Given what happened in the TCU game, it could be argued that this has been a great time for a bye week or that it was terrible timing. But in either case, being focused back on the field this week will be great not only for the team, but also for the fans. Let’s be honest, even though last week was likely the most productive week many of us have had since early August, two weeks in a row of such productivity and people would begin to expect that kind of performance week in and week out… what do they think this is—the SEC?
On to the game. Wyoming is coming off of a confidence building performance against Utah. It is still hard to tell just how good Utah is, but in any case, Wyoming managed to lead for three quarters, so they can’t be far behind. They have been improving nearly every week and we all remember their first half against Texas. Their freshman quarterback, Austyn Carta-Samuels, is mobile and has been a spark for the offense and now has a number of games under his belt (becoming the starter in game 4). Their defense is very similar to the 3-3-4 that BYU runs and has been efficient. With a couple of days extra for BYU to prepare, the bye week may have been pretty good timing in any case.
A few things to watch for:
• Which team will show up? Will it be a team on a mission, ready to take out an opponent early, and vindicate its futility of two weeks ago? Or will it be a team that has been put in its place, and is now scrapping with its peers for the conference leftovers? The half time score may tell us all we need to know.
• Will BYU finally resolve to disrupt an opponent’s quarterback? It seems the last few games, BYU’s defensive philosophy has been to dare an opponent’s average to below-average quarterback to play like an All-American, and has decided that it is only a fair dare if they give him at least seven seconds to prove it. And we know how that has turned out. Pressure good. No pressure, bad. Another lack of pressure first two quarters and Wyoming will be very much in this game at the half.
• How much will the return of McKay Jacobsen impact the game? Jacobsen would have been a great asset in the TCU game, and hopefully will be able to contribute fully on Saturday and help stretch a field that has seemed increasingly crowded in his absence.
• Can the secondary (or the defense as a whole for that matter) limit the big plays? In the TCU game, it was really only 3-4 big plays that determined the outcome of the game. But it was 3-4 plays. Can the defense keep that to one or less?
• Will the team succeed on its first drive of the second half? There has been a disturbing trend this season to squander offensive opportunities to open the second half. Coming out of the locker room with a score, will either put a dominating game out of reach quickly, or will help take control of a close game taking some pressure off of our defense and placing it on their offense—either way, has a clear impact on the direction of the game. Failing to score in that situation achieves just the opposite for the other team.
• Will the running game be more than adequate? In both of the last two games, the running game as been OK. Adequate. Serviceable. A nice distraction from the passing game. But it has not been reliable or able to make a big play when it was needed. Three or so yards per run is not going to do it. Harvey, JJ, Bryan, and Manase need a big game. Let’s hope they bring it.
• Will we finally see a non-offensive touchdown? It has been way too long. When was the last one—Tulane? I miss David Nixon.
• Weather. You can’t mention Laramie in November without discussing the weather. You can’t play a football game in Laramie in November without being impacted by the weather. Perhaps it will be the wind, or some sleeper snow, but at the minimum there will be the cold. Good luck Cougs.
Wyoming is playing good football right now. They are probably the fourth or fifth best team in the conference right now (battling for those honors with Air Force and San Diego State). BYU has a game on its hands, but should be the better team. I think BYU comes out focused and plays a good first half, but finds itself only up by a small margin (3-10 points) at the half, due to inspired play by Wyoming as opposed to poor play by BYU. The blue and white come out in the second half and take that opening drive the distance. Finally. Then pull away. The cold weather and some wind impacts the passing game and the Cougars run the ball out in the fourth quarter, while Wyoming gets some points it should not have been given. Final score: BYU 37 Wyoming 24.
What else are you watching for? How do you see the game playing out? Reactions? Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments below…