Bronco-Cowboy Game is All About Potential

Potential doesn't equate to points, but this Saturday's game between Boise State and Wyoming is all about playing up to potential. The team that reaches their potential in week three of the college football season will have a great chance to come away as the victor. (Photo provided by rights reserved.)

The upcoming game between Boise State and Wyoming is about reaching potential.  

The homestanding Cowboys are hoping they play at full tilt, use a sold-out crowd and draw inspiration from a fallen teammate to upset the Broncos.  Boise State, meanwhile, is in the familiar role of being ridiculed because the team they barely beat in the last few minutes (Virginia Tech) was defeated by an FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) team—James Madison.  Anything less than a 110% effort this weekend and all the Bronco haters across the land from Craig James to Mark May will pounce on them.  

Although going into enemy territory and defeating one of only three teams in the nation to go to a bowl game each year for the past 17 years in front of 90,000 fans was impressive, Boise State Coach Chris Petersen found plenty for the team to work on.  All one has to do is rewind that game and watch it again to find numerous items to clean up.  It's what Boise State does best and what has made the Broncos a force on the national scene for the past eight years.  From arm tackling to fumbles to 100+ yards of penalties, the Bronco effort against Virginia Tech was far from perfect.  The 2010 Boise State team must eliminate miscues of this nature to reach their potential.  

Coach Dave Christenson's Wyoming team is coming off a 35-7 defeat at the hands of another Top 5 team— Texas .  No matter what happens Saturday, you have to admire a team that tackles two teams of that stature in back-to-back weekends.  The Cowboys already have Boise State 's attention for knocking off fellow Western Athletic Conference power Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl last year.  That game opened more than a few eyes of football followers around the WAC.   

The Cowboys snuck up on some teams last year and were able to win five games with fourth-quarter rallies.  If Wyoming plays up to their potential and the Broncos do not, everyone in Laramie will be screaming for the Cowboys to pull off some more magic this Saturday.  Turnovers are a critical factor in any close game and that was what put Wyoming over the top last year.  They ranked 17th nationally in turnover ratio.  Count on the Cowboy defense to be pulling at footballs carried by Bronco running backs and trying to bait Kellen Moore into throwing an ill-advised pick.  Potential?  This isn't what Moore usually does but if the Broncos don't play up to their potential, the Cowboys are in the game.  If a Bronco punt returner or kickoff returner puts the ball on the turf, it makes for a short touchdown and an easy score for Wyoming .  

Cowboy quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels is a guy the Bronco staff knows about—they were interested in him when he was a possible recruit.  He originally was headed to San Jose State but when a Spartan coach went to Wyoming , Carta-Samuels followed him.  Carta-Samuels (6-2, 215) passed for 1,953 yards and ran for 366 as a freshman last season.  With that experience and given a more expansive playbook this fall, this QB could have an outstanding season.

David Leonard (6-4, 203) had 77 receptions last season to rank as one of the leaders in the Mountain West Conference.  Zach Bolger (5-10, 185, Sr.), David Tooley (6-5, 203, So.), Travis Burkhalter (6-1, 191) and Chris McNeill (6-1, 175) are the other Cowboy wideouts.

Seniors Jack Tennant (6-4, 305) and Sam Sterner (6-4, 302) are big veteran guards that Wyoming will build their offense around.  Nick Carlson (6-4, 290, So.) is the center while Josh Leonard (6-4, 296, So.) and junior Clayton Kirven (6-6, 305) are expected to start at tackle. 

Wyoming has made the switch to a 4-3 defense from the 3-4 of years past.  However, all four defensive linemen starters are gone from last year.  That means that juniors Gabe Knapton (6-3, 248) and Josh Biezuns (6-2, 247) have made the switch from linebacker to end.  The Cowboys hope to use their great quickness to get a pass rush.  Boise State , meanwhile, will be looking to pound the ball straight at them to wear them down so the quickness is a non-factor.  Watch for that battle Saturday.  Freshman Patrick Mertens (6-5, 269) and Ben Durbin (6-3, 250, So.) look to start at tackle.

Middle linebacker Brian Hendricks (6-1, 221, Jr.) is the leader of his group.  Ghaali Muhammad (6-0, 225, So.) will start at one vacant linebacker position while Devyn Harris (6-3, 225) could be the strongside performer.   

 Christensen says "Our back seven is going to be as quick and fast as probably any group in the country."  That is saying a lot but the strength of the Wyoming defense will definitely be the secondary.  Brothers Marcell (5-10, 189, Sr.) and Tashaun Gipson (6-0, 203, Jr.) return this fall at cornerback.   

Free safety Chris Prosinski (6-1, 210) returns for his senior year after ranking 10th in the country last season with 10.8 tackles per game.  Shamiel Gary (6-1, 210) is another playmaker in the Cowboy defensive backfield, earning Freshman All-America honors.

Placekicker Ian Watts (6-3, 187) was another surprise freshman success story.  He not only got the starting job as a walk-on but won three games with winning kicks.   

Punter Austin Mc Coy (6-3, 202) sported a 43.3 average last season.  Marcell Gipson will be back on kickoffs and Leonard will be responsible for punt returns.

This is a young but talented Wyoming squad.  The Cowboys have 16 returning starters and plenty of mojo to go around.  They want to push themselves and take it to the next level.  You won't see the Cowboy players bowing to the Broncos as they enter the field; that isn't quite what they have in mind.  If Boise State does not have their "A" game, they could get beat just as easy as Virginia Tech did against a supposedly inferior opponent.  One thing that early game taught us is that any college football team can beat any other.  

Potentially, Boise State should win.  We all know they are favored.  The E/A Sports simulations had them winning all 50 times.   

That means absolutely nothing come Saturday night at 6 o'clock .

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