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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MW football power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why. Look for his ratings on a weekly basis as the season continues.

1. Fresno State (8-3 overall, 6-1 MW): Remains a solid No. 1 this week after a 52-36 win at Nevada last week. Junior quarterback Derek Carr leads the league with 3,290 yards and 32 touchdowns. The defense has recorded at least one interception in nine straight games, and has forced the most turnovers in the league (30).

2. San Diego State (8-3, 6-1): The Aztecs remain ahead of Boise State this week based on their win in Boise and their impressive 28-9 home win over Air Force last week. Coach Rocky Long’s defense continues to improve, especially up front. San Diego State is off this week and ends the regular season at Wyoming next week.

3. Boise State (8-2, 5-1): The Broncos are still the only ranked team in the conference, and there’s not a big difference between the top three teams in the conference. The regular-season finale at Nevada could be tricky. Special teams and a lack of offensive production has the Broncos down a notch or two from the past.

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Movement in this week’s MW football power rankings

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why. Look for his ratings on a weekly basis as the season continues.

1. Fresno State (7-3 overall, 5-1 MW): The Bulldogs move to the top, more than anything, because of Boise State’s 21-19 home loss to San Diego State last week. Fresno State remains the most complete team in the league. Its 42-25 road loss at No. 4 Oregon in the second week of the season says a lot of how good this team is.

2. San Diego State (7-3, 5-1): The hottest team in the conference right now with five straight wins, but none bigger than winning at Boise State last week. Coach Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense is still tough to figure out. The Aztecs haven’t been hampered much with sophomore backup quarterback Adam Dingwell now the starter after a season-ending injury to senior Ryan Katz.

3. Boise State (7-2, 4-1): There isn’t much separation between the Broncos and the teams above it in these rankings, but it falls a couple of spots for now after losing at home to San Diego State. It’s defense is still good, but the offense needs to be more productive. The team will get well this week at Hawaii.

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MW mid-season power ratings

It’s the halfway point of the season in the Mountain West. All 10 teams have played at least six games, and some have played seven.

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 teams and why. Look for his ratings on a weekly basis as the season continues

1. Boise State (5-1 overall, 2-0 MW): The offensive fire power isn’t there, but the defense has been stellar. The Broncos lead the MW in scoring defense (14.7 ppg), pass defense (173.3 ypg), total defense (334.7 ypg), turnover margin (+11), pass efficiency defense (103.4) and first downs allowed (109).

2. Nevada (6-1, 3-0): The most dynamic offense that leads the MW in scoring (41 ppg) and total offense (549.9 ypg). The Wolf Pack can run and throw with the best of them. A fourth-quarter letdown at home against South Florida is the only thing keeping this team from being undefeated and probably nationally ranked. The defense needs to improve and the better teams in the conference still await.

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Ranking the MW football coaches

The Sporting News recently ranked the 10 Mountain West football coaches. Here’s the link to the rankings:


What do you think?

If it were me I would have the same top four, although I would have swapped Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Nevada’s Chris Ault at 2 and 3. But I see why Ault was second. He’s been there a long time and won a lot of games. But Calhoun has done nothing but win

I think Wyoming’s Dave Christensen is on the rise, and will continue to be if he consistently produces winning seasons and bowl games.

No. 5 is a little high for Colorado State’s Jim McElwain simply because he’s not been a head coach before. Not saying he’s a bad coach, but it’s different being the head man and CSU in not Alabama. I would have bumped San Diego State’s Rocky Long to No. 5 and put McElwain at No. 6, or even put New Mexico’s Bob Davie at No. 6 or No. 7.

Hawaii’s Norm Chow has been around for a long time, but like McElwain, has never been a head coach. No. 7 may be a bit high for him right now.

I also think Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter could move up the list fast. Another guy who is a head coach for the first time, but he knows his stuff and has been in the MW before with Air Force. If Frenso State stays healthy and adapts to his staff’s new systems, watch out for the Bulldogs.

Fun topic to talk about. Would love to hear what you think.

Quotes from UW-San Diego State

Here are some leftover quotes after Wyoming’s thrilling 30-27 victory over San Diego State last Saturday night in San Diego.

“Hope we can carry this in the next game and the rest of the year because that first half is what we’re capable of being.” — true freshman quarterback Brett Smith, who was 2o of 24 for 287 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and he also ran 10 times for 39 yards and two scores.

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UW-San Diego St. postgame thoughts

Shades of 2009?

Wyoming won at San Diego State in 2009 30-27, and came back from a 27-6 fourth-quarter deficit. Saturday night was the same final score for UW, but this time it hung on for the win.

“We’re very excited about this win and what it means to the conference for us,” said junior receiver Chris McNeill, who posted career-highs with eight catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns — all in the first half.

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UW-San Diego State leftovers

Some notes and quotes that didn’t make the newspaper on the Cowboys’ football game Saturday with San Diego State.

“He’s really good, but their offensive line is playing well and they have a lot of experience coming back there. They open holes up for him — UW coach Dave Christensen on SDSU sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman.

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Wyoming-San Diego State Q&A

Brent Schrotenboer covers San Diego State for the San Diego Union-Tribune, and recently answered five questions I had for him about Saturday football game between the Aztecs and Wyoming.

Would love to hear what you think, and can discuss these things, and more during Thursday’s live chat at 3 p.m.

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