UW at New Mexico State – pregame reading

Football is back!!

Wyoming opens the 2018 season tonight at 8 p.m. MT at New Mexico State in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

Here are some notes, quotes and links to some of the coverage during the week on wyosports.net leading up to the game.

— This is the earliest UW has ever started a season. It also is the last of four games to be played in college football’s “zero week.” The Cowboys’ earliest season-opener prior to this year was on Aug. 28, 1997 when it lost 24-10 at Ohio State in the inaugural Eddie Robinson Classic. That also was the last time I missed a UW season-opening game — home or away. I won’t get into the reasons why I am not at New Mexico State, but needless to say, I’m not happy about it.

Nico Evans

— Nico’s been here several years and has been kind of a mix-in guy. His offseason efforts have showed up, they showed up during the course of the spring, they showed up during camp. Those guys have a GPS chip on them and we’re checking their efficiency and their explosion and how many times they’re passing 20 miles an hour. He’s been pretty impressive. Nico has had a phenomenal offseason and he’ll be our starting tailback. You’ll see some other tailbacks who will play as well.” — Fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl on senior running back Nico Evans. It was one of the more surprising stories of fall camp. Here is my column on Evans from earlier in the week.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/football/gagliardi-column-patience-pays-off-for-nico-evans/article_9f9fc6fc-a694-11e8-80da-13fb2391c5e4.html

— This is the 122nd season of UW football, and here is a breakdown of how it has done in season-opening games.

76-43-2 (.636) in all season-opening games.

57-18-1 (.757) in season-opening games at home.

19-25-1 (.433) in season-opening games on the road

— “I felt pretty releived when it was set in stone, officially. I don’t think anyting changes. If anyting, it is amped up a little bit.” — Redshirt freshman Tyler Vander Waal, who will make his first-career start at quarterback for the Cowboys tonight.

For more on Vander Waal, here is a link to my feature on him that was published Saturday.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/vander-waal-ready-for-first-start-as-cowboys-qb/article_fef23bf4-a832-11e8-b1cc-6706f321a4af.html

I also went back and looked at some of the more notable first starts for past UW quarterbacks. It was fun to research and remember many of those games. Here is a link to that.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/notable-first-starts-for-wyoming-quarterbacks/article_fec00ade-a833-11e8-88b9-77f4031aafe4.html

— New Mexico State is one of seven teams UW plays this season that went to a bowl game last season, and all three of its FBS nonconference foes went to bowl games. The Cowboys’ fourth nonconference foe — FCS member Wofford — played in the FCS playoffs.

— Both UW and New Mexico State have some striking similarities entering this season. Both are coming off bowl wins from last season. Both are breaking in new quarterbacks and featured running backs. Both return good defenses from last season, and both have high expectations heading into this season.

— “When you turn on the film it is really easy to see when teams are well-coached and that’s the first thing I see when I turn on Wyoming’s defense. They are so disciplined. They don’t make mistakes. They don’t give up big plays. They play with a passion and enthusiasm, and they run to the ball. They look like a power conference team you’re getting ready to play.

“It all starts with (defensive end) Carl Granderson. That guy has to be a first-round (NFL) draft pick. I haven’t seen anybody block him yet. The other guy who is impressive to me is safety Andrew Wingard. It seems to me he’s the leader of the defense. He gets guys lined up and a guy who never misses tackles. I love watching him play, but I’m not sure I’m going to love watching playing against him.

“The most alarming stat to me from last year for Wyoming was only one team scored 30 or more points against them, and that was Oregon. That’s an amazing stat in college football today.” — New Mexico State coach Doug Martin.

— Senior safety Andrew Wingard could move up from sixth to third on UW’s career tackles list after tonight’s game. With 367 tackles, Wingard needs 12 to tie for third with safety John Salley (1979-82). Wingard needs one tackle to tie for fifth and sixth to tie for fourth. Wingard enters the season 100 tackles shy of tying the school record.

— If you didn’t get a chance to pick up a copy of our 68-page UW football preview section on Friday, it is available to be downloaded online at wyosports.net. Here is the link.

http://www.wyosports.net/university-of-wyoming-football-preview/pdf_990ab54a-a74d-11e8-b5ac-af6a5cfe495f.html