UW-San Diego St. postgame thoughts

Shades of 2009?

Wyoming won at San Diego State in 2009 30-27, and came back from a 27-6 fourth-quarter deficit. Saturday night was the same final score for UW, but this time it hung on for the win.

“We’re very excited about this win and what it means to the conference for us,” said junior receiver Chris McNeill, who posted career-highs with eight catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns — all in the first half.

Never seen such a contrast in halves. UW had 396 yards and 30 points in the first half, and zero points, 104 yards and five first downs in the second.

UW gave up 539 yards, including a 99-yard touchdown run by Ronnie Hillman. You had the feeling that the Cowboys would let this game slip away in the second half.

But they didn’t.

The win in 2009 lifted this team to a bowl game, will this one do the same. At 5-2, UW needs two more victories to become bowl eligible. New Mexico at home and Colorado State on the road to end the season look like very winnable games.

But who is to say next week at home against TCU or at Air Force after that aren’t winable if the Cowboys can put together a game where their offense executed like it did in the first half against SDSU, or how the defense continued to make stops in the second half.

True freshman quarterback Brett Smith was the last player the media talked to after the game, and as players walked past him near UW’s locker room, there were a lot of pats on the back and backside. This kid has really earned this team’s respect.

Throwing for 341 yards and two touchdowns, and running for two touchdowns doesn’t hurt, either.

Thought UW’s defensive line was great in this game, and all three of its sacks came from linemen — DE’s Josh Biezuns and Gabe Knapton and one by DT Kurt Taufa’asau.

The screen and option games were a big part of the game plan this week for UW’s offense due to SDSU’s aggressive 3-3-5 defense. They all worked well, but there wasn’t much option on the second half. Smith said the play-calling on offense didn’t change much from the first and second half. He said SDSU played better defense.

A great quote by SDSU coach Rocky Long: “For some unknown reason people didn’t give Wyoming the credit they deserve. Wyoming is a good football team. I guess everybody knows it now. Nobody wanted to admit it going into the game.”

One last nugget comparing the 2009 win here to this one. In 2009, UW started conference play 2-0. The 2011 Cowboys are now 2-0 in conference play.

Could this season be a repeat of 2009 in terms of the postseason? We shall see.

17 thoughts on “UW-San Diego St. postgame thoughts

  1. I would be interested to see the pass/run distribution in the first half vs. the second half. It sure did seem like we ran the ball a heckuva a lot more in the second half. I did not like the play calling at the end of the game as I think we were playing not to lose. We lost our aggressiveness. Our O-line was excellent in this game, but towards the end they were really tired….that was also why our offense sputtered at the end. Any word on the late game injury to our interior d-lineman? I think it was Taufa’asau? I am really proud of our Pokes, and Marty English deserves a pat on the back. I was one of those calling for his head, but he did an excellent job game-planning this offebse. We have tough games ahead, but this defense should be gaining confidence after that showing. Final thought: Hillman is an absolute BEAST. I was scared everytime he got the ball.

    • No word on injuries after the game. Will look into the ratio when I get home. About to board a plane home.


  2. I have to say I am excited about the win, but not too excited about the play in the second half. From my perspective the Pokes played so conservative on offense at times that it seemed they were not playing to win. The defense did make stops, but it also needed two missed field goals in order to get out of town with a win. At the end of the day a win on the road in conference play is great no matter how it comes, but I found myself not as confident about my Pokes at the end of game as I did when they were leading at halftime 30-13.

    On another note, 8 wins is not out of the question and should be the expectation. I think the Pokes match up very well with the Falcons and with New Mexico and CSU on the schedule an 8-4 record is very attainable by this team.

  3. If our Offense can play with confidence at home next week, and keep TCU guessing somewhat as was evident w/ the Aztecs in the 1st half- dare I say we can beat the Frogs.
    We’re waiting on that signature win, and it may come next week in Laramie. I have no clue why we weren’t passing first, then utilizing our option run off the pass. Seemed we were unbelievably successful in the first 30 minutes employing that strategy. Proud of this TEAM. Just win, baby.

  4. I don’t know about “playing not to lose,” but the play-calling did feel pretty conservative in the second half. The thing that ran through my mind was that our OC was concerned about throwing a pick, especially a pick-six, and we were going to keep the ball on the ground and protect it. It was obvious that Coach Long got his defense adjusted at the half to be more prepared for option and the threat of Brett Smith on the QB draw; I just wish, as I saw one person on Twitter say, Rocky Long teams never give up, so you can’t take your foot off their throat.

    Nonetheless, good teams figure out how to get that W no matter what, and that’s what matters most. People can say that SDSU gave the game away, but I don’t believe anyone has taken that defense for that many yards, particularly in two quarters. Ronnie Hillman truly is a very good running back because he figures out ways to extend plays and get through holes – I’m glad we won’t have to see him for another year at least. These kids are doing what it takes to win, they are getting better every week and learning from mistakes, and good things will keep happening.

  5. I agree Mark. Air Force, CSU and NM are all winnable games. I’m perplexed as to why AF keeps getting lumped in with TCU and BSU. They are obviously not as good as we thought they would be at the beginning of the year. We are due to beat them. I think pulling the upset over TCU or BSU is a year or two away though. GO POKES!!

  6. Excellent first half, no reason UW can’t beat TCU at home. Air Force is winnable on the road. Why does Todd Christenson not give Wyoming credit isn’t he suppose to be a unbiased commentator? Someone at the Mountain needs to talk to him about how he comes off with his commentss. Go Pokes, see ya in Laramie against the Frogs.

  7. 5-2 Pokes fought hard and got the payoff no time to let up they must finish strong. Proud of the Pokes today. By the way do we offer a graduate program that Hillman would like to take lol?

  8. Watching the first half, I saw a dynamic offense that was reminiscent of the tiller years. Alot of short screens and quick slants. Thing that impresses me the most about smith is his ability to get rid of the ball quickly. His release is somewhat unorthodox but very quick which leads to less sacks. He is as tough as nails, and breaks alot of tackles. Amazed how fast he is. When he scored on his long touchdown run, it was amazing how fast he hit the hole and was gone. Offense seemed a little vanilla in 2nd half. Playing conservatively. We should have kept same play calling as first half, it worked. But a win is a win. Any idea how the mens bball scrimmage went? How do the new guys look? What a great time of year!!

  9. As UW was 17.5 pt underdogs in this game, it was going to take the best play to date this season + a little good fortune. I think we saw the offense come together the first half and in the second, a bit conservative. Yet, definitely the best performance by the defense. Takeaway Hillman’s 99 yard touchdown run and he was held to only 120 yards, I think. Not too shabby. It would be great to see both Offense and Defense have a complete game, but I’ll take last night because the Offense scored enough to win and the Defense made all the stops in both the first and 2nd half.

    San Diego St. first touchdown was a reminder of how they beat UW last year, give English credit, we were only beat over the top that one time.

    I saw COWBOY TOUGH last night! It will be interesting to see how DC, English, and coach Brandon keep getting the Pokes ready for TCU, Air Force, and Boise St. Don’t overlook NM (ala last year) and CSU (if they keep it up, the Border War is their last season goal, they WILL come with a vengance). Make no assumptions, EVERY GAME from here on out is THE GAME that gets us closer to a bowl. We’ve seen that this team can play tough, I’d like to see them competitive against TCU, Boise, and for bloody once, beat Air Force!
    Go Pokes!

    • Good points Brian, this team can’t take anything for granted, but the Cowboys showed me a lot by winning in San Diego. Hope they can build on it!!


  10. Awesome win, only thing a little disturbing, if it worked, and worked well the 1st half, although SDSU made adjustments, a bit disturbing that DC went away from what was working in the 1st half, ie. Brett Smith. Too much run game that’s at times non existent, oh well it’s a huge win, now 2 more!! Go Pokes!!!

  11. What I would like to see is about 25,000 butts in the stands saturday.If I can make it from kemmerer 300 miles away, people that live 3 miles from the stadium should be there in full force. Shut the town down every buddy that can make it be there.Last time I went to the TCU game that kicker donk it off the up right.After the game Patterson said that was a great college atmosphere. I’m just glad he did’nt play a young Andy Dalton the whole game. You could tell then he was going to be a good Q.B. Brett Smith remindes me of a young Andy Dalton with his tuffness and smarts. See every buddy saturday unless roads closed.

  12. We are going bowling !!! Hopefully it will be to Boise and the Potato Bowl against any number of possible Mid American Conference opponents which should be at least the 8th win for the ’11 season. Hopefully the weather will be acceptable both for the game and the road trip to The City of Trees and the Smurf Blue Field.

    • Maybe, but I think if UW does go to a bowl game it will be back to the New Mexico Bowl.


  13. Amazing performance 1st half, on both sides of the ball. I believe that the 2nd half was hed to the bomb shelter and bunker down. Why? The Defense withstood the test, albeit a little help with a kicking game that was on the same level as ours. Christensen called it right with that late 2nd half field goal. I will admit that I was mildly optimistic about a chance to win this in SD, and the Pokes proved capable to capture this victory.

    Not sure I want to talk about a bowl game when we can beat Air Force, and potentially have a real chance against TCU. Brandon has got to deliver a game plan similar to SDSU, but keep the heat on for at least 3 quarters, and the D has to shut down the Frogs in the final frame. We can put heat on this Pachall QB, and provide a little momentum with turnovers. Proud of ya Pokes.

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