Wyoming exceeded expectations last season by going to a bowl game and winning that bowl game to finish 7-6. First-year head coach Dave Christensen became the first coach in Wyoming history to win a bowl game in his first season and it netted him a contract extension. However, the second year is always the hardest, especially with raised expectations. But Christensen returns and recruited some good players that figure to make the Cowboys another threat in the Mountain West.
Here’s a look at the strongest and weakest positions for Wyoming this spring:
Strongest position: Linebacker
Key returners: Junior Josh Beizuns (61 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks), junior Brian Hendricks (116 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks), sophomore Ghaali Muhammad (21 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, .5 sacks), junior Gabe Knapton (128 tackles, four tackles for loss, .5 sacks)
Key departures: Weston Johnson (106 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks)
The skinny: Wyoming switched to the 4-3 defense this year and moved linebackers Gabe Knapton and Josh Beizuns to the defensive line. Although those were two of the team’s best linebackers, the linebacking corps still has a lot of talent with players such as Ghaali Muhammad and Brian Hendricks. And if there are injuries in the linebacking corps, coach Dave Christensen knows that he has players that can move back into that position and still play a high level of defense.
Weakest position: Receiver
Key returners: Senior David Leonard (77 catches, 705 yards and three touchdowns), senior Zach Bolger (28 catches, 314 yards, one touchdown), senior Travis Burkhalter (21 catches, 213 yards, two touchdowns)
The skinny: Wyoming had one of the worst passing offenses in the country last year and some of it was because Christensen didn’t have the right receivers to play his spread out system and some of it was consistency. This season, the Cowboys figure to be better with the addition of junior college transfers DeJay Lester and Mazi Ogbonna, who have both impressed during spring drills and will likely be starters in the fall. If the Cowboys can have a more consistent passing attack, they could be a legitimate threat in the Mountain West.