MW Championship Football Game – pregame primer

Are you ready for some championship football — in Laramie?

For the first time in school history, Wyoming hosts a conference championship game as it takes on San Diego State at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The winner will be crowned 2016 Mountain West champs.

This is UW’s first home football game in the month of December since 1902.

First, here is my No. 1 key to the game for the Cowboys:

Adjusting on the fly: Both teams played each other two weeks ago so they have a good idea of what each other is about. However, both squads will tweak or change a few things, and the team that adjusts the best and fastest will have a significant edge.

For more keys, and more coverage leading up to today’s game, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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New Mexico 56, Wyoming 35 – postgame thoughts

My initial thought from Wyoming’s lopsided loss — I’m glad that game is over.

From the start it was a disaster for the Cowboys. Big play after big play for New Mexico’s run game. Some said there were a lot of missed tackles. No there weren’t because more often than not UW didn’t get close enough to tackle anyone.

Third-year coach Craig Bohl called the defense’s effort “abysmal.” I saw a lot more stronger adjectives online last night. The 585 yard rushing UW allowed was a school record, and 428 of them were in the first half.

Wyoming (8-4 overall 6-2 Mountain West) clinched the Mountain Division before it played the game when Boise State lost at Air Force Friday night. I thought there was the potential for a letdown from the Cowboys based on that. Bohl said he was “concerned” about it, but didn’t think that was a factor. A couple players also said that wasn’t the case.

One player thought it was — sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard. Here’s what he said after the game:

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Wyoming 34, San Diego State 33 – postgame thoughts

Another game, another amazing, odd, exciting (pick your own word) finish as Wyoming rallied then held on for a 34-33 victory over previously No. 24 San Diego State Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

How odd and exciting? Check out my late-game highlights that include UW’s game-winning touchdown on a 29-yard pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen to redshirt freshman wide receiver C.J. Johnson. Also included is San Diego State’s Hail Mary pass on the final play to pull to within one (a play that was ruled incomplete and then reversed) and then its failed two-point conversion.

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Wyoming vs. No. 24 San Diego State – Pregame primer

Some pregame reading for Wyoming’s home-finale Saturday vs. No. 24-ranked San Diego State. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m., and the game is televised on CBS Sports Network.

Here is my No. 1 key to the game for UW in the game:

Offense is the best defense: Wyoming faces one of the nation’s best defenses today, and over the last 17 Mountain West games San Diego State has allowed an average of about 10 points per game. Still, the Cowboys must find a way to win the time of possession battle, finish drives with points and most importantly, keep its defense fresh so it’s not on the field for 97 plays like it was last week at UNLV.

For more keys, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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2015 All-MW Football team: UW’s Hill left off first team, how I voted

There was an uproar among Wyoming fans this afternoon when the All-Mountain West football team was released by the league.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Sophomore running back Brian Hill was left off the first team.

Despite leading the MW with 1,631 yards — a single-season UW record — and four 200-yard games, Hill garnered enough support by the 12 head coaches and selected media members to earn second team honors.

Here is the link from the MW for the first and second team members, along with honorable mentions and other individual awards.

http://www.themwc.com/news/mwfb-15-allmw

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UW at San Diego State football: Notes, quotes and video

My top key for Wyoming Saturday at San Diego State; kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Good start: Something Wyoming hasn’t done much of this season. During their three-game losing streak the Cowboys have fallen behind 17-0 after the first quarter twice, and allowed 48 points in the first quarter in all three contests. UW needs to play its best game from start to finish to have a chance to win, but another poor start will lead to yet another double-digit loss. By the way, all of the Cowboys’ nine losses this season have been by double digits.

More keys and more preview stuff right here:

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MW Football Media Day notes and thoughts

The 16th Mountain West Football Media Day concluded Wednesday here at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, Wyoming and the other five teams from the Mountain Division did their interviews. Wednesday were the six teams in the West Division.

First, some more notes on Wyoming after the story I wrote on senior receiver Dominic Rufran and junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. Here is the link to that story:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/football/rufran-yarbrough-should-represent-uw-well-on-and-off-the/article_7b4ce8fc-121e-11e4-8fed-001a4bcf887a.html
–Senior defensive end Sonny Puletasi was named to the inaugural Polynesian Award watch list by ESPN Big 12. Puletasi had 47 tackles last season, and tied for second on the team in tackles for loss (10) and sacks (4.5).

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Final MW football power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi gives his final power rankings for Mountain West football in 2012:

1. Fresno State (9-3 overall, 7-1 MW): As stated numerous times this season, this is the most complete team in the conference. That was evident in the all-conference selections as junior quarterback David Carr was the Offensive Player of the Year, senior safety Phillip Tomas was the Defensive Player of the Year and receiver Davante Adams was the Freshman of the Year. In all, the team had a league-high first team all-conference players. The Bulldogs were the highest scoring team in the MW (40.2 ppg), was second in scoring defense (22.2 ppg) and intercepted the most passes (20). Despite a 10-point loss at Boise State, the nod goes to the Bulldogs as the top team in the league this year.

2. Boise State (10-2, 7-1): Head-to-head play doesn’t mean much in these rankings (you can weigh in on that if you want) because San Diego State won at Boise State this season. The Broncos have been nationally ranked all season. Their strength was on defense as they finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (14.9 ppg), total defense (304.7 ypg) and in turnover margin (+18). The offense was OK, and improved as the season went on.

3. San Diego State (9-3, 7-1): Not a lot of separation with these first three teams. The Aztecs won their final seven games of the season, and did it mostly with a powerful run game. What’s even more impressive is San Diego State did a lot of its work with sophomore backup quarterback Adam Dingwell after senior starter Ryan Katz suffered a season-ending leg injury in the eighth game. Coach Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense improved as the season went on, thanks in large part to the play up front. That enabled Long to be named the MW Coach of the Year.

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UW-San Diego State key to the game

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s No. 1 key to the game for Wyoming in today’s game with San Diego State:

Protect Smith: San Diego State will bring pressure from all angles in its 3-3-5 defense, and it is critical that Wyoming picks that up and allows sophomore quarterback Brett Smith enough time to throw the ball. A decent running game would help, but that’s not a guarantee. UW’s strength offensively is throwing the ball as Smith averages 286.3 yards per game.

A few other UW notes for today’s game:

–Junior Tyler Strong and redshirt freshman Jake Jones are expected to start at both guard spots. But look for redshirt freshman Austin Traphagan to rotate in there, too. He did last week at UNLV, even though he’s listed a tackle. Strong has battled injuries in recent weeks. Coach Dave Christensen said Trahagan has earned more playing time, and there’s more of a need at guard right now. Traphagan also could be in the mix at tackle today and next season.

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UW-San Diego State Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Stefanie Loh, who covers San Diego State football for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Question: How has San Diego State’s offense managed to survive after the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Ryan Katz, and what has backup Adam Dingwell done effectively since Katz has been out?
Answer: The Aztecs actually didn’t miss a beat. In fact, one opposing Mountain West coach even noted that SDSU’s offense has played with a little extra sparkle with Dingwell at the helm. But really the good thing is that Dingwell has shown maturity and the ability to stay cool under pressure. He has a similar skill set to Katz – very mobile, good arm – and can pass or scramble depending on what he sees. Still, the bottom line is that the bread and butter of the Aztecs’ offense is the run game. Running backs Adam Muema and Walter Kazee have been hot all year. Muema has 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Kazee has 787 yards and eight touchdowns, and they’ve kept the chains moving, which opens the door for Dingwell to be successful in the play action pass game.

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