2008 Wyoming Preview - Offense
Wyoming OT Kyle Howard & QB Karsten Sween
Wyoming OT Kyle Howard & QB Karsten Sween
Posted May 20, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Wyoming Cowboy Offense

Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 CFN Wyoming Preview | 2008 Wyoming Offense
- 2008 Wyoming Defense | 2008 Wyoming Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Wyoming Preview | 2006 CFN Wyoming Preview 

What you need to know:
For the second straight season, the offense struggled and went flat stagnant against the better defenses. Worst of all, it failed to improve as the season went on. There's hope for a turnaround with five starters returning up front to pave the way for solid backs Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon. The attack will use a fullback at times, as opposed to the usual one-back set, and it'll need to with the ground game sure to be the bread-and-butter. The quarterback situation is a mess with five player battling for the starting job, with Karsten Sween the odds-on favorite to get the nod. The Mountain West's most inefficient passing attack needs more production, which could be a problem with an almost brand new, but promising, receiving corps.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Karsten Sween
215-359, 2,028 yds, 12 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: Devin Moore
198 carries, 965 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Greg Bolling if eligible

35 catches, 375 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RBs Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Karsten Sween
Unsung star on the rise: Senior WR Chris Johnson
Best pro prospect: Senior OT Kyle Howard
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Howard, 2) OG Sam Sterner, 3) Moore
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback, receivers


Projected Starter
Junior Karsten Sween was the up and coming face of Wyoming football after a good freshman season that held plenty of promise. While he had his inconsistencies, he showed just enough to get everyone excited. Last year, he led the team to a win over Virginia and was decent in his first three outings, but he had problems with interceptions and threw four in the narrow win over Ohio. And then his picks started to prove costly, giving away three in a loss to Air Force. On the year he completed 60% of his throws for 2,028 yards with 12 touchdowns, but he also threw 17 interceptions causing the coaching staff to platoon in other quarterbacks. He's 6-2, 222 pounds with good mobility, although he's not a runner. While he'll have to fight for his job, he's the front-runner.

Projected Top Reserves: Expected to be no less than the No. 2 man, while posing the biggest threat to Sween, is sophomore Dax Crum, a 6-4, 213-pound JUCO transfer who has the arm and the passing ability to get the Cowboy offense going. He was a star for Mesa C.C. last year throwing for 2,807 yards and 23 touchdowns with six interceptions, and if he can keep the picks to a minimum, the job is probably his.

Also in the hunt for the starting gig is last year's backup, Ian Hetrick, who completed 19 of 41 passes for 211 yards and two interceptions. The 6-2, 190-pound former JUCO transfer has been a good practice player, but he's not a big bomber. He can move a little bit, rushing for 22 yards, and he has a live arm, but he has to be more accurate.

Likely the fourth man in the equation, 6-4, 245-pound redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem is still being given a shot to show what he can do. An Oklahoma high school star, he has a cannon for an arm and is surprisingly mobile for a player of his size. He needs reps and work, but with his bombing ability, he's an intriguing option.

Watch Out For ... Sween to win the job, but barely. The coaching staff hasn't come close to settling on a starter, but Sween will likely get the opening day call, and will then be on a short leash.
Options. While there might not be a star No. 1 at the moment, the coaching staff at least has four quarterbacks who could run the team, and a fifth on the way in freshman Adam Berry. However ...
... the starter will never feel comfortable. Once a starter is settled on, the coaching staff will say all the right things, but there's undoubtedly going to be a quick hook if the interceptions start flying. The Cowboys simply have to be more efficient.
Outlook: Five options will get a look for the starting quarterback job, but it's really down to Sween, Crum and Hetrick. If everything else is equal, Sween will get the nod, but the position is there for the taking. After finishing 110th in the nation in passing efficiency, and last in the Mountain West, UW needs a big turnaround here.
Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters
Wyoming has a great 1-2 rushing punch with Wynel Seldon getting his share of carries, but Devin Moore is the starter. The quick 5-10, 191-pound senior ran for 965 yards with five touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, while catching 24 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown with a 198-yard rushing performance against Ohio and four 100-yard days on the year. A speed back who's great at turning the corner, he gets the ball in a variety of ways to get him into space.

More than usual, Wyoming will use a fullback from time to time. He'll serve mostly as an H-Back and a receiver, but he'll do a little blocking, too. 6-3, 245-pound junior Greg Genho will get the look after backing up Wade Betschart at tight end. He didn't make a catch, and he's not going to carry the ball, but he'll block.

Projected Top Reserves: While his workload decreased over the second half of the year, senior Wynel Seldon still finished second on the team with a decent 554 yards and a team-leading eight scores. The 6-0, 219-pounder is a between-the-tackles runner and good around the goal line, but he's not going to show much wiggle or break off too many big runs. He's a strong receiver, catching 27 passes for 132 yards, and he'll be the main man around the goal line.

It'll be hard getting work with Moore and Seldon monopolizing all the carries, but 5-11, 207-pound sophomore Darius Terry who has some of the best wheels in the backfield. A star high school sprinter, he might be used from time to time just to get his speed involved in the gameplan.

Watch Out For ... The running game to be more effective. Seldon and Moore have been around forever and they've been productive. Now they have the best line they've ever had in front of them.
Experience. Moore has 1,662 career rushing yards and Seldon has rushed for 2,035 yards and 20 touchdowns. Both backs know what they're doing and they can each catch.
Breakaway runs. Moore has too much speed to not tear off more big runs. While that could change this year with more room to work with, this can't be a plodding ground game if the passing attack is going to continue to struggle.
Outlook: Wyoming has had a decent ground game over the last few years with Seldon and Moore providing a nice 1-2 punch. These two should have their best seasons yet and should crank out well over 1,500 yards between the two. It would be nice to get more backs involved, but there are only so many carries to go around.
Rating: 6.5


Projected Starters
The receiving corps needs a new No. 1 target to build around, and senior Chris Johnson appears to be the guy. One of the team's most experienced targets. He only caught 12 passes for 132 yards last year, but he had a great spring and showed excellent potential. The former JUCO start is only 5-10 and 175 pounds, but he can move and should become a big deep threat at the outside X position.

6-1, 185-pound sophomore Travis Burkhalter will get a long look at the other outside spot after sitting out for roughly a year and a half in the nebulous grayshirt status. The former high school quarterback got a little bit of work catching thee passes for 12 yards, but at the Z, he's now going to have to stretch the field.

Working on the inside H position will be 5-11, 185-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Stewart, a promising playmaker who put up huge numbers as an Indiana high school star. He's a phenomenal athlete who should grow into a dangerous weapon if he can get the ball on the move on a consistent basis.

Trying to replace the steady Wade Betschart at tight end isn't going to be easy. 6-5, 236-pound Jesson Salyards saw time in every game catching 10 passes for 97 yards, but he isn't going to be quite the same receiving weapon as Betschart. He has enough experience in two and three tight end sets, including a few starts, to be more than just serviceable.

Projected Top Reserves: The big question mark is the status of Greg Bolling, last year's second leading receiver with 35 catches for 375 yards and two touchdowns. The 6-2, 180-pound junior has been a phenomenal practice player over the years and has the speed and talent to do far more on the field. Now he has to find the classroom and become academically eligible.

Working on the inside behind Stewart will be senior Kyle Jacobo, a true possession receiver who caught five passes for 38 yards. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, he has good size, and while he isn't a top-level receiver who'll scare anyone, he's a good veteran to plug in to run a good route or two.

6-2, 203-pound senior Darion Donnelly missed all of last season due to academic issues, but now he's back and ready to contribute behind Burkhalter on the outside. He has the size and the potential to be the team's sleeper receiver with a 52 catch, 751-yard, 13 touchdown season at Glendale C.C. on his résumé. He was a top recruit who has the talent to shine.

The backup tight ends behind Salyards have talent, but they're not healthy. 6-5, 250-pound sophomore Joe Evers has tremendous upside as an all-around player, but he has a back issue. 6-5, 245-pound junior Chris Sundberg was supposed to play a big role last year but he hurt his knee in the season opener. He'll be back this year as a key receiving option in two and three tight end sets.

Watch Out For ... the corps to be better than it appears. There's a lot of good young talent to build around, but there aren't any sure things unless Bolling is back. If the quarterback play is steady, this group will be fine.
Upside. Players like Stewart and Donnelly and Burkhalter have the potential to be great with a little more work, while Johnson appears to have stepped up with the opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver there for the taking.
Production. There isn't any appreciable experience returning if Bolling is out. Considering Wyoming had the league's most inefficient passing game, the receiver need to help out the quarterbacks. It's probably not going to be the other way around.
Outlook: There's enough talent to quietly get excited, but having good prospects hasn't done much for the Cowboys over the last few years. The corps needs more explosion after averaging a pathetic 9.6 yards per catch, and it needs speedsters to start stretching things out on the outside. In time this group will be fine, but it could take half the season to get there.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
The tackles are set led by
Kyle Howard, who's back as a starter for a third straight season. The former left guard has been one of the team's best run blockers, and grew into the tackle job on his way to honorable mention All-Mountain West honors. At 6-7 and 312 pounds, he's a mountain of a blocker who protects left-handed QB Kartsen Sween's blindside. If someone else is under center, Howard could move over to the left side.

6-45, 289-pound Ryan Otterson stepped into the left tackle job in place of all-star Chase Johnson and was more than serviceable. The junior struggled at times in pass protection, but he has the experience and the athleticism to be far better and far more consistent. He's growing into a pounder of run blocker.

Left guard Sam Sterner started every game last season flashing the potential to become an all-star interior blocker. The 6-4, 297-pounder has a world of upside with as much talent as anyone on the offensive front, and combining with Otterson will form a good wall to run behind. He's a great athlete for his size and position.

Returning at right guard is 6-4, 290-pound junior Russ Arnold, but he could move anywhere and be effective. He's most effective as a guard, but he stepped in at center for two games late last year when needed. While he's not a tackle, he could fill in if desperately needed; he's that versatile. He's a tough blocker who's helped by having the star of the line, Howard, next to him.

Anchoring the veteran group in the middle is senior Tim Bond, a 6-4, 300-pound veteran center who could play guard if needed. A long time starter, he's a big presence in the middle and good enough to be just on the outside of all-star honors. He had problems with his knee last season, but it wasn't a big deal; he's a rock for the line.

Projected Top Reserves: Able to fill in and start at guard is 6-6, 327-pound junior Zack Kennedy, the team's biggest lineman and a decent option at left guard behind Sterner. He started twice on the right side when Arnold moved to center, and he could move around where needed this year. He has the size, and now he has to use if more for the ground game.

This will be a year of apprenticeship for redshirt freshman Clayton Kirven as he works behind Howard on the right side and will likely take over the starting job next year. At 6-6 and 301 pounds, he has good size and big-time potential. Considered the top high school prospect out of Wyoming two years ago, he hit the weights hard and could grow into the total package with a little time.

Watch Out For ... this to be the best line in the Joe Glenn era. Everyone seems to be coming together to form a rock of a line. It'll be much better for the running game than it ever was last year.
Veterans. All five starters return with the versatility at a few spots to move things around if and when injuries strike. There are only two seniors among the starting five; the line will be good next year, too.
Veteran depth. There are some good prospects waiting in the wings, but with so much returning experience, it's been hard for the backups to see the field. That'll be a problem this year as well.
Outlook: The line improved last year in pass protection and was decent for the running game. Now it should be fantastic at pounding on defenses with five big, experienced starters returning. The depth isn't all that great, but there's enough versatility among the starting five to cover up the weak spots if injuries strike. This won't be the best line in the Mountain West, but it'll be better than anything the Cowboys have had in a few years.
Rating: 6.5