WSU in Week 3: Hello power running game

WYOMING WON'T TRY to hide what it wants to do on offense this season. When the Cowboys travel to Pullman on Sept. 19, they're going to try and run the ball, and then run it some more.

Wyoming has three returning offensive linemen and arguably the best returning running back duo in the Mountain West (Shaun Wick, Brian Hill).

But there are questions galore everywhere else.

Wyoming returns only nine starters off a 4-8 team (five offense, four defense). They'll be breaking in a new quarterback, albeit a senior transfer. The linebackers, wide receivers and defensive backfield are pretty much at "ground zero" according to their coach. Pundits are predicting five wins or less.

Craig Bohl is in his second year at Wyoming after guiding North Dakota State to three straight FCS titles. He's finding the rebuild in Laramie is going to take a while.

The new offensive philosophy at Wyoming this year is to play power football. On defense, they're moving to a 4-3 base.

Bohl's stated goal for 2015 is to win the time of possession battle. And Wyoming is one of the few teams who still employ a fullback. With the least experienced roster in the Mountain West this season, Bohl will try to keep it simple.

Bohl's coaching history suggests Wyoming will also try to catch teams napping and use the tight end liberally in the passing game. They'll need a good one to make it work, with only two wideouts returning who have any game experience.

Senior QB Cameron Coffman is the new starter. As a sophomore at Indiana he completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,734 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions before falling out of favor as a junior and transferring to Wyoming.

The strength of the defense is on the line, where most of the starters are back. Senior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough is a two-time All-Mountain West pick and carded 10.5 tackles for loss last season. But get past that line and pass catchers and running backs should find a lot of room.

Only one experienced linebacker returns in ’15, there will be two new safety starters and the corners were a mixed bag last year. Bottom line: Wyoming has to replace five of its top six linebackers and six of its top nine defensive backs.

The Cougs should be able to pretty much do what they want on offense against Wyoming - they may even put up some crooked rushing numbers. Wyoming gave up 87 runs of 10-plus yards last season. Wyoming was also woeful last year against short passing attack offenses.

Defensively, WSU will need to stop Wyoming from gaining momentum on the ground - otherwise they could put together some lengthy drives and keep WSU's offense off the field. Meanwhile, Wyoming's special teams were poor last year.

Still, if this game is close at the end, it's going to cause consternation in Cougar Nation. Wyoming has too many questions and not enough depth.

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