Strength vs. strength for UW and Utah State

Wyoming’s offense versus Utah State’s defense.

Those are the strengths of the two teams when both play at noon Saturday at Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah.

Utah State (7-4, 6-1) leads the MW in seven defensive categories, and is seventh nationally in scoring defense (17.6 points per game), 10th in third-down conversion defense (31.5 percent) and tied for 12th in total defense (333.4 yards per game).

UW (5-6, 3-4) is 13th in total offense at just under 500 yards of total offense per game.

This is what UW coach Dave Christensen said about the Aggies’ defense Monday during his weekly interview session with the media.

“Most people haven’t had a lot of success that has played them,” he said. “Every single player plays extremely hard the entire play for every single play. They’re very talented players that have great motors. They have a lot of experience. They can get great pressure on the quarterback. They are tight as can be in man coverage. They pressure, they blitz and they get there. They definitely are the best defense we’ve played this year.”

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UW-Hawaii postgame thoughts, video highlights

That was one of the weirdest games I have ever covered or been a part of. Not the wierdest, but it ranks right up there.

I was in the stands — not working — when UW beat San Diego State 52-51 in Laramie in 1990. I covered the 53-45 triple overtime win at UNLV in 2004 where UW rallied and got bowl eligible that year.

UW beat Hawaii 59-56 in overtime Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The announced crowd was 12,227, but there were not that many here. Less than 10,000 in my estimation. And this game had the combination of being entertaining, sad, embarrassing and down-right odd all in the span of four hours and six minutes.

Here are some video highlights, including UW’s last touchdown in regulation, Hawaii’s successful two-point conversion to force overtime and the overtime possessions for both teams.


Still, the few people that were there saw an exciting game. UW and junior quarterback Brett Smith broke all sorts of records. Smith threw for 498 yards and seven touchdown passes, and ran for another. UW had nearly 800 yards of total offense. Senior receiver Robert Herron caught four touchdown passes. He and junior receiver Dominic Rufran both had more than 100 yards receiving — the first UW duo since 2005 to do that.

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UW-Hawaii notes and quotes

Here are some tidbits for Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and Hawaii at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is at noon.

–UW (4-6 overall, 2-4 MW) is on a four-game losing streak, which is tied for the second-longest in coach Dave Christensen’s five seasons. The longest is six back in 2010. UW also had a four-game slide last season.

The new Paniolo Trophy awarded to the winner of the Wyoming-Hawaii football game.

The new Paniolo Trophy awarded to the winner of the Wyoming-Hawaii football game.

–The winner will receive a replica of the Paniolo Trophy. The old trophy was lost after the series between the two schools ended after the 1997 season. But a new trophy was constructed. UW leads the series 12-8 and has won five straight. Hawaii is 3-5 in Laramie, with its last win in 1991.

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Christensen talks about confidence

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen was asked how his team’s confidence is Monday after it lost its fourth straight game, 48-7, last Saturday night at Boise State.

It’s probably not very high,” Christensen said. “Anytime you have struggles it’s not going to be where you want it. But we going to keep working hard, prepare and try to come up with some answers. We have another game on Saturday, you can’t sit there and feel sorry for yourself.”

Here is Wyoming's uniform combination for its home finale Saturday against Hawaii. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

Here is Wyoming’s uniform combination for its home finale Saturday against Hawaii. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

UW’s top goal, and really its only goal left this season is to get bowl eligible. At 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West, UW needs to beat 0-10 Hawaii at home Saturday and win at 6-4 Utah State next week.

The Cowboys first need to worry about beating a Hawaii team, that despite being winless has lost four of its game by one score. Christensen said the Rainbow Warriors are big on defense, and there are some weapons on offense, in particular junior running back Joey Iosefa, a 6-foot, 240-pound bruiser, who had 150 yards and a touchdown in Hawaii’s 28-21 overtime loss to San Diego State at home last Saturday, and senior receiver and return specialist Chris Gant.

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No time to be frustrated

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen isn’t happy his team, which is 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Mountain West, has lost three in a row.

Wyoming's uniform combination for Saturday's game at Boise State. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

Wyoming’s uniform combination for Saturday’s game at Boise State. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

But he isn’t stewing about it.

“I can’t sit there and be frustrated,” said Christensen during his weekly interview session with the media Monday afternoon. “I have another game this week. We’re working on our problems right now and trying to solve them. Sitting around being frustrated is not going to anything for this week’s game.”

This week’s game is at Boise State (6-3, 4-1) at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. UW is 0-7 all-time against Boise State, including 0-3 under Christensen by a score of 132-36.

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UW-Fresno State notes and quotes

Here are some notes and quotes about Wyoming’s football game against No. 17 Fresno State at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

— UW coach Dave Christensen and Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter went against each other as assistant coaches in the Mid-American Conference. Christensen was at Toldeo and DeRuyter at Ohio.

— “They’re averaging over 500 yards a game, and the thing that’s impressive is they’re doing it both in the running game and throwing game. That’s a tough combination.” — DeRuyter of UW’s offense.

— “I think if you’re in good shape, it can be a factor if you allow it to be. If you’re not in good shape, it will kill you. … I think our guys will be fine.” — DeRuyter on playing at 7,220 feet of elevation Saturday.

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Jones earning more playing time at cornerback

Wyoming junior DeAndre Jones was one of two starting cornerbacks when fall camp started back in August.

But injuries and the emergence of some other players relegated Jones to a backup role.

DeAndre Jones

DeAndre Jones

Jones may not start in UW’s game at 8:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 17 Fresno State, but he will see the field.

“He definitely will play,” coach Dave Christensen said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “He’s done some good things.”

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Young ready to help UW defense any way he can

Bill Young, Wyoming’s new quality control staff member in football, got to Laramie Sunday and was quickly put to work.

“I was up at 3:45 a.m. (Monday morning) because Jamar is a worker,” Young said with a laugh about interim UW defensive coordinator Jamar Cain.

The uniform combination for Wyoming's home game with Fresno State Saturday, which UW is promoting as a "white out" game. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

The uniform combination for Wyoming’s home game with Fresno State Saturday, which UW is promoting as a “white out” game. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

Part of the reason Young was up that early is because UW practices during the morning hours this season. The long-time defensive coach and defensive coordinator at the college level attended UW’s Monday morning practice.

So what exactly does a quality control staff member do?

First, Young is not a full-time staff member. NCAA rules allow colleges to have nine full-time assistant coaches. Even though UW fired defensive coordinator Chris Tormey last week, it promoted graduate assistant Dwain Crawford to full-time status for the rest of the season to help cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill with UW’s defensive backs.

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Thoughts on the firing of defensive coordinator Chris Tormey

The decision was made late Monday night, and the word came out early Tuesday morning that Wyoming defensive coordinator Chris Tormey was fired.

I am not surprised this was done, but I didn’t think it would happen now. Christensen hasn’t been a guy that has fired coaches during the season since he’s been at UW. But if there was a time to do it, perhaps it was now since the Cowboys don’t have a game this week.

Here is the statement Tormey sent me via email Tuesday afternoon about the decision:

“After a promising start to our season we clearly struggled on defense recently. While there have been a variety of factors that have played into it, as defensive coordinator I am ultimately responsible for what happens on the field on game day. I have accepted Coach Christensen’s decision and thanked him for the opportunity. I will miss the players that I have coached and recruited during my time here. They are a tremendous group of young men. My hope is that the Cowboys will finish strong this season and enjoy much success in the future.”

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