Wyoming 101: The Cougs should know better

WYOMING, THE COUGS’ OPPONENT on Saturday, started their season on a similar note as WSU did, losing to FCS opponent North Dakota. But they also dished up a second helping of misery on Saturday when they fell to Eastern Michigan 29-48. There frankly isn't a team playing worse football in the FBS coming into this game. But the Cougars should know better.

The Cowboys are struggling, but that doesn't mean WSU can win just by showing up (hello Week One). Plus, desperate teams are sometimes the most dangerous.

Cougars (1-1) vs Cowboys (0-2)
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
5:40 pm Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium (32,952)

TELEVISION:
Pac-12 Networks

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
WSU by 24

LAST MEETING:
Wyoming won 34-13 in 1990.

THE SERIES:
WSU leads 3-2.

CF.C PREDICTION:
Cougs 44, Wyoming 21

THE COWBOYS ON OFFENSE

Players to Know
QB Cameron Coffman: The Indiana transfer won the starting job in the spring but got banged up (knee) in the loss to North Dakota. He passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns in his only start.

RB Brian Hill A solid workhorse, Hill carried the load against Eastern Michigan to the tune of 242 yards and two touchdowns. That it wasn't nearly enough to win the game is a testament to how deep Wyoming's problems run. Hill is averaging and incredible 8.8 yards per rush in the early going this season.

Overview
It's hard to know what to make of Wyoming's offense. They passed for 301 yards and ran for 29 hashes in the opener, and ran for 430 yards and passed for 32 yards in Week Two. Neither was anywhere near adequate to compensate for the Cowboy's struggling defense. Getting Coffman back is a huge boost to their passing game, but a controlled power running game is more their style.

Strategy
Wyoming is apt to try and win this game Portland State-style and they have the kind of ground game to think they can do it. Expect a heavy dosage of running plays and a strong effort to control the clock. The Cougs need to do a better job tackling and force the Cowboys to beat them through the air.

Key Stat
6.0 yards per rush: It's hard to believe a team averaging that on the ground can be struggling this badly, but they are.

THE COWBOYS ON DEFENSE

Players to Know
Eddie Yarborough, DE: Yarbrough is Wyoming's only true defensive star. A first team all-conference player as a sophomore and junior and ranks sixth nationally in career tackles for a loss.

Overview
Wyoming generally runs a Tampa-2, but it has been tremendously ineffective. Opponents are averaging 5.0 yards per rush and 10.1 yards per pass attempt. Additionally, the Cowboy defense has yet to generate a turnover and has just one sack.

Strategy
Rutgers ran two deep safeties against Luke Falk most of the day and he had little trouble with it. Be patient and take what they give you. I expect Wyoming's primary defensive strategy, out of necessity, to be based around trying to generate interceptions.

Key Stat
Allowing 467 yards per game: Wyoming has not faced top shelf offenses but has been thoroughly gashed in both matchups.

THE COWBOYS ON SPECIAL TEAMS
Wyoming has little confidence in their kicker. He has missed both his field goal attempts (42, 43) as well as one extra point this season. The Cowboys have not returned a kick for a touchdown since 2011, but nobody can be taken lightly.

FINAL THOUGHT
There have been some return miscues from Kyrin Priester and Tavares Martin (pictured above) but you also get the sense one of them is about to take a punt or kickoff back all the way. Is Wyoming the game? Wyoming has been stingy on punt and kickoff coverage so far this season, one of the few things they've done well.


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