Boise State Football

Wyoming offense enters Boise State game battling through growing pains

Wyoming may have the front-runners at quarterback and running back for All-Mountain West consideration, yet the Cowboys didn’t get their first win of the football season until Saturday.

Wyoming has leaned heavily on senior quarterback Cameron Coffman and sophomore running back Brian Hill, and both have delivered with strong years. But as the offense continues to find its footing, the points haven’t followed.

Ranked last in the nation in red zone offense and 112th in scoring, another loss means Wyoming would be out of bowl contention with more than a month left in the season.

“If you move the ball well in the open field, which we have, it doesn’t matter quite as much if you can’t finish it,” Coffman said. “Too often when we get down there, we’ll have a turnover, a penalty, miss a kick, whatever. It’s not one thing, it’s been a big emphasis lately.”

While they average 396.3 yards of offense per game, 71st in the country, the Cowboys are scoring just 20.3 points per game and are 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) in red-zone opportunities. One trip inside the 20 was a set of kneel-downs to end Saturday’s 28-21 win over Nevada. The other 11 times they haven’t scored, there were four missed field goals, four failed fourth downs, two lost fumbles and an interception.

“A little bit of a mixed bag,” coach Craig Bohl said of his offense. “We’ve been sometimes our own worst enemy.

“At times I’ve looked at the scoreboard, seen how much the ball’s moved, then looked at the point production, and they don’t equate.”

Coffman leads the Mountain West with 1,504 passing yards, a 66.1 percent completion percentage and 14 touchdowns (to six interceptions), while Hill is No. 4 in the nation in rushing yardage with 985.

“They have guys that make plays, therefore, we can’t look at the record. We have to look what they’ve put on film,” Boise State senior safety Darian Thompson said.

Bohl stated even this summer that this, his second season, still won’t be the sort of offense he envisions. Bohl called Coffman “a stopgap” before fall camp began, and envisions a powerful running game with a big, experienced, strong-armed quarterback, akin to Stanford of recent years.

“We’re still a ways away. Any time you’re playing two true freshmen offensive linemen ... we’ve made progress, we’re not where we want to be,” Bohl said.

Despite the record, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Wyoming is a “better team than they were last year,” just after touting the offense. Coffman likely will be without top receiver Tanner Gentry against the Broncos after he suffered a shoulder injury against the Wolf Pack. Even down a weapon, the Cowboys’ offense has something it may have lacked in recent weeks — confidence.

“I’m looking forward to testing ourselves against a defense that good,” Coffman said. “We’re starting to see what we’re doing works, and we need to build off that, keep scoring points when we get those chances.”

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