JOE SOUTHWICK, QUARTERBACK
Southwick is 34-of-49 for 425 yards and five touchdowns without an interception in the past two games his best set of games this season.
He has improved to 45th in the nation in pass efficiency and could jump into the top 40 with a strong outing against Nevada.
I do think Joe has made progress slowly but surely, steadily, coach Chris Petersen said, and I think hes gaining confidence. When that position plays well for us on offense, good things happen. Part of that is trusting your reads. When a lot of guys are catching the ball, you know hes going through his reads pretty well.
Southwick, who has endured heavy criticism after some ugly showings, said his comfort level increases week to week. Ive had more fun, too, as the season goes on, he said.
D.J. HARPER, TAILBACK
Harper hopes to combine a personal milestone with some program history Saturday afternoon.
Harper needs 65 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard mark. It would be the fourth straight season that a Bronco accomplished that feat, but a first for Harper.
Its kind of in the back of my mind, Harper said. I want to put the team first. Hopefully we come out with the W, win the Mountain West (for the first time) and I can accomplish my own personal goal as well.
Harper averages 5.0 yards per carry, slightly better than Doug Martins 4.9 last year as the featured back. He has scored 15 TDs 11 more than any teammate.
D.J. has done everything weve asked him to do, running backs coach Keith Bhonapha said. Hes definitely run hard, hes definitely made the plays we need him to make.
TOMMY SMITH, LINEBACKER
The senior middle linebacker will be in a hectic spot against Nevadas pistol offense, which features a heavy dose of running plays up the middle.
Smith is third on the team with 51 tackles in his first season as a starter.
Tommys done a great job, coach Chris Petersen said. Weve been extremely pleased with him. Hes very much a student of the game. He understands football and whats coming at him, and he plays hard.
Smith said he and senior weak-side linebacker J.C. Percy are eager to test themselves against the Wolf Pack. Both have experience playing the Pack, but this is their first time as the starters.
Were expecting them to run the ball right at us, Smith said. ... We have to stop the run. Thats what their offense is based off of. They set up the pass off the run.