UW-San Diego State key to the game

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s No. 1 key to the game for Wyoming in today’s game with San Diego State:

Protect Smith: San Diego State will bring pressure from all angles in its 3-3-5 defense, and it is critical that Wyoming picks that up and allows sophomore quarterback Brett Smith enough time to throw the ball. A decent running game would help, but that’s not a guarantee. UW’s strength offensively is throwing the ball as Smith averages 286.3 yards per game.

A few other UW notes for today’s game:

–Junior Tyler Strong and redshirt freshman Jake Jones are expected to start at both guard spots. But look for redshirt freshman Austin Traphagan to rotate in there, too. He did last week at UNLV, even though he’s listed a tackle. Strong has battled injuries in recent weeks. Coach Dave Christensen said Trahagan has earned more playing time, and there’s more of a need at guard right now. Traphagan also could be in the mix at tackle today and next season.

–UW junior receiver Robert Herron and San Diego State junior linebacker Vaness Harris were high school teammates at Dorsey High in Los Angeles. Herron is expected to start, Harris is a backup behind sophomore Derek Largent.

–The Cowboys have won five of the last eight in the series, but the Aztecs snapped a three-game losing streak at UW in 2010 with a 48-38 win.

–San Diego State coach Rocky Long was an assistant at UW from 1981-85.   Along with his 62 wins at New Mexico from 1999-2008, he is tops among Mountain West coaches with 78 wins.

–Christensen said the collar bone injury to true freshman running back Shaun Wick last week at UNLV will keep him out of today’s game, but he will be ready for spring football.

–A quick look ahead to recruiting, Christensen said UW will sign its full allotment of 25 players in 2013. The likely breakdown will be 14 defensive players, 10 offensive and one specialist.

For more on today’s game, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and go to www.wyosports.net. Join Gagliardi for his live game chat/blog for the game at 1 p.m. — 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Links to the chat are here on this blog and at wyosports.net.