To get you ready for fall camp and the 2012 season we are going to do some position previews over the next few weeks. Help you get up to date of roster moves and ready for football season.
Here is the schedule we will follow:
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers
- Defensive Line
- Special Team
The goal is to do at least two of these preview a week.
So here we are with opening segment of this series: Quarterbacks.
Adam Pittser - Transferred to Illinois State after first semester.
Josh Smith - Now playing wide receiver.
Tommy Thornton (Grayshirt, will sign in January)
1. Brett Smith 2. Colby Kirkegaard 3. Jason Thompson
Brett Smith amazed the Mountain West and opened some eyes on the national level with his incredible freshmen season. The dual threat from Salem, Oregon certainly exceeded expectations on the way to being named Mountain West Freshmen of the Year. 61% completion percentage, 2622 yards passing, 710 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns.
Smith had an injury that forced him wear gloves on both hands to help him throw. The injury took it's toll as he wasn't as effective in the passing game late in the season. Six of his 11 interceptions happened in the last three games. Overall Smith was fairly consistent and certainly give his all in every game. He either passed or ran for a touchdown in every single game of 2011.
Heading into 2012 Smith has a secure grasp on the starting job. He had off-season surgery and has recovered well. The coaches held him out of the scrimmages and the spring game, though he still completed all the non contract drills. Reports on Smith's passes have been very good this summer. He just finished attending the Manning Passing Academy where he stood is own amongst quarterbacks from larger schools and who had higher high school rankings.
The coaching staff is looking to not have Smith run as often in 2012. He is certainly dangerous when he runs, they just want to keep him healthy. There is always concern about a sophomore slump with any athlete. I wouldn't expect that occur with Smith if he is 100%. The main thing that Gregg Brandon is focusing on with Smith is raising his pass percentage this year.
If something happens to Smith then Colby Kirkegaard is the next in line. The junior JUCO transfer is in his second year backing up Smith. He didn't have much time to learn the offense last year as he only joined the team for fall camp. He only saw time in four games and went 5 of 10 for 37 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. While he was inexperienced in 2011, that won't be the case in 2012. Kirkegaard was the big benefactor of Smith missing the scrimmages in the spring. Colby saw a big increase in snaps and was the quarterback for both teams in the Brown and Gold game. He went 28 of 47 for 324 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The depth at the quarterback position is much better now that Smith and Kirkegaard have a full year under their belt. The offense will be able to move the ball with either one taking snaps this year.
Interesting Stat: Colby Kirkegaard is first Wyoming player to wear #11 in back to back years since 2005 and 06 when Devin Moore sported #11. Moore switched to #5 in 2007 and Travis Burkhalter took wore 11. Burkhalter switched to #3 the next year. In 2008 freshmen Safety Eric Benson and K Kolten Jelden both wore #11 their only year on the team. In 2009 Robert Benjamin wore #11 and transferred. Emory Miller repeated that in 2010.
Jason Thompson signed with Wyoming out of Kennedy HS in Renton, WA. He is one of five signees from Washington State in the 2012 class. He originally committed to his hometown Washington Huskies as a safety, his brother is also on the football team. However in his heart he felt he was as quarterback and needed to pursue that goal. So he gave up a PAC 12 opportunity to sign with the Cowboys. Another dual-threat quarterback, Thomspon has a strong arm and can hit deep receivers in stride. Will redshirt this year unless injuries force him to move up the depth chart.
The Wyoming offense has a chance to be among the best in the conference with Brett Smith behind center. The offense will be able to have some success with Kirkegaard if needed. However the Cowboys need to have a healthy Smith for the whole season to keep that goal of a bowl game and conference title alive.