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2010 Wyoming Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 9, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Wyoming Cowboy Offense



Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2010 - Offense

- 2010 Wyoming Preview | 2010 Wyoming Offense
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What You Need To Know: The offense is big on potential and has to do more to be consistent. QB Austyn Carta-Samuels is the spunky heart-and-soul quarterback who needs to shine in his true sophomore year with more of the playbook being thrown his way and with more responsibility. Step one will be to get more out of a downfield passing game that was among the most inefficient in America, and it’ll take a bigger season from 2009 breakout star David Leonard to do that. Alvester Alexander leads a quick group of running backs that should be fine if the line that struggled throughout last year improves. Three starters return up front, but the talent level is relatively mediocre and the pass protection could be an issue.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Austyn Carta-Samuels
191-326, 1,953 yds, 10 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Alvester Alexander
136 car., 640 yds, 7 TD
Receiving: David Leonard
77 catches, 705 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Austyn Carta-Samuels
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT Clayton Kirven
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore RB Alvester Alexander
Best pro prospect: Sophomore OT Josh Leonard
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carta-Samuels, 2) WR David Leonard, 3) Alexander
Strength of the offense: Quick running backs, Carta-Samuels
Weakness of the offense: Pass protection, proven passing game

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: The program needed a new star to revolve around in the new era of Cowboy football, and Austyn Carta-Samuels turned out to be it. “ACS” was expected to be a factor in the quarterback mix as a true freshman, and while he struggled at times, as expected, he showed he was a baller and the type of player who can be the leader and the star for a long time. At 6-2 and 215 pounds, the sophomore has decent size, good speed, and a live arm, and while he only threw for 1,953 yards and ten touchdown passes, he was careful with the ball with a mere five picks thrown while completing 59% of his throws. He’s not going to blow by anyone with his wheels, but he’s mobile enough to have finished third on the team in rushing with 366 yards and three scores.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Dax Crum was a big-time JUCO transfer who was the main man two years ago, but he struggled with his consistency completing 53-of-101 passes for 429 yards and two touchdowns with six picks. The 6-4, 219-pounder has good size and enough time logged in to step in if needed without the offense missing much of a beat. He didn’t throw any passes last year and was in the doghouse early on, getting suspended from spring ball, but now he’s the established No. 2 with a live arm and decent passing ability.

The team signed two quarterbacks this February, and they’re both the same player. Emory Miller and Sam Stratton are each 5-11 and 195 and very athletic. Miller is a dual threat quarterback with a decent arm and the type of running skills to make Air Force and Navy interested in running their ground games, while Stratton missed most of last year with a knee injury and will need a bit of time to get back to 100%; it’ll be a shock if he doesn’t redshirt. He’s very, very fast as a Colorado all-state sprinter.

Watch Out For … Carta-Samuels be allowed to do more with the passing game. It wasn’t like he was kept under wraps last year as a true freshman, but the coaching staff has even more trust in him now and he should be able to take more chances and try to make more things happen.
Strength: The pecking order. ACS is the clear-cut No. 1 man and the quarterback the program will build around, but Crum is a solid backup with the experience to step in and be fine. There are some nice young players to develop, and they’ll get plenty of time.
Weakness: Explosion. It’s partly because the Cowboys weren’t exactly loaded at receiver, but the passing game wasn’t very thrilling averaging just 5.5 yards per pass while finishing 104th in the nation overall and 110th in efficiency. Depth is a bit of an issue after Crum with Robert Benjamin, who was second on the team in passing last year, gone from the program.
Outlook: It might not always be pretty, but Carta-Samuels is a playmaker with a good mix of skills and a ton of moxie. As he goes, so goes the 2010 Wyoming season, even though Crum can wing it around a bit if needed.
Unit Rating: 6

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Sophomore Alvester Alexander became a big part of the offense immediately as a true freshman, and now he’ll be asked to take on even more of the workload after leading the team with 640 yards and seven touchdowns averaging 4.7 yards per carry. At 5-11 and 208 pounds he has decent size, excellent wheels, and gamebreaking ability as a receiver. He wasn’t used too much out of the backfield as a target, but he caught eight passes for 101 yards and showed the potential to do even more. While he’s not a workhorse, he’s the type of back who needs the ball in his hands at least 15 times a game just to see if he can spring something big. He’ll be used on kickoffs, too.

Projected Top Reserves: As good as Alvester Alexander might be, the ground game needed more options and more playmakers, and the hope is that true freshman Nehemie Kankolongo will be it. The 5-11, 200-pounder from Canada has a good nose for getting into the end zone with 55 rushing scores over his last two years in high school and has the type of shiftiness and quickness to be used in a variety of ways. However, he has to get past a knee injury that held him out of a large part of spring ball. 

Watch Out For … Even more of a rotation. The Cowboy offense will center around Austyn Carta-Samuels and the short to midrange passing game, but the ground games needs more from the running backs and there will be several players in the mix to find the right rotation. It would’ve been nice if Brandon Stewart, the team’s second leading rusher last year, was in the mix, but he’s gone from the team.
Strength: Quickness. Alexander and Kankolongo can move. Given a little bit of room to move, which wasn’t always a given last year, this group should be able to produce. They’ll all be used more in the passing game a bit more.
Weakness: Power. It’s not like this is a small group of scat backs with the four top options checking in at over 200 pounds, but there isn’t a grind-the-chains thumper. On third-and-short the best option will likely be a Carta-Samuels play in some way.
Outlook: The offense is designed around the quarterback and getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers on the move, but the running backs have to start being a bigger part of the equation. Carta-Samuels led the team in rushing attempts last year, and that has to change as Alexander and Kankolongo, and Terry have to combine for 250 carries and over 1,000 yards.
Unit Rating: 5

Receivers

Projected Starters: The team was looking for a No. 1 target to step up and produce, and it found it in David Leonard , a 6-4, 200-pound sophomore who led the way with 77 catches for 705 yards and three scores. With good quickness for his size, he’s also the team’s punt returner and has just enough speed to work on the outside and make big plays deep. However, he’s mostly used as a short-to-midrange target averaging just 9.2 yards per grab and he needs to do more in the red zone, even though he was the team’s leader in touchdown receptions, with two of his three scoring grabs coming in the bowl win over Fresno State.

Senior Zach Bolger is a quick former walk-on from Jamestown College who doesn’t have special skills, but managed to finish second on the team with 28 catches for 314 yards and a score. He’s only 5-10 and 180 pounds and he’s not going to break off many big plays, if any, but he’s tough, reliable, and was consistent catching two or more passes in every game but three.

As a true freshman, Chris McNeill showed a few flashes with 17 catches for 117 yards. While he only averaged 6.9 yards per catch, he has the speed and quickness to make a big jump in production both as a receiver and a runner. The 6-1, 170-pounder has defensive back toughness, and could be moved to the secondary in a pinch, and is a smart athlete who’s growing into a good route runner.

When the offense goes with a tight end, H-Back, or whatever you want to call a bigger receiver, it’ll work with David Tooley , a 6-5, 210-pound tweener who was used as a big target yet again after catching seven passes for 115 yards with a touchdown. A terrific athlete for his size, the sophomore is expected to become fantastic with a little more work.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Travis Burkhalter has the potential to do far more with good size, nice speed, and the experience to become a bigger factor in the passing game. A good, strong worker who isn’t afraid to block and do the little things, he finished third on the team with 21 catches for 313 yards and two scores. The 6-1, 191-pounder isn’t going to be a No. 1 target, but he’ll be more involved.

It’ll be up to several redshirt freshmen to provide the bulk of the depth while looking to upgrade the receiving corps as a whole. The two most promising options are 6-1, 200-pound Matt Cobb , who has good size and decent upside after coming to Wyoming as a quarterback, while 6-3, 205-pound T.J. Smith is more like a tight end than a big receiver, but he’s a good enough athlete to be both a deep target and a blocker.

Watch Out For … Leonard to be more of a scorer. He caught a ton of passes, but they were almost all short and almost all just to find something in the passing game that worked. As QB Austyn Carta-Samuels improves, so will Leonard’s production.
Strength: Size. Outside of the 5-10 Bolger, this is a big group of targets with just enough athleticism to provide mismatch problems. Few secondaries will be able to outmuscle this group.
Weakness: Youth and production. Outside of Leonard there’s not a lot of talent to rely on from Day One. There were only 11 touchdown passes thrown last season with the receivers only coming up with seven of them, so if the untested group of redshirt freshmen don’t shine right away, there could be a major production hole.
Outlook: This is a young group that will grow as the rest of the team grows, but it’s not quite good enough to be a major strength of the offense without a few breakout performances. It should be a better corps than last year, but it could be the team’s X factor. There’s potential, but not a lot of proven explosion.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The offensive line struggled throughout last year and made several moves to find the right combination. This year, the key move might be sophomore Nick Carlson from right guard to center, where he should be more natural. The 6-4, 290-pounder has beefed up big-time but is still a good athletic for his size. He’s still trying to figure out how to run block with consistency and with an attitude, but he’s just good enough to be expected to grow into the leader up front within the next few years.

Also back in a starting spot, but possibly not the one he was at for most of last year, is senior Sam Sterner , a left guard who could move over to Carlson’s spot at right guard for a stretch. The 6-4, 302-pounder is one of the team’s most versatile and experienced blockers and is expected to be the team’s best option for the ground game. Smart and athletic, this is the year he has to grow into an anchor to work around.

6-6, 305-pound Clayton Kirven is one of the team’s most experienced players and will hold down the job at left tackle. With 23 career starts he knows what he’s doing, but he’s not great on the move and he’s not a top pass protector. Considered the top high school prospect out of Wyoming three years ago, the junior has been fine, but not great even with all the work he has gotten in from his freshman year.

Moving in at right tackle on a full-time basis will be sophomore Josh Leonard , a promising talent who beefed up close to 50 pounds over the last year to get up to 296 pounds on a 6-4 frame. He wasn’t considered a top prospect, but he has shown just enough upside to be a difference maker.

Jack Tennant only got two games of work in last year as a backup guard, and now he’ll be used more as a right guard getting the first look in the starting spot. He got a lot bigger beefing up to 305 pounds on a 6-4 frame, and while he’s not a great athlete he’s expected to be a stronger cog for the ground game.

Projected Top Reserves:
Fighting for a spot at one of the tackle spots, most likely on the right side, will be John Hutchins , a 6-5, 295-pound junior who saw work in eight games last year. Athletic for his size, he has the upside to become a decent pass protector and to be the team’s most important backup tackle.

Junior Travis Hillen needs to be a steady factor at right guard and could be a regular on the left if he needs to be. At 6-5 and 295 pounds, he’s built more like a tackle than a tough guard, but he’s a smart veteran who’s versatile enough to move around where needed.

Watch Out For … even more movement. The line struggled to find the right combination last year and it isn’t likely to have a set-in-stone front five as this year goes on. There are several unknowns among the backups, and if one or two stand out, they’ll be in the starting mix right away.
Strength: The right side. With Kirven at tackle and Sterner at guard, the right side of the line has the team’s most experienced blockers and should be a bit of a rock at times because these two know what they’re doing. However …
Weakness: … the left side could be a problem considering Austyn Carta-Samuels is right handed. Pass protection was a major nightmare last year and it’s not likely to get better right away.
Outlook: The pass blocking wasn’t there last season giving up 37 sacks and the did little on a consistent basis for the ground game. There’s little likelihood for a massive improvement even with three starters returning. The talent level is low among the experienced players and the depth is unproven. This will be a work in progress all year long.
Unit Rating: 4.5

- 2010 Wyoming Preview | 2010 Wyoming Offense
- 2010 Wyoming Defense | 2010 Wyoming Depth Chart
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