Wyoming vs. Utah State football primer

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.

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UW at Utah State football preview: Notes, quotes and video

No sense in breaking the pattern — here is my No. 1 key for Wyoming for its game Friday night at Utah State:

Nick Smith

Nick Smith

Help Smith succeed: Redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Smith will make his first-career start. Smith started the season as Wyoming’s No. 3 quarterback, but has been the No. 2 guy since the second game of the season. He’s had mixed results in two games. He still has some development in front of him as a passer, but he can run the ball. The Cowboys’ coaches have to have a plan for him to succeed both running and throwing. Don’t look for UW to change its offense, but it must have some wrinkles to work on Smith’s strengths. Smith will need to throw the ball, but they must be throws he can make.

Yes, no or am I out of my mind?

Now for my video preview of the game:

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UW-Utah State key to the game; other notes and quotes

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s key to the game for Wyoming for its home game today against Utah State. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Match the Aggies: Wyoming coach Craig Bohl and offensive coordinator Brent Vigen both said Utah State plays the hardest of any team the Cowboys have faced in the Mountain West to this point. Whether it is on offense or defense UW has to match that — or surpass that — to have a chance to win.

Yes, no, Gagliardi has no idea what he’s talking about? What do you think, folks?

Here is Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph’s video preview of today’s game:

A few notes on today’s game:

Bridger's Battle

Bridger’s Battle

–The two teams meet for the 65th time and the series dates back to 1903, and is the fifth-longest series in UW history. Last year, a new twist was added to the series with it being called “Bridger’s Battle.” Last year, the two teams played for a “Bridger Rifle,” a .50-caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle that was popular among the mountain men of the 1800s, and was the rifle carried by legendary mountain Man Jim Bridger.

Here is the rifle the Wyoming and Utah State teams will be playing for each year.

Here is the rifle the Wyoming and Utah State teams will be playing for each year.

–With one catch, UW senior receiver Dominic Rufran will tie Jovon Bouknight’s (2002-05) school record with a catch in 47 consecutive games. Bouknight is the pass game coordinator and receivers coach at Utah State. Rufran also needs 50 receiving yards to move past  Malcom Floyd (2000-03) into sixth place in career receiving yards. Rufran has 2,362.

–This is Utah State’s first game at UW as a member of the Mountain West, and first game in Laramie since 2007.

–Utah State has won 12 straight games in November, ad 16 of the last 18 dating back to 2010. The Aggies also have won 12 of their last 13 conference road games, including a 5-1 mark in MW road games.

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UW-Utah State football Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Wade Denniston, who covers Utah State football for the Logan Herald-Journal, about Friday’s

Wade Denniston

Wade Denniston

game with the University of Wyoming. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @wdhiker

Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.

How does a team that loses its top three quarterbacks to injuries and be 6-3 overall, 3-1 in the Mountain West and in the hunt for a conference title? Who will play quarterback this week, and what does that say about the program in place there?

Kent Myers, a true freshman, will start at quarterback. He made his first career start last Saturday night against Hawaii and completed 14 of 15 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns. Utah State took some major blows with injuries last season, and it suffered even more season-ending injuries to starters this year. The Aggies learned to handle adversity a year ago and it’s carried over into this season, as well, which says a lot about the program and how coach Matt Wells and his staff work through those type of things. Utah State has a saying, “next man up,” which has especially been the case at quarterback.

Nick Vigil has turned into a great two-way player as a linebacker and a running back. What was the decision to play him at running back earlier this season, and will we continue to see that — even though he’s been injured lately?

The Aggies weren’t getting any production out of the running back spot earlier this season, so Wells had to do something. This was in the works with Vigil during fall camp, but he was a little dinged up there, as well, so they shelved it until the bye week and broke it out for the Brigham Young game. During his high school career Vigil amassed 3,653 rushing yards, so him running the ball — and running it effectively — is nothing new. I’m sure if Wells thinks Vigil can continue to produce both ways, he will continue to use him that way.

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