Wyoming vs. Texas State – pregame primer

The last of four consecutive home games for Wyoming kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday against  Texas State of the Sun Belt Conference.

The game will be carried digitally by Facebook Live. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/StadiumCollegeFootball/videos/1928850377437578/

Here is my No. 1 key for the Cowboys entering this game:

More offense, less defense: Meaning Wyoming’s offense must do a better job of sustaining drives and finishing with points, which will keep the defense fresher and better equipped to make plays. The defense was on the field for two-thirds of the game last week against Hawaii, and 97 plays two weeks ago against Oregon. Even though the defense has played well for the most part, it can’t be on the field that long game after game. Yes, the defense can help itself by making more plays to get off the field sooner, but it needs more help from the offense.

I feel like I’m sounding like a broken record about this No. 1 key the last few weeks.

Now for some notes and quotes about the game:

Kaden Jackson

— It will be interesting to see how UW plays without a handful of starters due to injury. Senior guard Ryan Cummings (concussion), junior guard Kaden Jackson (knee), junior nose tackle Sidney Malauulu (knee) and junior defensive end Kevin Prosser (shoulder) won’t play today. It also is unlikely junior cornerback Antonio Hull (leg) will play. He hasn’t played since the opener at Iowa. Texas State is 1-3 and if UW plays well it should win without these guys. But the Cowboys have to play well to win. They’re not good enough just to show up and expect to beat anybody. UW’s depth will be tested, and that was the topic of my column from Thursday. Here’s the link:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/gagliardi-column-uw-s-depth-to-be-tested-this-week/article_7edf639a-a40c-11e7-977f-6f46bfcda307.html

— “I think we will. He continues to improve. Sometimes in these games, it’s a fine line to want the guys with the most experience in there, especially when the games are tight like last week. I do plan on continuing to play him. His progress has been great.” — UW wide receivers coach Mike Grant on true freshman wide receiver Jared Scott and if fans should count on seeing him on the field as the season progresses.

Tyler Hall

— UW sophomore cornerback Tyler Hall leads the Mountain West and is eighth nationally in kickoff returns with a 33.8-yard average. That average was boosted by a 97-yard return for a touchdown last week against Hawaii. Sophomore wide receiver Austin Conway leads the MW and is 12th in the country in punt returns with a 15.9-yard average. As a team, UW is 12th nationally in kickoff return average and 16th in punt return average. Conway had a punt return for a touchdown last season. Hall and Conway are the first UW players on the roster to have both a kickoff and punt return touchdown since Peter Gunn (kickoff return) and Chuck Kimbrough (punt return) in 1987-88.

–“They’re a good looking team. They lost some guys to graduation, but return a very talented quarterback in Josh Allen,who is probably a first-day (NFL draft) pick. It looks like they’re looking forward to getting the freshman running back (Trey Woods) more into the mix. Their defensive is big and strong up front and very active, and they have good second-level players. This team will play hard and will be well coached. It will be a big challenge for us.” — Texas State coach Everett Withers.

— As UW still tries to find consistency on offense, the good news is that it has scored all six times it has been in the red zone this season. The red zone is at or inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. The bad news is those six times are the fewest in the conference.

— “They’re doing the right things and obviously a big part in our run game. They’re multi-faceted weapons that kind of go unnoticed at times. They’ve come a long way from where they started.” — UW junior quarterback Josh Allen on UW’s tight ends this season. Junior tight ends Tyree Mayfield and Josh Harshman have combined for 11 catches for 106 yards through UW’s first four games.

— Wyoming is 16-3 against the 12 current members from the Sun Belt Conference. UW does not have a losing record against any Sun Belt team, and has played seven of its current members. The one team UW has played the most from the Sun Belt is Idaho (6-1), but Idaho will be dropping back to the FCS level soon and will re-join the Big Sky Conference. UW is 1-1 against Texas State with both teams winning at home. UW lost at Texas State 42-21 in 2013 in a game that was delayed three hours due to rain and lightning. I remember walking out of the stadium after the game in ankle deep water in the parking lot.

— “The easy approach is to get upset and tell the guy to catch the ball. We’re looking at adjusting the depth chart and I think putting these guys in position to where they can re-establish some confidence is important. It was frustrating for those players. They’re not out there trying to drop passes. But this is a production deal and you’ve got to produce.” — UW coach Craig Bohl on the team’s issues with dropped passes last week.

— Junior safety Andrew Wingard enters the week No. 2 in the nation among active players with 5.97 solo tackles per game, and No. 4 in total tackles per game at 9.67. I’ve got a fun story coming in Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net about Wingard’s signature long hair. It was one of the more fun stories I’ve done in a while. Hope you will check it out, but as a small preview, here is a short video clip I did with Wingard and his famous hair toss.