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Things didn't go to plan for Wyoming last year, finishing 2-10 overall, last place in the Mountain division. The Cowboys lost one of their quarterbacks, Josh Allen, in just the second game of the season and he'll come in as the favorite to start this year with limited experience on the team. Still, both sides of the ball should be improved, after being one of the worst in the country a year ago.
The offense scored a putrid 19 points per game, which was simply not good enough considering running back Brian Hill had such a good season, going for 1,631 yards and six touchdowns. With that type of yardage, more touchdowns should be expected. If Josh Allen can take over the starting role, he has the pieces around him to be more successful. Hill is joined by Shaun Wick in the backfield, who was also injured last season.
The better thing for Allen is that the offensive line is experienced, bringing back five players that have started in the past, with guard Chase Roullier being an all-conference selection. The receivers are also set for Allen with top guys Tanner Gentry (678 yards, 4 TDs) and Jake Maulhardt (653 yards, 8 TDs) in tow to go with tight end Jacob Hollister (355 yards, 3 TDs). If the offense can't top 19 points per game this season, it would be a major disappointment for head coach Craig Bohl in his third season.
The defense has a little more work to do, considering they have some huge holes along the defensive line, a spot that allowed 225 rushing yards per game. There is a lot of inexperience in the two-deep with freshmen and sophomores filling out much of the group. At the least, the back end will be a little better for the Cowboys starting at linebacker. Captain Lucas Wacha returns to run the middle of the field with D.J. May and Tim Kamana at outside backer positions.
The secondary can build on last year's semi-decent campaign with safety Andrew Wingard running roughshod. He led the league with 6.9 solo tackles per game last year as a freshman. With all this said, this group still allowed 34 points per game and regularly kept Wyoming out of games against better teams.
The Cowboys probably won't compete for an MWC title this year, but will have more than one opportunity to upset the best teams in the conference. They have home games against Air Force, Boise State, Utah State and San Diego State. Without a win in one of those games, it could be looking like another two- or three-win season for Wyoming. Their non-conference slate isn't the easiest with Nebraska and Eastern Michigan on the road, while also hosting Northern Illinois.
If Allen can't be a better quarterback this year, the Cowboys will have trouble in the MWC. There are pieces to work with, but those pieces still won't be enough to overcome last year's struggles. Getting to three conference wins may be considered an accomplishment for this team.
2016 Wyoming Cowboys Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Northern Illinois
Sept. 10 at Nebraska
Sept. 17 vs. UC Davis
Sept. 23 at Eastern Michigan
Oct. 1 at Colorado State
Oct. 8 vs. Air Force
Oct. 22 at Nevada
Oct. 29 vs. Boise State
Nov. 5 vs. Utah State
Nov. 12 at UNLV
Nov. 19 vs. San Diego State
Nov. 26 at New Mexico
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