August 5, 2012
Keys For Cowboy Success In 2012
Wyoming enters the 2012 season with hopes to contend for upper echelon of the league and with the additions of three programs in Nevada, Fresno State, and Hawaii to the league, and the loss of one in TCU after it's move to the Big 12, the Pokes could have a chance for contention in the Mountain West.
The UW 2012 schedule looks to be a manageable slate with enough challenging teams including the opener at Texas on September 1st.
The Pokes will host league favorite Boise State, while two road games at the Wolfpack and Bulldogs look to be critical contests at this point before the first game has been played.
Wyoming will play two possible contenders in Air Force and San Diego State at home.
Two of their league road games are against possibly the two worst teams in the league in UNLV and New Mexico which helps on the road to a championship.
The GoWyoGo.com listed key areas, players and improvement by UW coach Dave Christensen's program over last year that would help the Cowboys get to the next level.
Improved Run Defense
The Pokes hope the maturation of the interior of the defensive line with Mike Purcell, Kurt Taufa'asau, and BJ Sumter, and the return of Patrick Mertens helps lead to better consistency against the run.
Wyoming maintained themselves versus martinal competition but struggled stopping bigger, more athletic team's rushing games. Christensen believes the overall defense will be more physical than previous seasons and this could lend to a better performance this fall.
Big Plays in Passing Game
Quarterback Brett Smith was good in the mid-range passing game and making plays with his feet, while a few struggles later in the season with the deep passes because of an injured thumb.
Smith looks to be 100% entering fall camp and was throwing with more velocity on the deep throws during the offseason.
Wyoming also needs some big play threats to step up at wide receiver, an area that can be improved over the past several seasons. With deligence in recruiting, Christensen's staff looks to have more potential for players to assume the roles as game breakers.
The Cowboys need a strong leg to emerge on kickoffs whether it's the maturity of place-kicker Daniel Sullivan or the return of linebacker Oliver Schober in handling kickoffs.
Several times last season, the opposing team started with good field position because of short kicks.
Emergence at Running Back
Alvester Alexander is no longer in the program and with Ghaali Muhammad moving back over to defense, the running back position is one of the team's most inexperienced.
Sophomore Kody Sutton has a big upside and potential, and will need to emerge to compliment Brandon Miller, while a couple of freshmen will have the opportunity to help in Shaun Wick and DJ May. It would be a good time for Nehemie Kankolongo to make a mark in the program after little contribution to-date.
Wyoming has been solid in turnover margin during Christensen's tenure and will need to continue to win this battle. The appearance of a faster and more physical defense, the goal of new defensive coordinator Chris Tormey is keep the pressure on the offense by forcing mistakes.
Turnovers are always the key to success and Pokes will look to maintain this area, especially to pull an upset or two over the league favorites.
Health is always another key to longevity during the course of the season. The Cowboys feel the depth in the program is the best than it's been in recent history and this bolds well. Keeping away from the key injuries, especially to Smith or another top player could make a difference.
RB Kody Sutton - The second year player will need to learn quickly with Alexander and Muhammad not at running back this season.
WR Robert Herron - The junior brings speed to field and needs to find consistency giving the Cowboys a possible option as a big play threat at wide receiver.
WR Dominic Rufran - The Cowboys lost Mazi Ogbonna and Josh Doctson and will need Rufran to increase his productivity from playing as a true-frosh.
OT Daniel Fleischman - A talented young linemen is looking to replace the graduated John Hutchins at tackle. The Cowboys also have other linemen options that could emerge.
P Tim Gleeson - Austin McCoy is gone and Gleeson brings some good potential in replacing the veteran punter.
K Daniel Sullivan - Heading into his second season, Sullivan looks to take his kicking to another level. He was decent as a freshmen though he'll need to show more consistency on longer distance kicks, extra points and kickoffs.
SS Mark Nzeocha - Four year starter Tashaun Gipson is gone and after finishing the year at safety, Nzeocha is his replacement at the position. The 6-foot-3 and 220 pound sophomore brings excellent size and athleticism to the secondary.
LB Devyn Harris - The Pokes lost a productive career player in Brian Hendricks and will look for a few other linebackers to pick up the slack, most notably Harris.
Defensive End Candidates - UW will focus on getting a few player in the group of Sonny Puletasi, Eddie Yarbrough, Justin Bernthaler, Miraldo Michel, and Mark Willis to offer replacements for three steady career performers in Gabe Knapton, Josh Beizuns, and Ben Durbin. It is important question to answer to find performers to replace the trio.
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