LARAMIE -- Which Wyoming players saw their stock rise in Friday night’s 31-7 win over Hawaii inside War Memorial Stadium?

Chad Muma, Victor Jones and Xazavian Valladay are obvious choices here, but let's give some love to some guys that maybe you didn't know were rising through the ranks:




OLB/ Charles Hicks

When you're named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week in your second career start, you make the list.

Monday, that honor belonged to outside linebacker Charles Hicks.

Hicks, who has been tasked with replacing Cassh Maluia, who now makes a living on the special teams unit of the New England Patriots, racked up four tackles, two sacks, a pair of tackles for loss and an interception that all but broke Hawaii's will last Friday night.

The 6-foot, 3-inch, 228-pound sophomore isn't under the radar anymore. And Thursday night in Fort Collins, Hicks and Co. will have their hands full with Colorado State tight end Trey McBride.




RB/ Trey Smith

We all know about the Cowboys' No. 1 running back Xazavian Valladay, but some might have forgotten how good the Cowboys' second option in the offensive backfield is.

Trey Smith, a senior graduate transfer from Louisville, carried the ball 20 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over Hawaii. Smith was the thunder to Valladay's lightning.

Smith ran the ball just twice for three yards and caught one ball in the overtime loss to Nevada.

In 2019, Smith played in the Cowboys' first four games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury at Tulsa. He rushed for 227 yards and three touchdowns on 44 attempts. His best game came against Idaho where he picked up his first-collegiate 100-yard rushing day. He finished the afternoon with 152 yards.

He finished the Vandals with an 80-yard touchdown jaunt.




WR/ returner/ Dontae Crow

Let's not beat around the bush here -- Dontae Crow had a rough opening game in 2020.

He let two punts hit the ground in Nevada. Both ended up inside Wyoming's 10-yard line -- and at the most inopportune time, too. Craig Bohl was asked postgame if he would reevaluate the punt-returner position. UW's head coach said he wanted to look at the tape before making that decision.

The following Monday, Crow was still atop the depth chart.

The Sheridan product responded against the Rainbow Warriors.

Crow secured three punt returns and took back a pair of kickoffs, one of which went for 32 yards. He also aided in the offensive effort, pulling down a critical 25-yard pass on a 3rd and 7 to extend a drive that ultimately landed the Cowboys in the end zone.




DT/ Jordan Bertagnole

Him? Again?

Absolutely.

The Natrona County grad was awesome once again Friday night, registering seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. He also had 2.5 tackles for loss after replacing Ravontae Holt, who suffered an injury in the second quarter.

Holt is listed as doubtful for Thursday night's Border War contest in Fort Collins. Jordan Bertagnole could receive his first career start against the Rams.

How cool would that be for the Wyoming native?

The Casper product now has nine tackles and 2.5 sacks to his credit this season. The redshirt freshman and former preferred walk-on also has a fumble recovery.

Pete Kaligis, UW's defensive tackle coach and run-defense coordinator, was brought to tears Monday talking about how much Bertagnole has impressed him so far this season.




The entire UW secondary

The only place this group could go was up, right?

A week after giving up 420 yards and four touchdowns through the air to Nevada quarterback Carson Strong, the Cowboys' secondary made life miserable for Chevan Cordeiro and the Rainbow Warrior offense Friday night.

Midway through the second half, Cordeiro's stat line had something on it you don't see every day -- minus-8 yards passing.

Yikes.

Though he would finish with 110 yards in the air, Cordeiro would complete just 11 passes and throw an interception in the loss.

Of course, the secondary didn't do this all on its own. Wyoming racked up five sacks and had the 'Bows QB on the run most of the night. But when Cordeiro did have time, he didn't have space.

Give plenty of credit to CJ Coldon, Azizi Hearn, Esaias Gandy, Braden Smith, Keyon Blankenbaker, Cameron Murray and Keonte Glinton.




OG/ Eric Abojei

The Cowboys' running game definitely found a hole early on the left side of Hawaii's defense.

Over and over again, Valladay and Smith were exploiting that side of the field.

Why?

No. 69 is one very big -- literally -- reason why.

The 6-foot, 5-inch, 350-pound guard had his way with Rainbow Warrior defenders all night long. Along with tackle Rudy Stofer and a host of UW tight ends and fullbacks, the left side became the obvious side.

Hawaii couldn't do much about that.

Wyoming's offensive line gave up just one sack in the victory. That came on a a mixture of a blown assignment and a perfectly timed Hawaii blitz. They made up for that, and then some, with a 281-yard rushing day.