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2009 Wyoming Preview - Offense
Wyoming QB Karsten Sween
Wyoming QB Karsten Sween
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 5, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Wyoming Cowboy Offense

Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Wyoming Preview | 2009 Wyoming Offense
- 2009 Wyoming Defense | 2009 Wyoming Depth Chart
- 2008 UW Preview | 2007 UW Preview | 2006 UW Preview 

What you need to know:
After finishing last season with the nation’s worst scoring offense, averaging just 12.67 points per game, and finishing 108th in the nation in yards, any improvement to the attack will be welcome. In comes the no-huddle spread attack that will try to quicken up the pace and keep defenses on their toes. On the plus side, the line should be solid thanks to tackles Ryan Otterson and Clayton Kirven, while there’s speed in the backfield (but almost no experience). The problem is the passing game with five prospects to fight it out this summer for the starting quarterback job. Longtime Cowboy Karsten Sween has the inside track, but he’ll have to work even harder and be even more consistent to secure the job. The receivers aren’t bad, but they need to be able to hold on to the ball and they have to make plays whenever they get a chance. Greg Bolling leads the promising group that should benefit in a big way from the change in coaching staffs.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Dax Crum
53-101, 429 yds, 2 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Brandon Stewart (WR)
16 carries, 78 yds
Receiving: Greg Bolling
26 catches, 271 yds, 2 TD

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
It’s been an interesting ride for senior Karsten Sween. He was the rising star of the program after a good freshman season, showing just enough to get everyone excited, and then came the issues with interceptions and inconsistency. The 6-2, 229-pounder has decent size and a nice arm, but he lost his job going into last year and only completed 34-of-70 passes for 304 yards with no touchdowns and six interceptions. Picks have been a problem throughout his career with 31 thrown to only 21 touchdown passes, but he took to the new no-huddle offense and was surprisingly sharp. Now he’ll have to be consistent to hold on to the job this fall.

Projected Top Reserves: Everyone might be keeping the seat warm until Robert Benjamin arrives. The 6-2, 205-pound junior comes in from Phoenix C.C. where he was the NJCAA Player of the Year after throwing for 2,391 yards and 25 touchdowns with five interceptions, while running for 468 yards. He’s a dual-threat playmaker who can run better than any of the current quarterback prospects and can throw the deep ball, but he has to work on his accuracy.

It was a strange year for junior Dax Crum after coming in as a hot-shot JUCO transfer. The 6-4, 206-pounder was the main man early on, but he only completed 53-of-101 passes for 429 yards with two touchdowns, both in the first game, with six interceptions. He has a live arm and the passing résumé from his time at Mesa C.C., but he barely got on the field over the last seven games of the year, was suspended by the new coaching staff this spring, and will have to battle to have any shot of the No. 2 job.

Redshirt freshman Adam Barry is a decent prospect with good mobility and high upside. While he’s only 6-1 and 210 pounds, he’s a good leader with the ability to run the no-huddle as well as see time as a drop-back passer. At the moment, he’s strictly an emergency policy and won’t be in the first for the starting job for at least a year.

On the way is Austyn Carta-Samuels, a 6-2, 210-pound true freshman who does a little of everything well. While he won’t be the team’s best passer, he has the best combination of skills with good speed, a nose for the goal line, and a live arm.

Watch Out For ... the newcomers. Sween might be a different quarterback coming into this year, but Benjamin and Carta-Samuels might end up fitting the offense better.
Strength
:
Options. The coaching staff wants there to be plenty of battles and lots of competition for the top jobs, and it has it at quarterback. There will be five different prospects each getting a chance to show off, but the problem might be job security. There could be a quick hook if the play is as bad as last year.
Weakness
:
Talent. The quarterback play was awful last season with everyone combining to complete just 52% of the passes for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns with 17 interceptions. The new guys will up the talent level, but it’s asking a lot to switch to new offense and shine right away.
Outlook: After Chris Stutzriem quit the team with the coaching change, the passing game was down to the same two options, Dax Crum and Karsten Sween, who struggled so much in one of the nation’s least-efficient attacks. The no-huddle will require quick decision making skills, putting Sween at an advantage for the starting spot, but it’s going to be a major battle this fall with five options pushing for the gig.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs


Projected Starters
:
5-11, 209-pound junior Darius Terry was an afterthought in a crowded backfield, running just 16 times for 43 yards, but he showed this offseason that he’s ready to become the main man.  A superstar high school sprinter, he has the wheels to be a major playmaker both for the running game and as a receiver, and he’ll even be used under center from time to time in a Wildcat formation. He’s the team’s best offensive weapon and he should be a breakthrough star.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore James Davis has the explosiveness and the quickness to become a factor right away. A scooter at 5-9 and 186 pounds, he’s not going to provide the inside power that Darius Terry will, but he can be used in a variety of ways and could develop into a third down back and a specialist.

5-11, 182-pound redshirt freshman James Caraway is one of the team’s fastest players and can be used as a receiver or a running back. With 4.38 speed, he’s a home run hitter waiting to happen, however, he’s not going to barrel over anyone and will likely make his biggest impact if he gets a chance to return kicks. If he’s buried on the depth chart, he could move out to wide receiver as a field stretcher.

Watch Out For ... Terry to be the offense. He took to the role this offseason as the new leader and the one the attack can count on for a little bit of everything. While he could be the Mountain West’s breakout performer as a running back, he’ll get on the highlight reel when he’s under center.
Strength
:
Quickness. If nothing else, these guys can really move. Terry and Davis can fly through a hole and don’t need much space before they break off big runs, while Caraway has next-level wheels.
Weakness
:
Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon. The program relied on these two backs to carry the load over the last several years. While there are good prospect waiting to shine, it won’t be easy to instantly replace two runners who combined for close to 2,000 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
Outlook: The ground game won’t be as strong as last year when it averaged 178 yards per game and carried the team when nothing else worked, but it’ll be effective. There should be more room to run in the new offense with Darius Terry, James Davis, and James Caraway all looking to play big roles.
Rating: 5.5

Receivers


Projected Starters
:
For what little passing game there was, Greg Bolling was the key target. The 6-2, 180-pound senior was a question mark early on with academic issues, but he was able to play in every game and led the team with 26 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t have a breakout game, with a four-catch, 69-yard day against BYU his best performance, but he has the speed and the explosiveness to do far more. No one on the team will benefit more from the change in offensive schemes as now he’ll get to use his ability at the outside X position once he returns from a dislocated shoulder.

Working at the inside H position will once again be 5-11, 193-pound sophomore Brandon Stewart, who was fifth on the team with 13 catches for 251 yards and a score. After missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury, he came back to be the team’s best receiver over the final seven games highlighted by a three-catch, 132-yard day against San Diego State with a 69-yard touchdown. The former Indiana high school star is a phenomenal athlete who should grow into a dangerous weapon if he can consistently get the ball on the move.

At 6-4 and 197 pounds, junior David Leonard brings more size to the mix after being used mostly as a punt returner. He finished third on the team with 16 catches for 187 yards but he didn’t get into the end zone after starting out the year slowly due to a hernia problem. He has just enough speed to work on the outside starting at the Z, and with his skills he has the potential to be a dangerous threat in the red zone.

One of the keys to the new offense will be the work of the tight end, or the Y position/H-Back, meaning Jesson Salyards will see more work. The 6-5, 235-pound senior was second on the team with 21 catches for 225 yards and a touchdown, and he’s not a bad blocker. He’s a physical player who can be more than just a safety valve; he’ll stretch the field a little bit as well as be a tough fighter for the short to midrange passes.
 
Projected Top Reserves: Finding depth will be one of the keys to the receiving corps meaning there’s a big need for Donate Morgan to become a factor. The former transfer from St. Joseph’s in Indiana is a good deep threat, but he only caught 11 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown last year. The 5-11, 185-pound senior will work at the outside X position behind Greg Bolling.

Looking to use his size on the inside to become a factor in the attack will be Kaither Holiway, a 6-3, 210-pound sophomore who’ll be a much bigger option at the H behind Brandon Stewart. He doesn’t have the speed or quickness, but he’s a matchup problem.

If Wyoming ever uses a fullback it’ll be senior Greg Genho who gets the call. The 6-3, 240-pounder doesn’t exactly fit the team’s role as an H-Back, but he caught six passes for 24 yards and a touchdown and ran four times for eight yards. A good blocker, he could be used in a few different ways if the coaching staff ever wants to play around with the formation.  

6-4, 230-pound senior Orlando Arnold signed on last season from Contra Costa C.C. with 4.7 speed and excellent hands and athleticism. That translated into no catches and little time in just six games of work. He has too many skills to not be a part of the offense working behind Jesson Salyards at the Y.

Watch Out For ... Bolling to blow up. He hasn’t had a quarterback to throw to him and there have been a variety of other issues, but he’s the speedster who could be in for a huge season if the passing game works the way it’s supposed to.
Strength
:
The new offense. It’s not that Wyoming didn’t try to throw the ball last year; it’s that it couldn’t do it. The quarterbacks were lousy, the scheme didn’t really work, and the passing game was among the worst in America. The receivers will have more room to run now.
Weakness
:
Drops. This was a huge problem at times during spring ball and it’ll have to be corrected in a big hurry. One of the big keys to the offense is being able to come up with yards after the catch, and that could be a problem if there isn’t more consistency when it comes to simply making the grab.
Outlook: Was it the chicken or the egg? Did the passing game stink because the receivers made the quarterbacks bad, or vice versa? It’s not like the receiving corps blew the doors off of anyone, but there are some decent prospects to get excited about, like Brandon Stewart and David Leonard, to go along with the pop of Greg Bolling. The big key will be the play of Jesson Salyards and the tight ends considering they’ll get plenty of work thrown their way.
Rating: 5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
Returning to his familiar spot at left tackle will be Ryan Otterson, a 6-5, 275-pound senior who has been the team’s best pass blocker and a steady producer starting 24 games in a row. He improved by leaps and bounds after struggling as a sophomore, but with his athleticism and his decent power for the running game, he has the potential to become an all-star and the anchor of the line.

Back on the other side will once again be Clayton Kirvin after starting 11 games. While he’s not the athlete that Otterson is, he’s decent on the move for a 6-6, 310-pounder. The sophomore was excellent for the running game and stunned the former coaching staff by being consistent and far more mature as a blocker than his experience might have indicated. 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.

Working next to Otterson on the left side will be Sam Sterner, a 6-4, 302-pound junior who started every game over the last two seasons and has been the team’s best run blocker. He’s a smart player who’s still improving and still growing into his job, and now, with his combination of size and athleticism, he could be an All-Mountain West performer.

Able to play guard or center, 6-4, 289-pound senior Russ Arnold is one of the team’s most versatile blockers with starting experience at two spots. More of a right guard than a center, he’ll start out in the middle as the quarterback of the line. He might not be the team’s best blocker, but he’s fine when flanked by dominant road graters.

Way undersized at just 6-4 and 235 pounds, Nick Carlson will be an ultra-athletic right guard who’ll be used for his quickness and ability to get on the move. He originally signed on to the program as a grayshirt and is just now becoming a part of the team. While he doesn’t have the beef, he’s versatile enough to play anywhere on the line, including center, and could grow into an interesting all-around blocker.

Projected Top Reserves: Decent enough to fill in at either guard spot is Zack Kennedy, a 6-6, 323-pounds senior who doesn’t necessarily fit the new offense, but can plow over defenders for the running game. He has a little bit of starting experience and should see time in the rotation on the left side.  

Considering the lack of size at right guard with 235-pound Nick Carlson getting the call, 6-4, 305-pound junior Jack Tennant might end up playing a big role in the rotation. He’s not the best athlete, but he has a little bit of starting experience and can pound away in the running game.

Watch Out For ... Otterson and Kirven to be all-stars. They didn’t get much in the way of recognition because the offense stunk so badly, but the two veterans should be key bookends to help get the new offense off the ground.
Strength
:
Pass protection. The running game was solid under last year’s line, and it should be good again even with two starters gone, but the key will be the pass protection. That’s not a problem after allowing just 18 sacks last season and with Otterson and Kirven almost certain to be even better.
Weakness
:
Veteran depth. This has been a problem for the last few years and it’s an even bigger issue this season. Trying to round out the starting five this season will be enough of a chore without trying to figure out who the key backups are going to be.
Outlook: The line was the one area on the offense that worked well last season and it should be solid again. Tackles Ryan Otterson and Clayton Kirven, along with guard Sam Sterner, are great building blocks to work around, while Russ Arnold is a decent veteran to rely on at center. Depth is a major issue, but as long as the starting five can stay healthy for half the season to give the backups time to develop, everything should be fine.
Rating: 6.5

- 2009 CFN Wyoming Preview | 2009 Wyoming Offense
- 2009 Wyoming Defense | 2009 Wyoming Depth Chart
- 2008 UW Preview | 2007 UW Preview | 2006 UW Preview