Coach Dave Christensen took over last season and turned
One of the qualities of a good football team is that they
find ways to win. Last year,
The drastic improvement in turnover margin is largely responsible for Wyoming's turnaround. The Cowboys were next-to-last in the nation in that department in 2008. Last season, they were 17th nationally. Sixteen starters are back this fall to continue the upward trend. .
Austyn Carta-Samuels (6-2, 215) was the answer at
quarterback that helped to turn the Pokes' fortunes around.
Christensen took a chance with him starting a freshman but now it makes
the coach look like a genius. Carta-Samuels
keeps defenses honest as a dual threat. He
passed for 1,953 yards last season and ran for 366, all with a vanilla playbook
by design. Austyn was named as the
Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year.
That playbook can now be
expanded and the entire team will benefit. Carta-Samuels was named a co-captain in the spring, indicating that he has earned the trust of those around him.
Wide receiverDavid Leonard (6-4, 203, Sr.) possesses great hands and
he exploded for 77 receptions last season. He
is a go-to receiver that rivals any in the Mountain West.
Wyoming brought junior college receivers Mazi Ogbonna and DeJay Lester into the mix to take pressure off of Leonard.
Zach Bolger (5-10, 185, Sr.), David Tooley (6-5, 203, So.), Travis Burkhalter (6-1, 191) and Chris McNeill (6-1, 175, So.) are others vying for
Pass protection must be improved if the Cowboys are to be
upwardly mobile. Nick Carlson (6-4,
290, So.) will be the man in the middle this fall.
Seniors Jack Tennant (6-4, 305) and Sam Sterner (6-4, 302) are the
veteran guards while Josh Leonard (6-4, 296, So.) and Clayton Kirven (6-6, 305,
Jr.) are expected to start at tackle.
Coaches want to switch to a 4-3 defensive formation this season from the 3-4
scheme of the past. Gabe Knapton
(6-3, 248, Jr.) and Josh Biezuns (6-2, 247, Jr.) will make the move to defensive
end due to the graduation of all four defensive linemen who started last season. Underclassmen Patrick Mertens
(6-5, 269, Fr.) and Ben Durbin (6-3, 250, So.) hope to clog the middle of the
line for the Cowboys.
Middle linebacker Brian Hendricks (6-1, 221, Jr.) is back
to lead his group. Hendricks
recorded 23 tackles in a 10-0 loss to Air Force.
Ghaali Muhammad (6-0, 225, So.), who excelled on special teams last fall,
will be called upon to slide into one of the vacant linebacker positions.
Devyn Harris (6-3, 225) could start at the strongside
Christensen says "Our back seven is going to be as quick
and fast as probably any group in the country."
That is saying a lot but the strength of the
Free safety Chris Prosinski (6-1, 210) was 10th
in the nation with 10.8 tackles per game last year and returns for his senior
year. All Shamiel Gary (6-1, 210)
did was earn Freshman All-America honors.
Placekicker Ian Watts (6-3, 187) was another surprise
freshman success story. He not only
got the starting job as a walk-on but won three games with winning kicks.
Punter Austin McCoy (6-3, 202) is also back and can get the
Cowboys out of a deep hole with booming kicks (43.3 average in 2009).
Marcell Gipson will be back on kickoffs and Leonard will handle the punt
Meanwhile, Air Force,