Tucker: What have we learned about this Wyoming team?
LARAMIE -- What have we learned about this Wyoming team through the first four weeks of the season?
They are inconsistent.
They are frustrating.
They are finding a way to win.
They are 4-0.
That last one seems to be the only one that truly matters to this group. It is. But when you have the expectations this program has this fall, everything will be under a microscope. That comes with championship aspirations.
Wyoming has trailed late in three of its first four games. That will earn you the nickname "Cardiac Cowboys."
They had to come back in the final minutes to beat an FCS team -- one that hadn't played a single game since 2019 -- in the home opener. They watched a 42-16 second-half lead evaporate in Week 2 at Northern Illinois. For a second straight Saturday, Sean Chambers and Co. had to pull one out of the fire.
The third game -- supposedly the toughest non-conference game on the schedule -- ended in a 45-12 blowout of defending MAC champion, Ball State.
Then there was lowly UConn.
The Huskies haven't won a game since Oct. 26, 2019. They are currently 0-6. It took a fourth-quarter rally by the visitors in East Hartford to come away with a 24-22 victory. Wyoming was a 30-plus point favorite, according to the oddsmakers. Rome Weber had to bat down a two-point conversion in the dying seconds to preserve the win.
Do the Cowboys have their issues? Absolutely.
Say what you will, so far, this team is getting it done when it needs to.
"I would say that the team believes that they'll find a way to win and, that's a coaching phrase that I think some people may say gets overused, but the resiliency and the closeness of this football team really is an X-factor," Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said. "Somewhere during the course of the game, somebody is going to come up with a play ...
"Everybody seems to be pitching in to contribute to this 4-0 start."
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Comeback wins were elusive for this bunch in 2019. The Cowboys lost four games by a grand total of 15 points. They had the ball late against Tulsa, San Diego State, Utah State and Boise State. They lost every one of those. Why? Mainly they couldn't make a play in the passing game.
With 2:09 left on the clock and the Cowboys trailing 26-22 at San Diego State, the visitors took over on their own 25-yard line. You'd have to like this team's chances in that situation. The one in '19, not so much.
The final drive against the Aztecs shook out like this:
At Utah State it was three picks, including a Tyler Vander Waal across-the-body heave over the middle, that ended that one.
At Boise State, the game tied 17-17 with 36 ticks left in regulation and the Cowboys lining up at the Broncos' 39-yard line, Wyoming couldn't pick up a crucial 3rd and 2. They didn't get the 4th and 1, either. Cooper Rothe missed a 37-yard field goal in overtime and just like that the Pokes were out of the conference race.
Did you have faith the Cowboys could pull off any of those? Me neither.
So, what's changed?
The guy under center, for one.
Has Chambers always been accurate? Nope. Has he been inconsistent at times? You bet. You can say what you want about the redshirt sophomore -- and you do -- but he does one thing better than any quarterback in Laramie since a guy named Josh Wallwork also led his team to a 4-0 start back in 1996 -- he wins.
Chambers is 13-3 in 16 career starts. One of those losses came last October at Nevada. He took three snaps before leaving with a season-ending leg injury. That loss was hardly his.
It's not always a work of art, but that stat line speaks for itself.
"He's an unbelievable player and he's a leader of our football team," Bohl said.
So, what exactly is the identity of this team?
Typically, we can say it will feature a hard-nosed defense. At times, that has been the case. It should, Wyoming returns 11 starters. Yet, it is ranked 48th in the country -- fourth in the Mountain West -- allowing 335 yards per outing.
I think we all expected the Cowboys to stick to the script of year's past and be an elite running team. At times, they are. Still, UW is ranked No. 45 in that nation in that category -- third in the league.
Can you really be known for last-second, come-from-behind wins? Surely the carriage will eventually turn into a pumpkin at midnight, right?
"You know, these close games really have helped with our offense and our confidence, late in the fourth quarter," UW tight end Parker Christensen said. "We do feel that our offense is confident that we can go down and score whenever it's late in the quarter like that. So, I think that these close games really have helped in that aspect."
Chambers said after the win over UConn that the Cowboys still have "12 more games" to find a consistent balance this fall. In reality, there's just eight to go. His math is off, but the point is clear -- this team expects to play in the conference title game and make it to the postseason. Not just the Potato Bowl, either.
It will take much better performances than we've seen thus far. And that starts with Air Force in Colorado Springs this Saturday.
"You know, if we want to be considered one of the best football teams in the nation -- and in our conference -- we got to start fast every single game," he said. "Unfortunately, we didn't do that today, but the good thing about college football is you get more opportunities.
"... You know, the best thing about this is we're 4-0. The only way we can go is up and I think that's what we're going to do. We're a good, talented football team and we know how to play and that's just what we need to do."