Wyoming vs. Washington State – pregame reading

A few notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s home-opener for the Wyoming football team against Washington State. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. MT.

Craig Bohl

— “I’ve always believed a football team improves most between its first and second game.” — Fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl.

— If that’s the case for the Cowboys, things could be fun to watch for the home fans. UW opened the season with a 29-7 win at New Mexico State last Saturday. The offense ran for 312 yards, had more than 400 yards of total offense and the defense held the Aggies to 135 yards of total offense. What could be better for UW? Sustaining drives. The Cowboys failed to convert a good number of third-and-short situations. More balance on offense. The run game was great, but not sure if it will be as effective against Washington State. More plays in the pass game should open up things in the run game. Create turnovers. UW didn’t force a turnover against New Mexico State. Winning the turnover battle — as it is in every game — will be key.

James Price

— “There was minimal interest from Washington State. The past is past, and I am happy to be at the University of Wyoming. I’ve never had a personal vendetta toward Washington State. Growing up, I was more of a (University of) Washington fan.” — UW senior wide receiver James Price, who is from Camas, Washington.

— UW is 82-36-3 all-time in home-opening games, and has won 13 of its last 15 dating back to 2003. The two losses during that time were in 2012 against Toledo (34-31) and in 2015 to North Dakota (24-13).

— “We’ve got four quarterbacks and one of them will play. it will be a thrill a minute to discover which one it is going to be. Everyone should show up to the game and make sure they watch.” —  Washington State coach Mike Leach on his starting quarterback. Expect the starter to be senior graduate transfer Gardner Minshew, who was at East Carolina.

— I had a chance to talk with Leach for about 20 minutes one-on-one earlier this week. Leach graduated from high school in Cody, and lived in two other Wyoming towns as a kid. For more on that, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

— On Tuesday, UW athletics director Tom Burman told me with a good walk-up crowd and student turnout, the game could be a sellout — or close to it. Later in the week, a UW spokesperson said it expects a crowd in the low to mid-20,000 range. Would have thought it would be better than that, but we shall see.

Adam Pilapil

— “Adam is a bright player. He’s played safety here in the past, and he’s put on some lean muscle mass. He’s got a great understanding of linebacker and he played quite a bit last week. We feel comfortable with him coming in and playing this week.” — Bohl on senior linebacker Adam Pilapil, who will start along the weak side in place of junior Cassh Maluia, who is suspended.

— The only significant injury for UW entering this game — and as of mid-week, was to senior tight end Austin Fort (knee). Fort was injured during the New Mexico State game. Junior defensive end Josiah Hall (knee) also is out. UW gets sophomore right tackle Alonzo Velasquez back from a knee injury suffered during fall camp.

— UW redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal said Washington State recruited him in high school, and added it sent him up to four or five letters a day at some point. However, when Vander Waal transferred from Elk Grove High (Calif.) to Christian Brothers High in Sacramento, he stopped hearing from a lot of schools — including Washington State.

— “This game has been on my list, personally, and others in that locker room. We want to prove we can play with Power 5 school, and that we can play with anybody.” — UW senior free safety Marcus Epps.

— Epps was among a handful of UW players who played at Washington State as either a true freshman or redshirt freshman in 2015. Epps’ first-career interception came in that game. A lot has changed for the Cowboys since then, and for the players who were in that game. For more on that see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Also, if you can’t be at the game and want to chat while it is going on, I will host a live chat starting at 1:30 p.m. MT. Links to the chat are on this blog, and at wyosports.net.