Wyoming is coming back from a season of misfortune after losing four games by 7 points or less. The key to this season will be to stay healthy. Although the Cowboys finished 4-8 (3-5 MWC), they were able to pick up 3 wins out of their last 4 games, including their fourth consecutive victory over Colorado State to keep the Boot.

Offensively, the Cowboys use the spread attack to get the ball into space and force the defense to stay true.

Junior quarterback Brett Smith led the conference in passing efficiency (157.7) and placed 11th nationally in that category.  Smith also ranked 16th nationally (3rd in the MWC) in total offense.  However, Smith suffered a concussion during the fourth quarter of the Toledo game which kept him sidelined against Cal Poly and later had an injury that kept him out against Air Force.

Brandon Miller (29.33 yds/game and 2.5 receptions/game) returns as a senior at running back in 2013.  Miller is a versatile player who could be used as a receiver in Wyoming's offense as well.  Sophomore running backs DJ May (34 yds/game) and Shaun Wick (31 yds/game) look to bring experience back to the Cowboy running attack.  Although the Cowboys ranked 9th in the conference in rushing last season, May and Wick’s experience will aid the running game this season.

Senior wide receiver Robert Herron suffered an injury in the Texas game after he reeled in 5 catches for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Although Herron battled ankle and hamstring injuries all season (played in 8 of Wyoming's 12 games last season), he still managed to catch 31 passes for 657 yards.  He also had 4 games with 90 yards or more receiving and 3 games with two touchdowns.  The Cowboy offense, however, loses Second Team All-Mountain West receiver Chris McNeill.  McNeill caught 63 passes for 722 yards and led the team in receiving.  Last season vs. Idaho, McNeill caught 8 passes for a staggering 219 yards and 1 touchdown.  Look for junior wide-outs Jalen Claiborne, Dominic Rufran, and Trey Norman to step-up at the receiver position.

Lastly, the Cowboy offensive line will have to replace First-Team All-Mountain West center Nick Carlson and tackles Josh Leonard and Kyle Magnuson.

On defense, the Cowboys struggled this past season, giving up 470.3 yards/game.  This unit looks to rebound in 2013 as 7 starters return to their 3/4 base package.

The Wyoming defensive front loses NT Mike Purcell who piled up 83 total tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery.  Senior Pat Mertens, who tallied 34 total tackles and 2.5 sacks, will be the leader on the defensive line.  He will have the assistance of sophomore DE Eddie Yarbrough (42 total tackles, 6 TFL’s, 4 sacks (T-12 MWC)) and junior DE Sonny Puletasi (20 total tackles, 4.5 TFL’s, 2 sacks).

Linebackers Ghaali Muhammad and Korey Jones will be missed as the team’s two leading tacklers last season.  Muhammad collected 106 total tackles (MWC rank: 5th), 10 tackles for loss (MWC rank: 10th), 1 sack, and 4 recovered fumbles.  Jones had 103 total tackles and 3 tackles for loss.  Senior MLB Devyn Harris returns after missing nearly all of 2012 with an injury.  Harris will need to step-up as a leader on the defense in 2013.

Lastly, the secondary looks strong as junior cornerbacks Blair Burns and DeAndre Jones look to continue defending the passing lanes.  Burns tallied 60 total tackles with a “pick six” last season and Jones had an interception and 21 total tackles.  Junior safety Darrenn White and senior safety Marqueston Huff return in the defensive backfield.  White had 39 total tackles and an interception while Huff had 57 total tackles.  Also, junior Chad Reese led the team with 3 interceptions in 2012 and will be in the mix at safety.

Perfect Passing: Brett Smith threw 27 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2012.  In the month of November, Smith threw 13 TD’s and 0 INT’s.

Season Plagued with Injuries: With Robert Herron and Brett Smith healthy on offense, the landscape of the 2012 could’ve been different.  However, injuries to them and others derailed a hopeful season for the Cowboys.  Wyoming must stay healthy to have success in 2013.

2013 Schedule:

8/31 at Nebraska
9/7 Idaho
9/14 Northern Colorado
9/21 at Air Force*
9/28 at Texas State
10/12 New Mexico*
10/19 Colorado State*
10/26 at San Jose State*
11/9 Fresno State*
11/16 at Boise State*
11/23 Hawaii*
11/30 at Utah State*

*-Conference Games

Critical Games:

  1. @Air Force: After last season’s heartbreaker in Laramie, Wyoming will be looking for revenge against the Falcons in Colorado Springs.  This game will be aired on one of the ESPN Networks as well.
  2. Fresno State: Wyoming was blown away by Fresno last season.  However, having the Bulldogs at home will benefit the Cowboys, especially during the final stretch of the season.
  3. @Utah State: The Cowboys were defeated 63-19 in Logan two seasons ago.  This season, the Cowboys return to Logan and will have a chance to prove themselves against MWC newcomer Utah State.

Wyoming Cowboys

Laramie, WY

Founded in 1886

Head Coach: Dave Christensen (5th season, 22-28 in 4 seasons)

Coordinators:

  • Pete Kaligis (5th season, Co-Offensive Coordinator/RB’s)
  • Jim Harding (5th season, Co-Offensive Coordinator/OL)
  • Chris Tormey (2nd season, Defensive Coordinator/DB’s)
  • Robin Ross (2nd season, Special Teams Coordinator/LB’s)

2012 Record: 4-8 (3-5 MWC)

Game Result W/L
at Texas 37-17 L
Toledo 34-31 L
Cal Poly 24-22 L
at Idaho 40-37 W
at Nevada* 35-28 L (OT)
Air Force* 28-27 L
at Fresno State* 42-14 L
Boise State* 45-14 L
Colorado State* 45-31 W
at New Mexico* 28-23 W
at UNLV* 28-23 W
SDSU* 42-28 L

*-Conference Game

2012 Statistics:

Category

Actual

MWC Rank

NCAA Rank

Points For/Game

26.8

6

72

Points Allowed/Game

33.4

8

97

Yards For/Game

390.6

6

70

Rush Yards For/Game

125.2

9

99

Pass Yards For/Game

265.4

2

38

Yards Allowed/Game

470.3

10

106

Rush Yards Allowed/Game

232.3

10

117

Pass Yards Allowed/Game

237.9

8

67

Passing Efficiency

145.1

3

30

Passing Efficiency Defense

149.6

9

108

Turnover Margin

0.58

4

30

Sacks Allowed/Game

2.17

6

75

Sacks For/Game

1.17

10

109

Tackles For Loss/Game

4.25

8

T-110

Returning Starters: 14 (7 Offensive, 7 Defensive)

Starters Lost: 8 (4 Offensive, 4 Defensive)

Returning Offensive Starters: Returning Defensive Starters:
Junior QB Brett Smith Senior NT Patrick Mertens
Senior WR Robert Herron Senior S Marqueston Huff
Senior RB Brandon Miller Senior MLB Devyn Harris
Junior WR Jalen Claiborne Junior S Darren White
Junior WR Dominic Rufran Junior CB Blair Burns
Senior LG Tyler Strong Junior DE Sonny Puletasi
Sophomore RG Jake Jones Sophomore Buck Siaosi Hala’api’api
Offensive Starters Lost: Defensive Starters Lost:
C Nick Carlson* NT Mike Purcell*
WR Chris McNeill^ MLB Korey Jones
LT Josh Leonard OLB Ghaali Muhammad
RT Kyle Magnuson DT Miraldo Michel
Returning Specialists:
Junior PK Stu Williams (7/12 FG’s made)

*-First Team All-Mountain West

^-Second Team All-Mountain West

This article was complied with the use of NCAA Football Statistics, Wyoming Sports, and Mountain West Conference Football.

Audio:

Dave Christensen (head coach) talks about: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebacker's, Huff's move to safety, and Spring ball improvements:

Dave Walsh (Voice of The Cowboys) talks about: Brett Smith, Progression of Cowboy Football, and the MWC's strength and bowl game slate:

Robert Gagliardi (Wyoming Tribune Eagle) talks about: Robert Herron, Defense, Things to improve, and Bowl games: