Fading Wyoming seeks complete game against Boise State

The Cowboys started 4-2, now need to win two of final three games to land bowl bid.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

Early this season, Wyoming’s defense carried it to success. Then the offense did.

The Cowboys realize if they want to beat Boise State on Saturday, both will need to show up.

Wyoming has lost four of its last five games, giving up 193 points in the losses. It’s a far cry from the 77 points it allowed in the first four games of the season. Then again, the offense has sputtered at times, managing only 10 points last Saturday in a home loss to Fresno State.

“I guess it has been an up-and-down year up to this point,” junior quarterback Brett Smith said. “We’ve had some great times and some horrible times.”

The Cowboys (4-5, 2-3 MW) looked like early contenders with the Broncos (6-3, 4-1) in the Mountain Division. They racked up 34 first downs and 602 yards in their 37-34 season-opening loss at then-No. 18 Nebraska, then rattled off three straight wins.

A 42-21 loss at Texas State on Sept. 28 in dreadful weather was a harbinger. The only win since was a 38-31 win against New Mexico two weeks later.

“I think the only surprise is, I thought we’d be having better success at this point in time,” coach Dave Christensen said Monday.

The Cowboys attempted to find more defensive consistency three days after a 51-44 loss to San Jose State by firing defensive coordinator Chris Tormey. Christensen said there is improvement, though it’s tough to measure against an offense like Fresno State.

The Cowboys are also losing the numbers game.

“We don’t have enough depth to play 95 plays and play at a high level. … For us to have success, the entire thing has to work together,” Christensen said. “The offense has to be executing, putting points on the board and not giving the defense poor field position.”

Trying to stop offenses that run play after play while facing depth issues is a familiar concept for the Broncos, who have given up 30 or more points four times this season.

“They started out the season pretty fast and started giving up more points than they’d like to,” BSU coach Chris Petersen said. “We’ve done the same thing on defense as well. It’s been in spurts and flashes.”

Smith admits the offense shares in the struggles, having its three lowest outputs in points and yardage during the current run. Smith has 2,508 passing yards and 443 rushing yards this season, but threw for only 141 and ran for 12 against a Fresno State defense that is 78th nationally.

“I base my performance off wins, so I’m disappointed we’ve struggled the last few weeks,” Smith said. “I feel I can get better. We haven’t met all our goals. A bowl game’s still in the picture, still ahead, so that’s definitely something pushing us.”

Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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