Well the first game of the season is in the books for the Wyoming Cowboys and the good news is that they came out with a victory and showed their improved passing game in a 28-20 victory at War Memorial Stadium over the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. The Cowboys made this game much closer then it needed to be and the stat sheet leans heavily in the Tbirds favor.
|Time of Poss.||34:43||25:17|
Full breakdown of what went right and what went wrong in the season opener after the break.
Austyn Carta-Samuels got off to a phenomenal start to the season throwing for a career high 319 yards and three touchdowns. He had never had before thrown over 260 yards in a game so this was a nice way to start the year. For the game ACS was 26 for 32 and he was so accurate with his passes. The one negative tonight was an interception in the end zone on a tipped pass that was grabbed by Safety Matt Holley for a touchback.
WR Zach Bolger also had a personal best night with 5 catches for 134 yards and two scores. Bolger had the first touchdown of the game on a 34 yard pass then sparked the team in the second half with 69 yard reception where snuck behind the secondary. After a quiet preseason it was great to see Bolger step up when the Pokes needed it the most.
Pass distribution was solid for Carta-Samuels who had four receivers catch at least five passes: Bolger, Chris McNeill plus David Leonard and Mazi Ogbonnawho both had six catches. Ogbonna had the second touchdown of the game which helped to make up for a fumble in the first quarter.
A "W". Really that is the main concern when any team plays. The Pokes got a win and the team got to hit somebody besides their own players. Plus the new and improved War Memorial Stadium is impressive. Crowd was over 20,000 which is better then the 18,000 at the opener with Weber State last year. No injuries were reported during the game and hopefully everyone can practice this week.
The line? Which line? Both lines! The defensive line had a terrible time stopping the run in the first half and the Thunderbirds controlled the clock due to ball control. The big threat for SUU was supposed the passing game and not the ground attack. Deckar Alexander and Austin Minfee both had over 60 yards rushing for Southern Utah. With struggles like this against an FCS opponent things don't bode well when facing high powered offenses like Texas and Boise State.
The O-Line struggled to protect Carta-Samuels and he was pressured often. This pressure also stopped the ground game from getting on track as the team finished with 36 total yards on the ground. Alvester Alexander13 rushes for 40 yards including a one yard touchdown. However, ACS was tackled 9 times for a loss of 16 yards and that includes one 11 yard gain. Without proper blocking for running lanes the Pokes will become forced to rely on the pass and abandon the running game. ACS needs to use his dual threat capabilities in order to give the team a chance to win every week.
Where were the new guys. All throughout camp we heard about Jonathon Aiken and Robert Herron and everyone was excited to see what they could do in an actual game. Herron had one catch for four yards and Aiken was not heard from. Hopefully they can get mixed into the game next week.
Last year the turnover margin was great with +8 for the Cowboys. Two turnovers in the first half cost the Cowboys at least one touchdown and could have changed the whole vibe of the game. Imagine a 14-7 or 21-7 lead in the first quarter instead of a 7-7 tie.
Two missed field goals by Southern Utah were costly. Even without those six points they nearly had a touchdown on hail mary pass to end zone on the games final play. The defense turned a 28-10 lead into a 28-20 threat in a matter of minutes.
The New Mexico Lobos losing to Oregon 72-0. Are you kidding me? I watched some of the game but it was so brutal I had to switch the channel after five minutes and three touchdowns.
In case this is your first time reading a recap from Cowboy Altitude here is we do awards for each game.
Cowboy Joe - MVP of the game or most impressive performance. Might not always be the player with the best stats but the one stepped up when needed.
Cowboy Low - The Wyoming player who unit who didn't do what was needed during the game. Disappointing performance.
Cowboy Foe - Player from the opposing team who was gave Wyoming the most trouble.
Without further ado here are your winners for Week 1:
Cowboy Joe:This award has to go to two players had their best performances statistically in their Wyoming career. Austin Carta-Samuels showed that he is comfortable with his recievers already and be a gunslinger if needed. Zach Bolger had 134 yards receiving and his 69 yard touchdown in the second half provided for a spark that Wyoming needed to breakout in the third quarter.
Cowboy Low:This needs to go the defensive line. With the switch to the 4-3 there is a vital need to step up and stop the run. Southern Utah outgained the Cowboys and costly penalties were the big setback to their offense and Wyoming stopping them.
Cowboy Foe: Fesi Sitakeis a speedster and led the Thunderbirds with eight catches for 64 yards. He also had 39 yard kick return on their first possession.