Well after a weekend of ups and downs the Wyoming Cowboys (1-0) face a tough task as they take on the Longhorns of the University of Texas - Austin (1-0). The weekend started on a high note with a 28-20 victory over Southern Utah (Thunderbirds vs Cowboys coverage) to start the season. It hit rock bottom on Monday when four players were involed in a one car accident after visiting friends in Colorado.
Freshman LB Ruben Narcisse died during the accident and the team is planning to honor him during the season by wearing patches with his initials as well over the next four years. Another freshman hurt in the accident was WR CJ Morgan who had surgery on his elbow overnight and could be released as early as Wednesday.
With heavy hearts the Wyoming Cowboys face a challenge on the field when they travel to Austin to face the Longhorns. Last year these two teams met in Laramie in the first game of a three game series. After hanging tough in the first half the Cowboys could not contain the Texas offense in 41-10 loss. The altitude was one advantage that the Cowboys held last year but that will disappear this year and be replaced with the heat and humidity of Texas combined with 100,000 rabid fans in the stands.This is a different Texas lineup then Pokes faced last year in Laramie. Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley are gone and now replaced with Garret Gilbert and an offense that is geared towards a power run game. Last week Texas took down Rice 34-17 in a "neutral site" game played in Reliant Stadium.
In the opener Gilbert went 14 of 23 for 172 yards. The Longhorns now boast a stable of running backs capable of carrying the team. Tre' Newton, Cody Johnson and Foswhitt Whittaker all rushed for over 50 yards in week one. Coach Mack Brown ran a "vanilla" version of the offense against Rice and you expect him to take the training wheels off against the Cowboys.
Wyoming will need another stellar effort from QB Austyn Carta-Samuels help keep the Cowboys in the game. Last week he posted a career high 319 passing yards as well as three touchdowns. ACS did a nice job mixing up passes and four players caught at least five passes. Zach Bolger broke out with 134 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
An improved running game will be needed to keep the offense balanced and the Longhorns guessing. Last week the Pokes only managed 34 total yards on the ground. Freshman RB Nehemie Kankolongo will be in the lineup after missing the first game due a one game suspension for violation of team rules. K Ian Watts will also see his first action after serving a similar suspension.
The offensive line will need to step up their after a disappointing performance against Southern Utah. There were no holes for the running backs and Carta-Samuels was under pressure constantly. It will be a long afternoon in Austin if the same occurs.
Another area of improvement will need to be stopping the run game. The Pokes gave up 196 yards on the ground to a Thunderbird squad that is known mainly for it's passing attack. The defense line is young and inexperienced at the defensive tackle position.
To keeps things close Wyoming will need to take care of the football and capitalize on any mistakes made by the Longhorns. Last year a blocked punt was returned for a touchdown by Ghaali Muhammad and gave Wyoming a 10-6 lead. These kind of opportunities are always limited and can't be wasted.
For in depth coverage on the Texas Longhorns check out Burnt Orange Nation.
Who would win in real life?
This one is a clear victory for Wyoming as the purpose of Cowboys is to herd cattle and that is exactly what longhorns are, Yes, they have those awfully long horns but it won't be a close matchup. Wyoming will even brand their logo in order to commemorate the victory.
Verdict: Cowboys round up the cattle easily in real life but it may be a different result on the football field.