UNC Braces For High Powered Wyoming Offense
(GoWyo.com) The Wyoming Cowboys feature one of the NCAA's top offenses in 2013. Wyoming enters this week ranked No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference and No. 8 in the nation in total offense averaging 583.0 yards per game. The Cowboys amassed 564 yards of total offense last week in a 42-10 home win over Idaho. That came on the heels of a 602-yard offensive effort in a narrow season-opening road loss (34-37) at No. 18 ranked Nebraska. The Cowboys also lead the Mountain West in passing offense, averaging 342.5 passing yards per game to rank No. 12 in the NCAA.
This week, the Cowboys host the University of Northern Colorado Bears in a game set to kick off at 2 p.m., Mountain Time from Wyoming's Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The football series between the Cowboys and Bears dates back to 1895. The two teams have met 25 previous times but haven't played since Nov. 5, 1949. Wyoming leads the overall series, with 17 wins, 5 losses and 3 ties. That last meeting between the Cowboys and Bears in 1949 resulted in Wyoming setting the NCAA record for points scored in a game, 103 points, in a 103-0 victory. That record still stands today.
Junior quarterback Brett Smith leads the league and ranks ninth nationally in passing yards (339.0 per game). He is second in the league and No. 4 in the NCAA in total offense, accounting for 417.0 yards of total offense per game. Smith has already thrown eight touchdown passes this season - four in each of the first two games. He is tied for first in the conference and tied for No. 2 in the nation in Points Responsible For, averaging 24.0 points per game.
Last week in only the second game of his junior season, Smith set a new Wyoming career record for Touchdowns Responsible For by throwing four TD passes against Idaho. Smith now has thrown 55 TD passes, rushed for 16 touchdowns and caught a TD pass for a total of 72 touchdowns he has been responsible for. The previous UW record was 70 touchdowns, and was set by Casey Bramlet from 2000-03.
Following Smith's performance against Nebraska in Week 1, former Husker and 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch, who served as color analyst for the Wyoming-Nebraska game on the Big Ten Network, had this to say about Smith:
"Brett Smith showed pinpoint accuracy and the ability to extend plays against Nebraska during the 2013 season opener. I was also very impressed with his ability to not only throw the ball downfield, but to run with decisive speed between the tackles. His hard work during the offseason will pay off big and proved that he will be one of the country's top quarterbacks in 2013."
Smith's two leading targets, senior wide receiver Robert Herron and junior wideout Dominic Rufran are also among the league's and nation's top performers. Herron leads the Mountain West in receiving yards (107.0 yards per game) and ranks No. 27 in the country. Rufran is No. 3 in the league in both receptions (8.0 per game) and receiving yards (90.5 yards per game). He ranks 15th in the NCAA in receptions and 43rd in receiving yards. Rufran had 120 yards receiving in the season opener against Nebraska, while Herron had 123 receiving yards versus Idaho. That was the first time since Jovon Bouknight in 2004 that Wyoming had a 100-yard receiver in two consecutive games.
Wyoming's offense is among the most balanced in the nation. The Pokes have blended a very effective running game with the passing game. UW ranks No. 3 in the conference and No. 31 in the nation in rushing offense, generating 240.5 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore running back Shaun Wick is averaging 105.5 rushing yards per game to rank No. 2 in the MW and No. 36 nationally. Wick rushed for 101 yards in the season opener at Nebraska and followed that up with 110 rushing yards vs. Idaho. He became the first Cowboy running back to notch back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since Devin Moore in 2008.
Wyoming's offense isn't the only unit that has begun the season on a strong note. The Cowboy defense has featured the first two MW Defensive Players of the Week this season. Senior free safety Marqueston Huff was named the Mountain West's top defender in Week 1 versus No. 18 ranked Nebraska, recording 18 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough earned the honor this past week as he was credited with nine tackles, 3.0 quarterback sacks and 3.5 tackles for losses, while also recovering a fumble that led to a Cowboy touchdown.
The Cowboy Sports Network will carry the game beginning one hour prior to kick off - 1 p.m., Mountain Time this Saturday. There is no television coverage of this week's Wyoming-Northern Colorado game.