The Wyoming Cowboys (4-2,1-0)certainly looked and played like a different team and the result was a big win for the Pokes that was badly needed. The offense showed some razzle dazzle, the defense really stepped things up and there were even some big plays from the special forces. This road only gets tougher from here but it certainly is a step in the right direction for this program.
Brett Smith didn't pass for over 100 yards the first time this season but he still managed to score three touchdowns. He passed for two scores in the first quarter and then caught a pass from Chris McNeillon trick play for his final score. The Cowboys went with a run heavy attack in the second half and Smith wasn't forced to pass at all in the second half. On the day Smith with 96 yards passing, 59 yards rushing and 28 receiving.
Alvester Alexander led the ground attack with 74 yards a score. Ghalli Muhammad added 49 yards as the Pokes decided to grind out the second half after building a big lead. As a team the Pokes totaled 239 yards on the ground.
Chris McNeill had a dynamic game in which made up for a muffed punt that gave UNLV (1-5, 0-1) a short field in which they scored a touchdown. While he didn't have any catches in the game he passed for the touchdown and returned a punt for a 76 yard touchdown. It was the Pokes first punt return for a touchdown since 2004. The Pokes also went for two late in the game and McNeill threw a pass to Mat Birkeness to convert. McNeill recovered a fumble in the first quarter from Robert Herron and the Pokes scored later on that drive.
The defense really stepped up their game this week after getting plasted by Utah State. Several adjustments were done to the secondary and defensive line due to poor play and injuries. The Pokes went with a 4-2-5 often due to Mark Nzeocha being out. Ben Durbin got the start at defensive tackle and had two sacks. BJ Sumter moved from offensive guard to defensive tackle and got his first reps as a Cowboy and looked good at stopping the run even though he didn't tally any tackles.
The Rebels only had one legit drive in which they scored. Otherwise the defense was solid the rest of the game. Blair Burns had several pass deflections in his first start at cornerback. Wyoming allowed just 258 total yards of offense which is their second lowest of the year. The 14 points allowed was also their lowest since the Texas State game. UNLV converted on 3 of 14 third down conversions and only of their three fourth down attempts. Sean Reilly made his first start for the Rebels and was sacked four times.
What the made game so much easier for Wyoming was their limit on mistakes. As team the Pokes only committed one penalty and it was for just five yards. Against Nebraska the Pokes were hamstrung by stupid penalties. Great to see the defense got the field so easily this game.