"Throughout history, their iconic lifestyle has been glamorized in countless books, movies and television shows—but the rough, lonely and sometimes grueling work of a cowboy wasn’t for the faint of heart." The History Channel
Back to Back Bowls for Coach Bohl
The recent success of the Wyoming Cowboys football team comes to no surprise when you look at who the Pokes have orchestrating the show. With the Cowboys playing in back to back bowl games with Quarterback Josh Allen at the helm, there are many questions that are swirling around Laramie, WY on what we will expect out of this year's Cowboys team. We do know with the proven track record from Coach Bohl of building masterful programs like North Dakota State from a Division Two program to a 1-AA FCS Powerhouse in a very short period of time. In 2016, the offense was the story, but the 2017 Cowboys defense finished ranked 7th in college football statistically and ended the 2017 campaign with a 37-14 win over Central Michigan in the Idaho Famous Potato Bowl. Having just visited Memorial Stadium, I have to admit that it is one of the most beautiful I have gotten to play on and punting a football at 7,220 feet is quite fun. With an outstanding atmosphere for college football and a remarkable defense led by former NDSU and Jacksonville Jaguars D-coordinator Scotty Hazelton , the question becomes who is going to lead this year's Cowboys offensive unit.
RS (FR) QB Tyler Vander Waal Named Starter Heading Into Fall
At the conclusion of the Cowboys' spring game, Freshmen (RS) Tyler Vander Waal was named the starting QB over incumbent Senior Nick Smith. They return their top 8 receiving targets, but were plagued by injuries throughout spring practices and have many true freshmen developing at a rapid rate by taking a majority of the reps with the first team. Watching Tyler's senior year of high school, I can see the raw talent and arm strength that Coach Bohl also witnessed, along with his natural ability to throw on the run. With a red-shirt season to learn the Cowboys' system and a top 10 rated defense returning that featured mostly freshmen and sophomores whom he worked against in practice last year, I am very confident that this might be the best Wyoming Cowboys team we have seen yet. They have their eyes set on another Mountain West Title, as they were able to garner in the 2016 season.
Coach Bohl and Coach Hazelton a Championship Match
If you wondered who built the #1 ranked team in FCS Football FCS Top 25, look no further than the tandem of Coach Bohl and Coach Hazelton. Hazelton has coached every position defensively at the collegiate level and has proven himself as a national championship level defensive coordinator, as he was the coordinator of the 2011 North Dakota State FCS National Championship team. The mark that these two coaches left on the Bison program has been staggering ever since both Coach Bohl and Coach Hazelton took separate paths in the world of collegiate and pro football, respectively. The Cowboys may have weapons on the offensive side of the football, but as the saying goes, "offense wins games and defense wins championships." In 2011, 2012 and 2013 the combination of these two fantastic builders of student-athletes helped the Bison bring home 3 national championships in a row. In these three historic seasons, Coach Bohl and North Dakota State were 43-2, while dominating opponents in post-season play. In 2011, a Hazelton-led defense allowed 6 points in a 17-6 victory over Sam Houston State. Coach Hazelton departed after the 2011 victory and became the LB coach for the USC Trojans, but they remained one of the toughest in the nation under Coach Bohl. In 2012, they once again matched up against Coach Keeler and Sam Houston, this time they were able to put up 39 points and only allowed 13 points. The next season featured an undefeated record and a national championship blowout against Towson (35-7). Coach Bohl passed the torch to the likes of Carson Wentz, and we all know what he was able to do with Coach Kileman up in Fargo, ND.
One Dynasty Built - Coach Bohl Lands New Challenge in Laramie,WY
As I have learned more and more about Coach Bohl, the more and more I respect the way he handles the programs he graces with his excellent knowledge of what it takes to build a dynasty brick by brick. This is why I have the utmost respect for him and everything he has accomplished since his playing days as a defensive back for the Huskers becomes that much more impressive. Why Coach Bohl does not get more national media coverage is beyond me because his success is clearly a model that other head coaches should follow. Wyoming did not start out well in Bohl's first two years as he began to rebuild a program that had not had a winning coach since Dana Dimel (1997-1999) and went a dreadful 6-18 in his first two seasons in Laramie. In 2016, with the likes of Josh Allen at QB and a re-built program by the legendary Coach Bohl, the Coyboys were able to finish 8-6 and receive a bid to the Poinsettia Bowl in which they lost. Coach Stapleton rejoined Coach Bohl as the DC last season and the Cowboy faithful are extremely thankful that he did, as the offense slipped from 33rd in the nation to a horrendous 119th in division one - FBS football. The defense however, was able to pick up the under performing offense and went from 96th in 2016 to 7th in all of college football in 2017 under Stapleton. With a huge win to end the season in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, can Wyoming win another Bronze Boot in one of the oldest rivalries in all of collegiate football against Colorado State? The Border War has become one of the most hated rivalries in all of collegiate football and will be played on October 26th at the new Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, CO. With tension building between these two historic programs that are separated by a line drawn by actual cowboys, this could make for a Mountain West showdown to remember come Halloween. But first, the Cowboys offense must face the likes of Washington State, travel to Missouri and luckily get the defending MVC champs, the Boise State Bronces in Laramie. If the defense can find a way to stop a Mike Leach-inspired offense, a possible Heisman QB in Drew Lock and Coach Bryan Harsin's Broncos, we might be talking about a top 25 season for the Cowboys if they can put points on the board. They will even face a very talented and under rated Hawaii team that is always known for lighting up the score board and this season will be no exception with the likes of Biletnikoff "watch list" wide receiver John Ursua.
The Coach Vigen Way
A consistent run game is needed for the Cowboys to thrive in a Coach Vigen-play-action-run-oriented offense and with only two receivers returning that averaged over 11.9 yards per catch, they will be looking to JuCo tranfer Raghib Ismail Jr to provide big plays for the offense. The RB depth chart at the end of spring ball featured 3 running backs that relied on moving the ball downfield, while setting up big play-action plays downfield for the Pokes offense. (JR) Kellen Overstreet, (SR) Nico Evans and questionable (SO) Trey Woods are all listed as "co-starters" entering the fall. With mostly all of last year's offensive line returning and the rapid growth of new 1st team center Gavin Rush, this could be just the personnel needed for Coach Vigen to succeed heavily in Mountain West play. Coach Bohl was also able to move (JR) Kaden Jackson over to guard, as a result of the outstanding play from Rush in spring practices. If the Cowboys can get consistent quarterback play out of either Vander Waal or Smith, we could be seeing Coach Bohl hoist another Mountain West Championship in 2018.
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