It’s Thursday and time to take a look at the key players for this weekends game. The Cowboys focus is now on the Vandals of Idaho. The two met last year and the Cowboys came out on top 40-37 in an OT thriller. The Pokes are coming off of a strong a strong performance in Lincoln where they racked up 602 yards of total offense in the 37-34 loss to Nebraska. Idaho is coming off of a 40-6 loss at North Texas. Idaho’s defense struggled, giving up 404 yards in the air and 187 yards on the ground for grand total of 591 yards.
Here are my key players to watch this weekend.
Wyoming’s Key Players
#21 Shaun Wick, RB- The sophomore running back is coming off of his best game as a Cowboy. He ran for 101 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries, averaging 8.4 yards a carry. Wick’s performance was the highlight of an improved rushing attack that gained 219 yards on the ground last week Defensively, Idaho’s focus will be on Brett Smith, as it should be. This should free Wick up for some big plays and the Cowboys should be able to build on their strong showing against a defense that allowed 187 yards last week on 45 carries (4.2 avg).
#55 Eddie Yarbrough, DE- Yarbrough is coming off of a good game in Lincoln, where he had 13 tackles and 1.5 of those were for a loss. Yarbrough should be able to take advantage of an offensive line that gave up 5 sacks last week. Expect him to pressure the quarterback early and often come Saturday.
#6 Robert Herron, WR- Herron had 4 catches for 91 yards, including a 47 yard touchdown. Herron is more often than not the fastest player on the field and has the capability to break off a big play at any given moment. He should be able to take advantage of a secondary that gave up more than 400 yards in the air last week.
Idaho’s Key Players
#11 Chad Chalich- The freshman was 19-27 for 230 yards and 1 TD in his first start last week. He also carried the ball 17 times gaining 66 yards, but lost 45 yards due in large part to 5 North Texas sacks, bringing his net total to 21 yards. Chalich’s 17 carries was the most by an Idaho back, the next closest guy carried the ball 6 times. Chalich did fumble twice against North Texas, both resulting in turnovers. If Idaho can’t get something going on the ground, they will need to depend on Chalich to make plays on second and third down. It is safe to say that Chalich’s success will likely depend on the play his offensive line and running backs.
#57 QuayShawne Buckley, DT- The 6’4” 305 pound senior had 2 TFL and 5 total tackles last week and had success against UW in last years meeting in Idaho. In that game he had 2 sacks, 5 total tackles, and was credited with 1 QB hurry. Buckley will be a focus for the Wyoming OL all game. Something that could play a major factor is Wyoming’s hurry up offense at 7,220 feet. The fast pace at the high elevation could wear down the 305 lb. DT and will be something to watch for in the second half.
RB’s #7 James Baker and #4 Richard Montgomery- Idaho wasn’t able to run the ball for much success against North Texas and will likely need to develop a rushing attack to have a chance on Saturday. Montgomery, a freshman from Jacksonville, FL, got the start last week and only carried the ball 6 times for 9 yards. He will be playing in what is only the second game of his career and had success in high school running for 1,600 yards, including games of 312 and 212 yards.
Baker carried the ball only 4 times for 14 yards last week, but did have success against Wyoming last year running 10 times for 75 yards. Wyoming’s run defense showed improvement at times against Nebraska, but they still allowed nearly 400 yards on the ground, including runs of 62, 17, and 31. It’s safe to assume Idaho’s RB’s will get more carries and while their running game isn’t nearly that of Nebraska’s stopping the run is still going to be a major point of emphasis for the Wyoming defense, as it will be for the entire season.