Craig Bohl called it a “daunting task.”
He was talking about his 1-9 Cowboys going to play at San Diego State (6-3, 5-0 MW) Saturday night. The Aztecs have won a league-best five straight games, and are coming off a bye week.
“San Diego State arguably is playing the best of any team we’ve played this year, and probably the best of anybody in the Mountain West right now,” Bohl said Monday during his weekly news conference.
Here is everything Bohl had to say Monday:
San Diego State has one of the better defenses in the MW. It allows 18.7 points per game. Foes have made only 30 percent of its third-down conversions and it has forced 21 turnovers in nine games — including 14 interceptions. Junior Damontae Kazee has picked off six passes. UW offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said the Aztecs’ cornerback duo of Kazee and senior J.J. Whitaker is the best in the league.
UW’s defense will have to contend with the two-headed running back monster of junior Donnel Pumphrey and senior Chase Price. Those two have combined for 1,602 yards and 15 touchdowns. Both average 5.1 yards per carry.
Starting games strong defensively has been an issue for UW this season, especially in its last three games — all losses. See Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and log on to wyosports.net for more on that story.
Redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman is expected to start this week after missing the last two games with a right shoulder injury. But the Cowboys will be without junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry (shoulder) for the fourth straight game. Whether or not Gentry returns this season remains uncertain.
Fifteen UW players call California home, and many of them will have a lot of friends and family at the game Saturday. Redshirt freshman walk-on strong safety Marcus Epps knows San Diego State sophomore wide receiver Chase Favreau from their high school days in Los Angeles. UW junior wide receiver Jake Maulhardt said he’s played AAU basketball and football with San Diego State junior safety Kendrick Mathis since they were kids.
True freshman defensive end Carl Granderson is from Sacramento, and said he doesn’t know any guys on the Aztecs’ football team, but he went to high school with one of their better men’s basketball players — sophomore forward Malik Pope. Granderson said San Diego State recruited him, but didn’t offer him a scholarship. He also said that gives him a little extra spark of motivation this week.
Granderson is 6-foot-6 and listed at 200 pounds. But he’s added weight as the season has progressed, and said he’s now up to 207. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty impressive for any football player to add weight during the season.
Bohl also said some UW assistant coaches will attend some high school games in California prior to their game, which isn’t until 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday night. California is one of the key recruiting grounds for UW.