2008 Wyoming Preview - Offense
Wyoming OT Kyle Howard & QB Karsten Sween
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Wyoming Cowboy Offense
Preview 2008 - Offense
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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.
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
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB
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:
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
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.
Strength: 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 ...
Weakness: ... 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
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.
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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
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
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.
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.
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.
Projected Starters: The tackles are set led by
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
Strength: 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.
Weakness: 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.