LARAMIE — Craig Bohl did not mince words Saturday about Wyoming’s run game.
“Today, I don’t know what the final total was, but that was abysmal as far as how we typically run the football,” Bohl said.
Wyoming had just finished beating Gardner-Webb 27-0 in a game that included 65 rushing yards from the Cowboys.
“We’re going to have to take a hard look, because today’s performance is unacceptable in the running game,” Bohl said. “... We’ve got a couple guys that need to get hooked up up front on some of the defensive guys to get some movement. I think there’s time that our backs had a misread or didn’t take the right cut.”
The Cowboys have averaged just 62 rushing yards in two games, seventh worst in the nation. Wyoming failed to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2012.
Starter Milo Hall has gained 43 yards on 19 carries (2.3 avg.), while backup Kellen Overstreet has 57 yards on 21 carries (2.7), and junior Nico Evans has 5 yards on three carries (1.7).
“We’ve got to continue to grind and use that frustration in a positive way and channel that into us getting better,” running backs coach Mike Bath said.
From the eye test alone, Overstreet has had perhaps the best showings of those three backs in Wyoming’s first two games. He also has the best average of the three and is the only one with a rush of more than 10 yards this year (12 yards Saturday).
Bath, however, was hesitant to say Overstreet has separated from the pack.
“I think that there’s always a fine line sometimes of getting opportunities, the right opportunities,” Bath said. “And it’s a collection of everything. It’s a collection of running backs’ preparation, finishing blocks, execution, all those different types of things.
“I think (Overstreet) has probably had the most potentially clean opportunities. He’s done a good job. The thing I liked that he’s done out there on the field is I like the way he’s finished runs. That’s been encouraging. Because I felt like maybe during the spring, he was still a little tentative coming off the injuries and such, so it was encouraging for us to see his progression from the first game to the second in regards to finishing.”
The silver lining to the GWU game was true freshman Trey Woods, who only moved from linebacker to running back after fall camp. He had two carries for 15 yards, including a 13-yarder on his first touch that is Wyoming’s longest run of the year.
Woods was initially offered by Wyoming as a running back, but after the Cowboys got commitments from running backs Trey Dorfner and Xazavian Valladay, Woods began the year as a linebacker. He spent fall camp on the defensive end before offensive coordinator Brent Vigen brought him over to the offensive side.
At 6-foot-3, Woods brings size to Wyoming’s power run game that is practically prototypical.
“If the prototype is Brian Hill, then probably,” Bath said, referring to Wyoming’s all-time leading rusher. “I know Coach likes having bigger backs, so I think he fits what we probably envision, and so his size potential, he’s going to get big, regardless. He’s going to be a big young man, so I know we’re excited about his future here.”
Overstreet is the most physical of the original trio. Though he is 5-11, he is listed as 216 pounds, six more than Woods.
“He lowers his shoulder well at contact and got some good yards after contact on Saturday,” Bath said. “Each one of those guys are unique in their own gifts and what they bring to the team. They each have a good role within our offense.”
The plan has been to use a running-back-by-committee approach ever since Hill left early for the NFL, though Bohl said Saturday that “everything’s on the table.” For the Oregon game, Woods was listed as the third-string back, behind Hall and Overstreet.
“It’s always going to continue to reshape itself,” Bath said. “We’re very strong in the sense that we’re going to roll with the guy who’s hot. Who knows who that may be in the next game and stuff. But I like the guys.
“We’ve got to get more production out of them. I think that’s very honest. I think everybody knows that.”