The Wyoming Cowboys come into Pullman as decided underdogs to WSU -- nearly four touchdown underdogs, actually.
It's been a rough start to the season for Wyoming; if you thought losing to Portland State sucked, imagine then losing to Eastern Michigan the next week. At home. By three touchdowns. That's what the Cowboys did after falling to North Dakota.
The Cowboys are hopeful that things are back on the upswing, as their quarterback situation appears to now be moving in a positive direction. To get a complete look at Wyoming, we checked in with Chad Smith of WyoNation.com, who was gracious enough to answer some questions for us. (And if you want to check out my answers to his questions, you can find that here.)
CougCenter: Everything starts with the quarterback, and the Cowboys have problems. What's the current state of affairs back there for Wyoming?
WyoNation: Senior quarterback Cameron Coffman, a transfer from Indiana, has been named the starter this week. He started the first game against North Dakota after easily winning the job over the spring and summer but suffered a MCL strain that did not allow him to play in last week's game against Eastern Michigan. His backup this week will be redshirt freshman Nick Smith who was forced into action after sophomore Josh Allen broke his collar bone which has ended his season.
Coffman is a very capable quarterback but the knee injury will limit his mobility but that shouldn't hurt him too much because he is mainly a pocket passer. If Coffman gets banged up again, Smith is very mobile and runs well but struggled passing last week only completing 3 of 13 passes. An injury to Coffman would be a big blow to Wyoming's chances of being anything close to competitive.
WSU's first two opponents have had a lot of success running the ball. We know Wyoming is a running team; stylistically, what will the Cowboys bring to the table in their running attack?
Having learned his philosophy at Nebraska, Craig Bohl runs a very unstylish no-nonsense running attack at Wyoming. The bread and butter of the Wyoming running attack is the inside running game. Be prepared for a full dose of runs up the middle using the center and guards as the primary blockers. Wyoming does this to try to wear down the heart of the defense in order to open more avenues in the running game in the third and fourth quarters.
The question is can they do this on the road against a PAC-12 school?
Which weapon on offense should scare WSU the most?
The answer without a doubt is sophomore running back Brian Hill out of Belleville, IL. Unfortunately for him his success is partially determined by the play of the offensive line but when the big nasties do their job Hill is a dynamic runner. In his young career he has racked up over 1,069 yards and 9 touchdowns while only being the primary back for the Cowboys in seven games.
Last season as a true freshman he ran for a Mountain West record 281 yards in a single game and last week against Eastern Michigan he ran for 242 yards in a losing effort. Against a Washington State defense that has struggled to stop the running game Hill is a player who can make an impact for Wyoming on Saturday night.
Any idea at all how Wyoming's defense will go about trying to slow down WSU's Air Raid?
Wyoming plays what I classify as a "soft' Cover-2 scheme where they look to keep everything in front of them. It isn't a particularly aggressive defense and honestly with youth and inexperience in the secondary there isn't much Wyoming can do scheme wise to slow down the Washington State passing attack.
The best bet would be for Wyoming to petition the NCAA to be allowed to play 12 or 13 players on defense. Wyoming has been gashed in the passing game through two games so far allowing a total of eight passes over 20 yards due to broken coverages and missed tackles.
On a serious note, one move Wyoming has made is to boost senior Tyran Finley to a number one corner spot in place of redshirt freshman Anthony Makransky because of his speed.
If Wyoming is going to upset WSU, this is how it is going to happen:
In order to upset WSU, Wyoming will have to establish their running game allowing them to control the ball and keep the Cougar offense off the field. This will have to be paired with a remarkable turnaround with the defense and they will have to force several turnovers and even score points themselves if Wyoming is to have any chance.
On any given Saturday anything is possible but the honest answer is Wyoming would have to play an almost perfect game to beat the Cougars.