Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key to the game for the Wyoming Cowboys in their Border War game against Colorado State, which kicks off at 5 p.m. today at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Communication: Talking about Wyoming’s defense. With two of its most important starters out with injuries — free safety Darrenn White and outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha — and possibly two other starters (senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi and senior cornerback DeAndre Jones). It is vital the Cowboys know what they are doing against a high-powered Colorado State offense that will use a lot of shifts and motions at the line of scrimmage to set up mismatches.
Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph preview today’s game on their weekly video blog:
This game over the years always has featured players and coaches with ties to both schools.
UW lists 20 players from Colorado on its roster, and 13 have starting experience. Many of them know CSU players going back to when they were in high school. Some were recruited by both schools, others were shunned by Colorado State.
UW senior defensive end Riley Lange, who is from Parker, Colorado, talks about that this week:
UW defensive coordinator Steve Stanard was an assistant coach for Colorado State from 2003-07 for former Rams coach Sonny Lubick.
Here is Stanard talking about his ties to both schools, and some keys to today’s game for his defense:
Marty English coached UW’s linebackers from 2003-08 for former coach Joe Glenn, and was the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator from 2009-11 for Dave Christensen. English is currently the Rams’ co-defensive coordinator.
Colorado State assistant strength and conditioning coach Michael Ray was a safety for UW from 2005-08, and an assistant strength coach from 2011-13. Rams director of recruiting operations Tim LeRoy was a gradate assistant at UW in 1999.
Here are some quotes from both teams about today’s game:
–“They’re able to play a pretty aggressive style in terms of pure numbers (of guys) they put in the box. They play a lot of man-to-man coverage, and have had a lot of success with that. They’re defending well without having to blitz a lot. I think we’re very capable (against man-to-man coverage). It’s about the right route combinations matching up. If teams want to play man-to-man, we welcome it.” — UW offensive coordinator Brent Vigen.
–“I didn’t understand it when I first got here. Over time you realize what it’s like to win and lose this game. It will be fun, and I’m excited to be a part of it. This is what I’ve wanted since I stepped foot on this campus after I saw that first game.” — UW senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard.
–“Getting our butts kicked like that was definitely an embarrassment. Losing three games in a row right now and knowing our record could be a lot better, I think it’s a build up for a great comeback right now.” — UW junior running back Shaun Wick.
–“To see the seniors run and grab (the Bronze Boot traveling trophy) and show it around the stadium. I hope I can do that this year and be the one to raise that trophy.” — UW senior receiver Dominic Rufran.
–“There’s definitely motivation. We have the same guys on the team for the most part, and going into that game last year most of us thought we were going to win. They came in here and put it to us. We are motivated to get the Boot back.” — UW senior safety Jesse Sampson.
–“They’re giving up some yards, but when they need to make a play they do. Their defense has been keeping them in games. We need to be on point with everything we do. (UW junior defensive end) Eddie Yarbrough is a guy that has a motor that never stops. He’s always going and making plays. He’s somebody that on every snap I’ll always have my eyes on.” — Colorado State senior quarterback Garrett Grayson.
–“You’ve got to respect how patient (Wyoming) is with their run game, and their running backs are really good and can take it long on any given play. … I don’t think anybody in this locker room will overlook Wyoming. This is the Border War, and the (Bronze Boot) is very important to us.” — Colorado State senior linebacker Max Morgan.
–“You always hope that you’ll have a start like we’ve had, but yet we have so far to go. We’re by no means a power house. It’s good to see the guys have understood the work it takes. I’m really proud of the entire organization in how everybody has stepped up their game and have refused to accept mediocrity.” — Colorado State coach Jim McElwain.
For more Border War coverage over the weekend, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net. Gagliardi will host a live game chat from the game today, starting at 4:45 p.m. Links to the chat are on this blog and at wyosports.net.