No Looking Ahead or Time for Self Pity; Cowboys Serious About Wofford
The Cowboy football team has two things going for it this week.
There’s another game, Saturday against Wofford, an FCS team that has lost in the FCS quarterfinals the past two years, against eventual national champion North Dakota State last year and eventual runner-up Youngstown State two years ago. And it’s ranked No. 7 this year.
And there are plenty of upperclassmen on the team who know that an early season stumble does not mean a season is a loss. The Cowboys opened the past two seasons, 2-2. They wound up winning eight games and going to bowls each year.
Two years ago, in fact, they finished atop the Mountain West Mountain Division, and then lost to San Diego State in the title game. And the second non-conference season that year came against an Eastern Michigan team, a loss a lot more haunting than back-to-back losses to members of the Autonomous 5, Washington State and Missouri, that the Cowboys suffered this year.
“That’s one of the seasons we have `coach’ on our t-shirt,” said Cowboys head coach Craig Bohl. “That’s not a smart aleck comment. I mean, we need to take ownership of that. I do say one of the advantages we have is we have a lot of (coaches on staff) who spent a lot of years in FCS football.”
And the list starts with Bohl, the head coach that oversaw the first three seasons of North Dakota State’s five consecutive FCS championships, and Brent Vigen, Bohl’s offensive coordinator who came with him to Wyoming from North Dakota State. In their last four years at North Dakota State they won their one game each year again a Division I team – Kansas (2010), Minnesota (2011), Colorado State (2012) and Kansas State (2013).
Then, in Bohl’s second year at Wyoming, the Cowboys lost to both North Dakota (24-13) in Laramie and Appalachian State (31-13) on the road.
“I think everybody wants to win,” said Bohl. “I think it’s a motivation, saying, `You know what, we’re `1-2. We have to do what we can to get to 2-2.’ That’s our thought process.”
And this team has enough of a veteran flavor to make sure the freshmen and sophomores have a fully understanding of the traps that must be avoided this week. If the FCS losses don’t haunt that loss to Eastern Michigan certainly does. Eastern Michigan was coming off back-to-back seasons of 2-10 and 1-11.
“And we ended up going to the MW championship game that year,” said linebacker Logan Wilson, a freshman in that Eastern Michigan game as a true freshmen. “We can tell younger guys who weren’t with us that it can be done. It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you finish.”
Ditto, said free safety Andrew Wingard, a three-time All-MW selection.
“Two years ago (after the Eastern Michigan loss), the team was down, and we ended up having a great year,” he said. It’s going to rely on leadership, and us getting the team ready to go. When I was a sophomore, those guys, Lucas Wacha, Josh (Allen), Chase Roullier, gave us that kind of leadership.
“I am going to learn back on how they helped us get through and try to do the same thing for this team. The season is not close to being over. People think we are freaked out that we lost to two really good teams. We aren’t. We played two really good teams and we didn’t perform.”
Wilson sees the two losses this season as a motivation.
“You learn a lot from losses,” he said. “In losses team’s expose weaknesses you didn’t know you had. You learn what you need to do to be better the next time you step on the field.”
Getting healthy will help the Cowboys get better, too.
They are optimistic that senior defensive end Kevin Prosser will be available Saturday, along with sophomore Trey Woods, converted in the spring from running back to defensive end.
Senior running back Nico Evans, however, is questionable, still slowed by the bruised ribs that forced him out of the Washington State game five players into the third quarter. And in addition to tight end Austin Fort not being ready to return to the field this week, the Cowboys lost another tight end, Josh Harshman, with a knee injury at Missouri.
What was a strength to open the season, with three seniors considered pretty equal, now has Tyree Mayfield as the last man standings.
Bohl, however, isn’t making excuses. He’s spending time making sure the focus remains on winning
"We're making points of that," Bohl said. "I'd like to think that our players have enough confidence in our coaching staff when we say (the Terriers) have good players and they have really good coaches that we need to because that almost undersells what type of football program they have."