Bronco Beat

Boise State vs. Wyoming: Who gets the edge, players to watch as division foes face off

Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (1) goes over San Diego State safety Parker Baldwin on a pass reception during the second half Oct. 14 in San Diego.
Boise State wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (1) goes over San Diego State safety Parker Baldwin on a pass reception during the second half Oct. 14 in San Diego. AP

WHO GETS THE EDGE?

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Boise State has found it can be most successful with a ball-control, run-centric approach. The Broncos rushed for a season-best 186 yards last Saturday at San Diego State, and have 344 of their 812 rushing yards this season the last two weeks.

The Cowboys have allowed 175.7 yards per game rushing (84th nationally), giving up at least 131 yards in every game, including 307 against Oregon on Sept. 16. Wyoming has forced 13 fumbles and recovered eight.

“They play solid defense. We’re going to have to be the same offense we’ve proven ourselves to be, fast and physical, with a downhill run game,” Boise State sophomore running back Alexander Mattison said. “... We have a chance for some explosive plays.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

Only senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson is averaging more than 30 yards per game, and the Broncos have failed to throw for more than 150 yards in four of their last nine games, including the last two. Their 200.6 ypg through the air ranks 86th.

Wyoming has intercepted nine passes and is 15th nationally against the pass (172.8 ypg). The Cowboys have an experienced back end, including senior cornerback Rico Gafford (four INTs) and the Preseason Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, safety Andrew Wingard.

“Last year, they got into us with a lot of press, things we weren’t used to,” Wilson said. “All of them are returning, that’s probably the biggest thing. ... They’re going to be up in our face. Even when penalties happen, they’re not going to get called.”

ADVANTAGE: Wyoming

When the Cowboys run the ball ...

After workhorse back Brian Hill left early for the NFL, Wyoming has struggled to get going on the ground. The Cowboys are averaging just 3.1 yards per carry (121st nationally), led by 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman Trey Woods (285 yards, one TD).

“He’s big ... he’s young, but he runs hard, he has that hungriness that every freshman has,” Boise State sophomore safety DeAndre Pierce said. “If we can do like we did last game, make them one-dimensional, I believe we’ll be OK.”

The Broncos are coming off an extremely impressive performance, limiting San Diego State to just 83 rushing yards. They rank 13th in the nation against the run (102 ypg) and tied for 10th allowing only 2.93 ypc.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Cowboys pass the ball ...

Wyoming has one of the more polarizing NFL prospects in quarterback Josh Allen, who has plenty of physical tools, but his weapons are nothing like last season. The Cowboys are 96th in passing offense (186.2 ypg) and 89th in passing efficiency (122.58).

“The growth they’ve shown six games into the season has been huge,” Allen said of his receivers. “They’re more confident, they’re understanding what they can and can’t do. ... We’ve got a few that are more than capable of making plays.”

The Broncos have been solid against the pass, ranking 46th (119.82) in pass efficiency defense, with six interceptions and 17 sacks.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

Special teams ...

Both teams have been impressive in the return game, with Boise State one of five teams with two or more punt return touchdowns and Wyoming one of eight with two or more kickoff return touchdowns.

Wyoming kicker Cooper Rothe is 8-of-10 on field goals, and punter Tim Zaleski is averaging 37.1 yards per punt. Boise State kicker Haden Hoggarth is 6-of-6 on field goals, and the Broncos’ punters average 42.4 yards per punt.

“Our specialists, it’s been huge,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “The field position battle, too. ... It’s shown up in games.”

ADVANTAGE: Push

PLAYERS TO WATCH

BOISE STATE

Avery Williams, cornerback/returner

A former walk-on, the redshirt freshman has been one of the team’s most valuable players, averaging 15.9 yards per punt return (No. 9 in the FBS) and has run two back for touchdowns. Williams also has started the last two games on defense, making 11 tackles and breaking up two passes in those games.

“I was really close (to an interception),” Williams said. “... I feed on it, playing defense, get some momentum then go back there and return a punt. Whenever I get the ball in my hands, I want to take advantage of it.”

Jabril Frazier, STUD end

As part of the hybrid position, Frazier has continued to fulfill his potential as a pass rusher, tying for the team lead with four sacks this season. He had two last Saturday at San Diego State. Last season, he had four sacks all season, struggling with a multitude of injuries. Wyoming has allowed 12 sacks in five games against FBS foes.

“The last game was big, it built my confidence up,” Frazier said. “I felt like I was in a little slump, so I feel like I’m ready to go out this week and have fun.”

Kekoa Nawahine, safety

The Rocky Mountain High graduate is second on the team with 37 tackles (including some pretty big hits). He also has two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He’s made 14 tackles the last two games. Nawahine’s ability to read deep passes will be key against Wyoming, which tries to go long fairly often.

“I hope that shows, being able to fire up the guys around us, when we have an identity like BSU has always had, being able to play with a chip on their shoulder,” Nawahine said.

WYOMING

Josh Allen, quarterback

A 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior, Allen could very well be a top-10 pick in next April’s NFL Draft. His numbers (57.6 completion percentage, 1,085 yards, seven TDs, four INTs) aren’t eye-popping, but his raw skills are. He’s rushed for nine touchdowns in the Cowboys’ last 20 games and has a ton of arm strength.

“Obviously physically gifted,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “In terms of the ability to throw, if you’re on the sideline, keep your head on a swivel. Don’t get hit by one of those balls, they’ve got some zip on them.”

Logan Wilson, linebacker

The Mountain West’s Freshman of the Year last season moved from an outside spot to middle linebacker this season, having put on about 20 pounds in the offseason. A Casper, Wyo., native, he’s been productive again, leading the team with 58 tackles (five for loss) with a forced fumble and an 18-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

“I felt pretty comfortable making a switch,” Wilson told the Casper Star-Tribune. “I knew it was the best thing to help this defense out.”

Tyler Hall, cornerback/returner

Only eight times has the 5-foot-10, 184-pound Hall had a kickoff return opportunity. He’s run two of them back for touchdowns, scoring on 97- and 95-yard returns against Hawaii and Texas State in back-to-back weeks. The sophomore also has 12 tackles and a forced fumble on defense.

“He’ll hit it, he’ll find it, and then he’ll bounce it if he has to,” fellow cornerback Rico Gafford said. “He has the speed to do anything back there at the kick return spot.”

BOISE STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Brett Rypien

6-2

208

Jr.

3 Montell Cozart

6-1

205

Sr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

22 Alexander Mattison

5-11

214

So.

21 Ryan Wolpin

5-8

195

Sr.

34 Robert Mahone

5-10

211

RFr.

Wide receiver (X)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

9 Bryan Jefferson

5-11

193

So.

Wide receiver (H)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 A.J. Richardson

6-0

209

Jr

6 CT Thomas

5-8

152

Fr.

Wide receiver (Z)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Sean Modster

5-11

196

Jr.

82 Octavius Evans

6-1

195

Fr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

88 Jake Roh

6-3

227

Sr.

87 Alec Dhaenens

6-3

246

Sr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

76 Ezra Cleveland

6-6

296

RFr.

66 Isiah Moore

6-4

275

Jr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 John Molchon

6-5

313

So.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Mason Hampton

6-3

295

Sr.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Eric Quevedo

6-4

304

So.

52 Andrew Tercek

6-1

278

Sr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

74 Archie Lewis

6-3

299

Sr.

78 Andres Preciado

6-6

292

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Durrant Miles

6-5

253

Jr.

93 Chase Hatada OR

6-3

267

So.

45 Kayode Rufai

6-4

254

RFr.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

98 Sonatane Lui

6-1

305

So.

57 Emmanuel Fesili

6-2

302

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 David Moa

6-3

271

Jr.

90 Daniel Auelua

6-2

298

Sr.

STUD end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

53 Sam Whitney

6-2

231

So.

8 Jabril Frazier OR

6-4

243

Jr.

99 Curtis Weaver

6-3

252

RFr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

38 Leighton Vander Esch

6-4

240

Jr.

44 Riley Whimpey

6-1

212

Fr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Tyson Maeva

6-0

214

So.

25 Benton Wickersham

6-2

231

RFr.

Strongside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

33 Gabe Perez

6-4

246

Sr.

9 Desmond Williams

5-11

201

RFr.

Boundary cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Tyler Horton

5-11

188

Jr.

15 Jalen Walker

6-0

172

RFr.

Field cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

27 Reid Harrison-Ducros

5-10

180

So.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Field safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 DeAndre Pierce

5-11

174

So.

32 Jordan Happle

5-11

198

RFr.

Boundary safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Kekoa Nawahine

6-2

199

So.

37 Cameron Hartsfield

5-10

197

Sr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Haden Hoggarth OR

6-0

198

Jr.

46 Joel Velazquez

6-0

228

RFr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Joel Velazquez OR

6-0

228

RFr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Brock Barr

6-3

204

Sr.

50 Nicholai Pitman

5-11

230

So.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson OR

6-3

188

Sr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams OR

5-9

194

RFr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Troy

W, 24-13

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Washington State

L, 47-44 (3OT)

Thursday, Sept. 14

New Mexico

W, 28-14

Friday, Sept. 22

Virginia

L, 42-23

Friday, Oct. 6

at BYU

W, 24-7

Saturday, Oct. 14

at San Diego State

W, 31-14

Saturday, Oct. 21

Wyoming

8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, Oct. 28

at Utah State

8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 4

Nevada

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Colorado State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Air Force

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 25

at Fresno State

1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

WYOMING

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

17 Josh Allen

6-5

240

Jr.

15 Nick Smith

6-4

231

Jr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Trey Woods

6-3

210

Fr.

29 Kellen Overstreet

5-11

220

So.

3 Milo Hall

5-8

190

So.

Fullback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

36 Drew Van Maanen

6-1

245

Sr.

35 Jaylon Watson

6-0

250

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

80 James Price

6-2

212

Jr.

14 C.J. Johnson

6-2

204

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

25 Austin Conway

5-10

183

So.

26 Avante’ Cox

5-11

158

Fr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

85 Tyree Mayfield OR

6-3

241

Jr.

33 Josh Harshman OR

6-3

235

Jr.

81 Austin Fort

6-4

244

Jr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

72 Zach Wallace

6-7

310

Jr.

77 Pahl Schwab

6-5

302

So.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

71 Jace Webb

6-4

309

RFr.

67 Cole Turner

6-4

293

Jr.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Logan Harris

6-3

308

Fr.

67 Cole Turner

6-4

293

Jr.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 Gavin Rush

6-3

298

So.

74 Brinkley Jolly

6-5

295

Jr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Ryan Cummings

6-6

320

Sr.

74 Brinkley Jolly

6-5

295

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Carl Granderson

6-5

255

Jr.

88 Garrett Crall

6-4

242

Sr.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

87 Conner Cain

6-4

288

Sr.

86 Javaree Jackson

6-5

273

Jr.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

93 Youhanna Ghaifan

6-4

290

So.

98 Ravontae Holt

6-4

249

Sr.

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

53 Josiah Hall

6-1

248

Jr.

42 Kevin Prosser

6-2

227

So.

Strongside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Jalen Ortiz

5-10

200

Sr.

7 Chavez Pownell Jr.

5-11

205

Fr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

30 Logan Wilson

6-2

240

So.

43 Ben Wisdorf

6-1

230

Sr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Cassh Maluia

6-0

230

So.

50 Ryan Gatoloai-Faupula

6-1

216

So.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

5 Rico Gafford

5-11

185

Sr.

2 Robert Priester

5-9

180

RFr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

9 Tyler Hall

5-10

190

Sr.

24 Braden Smith

5-10

195

Fr.

Free safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Marcus Epps

6-0

206

Fr.

3 Alijah Halliburton

6-2

190

So.

Strong safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

28 Andrew Wingard

6-0

210

Jr.

23 Tim Kamana

5-11

205

RFr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

40 Cooper Rothe

5-11

174

So.

41 Ryan Galovich

6-0

192

Jr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

27 Tim Zaleski

6-5

230

Fr.

11 Nick Szpor

6-3

205

So.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

36 Drew Van Maanen

6-1

245

Sr.

97 Caleb Cantrell

5-11

220

Fr.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

11 Nick Szpor

6-3

205

So.

25 Austin Conway

5-10

183

So.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

9 Tyler Hall

5-10

190

So.

5 Rico Gafford

5-11

185

Sr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

25 Austin Conway

5-10

183

So.

12 Dontae Crow

5-9

178

RFr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

at Iowa

L, 24-3

Saturday, Sept. 9

Gardner-Webb

W, 27-0

Saturday, Sept. 16

Oregon

L 49-13

Saturday, Sept. 23

Hawaii

W, 28-21

Saturday, Sept. 30

Texas State

W, 45-10

Saturday, Oct. 14

at Utah State

W, 28-23

Saturday, Oct. 21

at Boise State

8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, Oct. 28

New Mexico

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 4

Colorado State

5 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Air Force

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Fresno State

Noon

Saturday, Nov. 25

New Mexico

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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