Turning point, unsung hero and what’s next for UW football
LARAMIE -- Nothing was going right for the Cowboys' offense.
By nothing, I mean even worse than usual. Yeah, that bad.
Then Trey Smith took a simple handoff and busted through the right side of the line. He slipped the grasp of an Idaho linebacker and was in the clear. At first, it looked like it would just be a nice gainer.
Turns out the Louisville transfer has some serious wheels. He dusted the Vandals' secondary and cruised into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 21-13 lead with just 10:16 left in the contest.
That score was the difference.
It was the longest run by a Wyoming running back since a guy named Brian Hill put on a show at Fresno State in 2014. His long that night was 89.
Smith got his first start in a Cowboy uniform thanks to an ankle injury keeping Xazavian Valladay out of action Saturday.
Once again, the Cowboys' offensive attack was, well, offensive.
More than 28,800 fans crammed into War Memorial Stadium and were witnessing a dud. This was the biggest crowd since Oregon came here two years ago. Nothing to cheer about, audible moans and groans.
Wyoming's drive sheet in the second half looked like this: punt, punt, punt. Guess what the final four possessions of the first half looked like? Add one more punt in there.
Smith's dash to pay dirt was a breath of fresh air. And it's likely the only reason the Pokes now sit at 3-0.
Just when it looked like Idaho was going to answer Smith's score with six of its own, the Cowboys defense stepped up.
The Vandals had the ball at UW's two-yard line with more than 8:00 to go. Mason Petrino dropped back and fired a slant pass right into the arms of an open receiver. Tyler Hall got his hand in to knock the ball away before he had two feet down.
The next play began with a snap infraction. Then, Keyon Blankenbaker and Easias Gandy went to work, both knocking down passes and forcing an Idaho field goal.
You can give the linebackers some credit there, too.
That drive was wild from the start. Craig Bohl, who is rarely animated, turned it up a notch when Victor Jones was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty near midfield. It kept the Idaho drive alive.
It definitely brought Bohl to life.
"I don’t even want to get into how they got down there," he said of Idaho's trip into the red zone. "I think everybody saw that. Those are some things we have to correct and we will."
What Wyoming's head coach did want to talk about was that stand.
"We were bowing up, and the guys held," he said. "I thought that was one of the critical points. When push came to shove, those guys made plays. We were able to get off the field and we got a victory."
We already mentioned his name above, but this honor goes to Blankenbaker.
He may have only recorded one tackle on the night, but he had three pass breakups and was quietly one of the best Cowboys on the field today.
The sophomore nickel back from Oak Park, Ill., was flying all over the field making plays tonight. That's nothing new.
Through three games, Blankenbaker has 14 tackles and five pass breakups.
First-year defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert, told me last week that he loves the physicality Blakenbaker plays with. He also has some coverage skills.
Sounds kind of like the epitome of a nickel back, huh?
Let's hand out another honorable mention.
Never in the history of Wyoming football have more fans come through the turnstiles than have in the first two home games of this season. More than 28,800 were on hand on this beautiful mid-September day, the largest crowd since Oregon played here in 2017.
The official number for fans over these two games versus Missouri and Idaho is 54,851.
"You know what our identity is? 3-0, OK? So, that’s what I'm going to say right now. I think we have a mixed bag right now that we've got to sort out. We better sort it out in a quick hurry."
-- Craig Bohl following the Cowboys victory over Idaho Saturday at War Memorial Stadium
Wyoming will head down south again next Saturday when they face the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Tulsa is 1-2 overall, falling to in-state foe Oklahoma State this afternoon, 40-21. Their other loss came in the season opener at Michigan State. That was a 28-7 setback. Tulsa's lone win came in week two when they traveled to San Jose and knocked off the Spartans of the Mountain west, 34-16.
The Golden Hurricane played its first two games against Spartans. Its next two are against Cowboys.
They have one set of Pokes remaining.
Game time is set for 1:30 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on CBS Sports.