against the run. Getting into the backfield won't be a problem with All-MAC end Jameson Hartke leading the way. The safeties will be fantastic leading a deep and talented group. It's all up to the linebackers, who have talent, but are relatively inexperienced and haven't stayed healthy. 


Oct. 6 - TCU
Offense: This won't be the offense of last year that finished second in the Mountain West in yards and scoring, but it won't be bad as long as there isn't a major injury problem among the starters. The line should be the strength with three returning starters and experience to count on at the other spots. Aaron Brown is about to shine now that he doesn't have to split carries. He'll be the do-it-all back who'll be the offense until the passing game, which struggled mightily in spring, comes around. The receiving corps has potential, but it needs Donald Massey to become a number one target, and it needs the quarterback situation to be settled with Marcus Jackson, who'll likely win the job, battling with Andy Dalton.
Defense:
The Horned Frogs finished second in the nation in total defense, third in scoring defense, and led the Mountain West in several top categories. It'll be a total shock if they weren't even better. The only possible problems will come if injuries strike. Nine starters return, led by all-star ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, who make life easy for everyone else on the defense with the pressure they provide. The 4-2-5 has four good linebackers, an amazing group of safeties, rising stars at corner, and a good, active line. The only potential issue is a lack of raw bulk at tackle, but that's looking for a problem.

Oct. 13 - New Mexico
Offense: The offense is scrapping the Bob Toledo attack and going back to a more basic style that'll pound the ball more with a big line, but won't forget about balancing things out through the air. With one of the Mountain West's best receiving tandems in Travis Brown and Marcus Smith, and a rising superstar in quarterback Donovan Porterie, the passing game should shine, while Rodney Ferguson will be a 1,000-yard back. If injuries are a problem, there will be big troubles with no developed depth among the skills positions and even less to count on up front.
Defense: The 3-3-5 scheme will stay in place, but the Lobo position will be fifth defensive back more than a linebacker. As always, there are plenty of great athletes who can run and fly to the ball. Now there has to be more production against the pass and more big plays in the backfield. The linebacking corps with Cody Kase moving from the outside in, should be stellar, while the cornerback tandem of DeAndre Wright and Glover Quin should be among the best in the league. There's a ton of talent to get excited about, but, unlike last year, will it all come together to form one of the league's better defenses? It's possible.

Oct. 20 – at Air Force
Offense: For what seems like the 19th year in a row, Air Force is going to make an attempt to be more diversified and add some passing to the mix. This time, under new offensive coordinator Tim Horton, it might actually happen. Slowly. Running the ball will still be the team's bread-and-butter, but there will be some shotgun, some spread, and a mish-mosh of other offenses to try to get thing moving. Shaun Carney is a good, veteran quarterback to handle all the changes, but he doesn't have much to work with. The receiving corps needs work before it can become a threat, the backfield will be fine in the triple-option, but could struggle in a traditional set, and the offensive line needs to undergo major changes.
Defense:
Air Force hasn't played defense in about three years and it'll take a major overhaul and a fantastic coaching job by new coordinator Tim DeRuyter to change things up. There's no size, not enough speed, and little in the way of experienced reserves. There has to be some semblance of a pass rush, and the hope will be for the speedy outside linebackers in the 3-4 to generate it. Far more has to be done against the pass. Now for the positives. Drew Fowler is one of the Mountain West's best linebackers and safety Bobby Giannini is a tackling machine.


Oct. 27 - UNLV
Offense: The Rebel Shotgun Spread has basically misfired over the first two seasons, but the potential is there for a huge turnaround. QB Rocky Hinds, a disappointment in his first season after coming over from USC, played with a torn ACL almost all season, and now he'll be healthy. He'll have a loaded receiving corps to work with led by Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe, but all eyes will be on Aaron Straiten on the outside. The star JUCO transfer of last year has million-dollar talent, but now he needs to use it. The emergence of Frank Summers as a powerback should help out the running game, which already has speed -rusher David Peeples, but the offensive line has to do more to pave the way.
Defense: The defense struggled way too much to get a stop early in games, and it forced the offense to press way too often. Now there should be a bit of an improvement with several good returning starters and a fearsome pass rush. The ends should be terrific, and the linebackers can all move, but the emphasis going into the year will be to stop the run. Are the defenders in place to do it? That remains to be seen, but the biggest concern will be with a secondary that didn't make nearly enough plays last year, and now it doesn't have Eric Wright.

Nov. 3 – at San Diego State
Offense: Could everyone please stay healthy so we can see what the offense can do? Eight starters return, along with many others with starting experience, but it'll be the ones who weren't a part of the mix throughout all of last year, QB Kevin O'Connell and RB Lynell Hamilton, who'll need to make the offense sing after it finished averaging a woeful 14.17 points per game. Even if they don't backup quarterback Kevin Craft and a host of running backs are good enough to bring more production. The receivers are big and fast, the combination of running backs are big and fast, and O'Connell is big and fast. The line should be fine with plenty of returning experience, so now there has to be real, live production.
Defense: Uh oh. Four starters return from a defense that struggled with its consistency throughout the year and did nothing to get into the backfield. That was with Antwan Applewhite, who left a year early. The outside linebackers, Russell Allen and Brett Martin, are the strength of the defense, Ray Bass is a solid, veteran safety, while Nick Osborn is a good, versatile lineman who'll start out at tackle after playing last year at end. That's about it for the sure-things. The corner situation is a mess, there's no pass rusher to count on, and the overall depth will be an issue.

Nov. 10 – at Utah
Offense: Look out. Utah not only gets just about everyone back with its top six wide receivers, leading rusher Darryl Poston, and four starting offensive linemen, but it also welcomes back its superstar, quarterback Brian Johnson, after taking last year off to recover from a torn ACL. All the problems with inconsistency throughout last season should be gone thanks to all the experience. Expect more explosion, a slew of Mountain West all-stars, and for Johnson to become a national college football name. There's more than enough depth at the skill positions to withstand injuries, but there's no development among the backups on the line.  
Defense: There's a ton of athleticism and loads of potential, but there are also several major concerns on the line and secondary. The linebacking corps will be fine with four starting-caliber players returning led by Joe Jianonni in the middle. Martail Burnett is an all-star waiting to blow up at end, free safety Steve Tate is good for 100 tackles, and Brice McCain has the kind of speed that NFL scouts tend to drool over. Everything else is up in the air with former receiver Sean Smith trying to handle the second corner spot, no experience to count on at strong safety, and unproven new starters at tackle and the second defensive end. In the end, the D will be fine in Mountain West play because of all the talent, but it might not be good enough to win the league title if the offense struggles for a game or two.


Nov. 17 - BYU
Offense: While the offense won't crank out the big numbers last year's attack did (finishing fourth in the nation in total offense and fifth in scoring), it'll be fantastic starting with a great line that has more talent and depth (though unproven) than the program has seen in a long time. The receivers have to step up with the top targets of last year gone, and new starting quarterback Max Hall has to be efficient from day one. The 1-2 rushing punch of Manase Tonga and Fui Vakapuna will carry things when it needs to with an interesting blend of speed and power.
Defense This won't be the best defense in the Mountain West, but it'll be good enough to win with. The 3-3-5 was replaced by the 3-4 last year with tremendous results. Now the production should be there again with a big front three, led by end Jan Jorgensen, and a good linebacking corps that needs Kelly Poppinga to be the main man in the middle in place of Cameron Jensen. The safeties, Dustin Gabriel and Quinn Gooch, are as good as any in the conference, but the corners are nothing special.


Nov. 23 – at Colorado State
Offense: There's no reason for the Ram offense to be far, far better. Nine starters are back, led by the return of power back Kyle Bell from a knee injury to save a ground game that was among the worst in America. Caleb Hanie is a veteran passer with one of the Mountain West's best receiving corps at his disposal. It all comes down to a line that gets the interior back, but has to find consistent tackles who can protect Hanie. Keeping Bell healthy is also vital. There was no rushing production two years ago when he wasn't on, and there was nothing happening last year with him on the sidelines.
Defense:
A veteran defense returns with everyone back except the two outside linebackers. With all the experience, there has to be more pressure in the backfield and more big plays against the pass after coming up with just 27 sacks and seven interceptions. There aren't any superstars, but there are several very good players who know what they're doing. Undersized tackle Blake Smith might move to end to provide the pass rusher the team desperately needs, and the secondary should benefit.

 



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