Cowboys Chatter: Wyoming Has to Avoid Letdown After Emotional Game in Boise

Tracy Ringolsby

LARAMIE -- Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl is on alert.

The Cowboys were emotionally charged for their visit to Boise last weekend, which ended with a 20-17 overtime loss. Now comes the challenge of rekindling that mentality for this week's visit to Utah State.

"It was a disappointing loss," Bohl said Monday, "but it wasn't disappointing from the point of our energy and the players' effort. What is going to be important for us to do is have that same type of intenstive when we go to Logan.

"(Utah State) is a really good football team. Many times if you have a team get on an emotional high that is followed by an emotional low. It's going to be our challenge as coaches to make sure our effort that was one of passion and enthusiasm (last week) is matched that same level of intensity this week."

The Cowboys go into the game 6-3 overall but 3-2 in the Mountain West Mountain Division. Utah State, meanwhile, is 4-1 in the conference, tied with Air Force for second place in the Mountain Division behind Boise State (5-0), but is 5-4 overall.

Long-Time Rivals

Wyoming is the fourth oldest rival for Utah State, and the Aggies are the fifth oldest rival for the Cowboys. The teams met for the first time in 1903. Wyoming has won two of the last three meetings and six of the last 11. Utah State, however, was the winner a year ago at Laramie, 24-16, in the game in which Sean Chambers debuted on the second series of the second half, replacing Tyler Vander Waal.

Utah State leads the all-time series 36-24-4. The teams were both members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (1916-37) and Mountain States Conference (1938-61). They continued to play as non-conference opponents most seasons until a 22-year void from 1979-2000. 

Utah State joined the Mountain West Conference in 2013, reigniting the rivalry by being placed in the Mountain Division. At that time, the teams created the Bridger Trophy, in memory of frontiersman Jim Bridger, which goes to the winner of the annual showdown between the two.

Injury Report

Bohl said it appeared that Ben Wisdorf, a senior from Cheyenne, career has come to a premature end with an apparent torn ACL. Wisdorf was No. 2 on the depth shart at weak-side linebacker behind Cash Maluia. 

Running backs Titus Swen and Trey Smith both remain on the injured list. Swen might be a candidate to return for Colorado State, but is considered ahead of Smith in his recovery. That keeps the focus on Xazavian Valladay, who had a career-high 37 carries at Boise State, and 96 carries plus six receptions in the last three games.

There is progress in the rehab of redshirt freshman offensive guard Zach Watts and  junior offensive tackle Alonzo Velazquez. Watts suffered a knee injury during spring ball and has yet to appear in a game. Velazquez suffered a knee injury for the second year in a row in the Cowboys game against New Mexico Oct. 19. At the time, Bohl thought a second surgery would bring an end to Velazquez's season, but he has made strides.

"Zach Watts will take practice reps this week," said Bohl. "I don't know if he will get cleared to play, but I hope that is the case. Alsono is getting really close. He has to do one more examine. He hasn't practiced yet. Both of them could be (available Saturday). I'd say Zach is more probable than Alonzo."

The only scholarship running back on the active roster is true freshman Alphonzo Andrews, Jr., who did make an appearance in the Cowboys game against Nevada, but did not get on the field at Boise State. He could play in three more games and still have this count as a redshirt season and the Cowboys would like to think they have four remaining games, including a bowl game. 

That, however, is not a factor in Bohl having gone exclusively with Valladay last week and most likely this week.

“We’ll take a look at him during the course of this week,” Bohl said of Andrews. “He’s going to have to improve a little bit before we’d insert him.”

The Final Word

Bohl on fans questioning play calling of offensive coordinator Brent Vigen:

"Every guy out there knows how to do two things -- coaching Little League baseball and call offensive plays. They have it all figured out. Brent has been doing this a long time and I trust him."