It's time once again for our weekly question and answer segment from the opposing team. Every Friday or so before a football game, we get a hold of the opposing SBNation community for a few answers about what you may be thinking.
This week, we get the assistance of Matt Hargleroad, community manager of Cowboy Altitude, the Wyoming community here at SBNation.
I also did a Q and A session for Matt's site, and you should be able to see that sometime today.
1. Wyoming was a very odd team last year from an outsiders perspective. There was a really slow start to the season where they lost to Texas and Cal Poly of all teams, however they did win 3 of their last 4 games in their season. What kind of expectations do you have for the Cowboys overall this year?
I predicted a 6-6 season for Wyoming this year. The offense should be tremendous as long as Brett Smith and the offense line hold up. The defense has been porous the last three years and especially struggled with stopping the run. Getting back to a bowl game and beating Colorado State would be two very achievable goals for the season.
2. Brett Smith has seemingly grown from the Freshman that was pretty wide eyed against Nebraska in 2011, but injuries did derail part of his season last year. What are his expectations this season?
I honestly think that Smith played very well against Nebraska back in 2011. Even though he was a freshmen he wasn't "star struck" and didn't try do too much. He didn't try and force the ball and outplayed Taylor Martinez for much of the game. He is the soul of this team and loss to Cal Poly shows you what can happen if he isn't behind center. He missed two full games due to a concussion suffered late in the Toledo game. Smith is on the verge of setting the Mountain West record for most pass attempts without an interception. He has been getting looks by NFL scouts and a number of draft services are very high on him. If he has a stellar season he may declare after this year.
3. Losing D.J. May seems to hurt an already low producing group. Should we expect much from the Wyoming running game on Saturday, or is this going to be a full aerial onslaught?
The running unit isn't flashy but it has depth and there is little drop off. Losing May does hurt but senior Brandon Miller is back at running back for good after bouncing around for a couple years at wide receiver. As a unit they struggled with gaining yards after contact. This was a young group though with May and Shaun Wick both true freshmen. A year of training has helped Wick get bigger and stronger. True freshmen Omar Stover graduated early and will likely get some reps as well. Except to see Tedder Easton step in for short yardage situations. Though you can bet on a Brett Smith keeper on fourth a short.
4. There are a lot of people on the Nebraska staff that think the Cowboys are going to switch up to a 3-4 defense. Wyoming didn’t seem to really stop much last year, but guys like Blair Burns will be helped by newcomer Tyran Finley, while the Safeties White and Huff will get their work out from Nebraska’s receiving core. Are expectations growing for this group yet?
Certainly expect a number of looks from the Wyoming defense. A 3-4 will be the most prominent scheme seen but DC Chris Tormey has a few different packages he can roll out. Burns was Freshman All-American two years ago. Last year there were a number of interceptions that he just couldn't quite bring in. Finley has done a great job pushing the veterans and grabbing the starting job. Huff is the leader of the secondary and played corner for most of last year before switching to safety late last year. The unit should be improved but that level has yet to be determined,
5. After last season, when seemingly the biggest SportsCenter highlight for Dave Christensen was a beep filled tirade on Troy Calhoun that earned him a week off the sidelines, is Dave on the hot seat this season? Or is there patience with the AD’s office that Christensen will pull something better together?
I think Christensen really learned a lot from his incident after the Air Force game. He became a calmer person and was able to reassess a few things. He let OC Gregg Brandon go and now Christensen will be doing the play calling. He isn't on the hot seat at the moment but a poor season could make this his last.
6. Give us some names to watch on both sides of the ball that I may have missed, if you will.
OLB Mark Nzeocha is 6'3 230lbs and an athletic freak. He has the speed to quickly get around the edge and get to quarterback or can also drop back and cover a receiver. Coming from Germany it has taken him some time to get used to the depth of the American level of play.
Center Albert Perez seems to be the only player on the roster who can consistently snap the ball. If he goes down then it means bad news for the Cowboy offense.
7. Game prediction time. The first game of the season seems so tough to gauge, but what’s your gut feeling as Wyoming is the first team to play in the renovated, 92k plus seated Memorial Stadium?
I expect a close first half but Nebraska eventually pulling away for a 37-28 win. Coach Christensen is still looking for a signature win but I don't expect it to happen this week.