The Pokes pulled out a last minute 35-32 win against Weber State. In today’s college football any win is a good win even though the way Wyoming played on defense had to be bitterly frustrating for most fans. Just remember this mantra though things in sports or in life for that matter are never as good or bad as they seem. There were a handful of schools that struggled against lower division schools this weekend just be happy the Pokes pulled it out (unlike Oregon State versus Sacramento State) but know major improvements must be made and soon. Now on to the review!
1. Brett Smith Bounce Back
On his first college pass attempt the ball slipped out of Brett Smith’s hands and the pass was intercepted. For a lot of true freshman quarterbacks that could have derailed their confidence and positive attitude but this freshman quarterback bounced back from the costly mistake that saw Weber State score a touchdown and had a solid game passing for 294 yards and 3 touchdowns. His decisions and reads weren’t always the right ones but I think we saw enough from Smith in the fourth quarter comeback that he engineered to see if he improves as he should with proper coaching we will have a very good quarterback on our hands.
The pace and tempo in which the offense operated versus the Wildcats was something we haven’t seen under Christensen yet. This is the tempo he was wanted to see all along and the Cowboys ran a total of 80 plays Saturday night which is a far improvement from the 57.5 plays per game ran on average during the 2010 season. If The Cowboys can keep up the tempo to the tune of 70-80 plays a game, the offense should be very productive and will be able to wear teams down in the second half especially at home with the 7,220 feet of altitude on their side.
3. Ruff Rider
On a day where the defense was less than stellar (see below) one defensive player did stand out (along with LB/DE Korey Jones to be fair) and that player was safety Luke Ruff. The Colorado product paced the defensive unit with 10 tackles and was active around the ball. He also made an impact on special forces where he made several plays on kick coverage. Like everyone else on defense he has a lot of work and improvement to do to work within the defensive scheme but did show he will be a key player for the brown and gold this fall.
Three down after the jump.
1. Our Defense Was Offensive
The defense did lose key players on all three defensive levels due to injury or suspension for Saturday night but that is no excuse for the gaudy offensive numbers that the Wildcats put up. The numbers are eye opening and include: 541 yards total offense, 227 yards rushing, and an average gain of 6.8 yards per play. This type of defensive performance is unacceptable against a middle of the road FCS team that finished 6-5 last season. The bottom line is when an FBS team plays a FCS team it should be football in it’s simplest form, line up and dominate the man in front of you. It is obvious the Cowboys could not do that against Weber State but the good news is they have a chance for redemption next week when Texas State comes to Laramie.
2. Running Back Merry-Go-Round
Much like the quarterback position a running back needs to get consistent carries in order to get a feel for the rhythm and flow of the game. I understand the need and desire for the coaching staff to take a look at all the running backs in a game situation but the running back rotation was probably slightly mishandled on Saturday night. When it was clear that the game was going to be tight the coaching staff should have stuck with the hot hand . Why did Brandon Miller only get 3 carries in the second half after rushing for 48 yards on 7 carries in the first half? Balance and depth are good but against better teams the running back rotation will have to be improved.
3. Lack Of A Pass Rush
One of the main reasons Weber State was so successful on offense was their quarterback Mike Hoke had all day to throw. Wyoming had little to no pass rush and only ended up with one sack on the night courtesy of senior Gabe Knapton and his beard of doom. The defensive line needs to do a better job of getting to the passer and disrupting the quarterbacks rhythm. At the very least the line needs to be getting their hands up to block the passing lanes if they can’t get to the quarterback and this is a criticism I have not only of Wyoming but most teams in general. Why don’t coaches emphasize getting defensive lineman’s hands up more, when it is so simple?