The home portion of Wyoming’s schedule is almost here as the Cowboys take on the Toledo Rockets at 2:00 pm MT at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. Wyoming has won their last nine home openers in front of brown and gold cladded fans, with two of those wins being against teams the east (Virginia and Ohio). How does Wyoming stack up against Toledo a team that the Cowboys beat on the road two years ago 20-15? Read on to find out!

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When the Cowboys Run:

There is no doubt the running game will be featured more this week. Against Texas Wyoming ran the ball 30 times with very limited success against a defense Christensen knew would be tough to run against. Look for the Cowboys to gain yards on the zone read and other outside the tackle runs in a more balanced attack. I have always said what I like most about Christensen’s spread offense is the fact it is more run friendly than other spread attacks and I think we will see that in Laramie on Saturday. Look for Miller and Smith to but up good numbers on the ground.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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When the Cowboys Pass:

The passing game versus the Longhorns was effective as Brett Smith completed a pass to seven different receivers. This was the type of distribution I was looking for to keep Texas off-balance and the same approach if used against Toledo will be effective as well. Smith is a competitor and is always looking to make a play but he needs to make better decisions when there are no receivers open. Taking a sack is preferential to floating a pass down the middle to a blanketed wide receiver resulting in a turnover. Even with those two mistakes Smith overall had a good game and I would expect him to make many plays against a Rocket pass defense 

EDGE: COWBOYS

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When the Rockets Run:

Texas was perhaps the worst team Wyoming could have faced to open the season other than the service academies or Georgia Tech to open the season in terms of stopping the run. The emphasis on the new defensive scheme through the offseason was to stop the run and the Cowboys failed to do so giving up 280 yards. This was mostly due to the fact that Texas is a run first team and I did see Wyoming in better position to make plays to stop the run but there were too many missed tackles. Toledo is more of a balanced team and if the Cowboys can’t slow down their running game in front of the home crowd the rush defense could be a headache yet again this season.

EDGE: ROCKETS
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When the Rockets Pass:

Toledo is using a two quarterback system with senior Austin Dantin and junior Terrance Owens. Owens is a slightly better passer than Dantin and Dantin is a slightly better runner than Owen but these quarterbacks are pretty much even in terms of skill. The Rockets lost their stud wide receiver from last season (Eric Page) and the Wyoming secondary is more than talented enough to slow down Benard Reedy their top returning wideout.

EDGE: COWBOYS
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Special Teams:

The Pokes had a rough night in Austin in the special teams department. A shanked punt and a blocked extra point highlighted a unit that has been less than stellar over the past few seasons. If Christensen is going to continue to call the special teams unit the “Special Forces” he needs to do all he can to upgrade their play to match what they are named after. I would expect Australian punter Tim Gleeson to improve each game as he adjusts to college football and I think Williams could become a good kicker if he can develop some confidence. Until these things happen the other team will have a slight edge in special teams.

EDGE: ROCKETS
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Coaching:

Christensen had a solid game plan last week offensively that wasn’t as conservative as past game plans when the Cowboys faced higher profile teams. I applaud him for this and I think the offensive mindset going forward will stay the same with Gregg Brandon calling the plays in the Wyoming spread for a second year. Matt Campbell is a talented coach who Christensen almost hired when he first came to Wyoming and will have the Rockets prepared but I will give the upper hand to the more experienced Wyoming coach who may finally have the depth and talent needed to fully run his offensive system.

EDGE:  COWBOYS
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Prediction:

This game will probably be undecided heading into the fourth quarter and whoever wins the turnover battle will have the advantage. Look for Wyoming to be balanced offensively and to make plays through the air and on the ground. I would guess that Toledo will run the ball more than they pass to take advantage of a suspect Wyoming rush defense. This will be a close game through out but it is my optimism and confidence in the Wyoming offense that sees Wyoming pulling away late for another season opening home win. 

Wyoming 31 – Toledo 21

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