LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 13: David Leonard #12 of the Wyoming Cowboys catches a pass in the end zone between Cedric Coleman #34 and Alex De Giacomo #22 of the UNLV Rebels during their game at Sam Boyd Stadium November 13 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. Leonard was called for offensive pass interference on the play. UNLV won 42-16. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
In 2011 the spread offense finally clicked for the Cowboys. It was the third year of the new system that was installed by Coach Christensen when he took over after the 2008 season.
Last year the Cowboys offense put up some respectable numbers in 13 games.
|Total First Downs||254|
|Total Rushing Yards||2361|
|Total Passing Yards||2689|
A majority of that offensive production came from underclassmen. Obviously Brett Smith played a huge role but so did Dominic Rufran and Robert Herron. So can we expect the offense to stay the same in 2012, drop or increase?
The Cowboys actually appear to be in line for a large increase in their total yards in 2012. Some projections have them atop the NCAA's most improved list. Let's take a look at where that information comes from.
Scott Albrecht of College Football By The Numbers projects for Wyoming to increase their total yards by 15% in 2012. Meanwhile he projects Air Force to drop by 8% due to their senior heavy offense that is lost.
Albrecht uses his own system called Age Impact or (AI). The Cowboys are actually tops in the country in Age Impact for 2012.
Here is the offensive production by school year for the Cowboys in 2011:
- Freshmen - 56%
- Sophomore - 14%
- Junior - 24%
- Senior - 6%
What Age Impact explains is that teams with a lot of offensive yards from younger players in one year will have their offensive improve greater the next year. If seniors account for a large a majority of those yards then the offense is projected to regress once they leave.
Albrecht believes it is a more accurate system then just going off the number of returning starters.
Age Impact is an attempt to improve on the returning starters concept. On top of the raw numbers of how many starters will be back with the team, the Age Impact also considers how productive those starters were and how much we can expect them to improve from year to year. Losing a quarterback hurts more than losing the #2 receiver, and freshman tend to improve more going into their sophomore season than juniors entering their senior campaign (the sophomore slump is about standard regression and nothing more).
Right now these numbers are all looking for positive for the Cowboys. There are still a couple things I have questions about. I'm not sure if Albrecht accounted for players that are not returning to the team and what impact they would have.
Here are the yards of three offensive players from 2011 that either left Wyoming or changed positions.
- Alvester Alexander: 695 yards rushing 200 yards receiving
- Ghaali Muhammad: 379 yards rushing 52 yards receiving
- Josh Doctson: 393 yards receiving
That is a total of 1,719 yards or 34% of Cowboys offensive production in 2011. If you add in Mazi Ogbonna (430 yards) and DeJay Lester (22 yards) then you have 2,171 yards or 42.9% of total offense that is lost from 2011. I think the 15% improvement that Albrecht projected is on the high end, mainly due to the loss of Alexander and Muhammad. Still I would expect the Pokes continue their positive gains from the offense. I'll go with a lower estimate of 10% improvement in yards from 2011. That is based on the 34% of lost production from Alexander, Muhammad and Doctson.
A 10% increase would still give the Wyoming offense a projected total yards of 5,555 yards in 2012 over a regular season and a bowl game. That would be more then 2,000 yards then the Pokes produced in 2010.
The last two seasons Wyoming has averaged 1 point scored for every 14.8 yards of offense. If that ratio stayed true in 2012 then Wyoming would score an additional 34.1 points over 13 games. That would mean 2.6 additional points per game for an average of 28.7 points per contest.
Not to look too far ahead here but Chris McNeill is the only senior at an offensive skill position for 2012. If this group stays together, then 2013 could an explosive season for the Cowboys offense.
What is your take on the offense in 2012? What type of progression or regression do you see this year?
Any questions with my math or something I missed? Let me know.