Welcome to the next chapter in Coach Luke’s quest to become the winningest college football coach of all-time in NCAA Football 14. To learn more about this series and read up on past installments, visit the About page of this site.
Here’s a recap of how the season has gone thus far:
- After starting the season 2-3, the Cowboys went on a roll and won five straight games. In those five games, QB Tyler Hall averaged over 400 yards passing per game and HB Garrett Everett averaged over 100 yards rushing per game.
- More drama continued from there though as the season came down to the final week of the season where Wyoming beat Air Force to win the Mountain division and make the MWC Championship Game.
Look at us. I mean, look at us.
We’re in a conference championship in our third season in Wyoming. This mirrors the rise of Akron from our days there but, really, this is an entirely different beast. The Akron team from Year 3 had a new superstar QB and multiple young Coach Luke recruits starting to take over as the team started their rise to dominance.
That’s not what is happening in Wyoming. Wyoming’s 8-4 team is led by a horde of senior players from the previous regime. They’ve adapted to Coach Luke’s air raid playbook and 3-4 defense and have been able to find success. There is no star quarterback waiting in the wings though. The outlook for next year is grim as the players aren’t there to take over for the departing seniors. This is a rare chance to win a conference championship before trying to go back, retool, and find a superstar that will make this team nationally relevant.
This is our shot to win a conference championship and we may not get that shot again for a few years.
We’re the Cowboys, dangit, and we’re not throwing away our shot.
Year 17 (2029-30) Postseason
With a week off before the conference championship, Coach Luke took his team on a pilgrimage to the Grand Tetons for a weekend camping trip. He knew it would be one of the last times that he’d get to leisurely be with his senior players. The team bonded. The team laughed. They talked about how Coach Luke wasn’t the guy who recruited them to Wyoming but they were ready to fight for him and for their state over the rest of this season.
As they drove back to Laramie after their trip, the vibe shifted into game mode. They talked playbook. They talked about ways they could beat Hawai’i after losing to them last year. With Tyler Hall and Garrett Everett leading the way, the team was confident that the result would be different this time around.
8-4 | MWC Championship Game vs Hawai’i
As the team arrives in Hawai’i for the MWC Championship Game, the pundits are talking about how this is Coach Luke’s third different conference championship and how he is undefeated in his previous MAC and Big Ten conference championships.
That was then. This is now. This is a ragtag team of Cowboys. This isn’t the feared Akron Zips.
We are facing off against Hawai’i in this one. We are rated 88 overall and they are rated 83 overall. While we are favorites to win on paper, we are not taking Hawai’i lightly as we did lose to them just one season ago.
Can QB Tyler Hall, HB Garrett Everett, and company step up in this big moment?
As I had previously mentioned, I’m just temporarily not doing YouTube highlights of games as December is a busy month. I received emails and comments from people that were not fans of this change but, rest assured, it is temporary. YouTube highlights will be back. For now, enjoy some clipped moments from this game on Twitch.
- 3rd Quarter – In a one-point game, HB Garrett Everett destroys a defender.
- 3rd Quarter – The drive continues with a crazy redzone option play.
- 4th Quarter – It’s 24-20 and the defense capatlizes after a huge punt.
- 4th Quarter – Pocket passers are gonna pocket pass.
- End of Game
It wasn’t easy there for a little while but we win the MWC in a 34-20 game!
We are officially (temporarily) taking over the MWC and renaming it the Mostly Wyoming Conference!
Garrett Everett continues to be one of my favorite players we’ve encountered in this series. He had ten receptions out of the backfield and accumulated 139 total yards and a touchdown in this one. Tyler Hall, despite being slightly turnover prone, has been a joy to watch as a pocket passer. The defense stepped up when needed with our young star Ahmad Benson getting a clutch safety! There’s a lot of love to go around.
I’m just very happy that this team cashed in while we could because this is the best Wyoming team that we’ll likely see for a few years and we get a big trophy to show for it!
We now get the joy of going to finish the season with a bowl game. We travel to the Las Vegas Bowl to play the Stanford Cardinal.
9-4 | Las Vegas Bowl vs Stanford
In a way, we already got the result that I wanted out of this season by winning the conference championship. That doesn’t mean that this bowl game should be taken lightly. We have a chance to reach double-digit wins if we are able to win here and that was another minor goal in my head for this season. I want the win and I want to add to Coach Luke’s impressive bowl game history.
Stanford is rated 90 overall, which makes them the toughest team that we’ve faced since Florida in Week 2 of this season. Our team has come a long way since then and I feel rare confidence that we can pull off the upset with the way that we’ve been playing.
The game started off as a close one and was 21-14 in the second quarter before our highlights start up.
- 2nd Quarter – Wyoming looks to end the half on the right note.
- 3rd Quarter – The highlight broke because my stream went crazy but we had a pick six to break the game open and give us a 35-21 lead.
- 3rd Quarter – Tyler Hall delivers one of my favorite passes I’ve ever seen to end this game.
We win the Las Vegas Bowl! 52-44!
This was a blowout despite the score. We went up 49-21 in the 3rd quarter but then took the foot off the gas a little bit which allowed Stanford to launch a mini-comeback. But, my oh my, Tyler Hall delivered an epic performance in his final game for the Cowboys. I will miss his pocket passing ways and I’ll miss so many of these seniors like TE Bryce Hill, WR Adam Hobbs, and WR Brandon Coker as this season comes to a close and they start their post-college lives.
We have trophies to show for this season though and I couldn’t be happier about it!
Look, I think next season is going to be bad. We are going to savor these victories while we can. I’ll be interested to see if any of these players actually go to the NFL or if they just drift off to a non-football life now. They’ll always be champions in my eyes though. What a great season.
Year 17 Recruiting Recap
I hadn’t yet touched upon how recruiting went for the Cowboys this year. Since we are a team that is still building something, that’s obviously a key part of our future. Since joining Wyoming, I’ve put in some recruiting restrictions to prevent us from becoming too good like our Akron team was. For now, we are using a recruiting board that only consists of 35 players for the entire season. I’m hoping that we can land a good class out of that board this year again so that we can get the Cowboys on the big stage sooner rather than later.
In our recruiting process for this season, I was hoping to land some key offensive talent like getting a star QB or HB in addition to more WR depth. On defense, we need LB help and DE help. Beyond that, it wouldn’t hurt to build up the offensive line and just grab any great talent that we can.
This is what the top of the board looked like at the start of the season:
In the first couple weeks of recruiting, I’m putting a small number of points into players and just seeing if we move up or down in their rankings before we decide how many of our 700 total points to put into each of them. After seeing the initial reactions from these players, this is what I decided on for our top targets:
As a forwarning, we have a way for my Twitch viewers to change the first name of some of the recruits that we get. So, despite what you see here, their final name once they are on our team may be slightly different. Confusing, I know. For that reason, I may just refer to the players by their last name in this post.
The athlete Collins would project as a scrambling QB. That may not be our ideal situation as we’ve moved away from that over the years but he could be the best chance of having a superstar QB to jumpstart our team’s development. We landed Kenneth “K-Dubs” Washington right away at Akron to do that. Collins could be that guy if we get him.
The recruiting process almost always shifts during the year once we invite players out to visit campus. The first week for visits this year was our game against Nevada in Week 7. We had about a dozen recruits coming out for that and, as mentioned in the previous article, we lost that game. Instead of a big crop of recruits, we landed two guys from that game. Luckily, they were great ones as we got CB Chris Fulton (79 OVR) and WR Jerod Ginn (74 OVR). I’m happy we got great players but disappointed we lost out on getting more guys early.
After Week 7, this was our list of full commits, including some insta-commits that we got earlier on:
- ★★★★ Hard Hitter CB Chris Fulton (79 OVR) | CA | #7 CB
- ★★★★ Possession WR Jerod Ginn (74 OVR) | AZ | #20 WR
- ★★★★★ Speed WR Greg Ernst (70 OVR, Bust) | OH | #4 WR
- ★★★★ Speed HB Omar Arnold (68 OVR) | MO | #14 HB
- ★★★★ Power HB Rob Hampton (67 OVR) | CA | #12 HB
- ★★★★ Pass Rusher DE Greg Adkins (62 OVR) | SC | #16 DE
The really good news is that all six of our recruits have high star ratings so it looks like our class is very prestigious. The bad news is that four of those guys are rated way lower than projected so they may not even be starters for us in the long-term. Regardless, this is a decent start to the year.
This is how our board looks after that:
As the season marches on, we do get a lot of the middle-tier guys that are rated 70 and below.
We get left with an interesting dilemma by the time we reach the offseason though as our four best players on our board all end up waiting until the offseason to make their decision. It puts us in a tough spot where we have to hope to get them all.
In the offseason, this is what our recruiting board looks like and how we distribute the points based on how we are doing in each recruiting battle:
Winning all four of these battles would be incredible for our future. That could potentially create three feared defensive players and give us a QB of the future. I really don’t know what to expect though as we are behind in these recruiting battles and need a lot of luck here.
We get all four players! This is a giant step forward for Wyoming football! It won’t give us instant results but this is very very big for our future.
After completing that process, the Twitch chatters did propose and get granted a few changes to player first names. I usually am more strict about what I’ll allow for this but I was in a good mood. Ryan Collins became Lamont Collins. Lamont Rose became Axel Rose as his parents loved Guns N Roses. Mike Mark became Marky Mark because I was in a good mood and allowed it.
This is what our final list of commitments looks like:
I’m not going to lie. This is an incredible class for us and a big pull for Wyoming. Lamont Collins actually looks to be an 82 OVR QB out of the gates. With a redshirt year, he would be an 86 OVR freshman QB for us. Wow.
We had the #5 recruiting class in the country. Wyoming football has arrived on the national map. We still have a ways to go before we are a feared football team but the pieces are all here now.
Year 17 Closing Thoughts
Within the offseason for this season, we get news about a few amazing things.
This first piece of news shocked me. LB Ryan O’Neal actually won Linebacker Of The Year. I didn’t really notice him standing out too much in games we watched and he was rated 78 OVR. Somehow he pieced together a season that captured the country’s attention. He had 60 tackles, 6 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 interception on the season. Ladies and gentlemen, we got a national award winner at Wyoming!
We also found out that Garrett Everett broke the Wyoming single-season rushing yards and touchdowns records. I loved watching this little halfback break tackles and put on a show all year long. Tyler Hall also broke the Wyoming single-season passing yards record. Our offense did a great job!
Our offensive coordinator left but it was a blessing in disguise. He was replaced by a Level 21 coordinator that should give us a boost for next season and beyond.
We also found out that WR Adam Hobbs was drafted to the NFL in the sixth round and WR Brandon Coker was drafted in the seventh round. Wyoming is getting represented!
This was a really fun season with memorable characters for me along the way. I fear what will happen in the next year or two before we find our footing but this leaves me with a good feeling for now at least.
The War on the Poet Laureates
In the last offseason, I told you the tale of how Wyoming has a nefarious group of powerful poets that were trying to sabotage the Wyoming football team in order to sell more of their black market poems. They threatened Coach Luke and he convinced them that he’d tank this season and leave Wyoming.
Obviously, he didn’t. The war was just beginning. A phone call was made from his landline during the offseason to the one person who could help save Wyoming.
That man was LeBron James.
Coach Luke and LeBron have had a complicated relationship during Coach Luke’s long coaching career. There’s no denying that LeBron is the reason Coach Luke left his job at Akron. There’s also no denying he’s a powerful figure and a man who dearly misses Coach Luke at Akron.
LeBron jumped at the opportunity to help Coach Luke and immediately bought a mansion in Jackson Hole, Wyoming so he could have a central location close to the coach. They started plotting and planning and scheming. They wanted to figure out a way to ensure that the Poet Laureates would not sabotage Coach Luke’s plans and/or kill him.
Their plan was very very simple.
They hired a bunch of actors and filmed an entire season of Wyoming football with those actors. Every time the Poet Laureates were watching a Wyoming football game at their homes, LeBron’s henchmen had it set up so that the poets were actually watching the fake football season that was filmed. From there, there was a simple process of manipulating the news to ensure that any story the poets saw talked about how bad Wyoming was at football. This also involved hiring actors to put together fake news segments. Aside from that, there was just the simple process of paying off every person that the poets talked to so that they’d continue the story of Wyoming being bad at football.
It all went beautifully. The poets went the entire year thinking that Wyoming stunk at football and they were ready to see Coach Luke get fired and leave Wyoming.
That is, until, one fateful night prior to the upcoming Year 18 season.
Gene, the head Poet Laureate, was going through a stroll through Jackson Hole when he saw the large man known as LeBron James. He asked LeBron for an autograph and he kindly obliged before LeBron stopped and recognized Gene.
“Wait a second. Aren’t you one of those Poet Laureates we been playing that prank on?”
“Yeah, how we faked an entire football season to fool you into thinking that Wyoming was bad at football?”
There was a long moment of silence there as Gene got more and more livid and pieced together what had transpired over the past year. Gene didn’t care about the autograph anymore and stormed off into the night to gather the poets so they could figure out a new plan for the upcoming season.
LeBron, meanwhile, was oblivious and went about his night afterward. Regardless, the war was back on between Coach Luke and the Poet Laureates of Wyoming.
Year 18 Recruiting Change
Just as a note about actual NCAA Football 14 gameplay, I’m going to continue to monitor the recruiting process and install house rules to make the recruiting process more difficult. It’s an effort to ensure that we’re good but not unstoppable. We’ve been only limiting ourselves to 35 total recruits to target for the past few years. The next changes will be to always target at least two Wyoming players and to only target players that have us in their Top 10 to start the season unless they’re from Wyoming. We shall see how that goes!
Laramie City Lights Scheduling
You know I’m on Twitch and watching the seasons on there! For the upcoming season, I’m thinking we’ll get through it fairly quickly. It should, at most, be a two-stream season.
For viewers of the series, I may shift away from Tuesdays and Fridays as my regular days for streaming after the holidays. Stay tuned for those changes. For now, we’re still starting at 8:00 PM EST on Tuesday and Friday of this week. Feel free to hop on anytime during the night! Here is my Twitch channel link, and here’s the schedule:
Yes, that means I am streaming tonight! And, yes, that means that you’ll get a second Laramie City Lights post this evening with a Year 18 Roster Preview.
I’ll admit that I have low expectations for the upcoming season and there’s a definite chance we might just go through the whole season in one night tonight so we can move onto the more fun Year 19 season. We’ll see!