3 keys to beating the ‘Bows
LARAMIE -- The average elevation of Honolulu is roughly 243 feet.
The average temperature in late October -- 84 degrees.
Breaking news: That won't be the case this Friday when the Rainbow Warriors travel to Laramie for the Cowboys' home opener inside War Memorial Stadium where the temperature is expected to hover in the 30's around kickoff.
Hawaii (1-0) is trying its best to acclimate. This week, Todd Graham's team flew from Fresno, Calif., to Denver where they have been practicing and playing in the snow.
Graham's bunch picked up a 34-19 victory Saturday over the Bulldogs, while the Pokes' (0-1) suffered a 37-34 setback in overtime in Reno.
The Wyoming Department of Health is allowing just 7,000 hearty souls into the stadium Friday night. Will they, coupled with the 7,220 feet of elevation and cold weather, help get the Cowboys over the top?
But here's what we think the three keys will be to knocking off the visiting 'Bows:
Spy on that guy
Chevan Cordeiro is sneaky fast. He showed that in spades during Hawaii's opening-night win over Fresno State.
The sophomore quarterback gashed the Bulldogs to the tune of 116 yards on the ground. He had a long of 54 and scored twice on the ground. For those keeping track at home, with his 13 carries, that equates to roughly 8.9 yards per carry.
That's good. Really good.
Cordeiro was also efficient with his right arm, completing 20-of-31 passes for 229 yards. But, for now, we are focused on his wheels.
So are the Cowboys and defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel.
"We have to corral him," Sawvel said Monday. "I hope he doesn't run as fast in the cold ... He had a couple of plays the other day where he took off against Fresno and people weren't catching him. That's a concern."
What can the Cowboys do to contain Cordeiro?
Spy on him.
That task could fall on a few guys, mainly a hard-hitting safety like Esaias Gandy. Or maybe it could be Braden Smith, the free safety with speed to burn. Keyon Blankenbaker could be another candidate. Whoever gets this job can either be the goat or the G.O.A.T.
If you aren't a millennial, you want the second version.
Wyoming's defensive front was solid against Nevada.
The final stats say the Wolf Pack rushed for 76 yards. That's an illusion. Devonte Lee had a long of 29 and Avery Morrow had an 18-yard touchdown run. Erase those two runs and the home team really amassed just 29 rushing yards on 25 carries.
The Pokes' will need that kind of effort again Friday night.
Hawaii tailback Miles Reed eclipsed the century mark against Fresno State, tallying 109 yards on 21 carries. Back-up Calvin Turner was explosive, too. The senior carried the ball just eight times but picked up 60 yards and two scores.
This isn't your average Hawaii squad.
These guys are trying to muscle their way around, not the typical finesse style we see out of the guys from the islands.
Graham isn't sticking to script and running a fun-and-gun offense. He is trying to win at the line of scrimmage.
"Hawaii has a good run game," Sawvel said. "They run a lot of plays -- a lot of counters -- things there we have to deal with. It will be difficult."
UW's defensive line, anchored by Cole Godbout, Ravontae Holt and Victor Jones, is one of the Cowboys' strengths. If they can control the line -- and Reed -- that's when the Rainbow Warriors could become one dimensional.
That would be a good thing.
Hit the gas
Craig Bohl's Cowboys developed a bad habit of starting slow in 2019.
They went down 14-0 in the opener against Mizzou, trailed on the road at Texas State and Tulsa, and played an absolute bore-fest against Idaho.
The same happened Saturday night in Reno. The biggest difference is the Pokes' lost starting quarterback Sean Chambers on the third offensive play from scrimmage. That will derail most teams.
It certainly did for the Cowboys.
Wyoming ran just 25 plays in the first half. Levi Williams and Co. racked up 111 yards. Fifty one of those came on one drive.
Midway through the third quarter, Wyoming trailed 28-6. Sure, they came roaring back to force overtime, but the hole was just too big. So many opportunities wasted.
"Offensively, we had a difficult time straying on the field," Bohl said.
Wyoming racked up just three third-down conversions on 16 attempts. That won't cut it.
"I thought some things we did in the ball game were good, but as I've always said, the most improvement comes between the first and second game."
Williams needs to get in rhythm early. Throwing to a pair of 6-foot, 7-inch tight ends in Jackson Marcotte and Nate Weinman could help there. Isaiah Neyor proved to be a big-play wide out, snagging three passes for 102 yards.
You know what else helps -- a running game.
If the Cowboys don't fall behind and abandon the run, getting Xazavian Valladay going should be priority No. 1. That eats clock and keeps Cordeiro on the bench.
The ice-cold bench.