"Wyoming has a varied offense and they like to throw out of the spread quite a bit," said junior safety Kellen Fowler. "They have some good receivers with good hands and they're very reliable guys who are smart players."
One such reliable, quick and smart player is 5-foot-9-inch, 172-pound senior Hoost Marsh. Marsh has been characterized as a Nate Meikle-type receiver by many of the Cougar defenders.
"They have [Marsh], who is smart and has been a contributor for them for a number of years," Fowler said. "He's a guy that is very quick, and if we don't keep our eyes on him closely he can really hurt us by finding the seams within the defense, and because he's a reliable receiver with good hands he can rack up yards really quickly."
Against Syracuse last year, Marsh caught seven passes for 85 yards and one touchdown. This year, Marsh is averaging 12.4 yards per catch and has 25 catches and 309 total yards on the season. In addition, he is forth on the team in scoring touchdowns.
"Marsh is a guy they like to get the ball to in space because he can make a lot of moves," said Fowler. "He's also a guy that returns punts for them because he's quick and can make you miss, so what they do is they try and get him matched up with specific guys in the secondary and get him the ball quick so he can use his quickness to make you miss and get those yards after catch downfield."
Marsh entered the 2007 season as one of the greatest punt return players in Wyoming school history. He needed only 22 punt return yards on the season to become the career record-holder at Wyoming.
"That's the type of player he is for their program," said Fowler. "That's one reason why he's returning punts for them…because of his ability to make plays in space and move the ball downfield."
Marsh may be the Cowboy version of former Cougar receiver Nate Meikle, but at the outside wide receiver position, 6-foot-2-inch, 212-pound Michael Ford is their version of junior BYU receiver Michael Reed. Ford is very comparable in both size and playing style to Reed on the outside.
"Michael Ford seems to be their go-to guy," said Fowler. "He's a little bigger and he also has good hands and can catch the ball really well. He's also a guy that is pretty fast and is someone we can't let get past us, or it could be trouble."
Ford entered the season as the second-ranked wide receiver in the Mountain West Conference in receptions, and was ranked 39th in the nation.
"I would characterize their receiving corps as a little bit of speed and quickness," Fowler said. "They have guys that can do different things. They have pretty good speed, some more than others. Michael Ford is one that can really spread the field with speed."
From the tight end position, the Cowboys have 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Jesson Salyards and 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound Joe Evers. The Cowboys don't use their tight ends as much as BYU, but they still play a part in both blocking and in the passing game.
"They also like to use their tight ends or throw to guys from the H-back position," said Fowler. "They like to throw to them from out of the backfield now and then, so we have to watch for that by seeing how they line up in their offensive formation. They like to come at you from different angles and try and do different things to try and get those guys open by creating mismatches."
H-back Wade Betschart is currently third in receptions with 26 for 225 yards for an average of 8.7 yards per catch.
"They seem to be doing okay," said Fowler. "From what I've seen on film they like to do a lot of timing routes or make the quick throws. They try and do things to not worry about the pass rush and things like that, so they do have a good offensive attack. We have to be focused and make sure we come ready to play, or we'll be in trouble."
Fowler's Key's To Victory
First-time safety starter Kellen Fowler gives his keys to a Cougar victory this weekend.
BYU cornerback Ben Criddle will have the task of covering wide receivers Michael Ford and Greg Bolling on the outside. Bolling is a 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound receiver that is second on the team in receptions with 29 for 285 yards and an average of 9.8 yards per catch.
You can listen to Ben Criddle give his thoughts on the up-and-coming game against the Cowboys in this exclusive TBS audio interview.