After a busy month we are back with our second installment of Panel of Pokes. This monthly feature debuted in June and was very popular. Football season is getting so close you can almost taste it. Maybe not taste it but by this time next month fall practice will be in full swing and we'll know a lot more about the Pokes then. The best way to pass that time is to discuss Wyoming football since we have some time on our hands.
We gathered a group of talented Wyoming fans and bloggers to breakdown important topics relating to Wyoming athletics. Everyone on our panel is back this month to disect our latest hot button topic.
Here is a refresher of the crew that makes this discussion possible:
Matt Hargleroad - Cowboy Altitude
Brad Reed - WyoNation
Ian McMackin - GoWyoGo
Skyler Corcoran - Cowboy Altitude
Matt Blaylock - Poke Pride
Chad Smith - 7220 Report
The topic that was chosen was actually a two piece question this month.
The first question:
What do you need to see the Wyoming football team accomplish in 2011 to consider the season a success? Don't just base it on record. What areas are you looking for improvement when it comes to offense, defense and the coaches?
What uniform combination do you want to see the Pokes wear for the season opener against Weber State?
Here are the responses from the crew. Please post your thoughts on both topics in the comments below.
Question 1: Despite the fact there will be a true freshman starting at QB this year Wyoming does enjoy a much easier schedule. As far as record goes anything less than 5 wins will leave me disappointed. Two FCS schools plus home games against UNLV and New Mexico equal four projected wins for me. Road games at Bowling Green, Utah State and Colorado State are all winnable. By the end of the year I want to see some some serious gains by the offensive line. That has been the Achilles tendon of the offense the last two years. On defense I'm looking for a lot more comfort with the 4-3 defense and Marty English putting more pressure on the opposing QB. With Gregg Brandon I'd like to see him open things up more and have the offense average somewhere north of 25 points this season.
Bonus: First off I have to say that I'm a huge fan of the brown helmet. I think it will look very intimidating on the field when the Pokes suit up. I like the yellow alternate uniforms a lot but my vote for the opening day uniform is with the all-brown from head to toe. I think that will look great under the lights against Weber State
Question 1: For the Cowboys to have a successful season they need to do a few things. Dave Christensen's team need to show a lot of what they did against Colorado State last season and keep stepping up their game. First on the schedule is two FCS teams, Texas State and Weber State. Wyoming needs to beat these two teams by a healthy margin and flex their FBS muscles a little bit. Next, they can't be getting blown out in big games. This year Wyoming has games against nationally recognizable teams like Nebraska, Boise State, and TCU. These games can't be lopsided affairs, at some point the Pokes need to show that they're competitive against high profile opponents, unlike last year's Boise and Texas contests. Up next, the Pokes need to get revenge on two losses they should not have accumulated last season, vs New Mexico and UNLV. And to round things out, the Cowboys need to get over that elusive hump and knock off the Falcons from Air Force. To dig a little deeper into this question, the Cowboys averaged 19 points per game while giving up 30 points per game. Those numbers need to be closer together for this season to have any kind of success, a pipe dream being those numbers would be reversed. I hope new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon can fix that. On the defensive side, the transition to the 4-3 should yield us better results this season and I think we'll see big seasons from Knapton, Biezuns, Schober, and Hendricks. Plenty of firepower on the defensive side. A nice record for the Cowboys this year would be 6-6, I think 7-5 is achievable.
Bonus: First off, I'm going to preface this with haters gonna hate. The last time the Cowboys wore the all gold uniforms there was howling from all over Poke nation about those uniforms. Personally, I dig 'em, one of the wallpapers on my desktop is Devin Moore running in his fancy gold uniform. My vote for the opener vs. Weber State is going to be the all brown w/ brown helmet or all gold with the brown helmet. If it's a warm day in Laramie, all gold will probably be better for the players.
Question 1: A winning season and a bowl game would be a success and then look toward the following year or 2012 as a move to a championship contender within the Mountain West Conference.
The Cowboys need to get off to a strong start with two FCS teams, a MAC school and WAC school mixed in with the Nebraska, since the second half of the schedule gets tougher. Wins against teams they should beat is a near must, which includes the two FCS schools, Bowling Green, Utah State, UNLV, and New Mexico, and then at minimum pickup a couple more games.
Staying more competitive in games against the likes of Boise State, TCU, and Nebraska is another guage for improvement. The Cowboys have been beat easily by the league's top tier programs and it would a good step forward to stay more competitive in those type of matchups.
Offensively, the Pokes need to see better play from the offensive line and more breakaway ability from wide receiver. With a new quarterback, likely a freshmen, you want to see a progressive improvement as the season moves forward. Defensively, better size and more physical on the defensive line against the run would be a step in the right direction.
Bonus: I'm more traditional and like white helmets, brown jerseys, and gold pants at home, while white helmets, white jerseys, and gold pants on the road. I'm not sure what to think about these combinations and uniform changes, but as long as the steamboat stays intact on the helmet, I'll be OK with the new combinations.
I really do believe Wyoming has one of the most distinctive and best helmets in college football. The steamboat with the white background looks awesome, especially with those road white uniforms on TV.
I must say the brown helmet is intriguing to me and I'll be interested to see it in person and on TV. Should be interesting!
Question 1: The biggest thing Wyoming needs to do in 2011 is to be able to run a spread offense. If they can run the spread as head coach Dave Christensen would like to do that should take care of the second thing they need to do and that is they need to average over 20 points a game. As easy as that sounds recruiting the type of players you need to run the spread effectively are hard to recruit in a climate like Laramie, WY. For those that have never been to Laramie let me tell you (as I live here now) we are known to have cold and snow for as much as nine months out of the year. The climate does not help the scoring so if the Cowboys get to an average of over 20 points a game then they should easily pick up a few wins.
The third thing that The Pokes need to do to be successful is to develop a quarterback that can be the future of the program for the next 4 years. With two two star recruits and one three star recruit coming in the battle at the quarterback position should be a good one and with all three being freshman that can take care of the position for the next few years. Austyn Carta-Samuels leaving the program could be the best thing that has happened to the program this decade as far as players go.
I posted an article on this site about a month ago where I predicted the Cowboys to have 8 wins, many do not believe they can win that many games I am an optimist and I truly believe with the recruiting that coach Christensen has done in three years makes the Cowboys a better team and they should no longer be conference basement dwellers, they may not be a MWC top tier team yet but they have moved to a middle of the conference team.
Bonus: As for the uniform the brown helmet is sweet even if the brown-on-brown is hard to see. I like the yellow-on-yellow with the brown helmet that is something that stands out and stands true to the Brown and Gold that Wyoming takes so much pride in… Go Pokes!!!
Question 1: Wyoming Cowboy football should enjoy a dramatic improvement from last year, both in the win-loss column, and in execution. I would consider the 2011 campaign a success if the Cowboys find themselves in the postseason, competing in a bowl game again. I see Wyoming football winning 7, 8, or 9 games this season. As a pipe dream I would love for the Cowboys to get that defining program moment by upsetting one of the three top 25 teams on the schedule, Nebraska, TCU, or Boise State. On the offensive side of the ball, Wyoming needs to more closely resemble the Missouri Tigers spread. The addition of spread guru Gregg Brandon at offensive coordinator, and a quarterback that is mature enough and willing to buy into the spread philosophy will help the offense click. I fully expect the Cowboys to average a point total in the high 20's. On defense, the Pokes should be nasty. The Wyoming front four is the best in the MWC, and should be one of the stingiest in the country. The Cowboy defense should get to the quarterback more, and should also be in the top 25 in total defense. This may be difficult with statistical challenges against Nebraska, Boise State, and TCU, but Weber State, Texas State, and Bowling Green should help get the Cowboys going in the right direction.
Bonus: I am a huge fan of the all brown look, and I think the brown helmet is one of the most eye popping helmets in the country. But I feel the Cowboys should save the "brown out" for a bigger home opponent such as Nebraska or TCU. The uniform I would like to see the Cowboys run out with under the lights on September 3 would be the brown helmet, paired with the alternate yellow jersey and the brown pants. The contrast between brown and gold under the lights of the War would be a great sight.
Chad "Old Fashioned" Smith
Question 1: There is one thing and one thing only that will make the 2011 season a success for the Cowboys and that is a major improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Tom Burman hired Christensen because of his vision for the offense saying, "he is one of the great offensive minds in college football, and he will bring a very exciting brand of football to Jonah Field". In the first two years under Christensen we have only seen flashes of that exciting brand of football and Christensen's tenure at Wyoming will ultimately be judged by the production of his offense. The past two falls Wyoming's offense has ranked in the bottom third of the NCAA in pretty much every major category and that must be fixed if Christensen is to have long term success at Wyoming. He has taken a huge steep in fixing this problem with the hiring of Gregg Brandon as the offensive coordinator. It shows Christensen doesn't have a huge ego when it comes to his offense bringing in a coach with just as much or more experience than him to help improve the offense.
Bonus: I think they should stick with "tradition" and wear the regular home uniforms with a white helmet, brown top and gold pants. Call me old fashioned but that's the way the Pokes should always look at home. I'm not a fan of the all gold look or the brown helmet and you can read all of my thoughts about the new uniforms here (shameless plug time!). With the fans voting on what uniforms will be worn versus Weber State for the opening game there is no doubt in my mind that the all gold look with perhaps the new brown helmet is going to win out.
First off I have no problem with Chad being a traditionalist. He did ask to be called old fashioned so I simply obliged.
Good to see that there is plenty of optimism about this upcoming season from everyone. Nothing is worse then being defeated before you even take the field. Getting two people to agree on the best uniform for the team to wear is almost impossible.
The main thing that everyone wants to see is some W's this season, the combination of brown and gold worn is secondary.
Big thanks to everyone who participated this month and was able to respond to my email quickly. Really a great group to work with here. Wyoming has a very strong online presence and this group is a big part of that.
Make sure you post your thoughts on both topics in the comments below.