First thing is first, here is my No. 1 key for Wyoming if it hopes to pull the upset at Washington State, which is a 24-point favorite, Saturday night in Pullman, Washington. Kickoff is at 6:40 p.m. MT and televised by the Pac-12 Network.
Offense is the best defense: Wyoming wants to run the football and control the clock. Washington State wants to throw it around and score fast. The Cowboys’ defensive struggles have been well documented, so their best defense today is to keep the defense off the field as much as possible with the offense. UW needs to be more balanced after 430 rushing yards and only 32 passing yards last week against Eastern Michigan. The return of redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman from a knee injury should help.
For more keys and information about the game see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.
Second, here is my preview of the game:
And finally, some notes and quotes from those who will be involved in today’s game:
— First, perhaps some bulletin board material for the Cowboys? “I know they want to try to run the ball, especially in the middle. They try not to get out on the perimeter much, but they’re gonna try to shove it down our throats, but we’re not gonna let that happen.” — Washington State senior defensive end Darryl Paulo. He’s not wrong about UW running to the perimeter much, but could that be a challenge for Cowboys in this game?
— “I think it’s good. I think (UW) does it a unique, old-school way. Very aggressive. In my mind, Tampa 2 a lot of times is sit and wait for something to happen and then react to it. They’re a little more aggressive than that and I think they do a good job. I think guys fly around. That’s one thing you see on film, a lot of guys flying around, playing really hard.” — Washington State coach Mike Leach on UW’s Tampa 2 defense. Sounds to me like a lot of coach-speak there, but it wouldn’t hurt the Cowboys to try and be a little more aggressive and take some changes defensively. The first two games resulted in seven plays of 30 yards or more for UW opponents, and it didn’t look like it took a ton of chances then.
— Washington State’s “Air Raid” passing attack has averaged just 27 points per game, but 392.5 passing yards per contest. A lot of people think the Cougars could hang a big number on the scoreboard against the Cowboys’ defense. Here are some past numbers to chew on: the last time UW gave up 60 or more points was last season, a 63-14 home loss to Boise State on Nov. 22. Prior to that, it was a 63-19 loss at Utah State on Oct. 8, 2012. The most points UW has ever allowed in a game? How about 79 in a 79-0 loss at Utah on Oct. 13, 1923. That team went 0-8. UW has allowed 70 or more points five times in school history, all during or before 1923.
— “(Washington State) has excellent athletes, but the real point of emphasis this week is taking care of the Cowboys and make sure that we show signs of improvement. — UW coach Craig Bohl.
— Senior running back Shaun Wick could move up three more spots on the Cowboys’ career rushing list. He needs 15 to tie for seventh place, 17 to tie for sixth and 105 to tie for fifth. Wick enters the game with 2,173 career rushing yards, which is No. 25 in the nation among active players in the FBS. Wick also is tied for eighth in career rushing touchdowns at UW with 20. He needs two more to tie for seventh.
— Senior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough needs one tackle for loss to tie Josh Biezuns (2008-11) for second on UW’s career list. Yarbrough has 30. The leader is John Fletcher (2005-08) with 36.
— “I would say its the next-man-up mentality. It’s kind of like the Alamo, this is all we got so we got to ride. It would be nice to have more depth, but at the same time that’s life. You have to do what you got do to. You have to saddle up sometimes.” — Yarbrough on the fact UW has only five defensive ends right now, and possibly a sixth as true freshman linebacker Kevin Prosser took some snaps this week at practice at defensive end.
— “Coach Bohl has been doing a good job of keeping us all up. As soon as we’re technically sound and don’t make the little mistakes, I feel like we’re a pretty good team. We’re just young.” — True freshman wide receiver Justice Murphy, who is one of four players on the UW roster from the state of Washington. The others are true freshman wide receiver James Price, junior linebacker D.J. May and junior defensive tackle Uso Olive.
— “There’s great promise in youth. There’s frustration, but here’s great promise.” — Bohl on the fact UW has played 23 true or redshirt freshmen this season.
— “We have to get a winning environment here. I think that’s the big thing that’s been missing. We’ve got to really take the same mentality we have on the road and bring it here and get this place going. It’s going to take a lot of fan support to get out here and stay the whole game and get loud.” — Washington State sophomore quarterback Luke Falk, whose team went 1-6 at home last season and lost its season-opener at home to Portland State 24-17 on Sept. 5.
— UW has lost its last four road nonconference games. The last time it won was Sept. 22, 2012, when it beat Idaho 40-37. Ironically, the Idaho and Washington State campuses are about 10 miles apart.