Christensen concerned, confident in QB

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen is concerned.

He’s concerned that his quarterback — sophomore Brett Smith — has a lot of expectations on him coming off a true freshman season where he was the Mountain West Freshman of the Year as he guided the Cowboys to an 8-5 record, a third-place finish in the conference and their second bowl game in three years. On top of that, Smith was voted by the coaches as one of four team captains.

This scenario didn’t play out well for UW not long ago. In 2009, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels earned MW Freshman of the Year as UW finished 7-6 and won the New Mexico Bowl in Christensen’s first season with the Cowboys.

The following year Carta-Samuels was a team captain and expectations were high for him and the team. The result was a 3-9 record. Carta-Samuels wasn’t to blame for all the struggles, but he was one of many players that didn’t play well that year. He left after the season and is now at Vanderbilt.

Christensen hopes Smith and the Cowboys don’t endure the same kind of struggles next season.

“I think that’s always a concern,” said Christensen on the increased expectations on Smith heading into this season during Tuesday’s MW coaches teleconference. “I think Brett is a great competitor and he knows he’s going to have to work extremely hard. He’s a focused individual that is striving to get better. I don’t tink that will change.”

One thing Christensen hopes that will change is how much UW relied on Smith. Last season he led the team in rushing with 710 yards and 10 touchdowns. He completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,622 yards and 20 touchdowns, and he also caught a touchdown pass.

“I’d like to have more of the surrounding cast pick it up around him,” he said. “We’re going to rely on Brett to to a lot of things, but we’d like to take some of the pressure off him by the guy around him performing better.”

For some names of newcomers who couuld help the Cowboys this season, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.