NEW ... 2010 Wyoming Preview
Wyoming WR David Leonard
Wyoming WR David Leonard
Posted Aug 9, 2010 2010 Preview - Wyoming Cowboys

Wyoming Cowboys

Preview 2010

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By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Dave Christensen
2nd year: 7-6
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 15, Def. 17, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best Wyoming Players
1. LB Brian Hendricks, Jr.
2. FS Chris Prosinski, Sr.
3. QB Austyn Carta-Samuels, So.
4. CB Tashan Gipson, Jr.
5. WR David Leonard, Sr.
6. CB Marcell Gipson, Sr.
7. SS Shamiel Gary, So.
8. P Austin McCoy, Jr.
9. DE/LB Gabe Knapton, Jr.
10. RB Alvester Alexander, So.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Southern Utah
Sept. 11 at Texas
Sept. 18 Boise State
Sept. 25 Air Force
Oct. 2 at Toledo
Oct. 9 at TCU
Oct. 16 Utah
Oct. 23 at BYU
Oct. 30 San Diego St
Nov. 6 at New Mexico
Nov. 13 at UNLV
Nov. 20 Colorado State

If you want the epitome of the old college try, look at Wyoming and what it was able to do last year in the first season under head coach Dave Christensen.

There was little talent on a team that was awful in a 4-8 2008, the schedule was just rough enough that it was hard to see any sure-thing wins beyond the opener against Weber State (and that turned out to be one of the toughest victories of the season), and the Mountain West was looking nasty. 2009 was supposed to be a rebuilding year of the highest order, but instead the Cowboys grinded their way to a smoke-and-mirrors 7-5 season before beating Fresno State in a double-overtime thriller in the New Mexico Bowl. But Wyoming has looked like the up-and-coming hot team before and fell flat on its face, so while expectations might be tempered a little bit by anyone looking at 2009 as anything more than a great year by a mediocre team, the program is in much better shape than it was a few years ago. At least that's the hope.

In 2004, Wyoming got into the Las Vegas Bowl with a smallish team of try-hards and managed to beat UCLA to finish 7-5. Joe Glenn was the hot head coach, Wyoming was supposed to turn the corner, and the program was going to become a Mountain West player. The Cowboys came up with a 4-7 2005 season and didn't have a winning campaign again until last year. So is history going to repeat itself or does Christensen really have the make-up to turn the program into a consistent winner? It might be a little of both.

Christensen really does appear to be a strong head coach and Wyoming's needle is definitely pointing up, but this could be a rough year with several major question marks and a ton of holes to fill.

The offensive line didn't pass block against anyone last year and has concerns on the left side, the blind side of QB Austyn Carta-Samuels. The defensive front is full of linebackers, the linebacking corps is full of defensive back-sized players, and the secondary … well, the secondary is good, but it wasn't a rock last year and it might not be talented enough to make up for the problems on the front seven.

Wyoming won six games last season by seven points or fewer, won four of those by three points or fewer, and were obliterated in the five losses against the good teams on the schedule. And that will be this year, too. The Cowboys have to beat everyone who's on their level, they'll likely get rocked by the better teams, and they'll have to hope for a few big breaks to keep the momentum going.

What to watch for on offense: The maturation of Austyn Carta-Samuels. He's not the prettiest quarterback around and he's not the most talented, but he's a spunky firestarter who has a knack of making things happen. Thrown into the starting role as a true freshman, the coaching staff tried to make it as easy as possible for him. Now the playbook is opened up, he'll be allowed to take more chances and more shots down the field, and he'll be in charge of trying to keep the team in games when the defense isn't a rock.

What to watch for on defense: A ton of movement on the defensive front seven depth chart. A TON. So depleted was the line this offseason that linebackers were moved up front, several untested players were tried out at linebacker, and everyone was crossing their fingers that no one got hurt and the banged up players would be ready to roll by the start of the season. The team is missing a couple of killer defensive linemen and would be far better if the linebacking corps could utilize all of the team's true linebackers, but instead there will be a mish-mosh of players in different alignments to try to find the right fit.

The team will be far better if … The defensive tackles could stay healthy. Last year Wyoming was able to go back and forth from a 3-4 to a 4-3 because it had two tremendous defensive linemen in John Fletcher and Mitch Unrein. They're gone and now there's a mad scramble to find linemen who can play. Compounding the problem is the health of the two best tackles on the team, Mike Purcell and Alex Stover. They're the only two tackles with any semblance of size, but Stover is coming off a groin injury and Purcell's shoulder is a problem. If these two aren't playing and aren't great, the Cowboy defense will have a world of problems.

The schedule: Wyoming is trying to break through and become one of the big players in the Mountain West, but it's going to be hard to have the record to show it. Yeah, there's a light scrimmage against Southern Utah to kick things off, but then come the killers playing two likely preseason top five teams in Texas and Boise State in back-to-back weeks. Coming up with at least a split at home against Air Force and Utah is a must considering the Cowboys have to go on the road to TCU and BYU, while there can't be many, if any slips in winnable road games against UNLV and New Mexico.

Best offensive player: Sophomore QB Austyn Carta-Samuels. The coaching staff likens him to another Chase Daniel, the former Missouri star who turned the program from good to fantastic. Carta-Samuels is good on the move, has a nice arm, and has a way of making things happen. He needs to be the star the team builds around over the next few years, and if he doesn't take a big step forward, the 2010 season isn't going to go anywhere.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Brian Hendricks. Senior safety Chris Prosinski is the team's leading tackler and a tremendous all-around playmaker for the secondary, but Hendricks is going to have to be the rock and the leader of a young linebacking corps, especially if the team's better linebackers, Gabe Knapton and Josh Biezuns, spend most of their time on the end. Hendricks is a hitting machine who can play any of the three linebacking spots and he should earn all-star honors.

Key player to a successful season: Carta-Samuels. There will be a paper-thin margin between the Cowboys coming up with a winning season and fighting its way out of the bottom of the Mountain West. Carta-Samuels will have the weight of the team on his shoulders, because if he's not great, the team will be in for a long year.

The season will be a success if … Wyoming gets back to a bowl game. With Texas, Boise State, and a road trip to Toledo on the schedule, it's not like there are a ton of sure-thing wins out there to be had. Just getting back to a bowl game would be a tremendous success and it'll take a few upsets and no mistakes against Colorado State, San Diego State, New Mexico, and UNLV. A 6-6 regular season would be a great accomplishment.

Key game: Sept. 25 vs. Air Force. It's the Mountain West opener, and it's a must-win in the midst of a brutal stretch. If the Cowboys can't handle Texas and Boise State in the previous two weeks, then the chance will be there for a huge slide with three road trips in the following four weeks facing Toledo, TCH, Utah, and BYU. In other words, beat Air Force, or see you in late October..

2009 Fun Stats:
- Wyoming's seven wins were by a score of 208-161. The five losses were by a score of 194 to 30.
- Penalties: Opponents 100 for 814 yards – Wyoming 82 for 747 yards
- Rushing yards: Opponents 2,243 – Wyoming 1,770

- 2010 Wyoming Preview | 2010 Wyoming Offense
- 2010 Wyoming Defense | 2010 Wyoming Depth Chart
- Wyoming Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006