Boise State football scouting report: Wyoming

A quick look at the Broncos’ opponent in Saturday night’s game.

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

Facts and figures

Where: Laramie, Wyo. (pop: 31,681)

Founded: 1886

Enrollment: 13,992

Colors: Brown and gold

Nickname: Cowboys

Record: 4-5, 2-3 Mountain West

Last game: Lost 48-10 to Fresno State at home Saturday

Coach

Dave Christensen, 52, is 26-33 in his fifth season. A native of Everett, Wash., he played for the University of Washington from 1980-82, and coached at two small colleges and two high schools in his home state before coaching the Huskies’ offensive line in 1988. He coached at Idaho State in 1989 and 1990 before moving to Toledo. He was Missouri’s offensive coordinator from 1997-2008, as the Tigers were in the top 10 in the nation in total offense his final two seasons.

Offense

Utilizing spread concepts Christensen used with much success in Missouri, the Cowboys often line up with four receivers and a single tailback. The system fits junior quarterback Brett Smith well, letting him fire off quick passes to multiple receivers, and creates running lanes for himself and running backs.

Wyoming is No. 16 nationally in total offense (491.8 yards per game). Smith has completed 221-of-351 passes for 2,508 yards with 20 TDs to eight interceptions. He has rushed for 443 yards.

The Cowboys have receivers hauling in at least 21 receptions. Junior Dominic Rufran and senior Robert Herron have combined for 103 catches and 1,366 yards, scoring 11 TDs. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick averages 6.5 yards per carry (127 rushes for 823 yards).

Wyoming has done well in key situations, converting 47.1 percent of third downs (25th nationally), and scoring 91.7 percent of the time in the red zone (11th).

Defense

Similar to Boise State, the Cowboys use a hybrid end/linebacker called a "buck" that allows Wyoming to use a four-man front, drop him back in coverage or rush the passer. The Cowboys’ buck, Sonny Puletasi, has eight tackles for loss. At the other end spot, sophomore Eddie Yarbrough has team-highs of 9.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Junior college transfer Jordan Stanton has 110 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown at middle linebacker.

Wyoming is 114th nationally in rushing defense (235.8 ypg) and 94th in passing defense (244.9). The defense has only 13 turnovers, creating just four in five losses.

Special teams

The Cowboys have scored 30 TDs in their 36 red-zone trips, so kicker Stuart Williams has attempted only five field goals, making three. Opponents have made 5-of-12 field goals against theCowboys, who have blocked two. Freshman punter Ethan Wood is 18th in the nation with a 43.6-yard average. The return game averages 5.8 yards per punt (98th) and 18.6 yards per kickoff (105th).

Did you know?

Linebacker Lucas Wacha leads all Wyoming freshmen with 69 tackles and has two fumble recoveries. His older brother is St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, the National League Championship Series MVP last month.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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