WYOMING FEELING DOWN BUT NOT OUT
With several key players returning for another run fresh off a New Mexico Bowl appearance last December, 2012 was billed as the season in which Wyoming could finally establish itself as a serious contender in the restructured Mountain West.
Then the games started.
The Cowboys have lost to Texas, Toledo and Cal Poly.
Injuries have severely hampered a once-potent offense, and a rush defense that was ranked 114th out of 120 FBS schools a year ago is still just as ineffective.
The teams not feeling so hot right now, senior center Nick Carlson told the Casper Star-Tribune. (But) this team isnt a bunch of guys who are quitters. Were talented. Were just trying to put it all together and get a win.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith suffered a concussion in the Toledo game and is listed as doubtful against Idaho, along with starting running back Brandon Miller and starting wide receiver Robert Herron.
With Smith unlikely to take the field, junior Colby Kirkegaard will once again be called on to lead the troubled Cowboys. In the loss to Cal Poly, Kirkegaard, who completed 15-of-23 passes for 123 yards, was efficient but couldnt provide a spark.
GESSER: IDAHO QB HAS IT FACTOR
In his first two games, Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman has completed 53-of-73 passes for 531 yards and is nicely settling into his role as starter. His growth will be key for the Vandals to have success, offensive coordinator Jason Gesser said.
He still has room to grow, needs to shoulder some more responsibility. Once he gets that, hes going to be pretty good, Gesser said.
He brings an it factor. He has that ability to be on the field and see things and adjust to things as they go. Hes not a robot on the field, he has the ability to read the defense and pick up from things while he is out there.
OFFENSIVE LINE SHOWS PROMISE, DEPTH
The bright spot of last weeks blowout loss to LSU might be the retooled line.
After a pair of disastrous showings against Eastern Washington and Bowling Green, the Vandals switched up their line and found measurable success in defending Blackman from a ravenous LSU defense.
Although they kept Idahos running game in check, the Tigers failed to register a single sack on Blackman.
That was a good thing, coach Robb Akey said. (Allowing) no sacks and we were able to attain three. If we had said that going into the game, you wouldve looked at me a bit crooked.
Idaho had to shuffle its line due to an injury to right tackle Jordan Johnson (back). To compensate, right guard A.J. Jones was moved to left guard, while left guard Dallas Sandberg and Spencer Beale were moved to Blackmans blind side on the right.
Im comfortable with playing on both sides, Jones said. We shuffled in some new guys and we take pride in trying to keep our quarterback up and trying to let him get a chance to make some plays down the field.
On Tuesday, Johnson missed practice and was replaced by Kyle Salm, who has emerged as the top candidate to start at right tackle against Wyoming. The sophomore will contend with Beale and Guy Reynolds for the two spots on the right side if Johnson isnt ready Saturday, Akey said.