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at Wyoming 35 … Weber State 32

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 3, 2011


Week 1 CFN Fearless Prediction - Weber State at Wyoming

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 1 - Weber State at Wyoming

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Sept. 3 at Wyoming 35 … Weber State 32
CFN Analysis: Welcome to Wyoming, Brett Smith. The Cowboys are in for a long season and they struggled way too much against Weber State, giving up 541 yards of total offense, but in the long haul, all that matters is that Smith was able to come through in the clutch finishing with 294 passing yards and three scores to go along with 44 rushing yards and a score. Alvester Alexander went nowhere, running eight times for 30 yards, but he scored a touchdown. Punter Austin McCoy was a huge help averaging 44.7 yards per kick, and the defensive front did a decent job of getting into the backfield, but after next week’s Texas State game, it could get really ugly really fast if the D doesn’t start doing more against the pass.

(AP) LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Brett Smith threw a touchdown pass to Robert Herron with 22 seconds left to lift Wyoming to a 35-32 victory over Weber State on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Smith threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns on 27-for-41 passing. The first pass attempt of his college career was intercepted by a defensive lineman when the ball slipped out of Smith's hand. The turnover resulted in a Weber State touchdown.

"It surely wasn't a clean or pretty win, but it's a win," Smith said.

Smith recovered on Wyoming's next series, capping a six-play, 76-yard drive with a 1-yard run. Smith keyed the drive with a 43-yard pass to Alvester Alexander and a 28-yard pass to Brandon Miller.

Wyoming went up 21-19 at the half thanks to a 4-yard TD run by Alexander and a 9-yard TD pass from Smith to Mazi Ogbonna.

The Cowboys scored on their first possession of the third quarter when Smith connected with Herron on a 45-yard pass play. Herron finished with a career-high seven receptions for 104 yards and two TDs.

Weber State, which amassed 541 yards total offense, answered with a 12-yard score by Josh Booker in the third quarter and a 49-yard TD pass from Mike Hoke to Xavian Johnson with 1:48 left for a 32-28 lead.

Smith then led a 13-play, 73-yard drive for the winning score. The drive included a 19-yard pass play on 4th and 11 from Smith to Chris McNeill that moved the Cowboys down to the Wildcats' 9-yard line.

Weber State's last drive stalled at the Wyoming 35-yard line, and a 53-yard field goal attempt by Shaun McClain with 2 seconds left fell well short. Hoke led Weber State, passing for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Booker rushed for 117 yards and a score.

The Wildcats have lost 22 straight games to FBS opponents.

Weber State hasn't beaten an upper division team since 1993 and hasn't won a season opener on the road since 1990.

"Played hard enough to win," Wildcats coach Ron McBride said. "It's just one of those deals. You got to close the show."

Weber State (0-0) vs. Wyoming (0-0) Sept. 3 7:00 mtn.
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Here’s The Deal … Both of these two teams will be starting new quarterbacks, and in the case of Wyoming, it needs to get its situation settled in a vital game to win before dealing with an interesting rest of the slate. In the case of Weber State it will be a guy who's been studying the system for three years, while Wyoming will kick things off with a true freshman in what should be an interesting and entertaining game. This is true freshman quarterback Brett Smith's Wyoming offense now, and with this game and Texas State coming up next before going to Bowling Green, there are few games to tune things up before dealing with Nebraska and then getting into Mountain West play.

Why Weber State Might Win: This is a well coached Ron McBride team that gets 13 starters back and is more than good enough to pull off the upset. McBride, the former Utah head coach, has managed to do well against Mountain West opponents before including a 29-22 loss at Wyoming in 2009. This year’s team could grow into something better. The offensive line, including 6-4, 319-pound FCS All-American and All-Big Sky talent J.C. Oram, returns intact, and the tight ends are among the best in the Big Sky. This is a physical offense that has the power and the potential to blast away on the Cowboy defensive front to control the game from the start.

Why Wyoming Might Win: Defense ... maybe. The smartest thing head coach Dave Christensen has done in his tenure was to retain the complete bounty hunter defensive coaching staff from his predecessor, Joe Glenn, & the worst thing he's done is poke his nose last season into how it works. Christensen apparently has taken that life lesson to heart as camp reports this offseason have repeatedly confirmed the defense, lead by 6-3, 263-pound senior defensive end Gabe Knapton, and this could be his best D since taking over the job. All four starters are back on the defensive line, while the linebacking corps has enough talent to put up some big numbers against the WSU ground game.

What To Watch Out For: The new starting quarterbacks. Weber State junior Mike Hoke will take over for longtime starter Cameron Higgins, while Wyoming will hope that Smith can handle the reins. Smith, has the Wyoming bounty hunter defense to depend on, but if Weber State is going to make this an FCS upset, then Hoke has to come up with a big performance. Smith got to school early and it paid off. The 6-3, 195-pounder from Oregon has the build of a pure passer, but he’s a terrific runner gaining 855 yards with 22 scores last year. Oregon State wanted him, but the Cowboys got him. Considering the quarterback situation, he’s needed right away.

What Will Happen: The Christensen offense hasn't yet worked for Wyoming in any manner that resembles the coach’s time as the Missouri offensive coordinator. In order for it to do so, superior quarterback play is a must, but that’s not a realistic expectation right away. It’ll be a ragged game with Weber State pushing it the Cowboys for a full four quarters.

CFN Prediction: Wyoming 27 ... Weber State 24
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