Under different circumstances, the success Wyoming had running the ball Saturday at San Jose State would have been an encouraging bright spot. Instead, given the fact Wyoming lost to a team that hadn’t won a Football Bowl Subdivision game all year, it was a faint silver lining.
Wyoming rushed for a season-high 187 yards Saturday, albeit against the worst rushing defense in the country, which had allowed 293.6 yards per game on the ground before Saturday.
Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet accounted for 139 of those rushing yards, notching his first career 100-yard day. He also set a career high with a 33-yard run before busting a 38-yarder to top it.
“I mean, it is kind of a confidence boost,” Overstreet said, “but without coming out with a win, it’s really not a whole lot.”
Overstreet, who missed the 2016 season with an ACL injury, carried the ball a career-high 17 times Saturday. His average of 8.2 yards per carry was his highest in a game with more than two carries.
“I think we just came out and blocked when we needed to block and went out and made some plays,” Overstreet said. “I know (fullback) Drew (Van Maanen), I followed him quite a bit on a lot of those plays, and he opened up a lot of holes.”
As a whole, Wyoming ran the ball 43 times Saturday, tied for the most all season. The Cowboys’ average of 4.3 yards per carry was their third highest this season.
Overstreet had half of Wyoming’s chunk plays (passes of 15-plus yards, rushes of 10-plus yards) against the Spartans.
On one fourth-quarter drive, Overstreet ran for 35 yards on seven carries to help set up kicker Cooper Rothe’s game-tying attempt. Overstreet did not touch the ball on Wyoming’s final three drives, however.
“Well we’re going to take a look at that,” head coach Craig Bohl said of Overstreet’s success. “I thought he ran hard, ran under his pads and moved the pile and certainly sprung some nice runs. But we’re going to need to make some progress between now and the bowl game with our running game.
“And that’s an overarching point of emphasis going into this next year. But we’ll deal with what we have.”
While Saturday’s numbers come with a caveat, considering San Jose State’s struggles on defense, they could have been a step in the right direction nonetheless for a unit that has struggled mightily this season. By comparison, Wyoming rushed for 185 or more yards 10 times last season with Brian Hill, the program’s all-time leading rusher.
Within the context of losing to a one-win team, however, it was clear that the team’s biggest takeaway Saturday was disappointment.
“I think the first half or the first quarter, we went on five or so three and outs,” Overstreet said. “We can’t have that. We’ve got to get better, and we’ve just got to get in and watch the tape and work harder these next few weeks.”