Hey folks, I am back after missing last week’s blog. Since I have been gone, Wyoming has dropped their last two games. Eastern Michigan was just an unfortunate situation where Josh Allen started off great, then tried to run over a linebacker, effectively ending his season. From there, the wheels fell off and Wyoming dug themselves a hole that was much too deep to climb out of.
Last week, the Pokes went on the road for the first time along with their 25 freshman and took on the PAC-12’s Washington State. This game had disaster written all over it, and yeah the Pokes didn’t leave Pullman with a win, but the defense made enough plays to keep them in it and the offense just couldn’t convert on their opportunities. The final score doesn’t indicate it, but the Cowboys played their best game of the season last week.
This week UW will host the University of New Mexico Lobos, which is their MWC opener. UNM is 1-2 having lost their last two match ups to Tulsa and Arizona State after opening the season with a 66-0 win over Mississippi Valley State. UNM and UW have had their fair share of close games over the last few years. This game should be a fun one, and has a chance to be high scoring. So, without further adieu let’s take a look at some players to watch on Saturday.
Offense: Brian Hill, RB
We all know that Brian Hill has far and away been Wyoming’s best player since his debut at Colorado State last year. After a lackluster performance against UND where Hill ran for 31 yards on 10 carries, he has come back strong, running for 381 yards on 41 carries over the last two weeks, that is 9.3 yards per carry. Hill has been a monster since he burst on to the scene. His stats since that CSU game last year are; 176 carries for 1,158 yards (6.57 Avg) for 9 scores and 18 catches for 242 yards. Those numbers are through the roof for a true sophomore and that is only in 8 games! I mean, for a kid this young to run for 144.75 yards over a game the course of his first 8 games of seeing significant time is incredible. Hill is yet to show signs of slowing down; he runs hard, down hill, and has excellent speed to go along with his side. In order for Wyoming to have success Saturday and the rest of the season, Hill needs to continue to stay healthy and be on the field. He should be able to have a big day this weekend and hopefully Shaun Wick can produce and provide a good spell for Hill. If Hill gets loose, Wyoming will be in a comfortable position to win their first game on Saturday.
Defense: Andrew Wingard, S
One of the few bright spots on Wyoming’s defense has been true freshman Andrew Wingard. Wingard has lead the Cowboy’s in tackles each of the last 2 weeks and now leads the team with 26 total tackles. I would not be surprised to see him near the top if not at the top after Saturday is said and done. UNM is a very run heavy team that will toss ina lot of different formations and run the option. This means the physical Wingard will likely play in the box more and be asked to take on more responsibility. His response and ability to cover the option could be thee decided factor on Saturday as Wyoming needs to limit the big play.
X-Factor: Defensive front 7
Wyoming’s defensive front 7 have been inconsistent, to say the least. The defensive line is a veteran lead group and has seen the option multiple times to this point. That experience is going to be key this week, along with the play of LB Lucas Wacha, who has seen and had success against the option multiple times. The other two in the front 7, D.J. May and Eric Nzeocha, along with the DB’s are yet to defend the option. That leaves a lot of pressure of the DL and Wacha to carry their weight and try to stop the play early on. Hopefully they can do that, because asking the inexperienced guys to make big plays all day is asking a lot, and quite honestly not fair. If the front 7 can’t get it done and UNM breaks off multiple big plays, Wyoming could possibly fall to 0-4.
University of New Mexico
Offense: Jhurell Pressley, RB
Pressley, who is finally a senior this year, is off to a good start in 2015. New Mexico, impressively has 4 guys that have run for over a 100 yards this season. Pressley leads the group with 145 yards on 38 carries. His YPC isn’t the most impressive at 3.8, but he is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. Pressley didn’t play against Wyoming as a sophomore, but as a freshman he ran the ball 4 times for 54 yards including a 40 yard run and last year as a junior he went for 11 carries for 101 yards, including a 69 yard touchdown. Limiting Pressley’s explosive plays will be key on Saturday, because if he breaks loose a couple times and gets going it could be a long day for the Pokes.
Defense: Maurice Daniels, LB
Daniels, who is in his first year in Albuquerque after spending his first two years at a JUCO is off to a great start. As a sophomore at West Hills College he had 54 tackles, 28.5 TFL, 19.5 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles. Those numbers are awfully impressive and already this season he has 15 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, and a FF. Daniels, who is 6’4” 219 lbs, will look to be as disruptive as possible and UW will want to know where he is on the field at all times. He leads the Lobos attack in sacks and TFL and as a team UNM has 23 TFL and 9 sacks. Blocking these guys doesn’t seem to be an easy task and giving Cam Coffman time to throw the football will be key to allowing him to make plays, not to mention opening up holes for the run game. Daniel’s and co. will be no easy task, but it will most certainly be important.
X-Factor: Dameon Gamblin, WR
UNM is definitely a run first offense, but this season they are averaging more than 20 pass attempts a game, and when they do it Wyoming needs to be ready for it. Gamblin had 4 career receptions in his last two seasons combined, already has 15 this year. That is 3 times more than the next guy on the Lobo offense. He has 230 yards to go along with his 15 catches to go along with 1 TD. Wyoming needs to be ready for the pass plays and when they come, they need to know where Gamblin is and lock him down.
Who are some guys you think will be key players to watch Saturday?
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