Wyoming Football: Previewing the Cowboys Offense
The Wyoming Cowboys offense is a mixed bag of both questions and assurance. You know what you’re going to get, but can they improve their passing game to become something special?
The Overall Picture
The Wyoming Cowboys offense will once again rely on the play calling of Brent Vigen, who enters his seventh season as the pokes offensive coordinator. As old fashioned as they come, Wyoming’s run-heavy offense has seen its up and downs, ranking 11th in the conference in yards per game at 336.5 in 2019, and 106th overall. Now, this stat is misleading, given the major injuries the pokes faced, yet is of some concern.
The grit and grind approach is rare in college football today but the Cowboys have found a formula for success. It is hard to find flaws with winning seasons, yet necessary to improve. The lack of a viable passing game is very worrisome, as shoehorning into a one-dimensional offense has not provided the greatest results recently. Wyoming has been in the bottom half of Mountain West offenses since the departure of Josh Allen. The pokes ranked 105th in total first downs in 2019, which dispels the ball control myth.
The pokes managing to still win 8 games with these numbers just goes to show how great of a job Craig has done, but makes you wonder, how special could this program be with a higher-performing offense, and could their offense this year match the great efforts of their defense? Here is my 2020 preview of the Cowboys offense.
The Cowboys will be once again led by the 6’3” redshirt sophomore Sean Chambers, whose toughness and grit is a match made in heaven for the Cowboys. Chambers isn’t your prototypical QB, especially coming from the man who recruited Josh Allen and Carson Wentz.
His playstyle is much more reliant on his feet. I would personally compare his heart and toughness to that of college football legend Tim Tebow. A hard-nosed athletic QB who even through his flaws, finds ways to win. Stats alone do not accurately depict his importance to this team.
The best way to say it, he is a winner. Before going down with a season-ending knee injury on a touchdown run against Nevada, he had led the Cowboys to a 5-2 start, and a 24-3 lead that eventually pushed the Cowboys to 6-2.
His numbers aren’t flashy by any means, throwing for 915 yards with 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, but that is not his game. Chambers uses his legs to find success running 567 yards with 10 rushing touchdowns, bringing his total to 17 scores in just 7 and a half games. The biggest leap we would love to see would be with his accuracy. He has shown flashes with solid arm strength but needs to improve as his completion percentage is an abysmal 43.0%.
He will likely be backed up by redshirt freshman Levi Williams, an interesting prospect with a similar play style who provided a desperately needed spark for the pokes when Chambers went down. The potential is there for Chambers and do not be surprised to see him take that jump in the passing game and take the conference by storm.
Wyoming’s bread and butter, perfectly paired with their star back. The running game of the pokes accounted for nearly 60% of their total offense in 2019 and 69% of their plays, to compliment their impressive 214.8 rushing yards per game (23rd in the nation).
There is no question as to who the pokes workhorse will be, as star junior back and 2019 All MW 1st team awardee Xazavian Valladay (who also deserves the award for best name in the conference) returns with high expectations.
Accounting for 1265 rushing yards, there aren’t many backs you would rather have in the country. Valladay averaged 5.1 yards per carry and is set to carry the bulk of the offensive load on his back come 2020.
You also can not mention a great running back in this pro-style offense without giving credit to his fullback Jeff Burroughs, a position that deserves more recognition.
I would not be surprised to see Wyoming lead the Mountain West in rushing this year and comfortably pass their 2019 total, with Xazavian possibly winning the MW player of the year award.