Wyoming at Fresno St. – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and Fresno State. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT from Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, California. The game is televised on ESPNU.

Brent Vigen

— “We need to protect better, and and that’s situational. Our third down production is killing us. We are below 30 percent and we need to be plus-40. Each game is different on how teams play us defensively. Getting open is part of it. The passing game is an 11-man deal. Ultimately, the quarterback being able to connect with (the receivers) and has enough time are key. We as coaches have to find the most effective ways to do that every given week. That’s what we’re aiming to do and we will take out a new page this week.” — UW associate head coach/offensive coordinator Brent Vigen

Brian Hill

— Fresno and Bulldog Stadium was the site of one of UW’s most improbable and impressive victories in the Craig Bohl era. Thanks to a big game from running back Brian Hill, the Cowboys pounded the Bulldogs 45-17 on Nov. 1, 2014 — Bohl’s first year. It was the first road win — conference or otherwise — for Bohl at UW. The Cowboys are nearly a three-touchdown underdog tonight. A win Saturday would likely trump that 2014 triumph in terms of improbable and impressive.

— “Coach Vigen always talks about that we’re on the edge of finding our offense. We haven’t found that identity. Once we get over that hump we will be good. Saying that, we are halfway through the season and we’re not where we want to be. We have to find it sooner or later. … There’s been some good and bad. I expected that. Stat-wise it is not where I want to be at. Win-wise it is not where I want to be at. We’re 2-4 and we could be 4-2. It is in the past and you have to turn the page. I’ve played well at time and bad at times.” — UW redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal

— Junior middle linebacker Logan Wilson of Casper has a chance to crack into UW’s top 10 list for career tackles for loss tonight. Wilson enters the game with 21, and had three last week at Hawaii. He needs 1.5 tackles for loss to tie two other players for ninth. One of those players is his current teammate — senior strong safety Andrew Wingard.

— After UW’s 34-14 loss to Boise State at home on Sept. 29, Wilson said it is important for the entire team to stay positive through this rough part of the season. He elaborated on that this week.

“I don’t know how to explain it. It has been hard, but last week we had a pretty good week of practice heading to Hawaii — more upbeat and positive. We’ve had more fun in practice the  last few weeks and we need to continue that. We need to get back to having fun playing football. If you’re not having fun playing football, especially when you’re losing, some people start to think it is not worth it. That starts in practice.”

— Fresno State has allowed 15.6 points per game this season, and is among the nation’s leaders with 16 turnovers forced. Another impressive defensive stat for the Bulldogs — They have allowed 30 points or less in 16 consecutive games going back to last season. That is the second-longest streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The longest is Wisconsin at 20.

— “He has continued to develop as far as his technique. He’s done a good job of staying focused. He’s a physical player who runs well. Boise State got after him and he really got tested, but you’re going to learn from that. We’re pleased with his progress.” — Bohl on redshirt freshman cornerback Keyon Blankenbaker, who is expected to start in his fourth straight game in place of injured redshirt freshman C.J. Coldon.

Jeff Tedford

— If Fresno State gets off to a fast start tonight, it likely will be a long game for UW. Second-year coach Jeff Tedford is 12-1 when his team scores first, and 14-1 when it leads at halftime. In those 12 wins when scoring first, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 118-20.

— “He’s all over the place. He plays down low, runs to ball, is a great tackler, is physical and covers well in the pass game. He’s one of the best football players in our conference. He’s one of the main guys in what they do, but they have a lot of other guys around him that play really hard and run to the ball. (Wyoming) maybe has the best defensive front four in our conference.” — Tedford on Wingard and UW’s defense.

See Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net, as I have a cool feature on Travis Smith, the executive chef for UW’s training table at the High Altitude Performance Center, and how Smith and his staff feed all of UW’s student-athletes. Also, there is a story on Fresno State senior KeeSean Johnson, who is one of the nation’s best wide receivers.