Based on the reaction from many fans the last two days, you would have thought Wyoming was 1-9 instead of 7-3.
Wyoming was 1-9 after 10 games last season, and despite the 69-66 triple-overtime loss at UNLV last Saturday, the Cowboys are 7-3 and still control their own destiny in terms of winning the Mountain West’s Mountain Division and overall conference title.
The road to do that is going to be more difficult, which starts with a win Saturday at home over No. 24 San Diego State.
Senior outside linebacker D.J. May hurt an ankle late in the UNLV game, and didn’t play in any of the overtime periods. However, third-year coach Craig Bohl said he expects May to be fine this week. I saw May doing interviews with the media Monday and he wasn’t wearing a protective boot or anything like that.
Stating the obvious here, but UW’s defense has to be much better Saturday if it has any chance of beating San Diego State. But one thing that will help is if the defense isn’t on the field for 97 snaps like it was at UNLV. That’s way too much for a razor-thin unit when it comes to depth.
Bohl and defensive coordinator Steve Stanard were the first to admit the defense’s struggles last week during interviews Monday afternoon. From poor pad level along the front, poor tackling from several guys and not-so-good pass coverage, there is plenty to work on.
Bohl also talked about what most football teams are going through this time of year — running out of gas. The season has been long and a grind. Bohl said he felt the defense was “heavy-legged and tired” at UNLV.. Bohl also said he and the staff will look at what they’re doing in practice and with its strength and conditioning this week, and through the rest of the season, to make sure the team is the freshest and healthiest it can be come game time.
I thought UW senior linebacker Lucas Wacha added some good insight to this when he said: “Everybody is beat up and sore this time of year. It’s those guys that have the will to fight through it when it matters. I’ve talked to some guys already and they feel the same way I do. Whoever can push through the tough times and adversity are the teams that usually come out on top.”
We know UW’s offense committed three turnovers against UNLV, was just 6 of 14 on third down and overall, consistent throughout the game. But its own success, and that in other areas of the team, also may have led to some of the defense’s struggles.
UW scored on defense and special teams, which it will take any time. But, that also put the defense back on the field faster. Five UW scoring drives in the game went less than two minutes, and two of those lasted 16 and 38 seconds. Again, UW will take points anyway it can, but looking at this week’s game and the one next week at New Mexico, it would serve UW well that — if at all possible — the offense possess the ball and finish drives.
“As an offense, we have to stay on the field and protect ball so the defense can rest its legs and not be on the field for 97 plays,” UW redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen said. “We have to do better, and we will do better.”
Saturday’s game with San Diego State features two of the nation’s best running backs in San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey, who leads the nation with 1,779 yards and is fifth in NCAA history in rushing, and UW junior running back Brian Hill — third in the nation in rushing (1,417 yards). Will have more on that this week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and at wyosports.net. However, I have been told by San Diego State sports information officials that Pumphrey won’t be made available for interviews.