The Wyoming Cowboys kick off a new season this Saturday with: a new quarterback, in senior Cameron Coffman; one of the Mountain West Conference’s premier defensive players, in senior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough; and one of the league’s top running back tandems, in senior Shaun Wick and sophomore Brian Hill. For its season-opening game, Wyoming will be hosting the University of North Dakota in a first-ever meeting between the two schools in football. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start from Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium.
Cowboy quarterback Coffman is making his first start for Wyoming, but it is not the first college start of his career. He previously was the starting quarterback at Indiana University before transferring to Wyoming a year ago. While at Indiana, Coffman ranked second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game (248.5), completions (247) and attempts (407). He threw for over 300 yards three times, including a career high 454 yards versus Penn State, 348 against Purdue and 315 vs. Iowa. On top of his past experience, his Wyoming teammates showed the confidence they have in him by selecting him one of six team captains for this season.
Yarbrough joins Coffman as one of UW’s team captains for 2015. Yarbrough is Wyoming’s only returning captain, having also been voted a team captain as a junior in 2014. He enters his senior season as one of the Mountain West’s top defensive players the past two years. A First Team All-Mountain West selection as a sophomore and junior, Yarbrough was chosen to the Preseason All-MW team again this year. He was named to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List for the second consecutive season in 2015.
Wick has been a consistent performer for the Pokes throughout his college career. He joins Coffman and Yarbrough as senior captains this season. Wick is fast approaching Wyoming’s Career Top 10 in rushing yards. He has rushed for 2,082 yards as a Cowboy, and needs only 42 rushing yards to break into the Top 10 in school history. He is 881 yards away from the school record held by former Cowboy Devin Moore (2,963 yards from 2005-08). Wick rushed for 753 yards as a junior despite missing four games due to a broken hand that he suffered on the first series of the game versus Colorado State. As a sophomore in 2013, he rushed for 979 yards.
Joining Wick in the backfield is Hill, who had a breakout season as a true freshman last season. When Wick went down due to injury, Hill proceeded to rush for over 100 yards in four of the next five games. His top performance was a 281-yard rushing game against Fresno State in a game where he also had 106 receiving yards and 387 yards of all-purpose yardage. The performance earned him the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week honor.
The other three Cowboys selected as captains by the team for the 2015 season are: senior defensive end Siaosi Hala’api’api; junior offensive guard Chase Roullier; and junior linebacker Lucas Wacha.
North Dakota plays at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, and is a member of the Big Sky Conference. UND posted a 5-7 record last year under its first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert. Schweigert welcomes back 39 letterwinners and 13 starters from last year, plus All-Big Sky Conference place-kicker Reid Taubenheim, who led all FCS freshmen with 16 made field goals in 2014. Six starters return on offense and seven on defense. Included among UND’s top returning performers are its top two tacklers from last season, inside linebackers Will Ratelle (106 tackles) and Taj Rich (82 tackles).
As the Wyoming Cowboys enter their 119th season of college football in 2015, the Pokes record in season openers stands at: 75-41-2 (.644) in 118 previous season-opening games. The Cowboys are 56-17-1 (.764) in season-opening games at home. The Cowboys have won 11 of their last 12 home openers. Wyoming’s only loss in the last 12 home openers was in 2012 vs. Toledo (31-34).
While Wyoming has a number of key upperclassmen returning in 2015, the total number of experienced players back is relatively small. In fact, UW has the second fewest number of seniors of any Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team in the nation in 2015: Wyoming enters the 2015 college football season with only eight (8) seniors on its roster. Only Wake Forest, which has six (6) seniors, has fewer seniors than the Cowboys.
There is no television coverage of Saturday’s Wyoming-North Dakota game, but the Cowboy Sports Network will broadcast the game live over its 26 radio affiliates throughout Wyoming, Colorado and South Dakota, beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kick off.
As Saturday’s season opener approaches this week, Wyoming Cowboy Football fans may purchase tickets to the North Dakota-Wyoming game by going online at GoWyo.com/tickets or by calling the UW Athletics Ticket Office at: 1-877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or at 307-766-4850. Fans who purchase tickets on or before Friday of a home game week will receive a $2.00 discount on each ticket purchased.