As big of a Wyoming Cowboys fan as I am, I cant necessarily point to any one moment where I can definitively say when I crossed over into Brown & Gold territory.
Some of my earliest memories are of the back-to-back Holiday Bowl teams under Paul Roach in the late ‘80’s. Wyoming was a team that got more done with less. Buying into the concept that willpower was more important than elite athletic gifts. I can name a bunch of guys who fit that description too. It was tradition and “Cowboy Tough” meant something. Those seem to be the guys that stick out in my memories of the past 20 years as well even though there are a lot of muck to dig through to find those happy memories.
Like the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl win over UCLA under Joe Glenn. That was an all-timer in my opinion. Players like Dusty Hoffschneider and Guy Tuell led the way defensively. Jovon Bouknight, perhaps my all-time favorite player, combined with underdogs to get that win despite zero respect from any media outside of the state. Tough guys who might not have even had a shot in a lot of programs but they made huge plays for the Pokes. But before that game was season upon season of rubbish. One particular season in 1999, I was single, working, broke and the Cowboys went 1-10. I was working the day they won their game but I saw the rest of them. Yeah. It was like that.
I was also there for the Ryan Yarborough, Marcus Harris, Josh Wallwork years. I want the students to experience the confidence of winning like that.
Glenn was the perfect guy for Wyoming with the exception that he simply didn’t win enough games. Yeah, I know, that’s pretty important.
Dave Christensen brought a holy-cow pedigree to the Cowboys that I believed in right up until I realized he didn’t seem to want to be here. Your Dave experience may vary. He brought in some talented individuals but never showed me he could build a program and connect to fans. Unlike Glenn,who I would help him mow his lawn tomorrow if he asked me, I am rooting for a failure for Christensen as Utah’s offensive coordinator this year. Mmmm, sour grapes.
Which brings us to Craig Bohl.
On the surface, Coach Bohl appears to have the values, philosophy and personality that should click with Wyoming citizens. He also brings an impressive list of accomplishments as a coach from Nebraska and North Dakota State. Media outlets from ESPN to USA Today called the hiring a coup. Some were less than complimentary as to Bohl’s choice, saying he could have done much better.
Over the past two coaching changes, I was beaming with excitement over the potential of what could happen.
This time? I found myself wary despite a lot of things to be excited about. I guess I’m getting old. I mean, my hardhat mojo didn’t even work in 2011 when the Cowboys lost to Temple in the New Mexico Bowl.
But then I started to think about the positives which is a non-negotiable trait if you’re going to cheer for Wyoming.
Running game – Shawn Wick ran for just under 1,000 yards last year as a sophomore and is noticeably bigger this year. He will be joined by D.J. May who actually came out of spring camp atop the depth chart. One damning thing item in Christensen’s wake came out of May’s Twitter account where he said he felt like he wasted two years of eligibility. “It’s a D-I program now.” he said.
Ouch. And a bit revealing.
Recievers – Dominc Rufran, Jalen Claiborne and Tanner Gentry all return. Rufran is poised for a big year as a senior while Gentry had a terrific freshman season. I’m also very excited about Jake Maulhardt who’s 6’ 6” and showed flashes last season. The only question seems to be, who’s going to throw them the ball? But since I’m Mr. Positive, the last two guys with no experience to take over the QB job (Austyn Carta-Samuels & Brett Smith) did pretty darn well.
D-line – Eddie Yarbrough anchors what should be a vastly improved unit. Let’s face it, they can’t be much worse. The Wyoming run defense was like a sieve last year. But there are a lot of big stronger guys returning with a coaching unit that actually seems interested in defense. Coach Christensen’s idea of defense seemed to be hold ‘em under 50. Seniors Patrick Mertens and Sonny Puletasi along with Siaosi Hal’api’api should be solid and I expect big things from sophomores Uso Olive and Chase Appleby.
Schedule – Yes, pre-season Top-10 road games at Oregon and Michigan State are there. I’m only hoping to have a good showing in those places. The rest of the slate? I’m optimistic about it. A 3-1 start is very attainable as far as I’m concerned with home games against Montana, Air Force and Florida Atlantic. The toughest part of the conference schedule is in November with back-to-back-to-back games against Fresno State, Utah State and Boise State (Only one of which is an actual state.) I’m counting on the Bohl factor to collect wins in Hawaii, Fort Collins and New Mexico along with a home win over San Jose State to get to seven wins.
Bohl. It’s a perfect name for Wyoming fans. Short and to the point, no time for double-talk. And the end of season goal is right there in the name as well. Now all we need is a name for the fanatics. The Bohl Weevils? I’ll keep working on it. See you at the opener folks, the future looks bright.