Wyoming Offense Is All About Balance

Struggles for the Wyoming offense are a lot more common then many may remember.  The last time that Wyoming averaged more then 20 points per game on offense was back in 2006 when the Pokes averaged a robust 21.6 points.  Under Joe Glenn the Pokes scraped by a few wins each season by putting up a few points and then relying on the defense to hold on for a narrow victory.  When Coach Christensen came to town he was expected to turn around the offense but it took three years before the offense finally started clicking. 

Here is the average points per game from the last five years including the first three games of 2011.  Obviously the sample size for 2011 is small but it is certainly improved.  That 12.3 points  from 2008 did happen unfortunately.  

2011 36.0
2010 19.2
2009 18.3
2008 12.7
2007 19.4

  

The offense this year is averaging 492 yards per game and is currently second in the Mountain West in average passing and rushing yards per game.  Last year the Pokes averaged just 285 yards per game.  It seems kind of strange to not be at the bottom of the barrel anymore and this definitely a feeling I could get used to enjoying.  The biggest reasons for the the improvement have to be tied into a greatly improved offensive line that has only given up two sacks all season and new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon. 

An easier schedule certainly didn't hurt but the offense wasn't projected to do this well.  Wyoming lost it's starting quarterback and top two receivers from the 2010 season.  There was also concern about starting a freshmen QB.  After the jump we'll take a look at the how the Wyoming offense is gaining all these yards.  

For most of 2010 the Wyoming running game was among the worst in college football.  Ranked 99th with 119 rushing yards per game.  This year Wyoming is averaging 226 yards on the ground and has nine rushing touchdowns.  With three capable running backs and a mobile quarterback the Pokes are taking a pick you poison method with the offense. 

No one has eclipsed 200 yards rushing yet but all four have over 130 yards this season.

Name

Attempts

Yards

Average

TD

Yards/Game

Ghaali Muhammad

26

198

7.62

2

66.00

Brandon Miller

27

169

6.26

1

56.33

Brett Smith

30

154

5.13

3

51.33

Alvester Alexander

34

137

4.03

3

45.67

Ghaali has certainly proven that he can play running back after moving over linebacker.  Despite being the largest running back he has runs of 40 and 50 yards so far this year.  Brandon Miller  has continued to show that his strong spring was no fluke and is averaging 6.26 yards per carry.  Smith has found the endzone three times which is the same as Austyn Carta-Samuels did in all of 2010.  Even though Alvester Alexander has the least amount of yards of the running backs currently doesn't necessarily mean is not playing well.  His average of 4.03 yards per carry is just down from his 2010 average of 4.19.  He has three touchdowns and has picked up several big first downs to keep drives alive.  You can also see how productive Alexander has been in the passing game as well further down. 

Brett Smith has certainly been a gunslinger this year.  Over three games he's completed 61.8% of his passes for 797 yards.  That's an average of 265 yards a game to go along with his five touchdowns.  He's done this while distributing the ball extremely well among his teammates.  Five different players already have more then a 100 yards receiving this year but no one has more then 200.   That is a great sign that Smith is not reliant on a key player and does a nice job of checking down his receivers to find the open man.   This is huge because opposing secondaries can't focus all their energy on locking down one receiver each game.

Name

Receptions

Yards

Avg/Catch

TD

Yards/Game

Robert Herron

17

176

10.35

2

58.7

Chris McNeill

12

139

11.58

2

46.3

Mazi Ogbonna

14

127

9.07

1

42.3

Dominic Rufran

9

127

14.3

1

42.3

Alvester Alexander

8

115

14.38

0

38.33

        

Last year Wyoming only had seven players total more then 100 yards receiving and David Leonard topped the team with 452 yards.  It is really is amazing what some depth can do to make an finally offense perform to it's potential.  We'll certainly take a look at these averages at the season progress but right now this is certainly a start that the offense should be very pleased with. 

The Nebraska defense will certainly but the largest and most talented that the Cowboys have faced this year.  However the Cornhuskers are giving up 364 yards per game which is well above their average over the last two years.  Fresno State totaled 444 yards and Washington put up 420.  Their domination of FCS Chattanooga where they only allowed 230 yards is what helps bring the average down to 364.  Still if Wyoming can move the ball effectively against Nebraska then it bodes well for conference games against Boise State, TCU and Air Force.

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