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Wyoming Cowboys At Nevada Wolf Pack

The Cowboys begin the Mountain West Conference schedule this week with a trip to Reno, Nevada.

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6 Total Updates since October 2, 2012
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WYO-NEV: Weather Forecast

Weather should not be concern at all today in Reno. There will be clear and sunny skies at kickoff with a temperature of 74 degrees. It will only drop down to 69 near the end of the game. An early cold streak hit Laramie this week, so hopefully the warmer weather will be welcome to the Cowboys.

I think the winter is when many of the freshmen will have a tough time adjusting to Laramie. That extreme cold doesn't happen in most of the country. At least the forecast will be better in Laramie next week. Eventually winter will full arrive.

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Nevada Q&A With Silver And Blue Sports



Just two days away from kickoff. In order to get more some more info on Nevada and help preview the game we got some help a Nevada site. So we swapped Q&A's with Andrew Maurins from the site Silver And Blue Sports.

The game is not available on TV but it in being streamed online from Wolf Pack website. I've the production value is very rough and the commentary awful. But for $9.99 it is cheaper than booking a trip to Reno.

1. How good is this Nevada team really? The win against Cal is impressive since they are a BCS school. However the Bears only have one win.

It's a reasonable question, and the most truthful answer I can give is that we're still not entirely sure. Not only has Cal continued to tank since week one, but the only opponent the Pack have beaten who has also beaten an FBS team was Texas State last week. The defensive line is still faced with questions regarding its ability to pressure quarterbacks, and the secondary has been not only banged up, but continually under fire from the air.

While it's true that -- as Bill Parcells once said -- "You are what your record says you are," I don't think their schedule to date has revealed all that much about them aside from a few things we already suspected.

2. How has it been adjusting to the Mountain West? What will Nevada's other sports contribute to the conference?

Given that all but one of their football games have been against non-conference foes so far, I'd say it's still too soon to ask. The Hawai'i game was one that many of our fans had penciled in as a loss before the year started, however, so winning there was certainly a good start.

Basketball is what a lot of our fans are already looking ahead to, both for the greater number of opportunities for signature wins the MWC will present, and the general excitement of seeing so many high-quality teams coming to Lawlor Events Center. If the new additions to the front court can make some decent contributions, we think the Pack can finally return to the NCAA Tournament.

Nevada's non-revenue sports have really struggled the last couple of years, and they're under a lot of pressure to start stepping up in their new surroundings. Volleyball still looks down, but the women's soccer team has already surpassed their win total from last year, at least.

3. If you could trade for one Wyoming player, who would it be?

In order to give the secondary a hand in defending against the pass while the defensive line gets better at pass rushing, I'd bring over Blair Burns. Being a sophomore, he would also be welcomed when Duke Williams, Marlon Johnson and Khalid Wooten all leave after this season.

Assuming Wyoming would get one of Nevada's players in return, I think they could potentially use running back Anthony Knight. Stefphon Jefferson has been getting the majority of the carries, and I'll bet Knight is starting to get bored waiting for his turn.

4. Brett Smith or Cody Fajardo: Who do you take?

OK, you won't like this, but I'm taking the diplomatic route: I've seen a lot of people try to compare the two quarterbacks, but because they run very different offenses, I think it's like trying to compare apples and hand grenades. While it's true that Smith has accounted for more yards and touchdowns overall, without knowing how he would handle the read option and other running plays of the pistol (a primarily run-first system the way Nevada executes it), it's a little glib to say he would automatically excel in it. The same is true for Fajardo and how he would fare in a spread offense. And if you add the variable of how they'd interact with the other team's head coach, it becomes even more complicated.

Suffice to say, both quarterbacks are very productive fits for their respective teams, and I don't think either coach would change that.

5. What should Cowboy fans visiting Reno expect? Any suggestions for places to hang out or visit?

What's true for games at Mackay Stadium is true for games at most places: the odds are you probably won't find trouble unless you go looking for it. I noticed the Wyoming booster group is having a get-together at the Little Waldorf before the game, which is the most famous pre- and post-game hangout. For tailgating, the RV areas north of the stadium are a safe bet for hospitable people and good food, and I know our message board is planning a crawfish boil for this week's game.

As far as other events go, the Eldorado Great Italian Festival is also happening over the weekend, which is always fun. It takes place right on Virginia Street, though, so if you're staying at a hotel in or around downtown, it'll make navigating the area by car a little tricky.

Now the Chamber of Commerce pitch: I'd be remiss if I didn't mention trying an Awful Awful (at either the Wolf's Den across from campus or the diner at the Little Nugget downtown) and an Ichthyosaur IPA from Great Basin Brewing Company. Finally, if you're here for more than a couple of days, a drive up to Lake Tahoe is never a bad idea.

Predict the score.

I'll keep it brief and say 56-28 Nevada.

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Thanks to Andrew for helping me with the Q&A. I knew he would take the diplomatic approach here with that Brett Smith or Cody Fajardo question. Wyoming also recuited Fajardo and I really think that both QB's could thrive in either system. The Mountain West is loaded with quality young quarterbacks.

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Panel Of Pokes: Reno 411

Before we get to the Panel of Pokes we're going to update the Pick em' contest standings. Last week was fairly easy and almost everyone finished with a perfect six points. Things are a little tougher this week.

Forever Blue is in first place and four others are tied for second. Interesting to see three of our Panel of Pokes members in the top four.

Standings

Rank Pick Set Name Total Pts W-L
1 ForeverBlue 31 31-8
2 MrTitleist FTW! 30 30-9
3 GoWyoGo.com 30 30-9
4 Rowdie Road 30 30-9
5 Wyoming Cowboys All Day 30 30-9

My first time I really saw Reno was the from the movie "The Wizard" starring Fred Savage. They stop at the arcade in Reno to prep for the contest. Relive part of my childhood.


Ian McMackin - GoWyoGo

Poke Pick: QB Brett Smith

Score Prediction: Wyoming 38 Nevada 35

Thoughts on the game: There could be a lot of points scored in this game and I think a similiar finish as the UW/Idaho game two weeks ago. The key to victory could be which defense forces critical turnovers or makes a big play in the right time. I do think the Cowboys with a week off have some advantage in preparation for the Wolf Pack and defending their Pistol Shoot Offense. I see the Pokes ready to go on Saturday, playing their best game of the season. Will it be enough?

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Matt Blaylock - Poke Pride

Poke Pick: Brett Smith

Score: Wyoming 34 Nevada 30

I picked this score on Poke Pride months ago so I am going to stick with it. With the Pokes coming off a bye week they have had a chance to get healthy. If the Wyoming defense wants to stop the Nevada offense they will have to pressure the quarterback so this mean that defensive coordinator Chris Tormey can not only send three men rushing. To stay in the game Smith will have to have a big day and with both Chris McNeill and Robert Herron both on the field Smith will feel comfortable in the passing game, don't look for much of a rush from The Pokes and this game should come down to who scores last, it may be a who has the ball last wins this shootout.

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Brad Reed - WyoNation

Poke Pick: Brett Smith. Brett Smith is going to be my default Poke Pick until someone else steps up. No one on the Cowboy offense has stepped up since week 1 when Robert Herron exploded for a couple of touchdowns and a pile of receiving yards. This week Smith will have Herron back in the lineup.. and the Pokes are going to need that weapon because this week is going to be a track meet with Nevada. Brett Smith is likely going to carry this team vs Nevada on his feet and with his arm. Look for a big day from one of the nation's best athletes.

Score: Nevada 48, Wyoming 41. The Wolfpack is a good team who should be undefeated right now and should be carrying a top 25 ranking. This team is legit. The Pokes are on the road and still trying to find their way on defense. They gave up a lot of yards to a pretty underwhelming Idaho team.. Nevada is probably better than Idaho which could be trouble for the Cowboy rush defense. I hope this doesn't turn into Temple in 2011.

This is going to be a good measurement for the Cowboys to see how good this team is. This game also features two of the nation's best quarterbacks in Brett Smith and Cody Fajardo. Both quarterbacks rank near the top of the country in total yards per game. The difference between Nevada and Wyoming? A strong rushing attack. Nevada is able to take some of the load off of the shoulders of Fajardo by running the football effectively. The only Cowboy that has proven to run the football right now is Brett Smith. That's a bad thing, and that's what got Brett Smith hurt vs. Toledo.. too much running. The quarterbacks in this game are severely underrated by the national media but they are two of the best in the country and definitely the top two in the Mountain West. Sorry, Derek Carr.

This game is a pretty interesting matchup on paper.. the Cowboys, and it's well documented, are terrible on rush defense. Everyone knows this. Even Idaho figured it out as their previously non-existent rushing attack blistered the Cowboys. Nevada, on the other hand, loves to run the football. They rank in the top 10 in college football in rushing yards per game. Uhh.. well, that sucks, right? Here's where the game is going to turn into a track meet.. Nevada is as bad at pass defense as Wyoming is at rush defense. Robert Herron is back, Brett Smith is healthy, Jalen Claiborne is stepping up, and apparently Trey Norman thinks he's over his dropping the football. This could be bad news for the Nevada secondary. Nevada, despite being a strong rushing team, can score in a hurry.. with any luck Wyoming can control the tempo of the game and keep Nevada from the endzone. Nevada's running back Stefphon Jefferson ran for an obscene 7 touchdowns vs. Hawaii.. Wyoming's going to have to slow that guy down if they want -any- chance to win this football game.

The Cowboys need to keep their defense off the field to have any chance at winning this game. Nevada is too good on offense to let them get in a groove. Wyoming has their work cut out for them, but who knows, if the chips fall right maybe the Cowboys can win this game. Nevada has so many weapons I just don't know if the Pokes can slow them down. However, a matchup with Fajardo and Smith sounds pretty exciting for anyone that loves college football and watching two really good players duke it out. A lot of similarities between the two and both will be doing battle over the next few years in the MW.

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Matt Hargleroad - Cowboy Altitude

Poke Pick: For the sake of variety I'm not picking Brett Smith. Instead I expect Dominic Rufran to have a big game. McNeill and Herron will go most of the attention from the Nevada secondary and Dominic will exploit that.

Score: Nevada 45 Wyoming 36

Two weeks ago I used a little reverse psychology and predicted a Cowboy loss. That worked as the Cowboys won in OT. I'm hoping the same occurs this time as well. Teams typically perform well after bye weeks, though that didn't happen for Wyoming last year with Utah State. The stats say that this will game will be a blowout loss for the Cowboys. I can't decide if this will be a close game or a blowout.

YOUR TURN:

Share your picks and predictions in the comments.

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A Statistical Look At Nevada

Here are some interesting stats we found on the Nevada Wolf Pack. Some are positive while others are negative. This is a very interesting opponent stat wise.

  • 101 - The number of plays for 10 or more yards this year. That figure leads the Mountain West. That is slightly more than 20 plays for 10+ yards per game.
  • 0 - The number of plays for 60 or more yards this year.
  • 155 - Number of total first downs. That is 31 per game, Wyoming only averages 18.5.
  • 88.8 - The number of penalty yards Nevada is averaging per game. That is worst in the Mountain West by 22 yards.
  • 12 - Total sacks by the Nevada defense. Second best in the Mountain West.
  • 3 - The number of sacks allowed.
  • 19 - Average yards per punt return by Khalid Whooten. Tops in the MW, Wyoming is second at 15.33. yards per return.
  • 51.39 - 3rd down conversion %.
  • 42.31 - Opponents 3rd down conversion %.
  • 2788 - Total offense gained in five games.
  • 877 - Rushing yards for Stefphon Jefferson in five games. He'll likely break 1000 yards in just six games.
  • 37.5 - Opponents fourth down conversion %. Wyoming has yet to stop a team on fourth down when they got for it.
  • 88 - Red Zone conversion %. Wyoming and Hawaii lead the conference at 92.3%.
  • 278.2 - The number passing yards allowed per game by Nevada.

Well that wraps up this quick statistical look at Nevada. Anything stand out to you?

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Wyoming Depth Chart Update

Let's look at how the Cowboys have changed their depth chart as they prepare for Nevada.

Miraldo Michel is now healthy but Eddie Yarborough will getting the start at left defensive end. The redshirt has been been steadily improving this season. He has 14 tackles, two TFL and one sack on the year. Sadly for Mark Willis fans this may mean we see less of him. Coach Christensen did praise Willis for his play against Idaho and still expects him to be used in pass rush.

The shuffling at safety continues this week. Luke Ruff has been the one constant at free safety. His backup is listed as Kenny Browder OR Mark Nzeocha. Luke Anderson is starting at strong safety with Chad Reese as the backup. I would expect Reese to see plenty of reps this week.

Oliver Schober and Siaosi Hala'api'api are both listed as starters at MIKE linebacker.

Brandon Miller is back as the top running back, Shaun Wick slides back to second and D.J. May remains in third. We didn't cover this last week but Kody Sutton will be redshirting this year. Nehemie Kankolongo used his redshirt last year, so he will lose a year of eligibility if he plays or not. No idea when or if we will see him on the field.

Robert Herron is healthy and will be starting this week. That means Trey Norman is now his backup. Your four starting WR's are Herron, Claiborne, Rufran and McNeill.

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Nevada a heavy favorite

The Cowboys begin the Mountain West Conference schedule this week with a trip to Reno, Nevada.

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