Some notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s homecoming game for the University of Wyoming. The Cowboys host Utah State at 12:30 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium — their first home game since Sept. 29. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.
“I think we need to look at personnel changes. There will be some schematic things that we need do. There’s times we’ve run the ball fairly effectively, and then what will occur is we’ve got to be more consistent as far as not shooting ourselves in the foot with a untimely penalty or something like that. There’s some things we can do to generate some competitive situations. There’s things we need to do to stay on the field on third down and we’re working hard on that. We have a real problem right now offensively extending drives because our third-down percentage conversion is so poor. A lot of times it’s not third down and long, it’s third down and makeables. We’re going to look at it all.” — Fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl
For the first time on this platform this season, where are my Mountain West football power rankings heading into this week’s games. The rankings have been running in our four-page wrap that goes around the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for every Wyoming game. With no game this week for the Cowboys, there is no wrap. But from now on I will post these rankings on the blog — along with my picks for the week.
Here we go.
1. Boise State (2-1 overall, 0-0 MW): The Broncos came back to earth, and fell out of the national rankings, with their 44-21 loss at now 15th-ranked Oklahoma State. Special teams were their demise with two blocked punts. Boise State still has a shot at New Year’s 6 bowl game, but for a team not used to losing, this had to have been a humbling blow.
2. San Diego State (2-1, 0-0): The Aztecs vault back up to near the top of these rankings after their 28-21 home victory over then No. 23 Arizona State. They did it with their typical style — a strong running game and good defense. They also did it with a backup quarterback.
3. Fresno State (2-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs did what they were supposed to do last week — go on the road and easily beat an undermanned UCLA team from the Pac-12. Senior Marcus McMaryion showed why he’s one of the better quarterbacks in the league. All seems right with San Diego State and Fresno State after both lost the previous week.
I know I’ve mentioned at other times this season how I was impressed with Wyoming’s toughness as a team. To me, that epitomized the Cowboys’ 28-23 win at Utah State.
UW was on the road at a place where it had lost three straight by an average of 32.5 points. It trailed for most of the game. The offense was spotty, once again. The defense was good, yet gassed for being on the field a lot.
But in the end, it found a way to win a road game. If UW wants to achieve its goals for this season, this was a game it had to win.
Here’s fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl after the game:
It is back to football for Wyoming as it plays at Utah State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah. Here is my top key to the game for the Cowboys:
Follow your rival: Wyoming’s biggest rival, Colorado State, provided the perfect plan on how to defeat Utah State in its 27-14 victory in Logan last Saturday. The Rams jumped out to a 24-0 first-half lead, and didn’t allow the Aggies to get anything going offensively until it was too late. If UW can get off to a similar start, and ride that momentum throughout the game, there’s a good chance it comes away with the victory.
Agree or disagree?
Saturday’s game will be carried online on Facebook Live — like the Sept. 30 home game against Texas State. Here is the direct link to watch it:
As Wyoming enters its third week of conference play, it also starts a critical stretch.
The Cowboys (11-5 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) are coming off two road losses to UNLV and Fresno State, play their next two games at home this week. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Utah State (8-7, 2-2). The second is at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nevada (14-3, 3-1). The Cowboys are 9-0 at home this season, and are one of three teams in the MW undefeated at home. Boise State and Nevada are both 7-0.
Do you consider Wednesday’s game a must-win for UW? First-year coach Allen Edwards doesn’t.
“It’s a big game, but as a staff we’re trying to get guys to understand every game is that way,” Edwards said. “We want to protect our home floor, but we also know if we want to compete for a championship we have to take some on the road.
“However, I never try to put pressure on guys that we need this particular game. We play our game, and at the end of the day we believe our game will put us in position to win. The spirit of our guys has not changed. They’re still confident, but they also know that it doesn’t matter who you play. They better be ready to play every night.”
Last week, Wyoming redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 27-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry in the fourth quarter against then No. 13 Boise
State was his most memorable throw. In fact, Allen told me Monday that at the time, that throw was “the best I’ve made in my life.”
Fast-forward to a week later and Allen has new one.
Allen said the 46-yard touchdown pass he threw to Gentry late in the first half of the Cowboys’ 52-28 win over Utah State moved to the top of his list. Allen scrambled to his left, and the right-hander threw a dart to Gentry who was able to drag his feet in bounds.
“That was a tough throw to make. Maybe nine times out of 10 I don’t make it, but it only needed to be made once,” Allen said.
Allen threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth against Utah State. He was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Logan Wilson was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week. It is the second straight week UW has had the MW Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Last week it was senior tight end Jacob Hollister and senior nose tackle Chase Appleby.
It also is the third consecutive week UW has had the MW Offensive Player of the Week. On Oct. 24 junior running back Brian Hill got it.
The first half and fourth quarter were impressive. The third quarter: not so much.
But in the end, Wyoming’s 52-28 home win over Utah State in front of a solid crowd of 17,837 for the late-night kickoff was a good win. The Cowboys won their fifth straight game, improve to 7-2 overall and remain in first place in the Mountain Division of the MW at 5-0.
Here is third-year coach Craig Bohl after the game:
Some pregame reading prior to tonight’s Wyoming football game with Utah State. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. MT and televised on ESPN2.
First, my No. 1 key of the game for the Cowboys:
Focused and sharp: Wyoming’s win last week over Boise State was one of the program’s biggest in the last 20 years, but this is a new week and an opponent that is more than capable of winning — especially if UW isn’t sharp in all three aspects of the game. The Cowboys need to play well from start to finish, and make sure their focus is on Utah State, not last week’s victory.
Here is my question-and-answer session with Shawn Harrison, who covers Utah State men’s basketball for The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah, about Wednesday’s first-round game at the Mountain West Tournament with the University of Wyoming.
Tip off is at Noon MT at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Follow on Twitter: @hjsports
How would you describe the season for Utah State with a new head coach and a pretty experienced roster returning from last season?
It has been disappointing. There were high expectations with the preseason polls and the veterans coming back. Plus, the new coach had been part of the program for so long the transition was smooth. I really believe the Aggies never fully recovered from David Collette quitting the team two days before the first game. That was a huge blow.
What has been the biggest changes under first-year coach Tim Duryea, and how do you see the program moving forward under his leadership?
Duryea has allowed the athletes to create more on their own when they push the ball. The offense is not as structured as it was under Stew Morrill. Duryea also is much more calmer, but has shown some emotion the last month and the players have said they like seeing him get fired up. As far as moving forward, there are some highly regarded recruits that have verbally committed. If they can get them signed when the time comes around, that would be a big step forward.