2009 CFN Wyoming Preview
Wyoming QB Karsten Sween
Wyoming QB Karsten Sween
Posted May 5, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2009

By Pete Fiutak

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

Head coach: Dave Christensen
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best UW Players
1. DT John Fletcher, Sr.
2. DT Mitch Unrein, Sr.
3. CB Tashaun Gipson, Soph.
4. CB Marcell Gipson, Jr.
5. FS Chris Prosinki, Jr.
6. LB Gabe Knapton, Soph.
7. WR Greg Bolling, Sr.
8. OT Ryan Otterson, Sr. 
9. OT Clayton Kirven, Soph.
10. LB Weston Johnson, Sr.

CFN Prediction:
2009 Record:

9/5 Weber State
9/12 Texas
9/19 at Colorado
9/26 UNLV
Oct. 3 at Florida Atlantic
Oct. 10 New Mexico
Oct. 17 at Air Force
Oct. 31 at Utah
Nov. 7 BYU
Nov. 14 at San Diego St
Nov. 21 TCU
Nov. 27 at Colorado State

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record:

Aug. 30 Ohio W 21-20
Sept. 6 Air Force L 23-3
Sept. 13 N. Dakota St W 16-13
Sept. 20 at BYU L 44-0
Sept. 27 Bo Green L 45-16
Oct. 4 at N Mexico L 24-0
Oct. 11 Utah L 40-7
Oct. 18
Oct. 25 at TCU L 54-7
Nov. 1 S Diego St W 35-10
Nov. 8 at Tennessee L 13-7
Nov. 13 at UNLV L 22-14
Nov. 22 Colorado St L 31-20

All new coaching staffs come in with an attitude. All of them say things have to change, there needs to be a new way of doing things, everyone needs to toughen up, blah, blah, blah. It’s all coachspeak, as if the previous coaching staff was running its program like a spa, but in this case, new head coach Dave Christensen really is coming in and changing things around.

Throughout spring football across America there was one key theme: health. It seemed like every coaching staff was looking to get out of the spring sessions without major injuries and with all the key players intact. That wasn’t the case with Christensen and Wyoming with big-time hitting going on in a boot camp of toughness to see who could survive. Many didn’t with banged up players dropping all over the place. While that might not have been the best course of action considering the limited practice time and the new offense that needs working on, notice has been served that Wyoming football is going to be far, far meaner than it was under former head coach Joe Glenn.

It’s not like there aren’t players to build around after last year’s weird, bizarre season, it’s that they have to be better. The defense isn’t an issue with eight starters returning and several players on the cusp of All-Mountain West stardom. Linemen John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein are known talents, while the linebacking corps could break out with Westin Johnson, Gabe Knapton, and Brian Hendricks forming a trio that could be the surprise of the conference season. Brothers Marcell and Tashaun Gipson at corner and Chris Prosinski at free safety round out the potentially tremendous D. And then there’s the offense.

The nation’s worst scoring attack last year ran well, but that was with close to 2,000 yards coming from the departed combination of Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon. The passing game was abysmal finishing 114th in the country in efficiency and yards with just eight scoring passes and 17 interceptions. Christensen will change that around in a hurry, or at least that’s his goal.

In comes the no-huddle, up-tempo, spread offense that’ll either be a major boost to the moribund attack or it’ll just mean the bad offense gets off the field faster. A quarterback has to emerge, the running game needs some unknowns to shine, and the receiving corps has to get over its case of the dropsies suffered this spring. But if nothing else, things can’t be any worse.

Wyoming has always been a bit of a beartrap of a game for everyone in the Mountain West, and now there could be good reason. Will the Cowboys go from 4-8 to title contenders in one year? No, but with all the returning experience, and the new attitude, plucking off a few of the big boys and coming up with a winning season would be a step in the right direction.

What to watch for on offense: Darius Terry. There wasn’t any room for the junior running back to see much work with Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon combining for 394 carries, but now the job is his. The quick all-around playmaker will be used as a receiver, a runner, and under center in the Wildcat formation. With the quarterback situation an issue and with the O line a positive, Terry will be the offense early on to get the ground game moving.

What to watch for on defense: More of a pass rush. John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein were supposed to be regulars into the backfield throughout last season, and it didn’t happen. With quick linebackers on the outside and the veterans up front, there’s no reason the Cowboys can’t come up with more than 17 sacks and 52 tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Marty English will make sure more pressure is generated from all areas.

The team will be far better if … it wins the turnover battle. Washington State came up with 13 takeaways and gave it away a nation-most 38 times. That was the only team worse than Wyoming when it came to turnover margin with the Cowboys losing 19 fumbles, gave away 17 interceptions, and came up with a mere 14 takeaways.

The Schedule: There are two ways to look at the Wyoming schedule. Yeah, it’s cool that Texas is coming up to Laramie for the second game of the year, and it might seem like a plus to get BYU and TCU at home, but on the flip side it’ll take a monster upset to win any of those three games. After getting New Mexico at home on October 10th, the Cowboys will go until November 7th until they get another home date. A road date is San Diego State is winnable, but UW will be the underdogs on the road against Colorado, Florida Atlantic, Air Force, Utah, and Colorado State. In other words, outside of the opener against Weber State, there isn’t a lot to count on.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Ryan Otterson. WR Greg Bolling is the team’s explosive receiving weapon who could break out now that the offense should be more conducive to his talents, and Darius Terry should be a star out of the backfield, but Otterson and sophomore right tackle Clayton Kirven are the building blocks for the attack. They’re good enough veterans to rely on against the star speed rushers of the Mountain West, and if they don’t come up big, the new offense will fall flat.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT John Fletcher. He didn’t build on his 10.5 sack 2007 season with just 4.5 sacks, but he made 54 tackles from his tackle spot. Combining with Mitch Unrein, Fletcher will give UW a strong veteran front that needs to wreak havoc into opposing backfields all season long. The defensive back eight will be fine, but any improvement will start up front.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Karsten Sween ... or any of the five quarterback prospects. The quarterback play has been abysmal for the last two seasons and has easily been the worst of any team in America. The new offense will be more QB friendly with a better rhythm and tempo, but someone needs to step up and take the job. Sween lost the gig last year, but now he appears to have taken to the offense and will get the first look, but he’ll get a hard battle from Dax Crum, Adam Barry and newcomers Robert Benjamin and Austyn Carta-Samuels. 

The season will be a success if ... the Cowboys win six games. The schedule isn’t in place for a big season, but with a new coaching staff, a ton of experience, and enough talent to get by, a two game improvement from last year isn’t a lot to ask for. To get bowl eligible, UW will have to pull off at least two big upsets and will have to catch at least one of the big boys on the slate napping.

Key game: Oct. 17 at Air Force. Wyoming won’t be good enough to beat Utah in Salt Lake City and it won’t beat both TCU and BYU at home, so to get bowl eligible it might take a key road win over a team like Air Force. The Cowboys lost last year’s Mountain West opener to the Falcons 23-3 in a dud of a game, and this year with Utah, BYU, and TCU still to deal with, along with road trips to San Diego State and Colorado State, this might be a must-win.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Scoring: Opponents 333 – Wyoming 152
- Fumbles: Wyoming 23 (lost 19) – Opponents 18 (lost 5)
- Passing yards per game: Opponents 189.5 – Wyoming 117.7

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