Wyoming vs. Montana State: Cowboys Offense Going To Open Up?
Cowboys host a pesky FCS team
Wyoming should be 1-0
Week 1: Wyoming Cowboys vs. Montana State Bobcats
When: Saturday, September 4 – 2:00pm MT
Where: War Memorial Stadium; Laramie, WY
Radio: The Wyoming broadcast can be found on the Cowboys Sports Network, which includes 1290 KOWB for the Laramie region. Montana State fans can find the game at any one of the Bobcat Sports Radio Network affiliate stations.
Weather: Sunny and 75° F
When the Cowboys face Montana State on Saturday in Laramie, there will be more than just football on the minds of many. Brent Vigen’s return to the high plains of War Memorial stadium, this time as the head coach of the Bobcats, will add a touch of intrigue to Wyoming’s opening game of the 2021 season.
Vigen, who for the past seven seasons served as Wyoming’s offensive coordinator and associate head coach, was hired by Montana State to become the program’s head coach this off season, ending an eleven year relationship with Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl. It will be Vigen’s first game as head coach, and in a twist of cruel irony, he will be forced to prove himself immediately against his former boss, and Bohl won’t make it easy on him.
Wyoming has one of college football’s least altered teams this season, returning key contributors to both sides of the ball, they look to make a run at a conference title this season.
The pokes felt like they really were playing their best, a year ago, when they were able to run the ball. Senior running backs Trey Smith and Xazavian Valladay should provide a substantial spark to the offense, running behind preseason all-MWC center Keagan Cryder and second team all-MWC guard Logan Harris. Wyoming’s offensive line looks to capture the same success that they did a year ago that saw Valladay lead the Mountain West Conference in rushing yards per game.
Joining Valladay and Smith in the pokes potent rushing attack is junior quarterback Sean Chambers.
Chambers has been one of the conference’s bright players, that is when he’s healthy. Plagued by injury his once bright career now seems a distant memory, but Wyoming coaches still believe in him enough to hand over the reins of Wyoming’s offense this season.
Chambers, who is looking to re-establish himself as the undoubted starter, is going to be tested immediately this season. There may be no man who has spent more time with the young signal caller than Vigen. If Chambers is back to the quarterback he was when he and Wyoming beat Missouri in 2019 he should be able to find some offensive success in the opening game of the 2021 season.
Chad Muma and Garrett Crall headline a Wyoming defense that has earned a reputation as being one of the premiere units in the MWC. Both men find themselves aboard numerous preseason awards watch lists, and will lead a defense that ranked 21st against the rush.
With CJ Coldon returning at corner back, and multiple returning starting pass rushers, who chose to sit out the 2020 campaign due to concerns about the pandemic, the Cowboys will have a rejuvenated defense that will help catapult them into the conversation for best team in the conference.
Wyoming will have its hands full with a Bobcat offense that averaged 32.67 PPG in their last season in 2019. One pandemic and coaching change later, and Wyoming will be playing a very different team than that 2019 squad, but they shouldn’t overlook their FCS opponent.
Vigen was given control of a potent offense that won 11 games prior to choosing to sit out the entire 2020 season. It’s a team that suits his coaching style as well, they averaged over 200 yards of rushing per game, a well balanced rushing attack is a hallmark of a Vigen lead team, look for them to attempt to wear down the Wyoming defense by running the ball heavily.
It’s been a long time since Wyoming was able to enjoy the festivities that usually accompany a college football weekend. There has been no fanfare in the gem city for nearly two years, so I expect the opening game to be an exciting moment for players, and fans, alike.
Wyoming has high expectations for themselves this year, and will be looking to set the tone for the season early, it will also be a test for Vigen to prove that he is able to succeed on his own, so I look for this game have a lot of emotion.
Saturday will be an interesting game, it will be the first time in nearly two years that many players will play a football game, multiple Cowboys chose to sit out last season, and Montana State was one of the numerous schools to cancel football for the year. I expect there will be mistakes, jitters, and the game may come down to who was the better coached team, and if that’s the case then Wyoming has the upper hand. Bohl has the familiarity of the team, his players know him and have been around him, Wyoming will win this game because of their maturity and familiarity with their system.
Final score: Wyoming 35-MSU 24