Wyoming working on accelerated schedule ahead of Hawaii trip
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming didn’t show well in its Mountain West Conference opener last week, but the Cowboys aren’t dwelling on it.
They don’t have time to.
Wyoming is moving on quicker than usual from its 34-14 loss to Boise State with a trip to Hawaii looming Saturday. The Cowboys will leave Thursday, a day earlier than usual. In order to get a full week of practices in, Wyoming (2-3, 0-1 MW) began preparations for the Warriors (5-1, 2-0) on Sunday, a day the Cowboys normally have off.
“That’s how it is,” offensive lineman Eric Abojei said of preparing for the trip off the mainland. “We’re so bought into it, so we’ve got to be able to be prepared for moments like this. I think we’ll be ready.”
There’s plenty for Wyoming to work on before leaving the mainland after coming up well short in all three phases resulted in its worst loss of the season from a margin-of-defeat standpoint, the Casper Star-Tribune reported .
The Cowboys, who were shut out in a half for the first time all season, didn’t do much offensively outside of Nico Evans’ 141 rushing yards. Six of Wyoming’s non-scoring drives lasted four plays or fewer with two snaps — Evans’ 75-yard touchdown run to start the second half and Tyler Vander Waal’s 72-yard touchdown pass to James Price late in the fourth quarter — accounting for nearly half of the Cowboys’ 295 total yards.
Wyoming averaged just 3.1 yards on its other 48 snaps with an offensive line that’s still working its way back to full health. The lopsided score didn’t help as Boise pinned its collective ears back with Wyoming having to abandon the run as the game wore on, getting to Vander Waal for a season-high five sacks.
Center Patrick Arnold is in line to return to the rotation Saturday after missing last week’s game with a sprained ankle, a boost for a line Wyoming coach Craig Bohl expects more out of moving forward.
“Football players are always going to have some challenges, but we need to play better in the offensive line,” he said.
The quick turnaround won’t make it any easier for a Wyoming defense still trying to find itself. Only Boise (10) has more defensive starters back from last season in the MW than the Cowboys (8), yet Wyoming isn’t any better than fifth in the conference in total defense, rush defense or pass defense while ranking next to last in opponents’ third-down conversion rate.
Bohl attributed Boise’s success on third down (11 of 20) to a blend of its offensive talent and poor tackling by his defense, a contributing factor to the Broncos keeping Wyoming on the field for 89 plays with three of their scoring drives lasting at least 11 plays. Now Wyoming has to deal with Hawaii’s air-raid offense, which is putting up 42 points and 495 yards each time out and will again test the Cowboys’ ability to make plays in space.
“We need to tackle better,” Bohl said. “Certainly a lot of (Boise’s) scoring did not come about because of us turning the ball over. It came about because of some extended drives, so we’re concerned about it. It ain’t going to get any easier this week, and so we’ve got to get better there.”
There’s also the task of trying to get players used to the four-hour time difference that comes with this trip. Saturday’s game will be played at 10 p.m. MT, which is 6 p.m. island time, but the idea is that arriving a day early will help them get adjusted.
Everything is happening fast this week.
“Your timetable gets changed,” Bohl said. “Young people probably adapt to it better than coaches, but you’re dealing with a four-hour time change.”
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com