Wyoming vs. New Mexico Preview

by Football


A cold senior day is forecast, but hopefully the fans turn out to support the Pokes in greater numbers than they did for the TCU game.  Before the TCU game many still seemed skeptical as to whether or not the Cowboys were for real, two weeks later the Cowboys have supplanted themselves in the top half of the Mountain West and need only one more win for bowl eligibility.   If the Cowboys show up to play then Saturday should be a great day for the Pokes and those brave enough to attend.
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When the Cowboys Run:

Alvester Alexander is running well and Kody Sutton looks like he is ready to contribute.  The Lobos are giving up and average of 256.4 yards on the ground and have really put up very little fight against the run all season.  The Cowboys exploited the Lobos’ lackluster run defense a year ago and will likely go after it early and often again.  This should be a big day for the run game and Alexander and Sutton alike will have several opportunities to break long runs.   From a running perspective this game may be very similar to the Texas State game.  If snow comes with the cold then this could be a heavy ground day for both teams.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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When the Cowboys Pass:

This will be an excellent opportunity for the Cowboys to find Chris McNeill’s replacement in the lineup.  Mazi Ogbonna and Robert Herron will likely get more looks, but there will also be more plays with freshman on the field.  Josh Doctson has been coming on strong and Trey Norman is starting to show up more often as well.  New Mexico has only managed 8 sacks all season, so Brett Smith will likely have time to find his receivers behind a Wyoming line that has only allowed 9 sacks.  Much like the game against UNLV the Pokes may call several plays where they send the receivers deep allowing Smith to take off and turn a pass play into a long run.  New Mexico is a poor tackling team and the Cowboys may look to the bubble screens to provide some big plays, look for Kody Sutton, Brandon Miller and Robert Herron to get chances to catch short passes and run.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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When the Lobos Run:

New Mexico has averaged 117 yards per game on the ground, while Wyoming has allowed 231 yards a game.  The Lobos may look to run as much as they can as run defense seems to be Wyoming’s greatest  weakness and running the ball is an effective way of shortening the game.  For the Lobos, the shorter the game the better the chances of hanging close.  New Mexico has a couple of running backs that are starting to emerge late in the season but the overall ineptitude of the team has prevented anyone from really gaining traction as a consistent ground threat.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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When the Lobos Pass:

Deon Long is a good looking freshman receiver and has averaged 18.6 yards a catch on the season.  This average effectively translates into the Lobos taking deep shots with Long several times a game.  Long is fast, so the Lobos run streak plays and have the quarterback launch the ball downfield and hope Long passes the defender and runs down the ball.  This seems to be the best offense that New Mexico has right now and you can be sure that they will give this a shot multiple times on Saturday.  The Cowboy corners and safeties need to make sure they keep Long in front of them and eliminate the big plays.  New Mexico is not very good at sustaining drives so preventing big plays will effectively stymie the Lobo offense.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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Special Teams:

New Mexico has not had much success on special teams this season, but they do put Deon Long back for kick returns and he has taken one to the house.  Special teams will be important for the Cowboy because eliminating big plays is the name of the game on Saturday.  New Mexico cannot sustain an offense so to beat them the Cowboys really must focus on preventing long passes and long kickoff and punt returns.  The punt coverage has looked good for weeks, but the kickoff coverage seems to come and go.  The Cowboys will also have a new punt returner and whoever it is (Trey Norman or Blair Burns) needs to make sure that they catch the football above all else.  A muffed punt can really swing the momentum and aid a bad team (like in the 2nd quarter against UNLV).  Daniel Sullivan has continued to improve with his kicks, but it is time to put an end to the extra point misses.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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Coaching:

The coaching at New Mexico has been a circus for three years and while it may not be the fault of George Barlow there is no question that the Lobos have a leadership problem.  Check back next year to see if Bob Davie can clean things up on the coaching end, but in the mean time the Cowboys will definitely have the advantage.  The biggest task for Dave Christensen is to get his team motivated for this one.  A shot at bowl eligibility and the first regular season winning record since 2004 should do the trick.  If not, having last year’s game play on repeat all week in the Rochelle Center is a nice touch.  Watching that once was both painful and extremely aggravating – so the Cowboys should be ready to right that wrong on Saturday.

EDGE:  COWBOYS
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Prediction:

The Cowboys should celebrate senior day this season in much the same fashion as a year ago, only this time the victory will keep them playing through December.  The Cowboys will win if they can avoid a complete meltdown and this team has shown over the last four games that they mean business this season.  So Cowboy fans should be excited to watch a victory and say to themselves, “No Whammies! No Whammies! No Whammies!”

Wyoming 45 – New Mexico 17

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Topics: Bob Davie, Brandon Miller, Brett Smith, Cowboys, Daniel Sullivan, Dave Christensen, Deon Long, Dominic Rufran, Football, George Barlow, Josh Doctson, Kody Sutton, Lobos, Mazi Ogbonna, New Mexico, Robert Herron, Wyoming

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