There are certain performance levels that football players love to reach. Quarterbacks strive to exceed 300 passing yards and running backs want to pile up 100 yard games. Having one or two performances reaching those levels is great. Performing at a consistent level for an entire season is even harder to do. For wide receivers and running backs the 1,000 yard plateau is always a high level goal.
Wyoming has fielded a football team since 1893 and during that time only a few athletes have broken that 1,000 yard mark. To be exact only eight Cowboy running backs and four receivers have exceeded the 1k mark in a single season.
Devin Moore was the most recent member with his 1,301 rushing yards in 2008. Jovon Bouknight caught 77 passes for 1,115 yards back in 2005.
Under Dave Christensen the spread offense is meant to be a high powered system that puts up plenty of yards and points. The Pokes had their best offensive output in 2011 by averaging over 26 points per game and breaking 5,000 total yards. It allows for plenty of yards on the ground and in the air and really a Cowboy could break 1000 yards in either one.
In the three years of the Christensen era only three players have broken the 700 yard mark in rushing or receiving.
- 2011 - Brett Smith: 710 yards rushing
- 2010 - Alvester Alexander: 792 yards rushing
- 2009 - David Leonard: 705 yards receiving
In a twelve game regular season it takes an average of 83.33 yards per game to reach 1000 yards. Smith and Leonard both needed to play in the New Mexico Bowl to break the 700 yard mark. Alexander nearly broke 800 yards in a year that the Cowboy offense really struggled and went 3-9.
This year the Cowboys return Smith who was their leading passer and rusher as a true freshmen. There has been some sentiment that they want to protect Smith and not have him run the ball as much this year. Obviously you don't want him to get hurt. However, you don't want to limit one of your biggest offensive weapons. Smith is very quick with his cuts and knows when to slide. I wouldn't say that he is reckless when rushing with the ball. He won't need to wear gloves on both hands which should also help his grip and reduce fumbles.
Smith also has the jets to pick up plenty of yards. As evidenced in the game against New Mexico, he is faster then the Lobo defensive backs.
Remember this touchdown run? (2:38) (NICKELBACK ALERT)
47 players ran for over 1000 yards in 2012, there were three FBS quarterbacks that broke the 1000 yard rushing mark:
- Chandler Harnish - NIU - 1379 yards
- Denard Robinson - Michigan - 1176 yards
- Collin Klein - Kansas State - 1141 yards
I certainly think that Smith has a legitimate shot at eventually breaking 1000 yards in a season if he is given the green light.
Don't think that he is he only one that would have a shot.
Wyoming also has a stable of running backs that are ready for the ball. Brandon Miller averaged over 5.5 yards per carry last year but only had 66 carries as he also spent time playing receiver. He is currently atop the depth chart at running back and poised for a much bigger year. Kody Sutton will also be competing for carries as he enters his sophomore year. Sutton had 30 carries in seven games as a freshmen for 146 yards. Nehemie Kankalongo is now healthy and looking to make an impact in his junior year. If Wyoming employs a steady three back rotation it will certainly be hard for one of them to pile up a ton of yards.
Now let's take a look a the receivers.
Chris McNeill was having a breakout year until he injured his shoulder in the win over Air Force. Still he led the Pokes with 504 receiving yards in just seven games. McNeill averaged an impressive 12 yards per catch his junior year. He will be just one of two returning upperclassmen starters in 2012, the other is Robert Herron.
Wyoming has a number of talented young wide receivers like Dominic Rufran and Trent Sewell who are still working to learn the system and get adjusted to the college game. Gregg Brandon likes have a solid rotation of up to eight receivers in order to maximize the passing game.
Last there were a total of 40 receivers in FBS who were north of 1000 yards.
It doesn't really matter if a Cowboy breaks the 1000 yard mark this year. It is amazing that Wyoming has only had a few players join that club. Individual performances are nice but team goals are the priority. The main goal is obviously victories.
I'm curious to get your thoughts on when a Poke will break that mark and who do you think it will be. Post your thoughts in the comments.