Wyoming Football: News and Notes Ahead of UNLV
LARAMIE -- Craig Bohl admitted two weeks ago he didn't do a good enough job conveying to his team just how good Boise State could be despite its losing record.
That won't be the case this Friday night in Las Vegas.
Numerous times during his weekly press conference, Wyoming's head coach mentioned UNLV's surprising 7-2 record is no fluke. The Rebels have lost just once in Mountain West play. If it wasn't for a blown 10-point lead and a drop in the end zone late in the fourth quarter at Fresno State, Barry Odom's squad could be entering this matchup with a perfect record in Mountain West play.
"Our opponent is playing, I think, maybe the best in the Mountain West right now," Bohl said Monday. "Coach Odom has done a great job. I've known coach Odom for many years. You know, he's really done a super job with that football team. I think they are playing at the top of their game."
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The Rebels rolled to a dominating 56-14 victory last Saturday in Albuquerque. Quarterback Jayden Maiava completed 13-of-18 throws for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the rout of the Lobos.
The freshman signal caller from Sin City was named the conference's Freshman of the Week for his efforts.
The guy who hauled in eight of those throws for 165 yards and two scores, Ricky White, was named the Offensive Player of the Week.
"This is a salty football team that is well-coached with good players," Bohl added.
The Cowboys and Rebels are scheduled to kickoff at 8:45 p.m. Mountain Time inside Allegiant Stadium. The game will be televised on FS1.
Here are some other notes from Bohl's press conference:
* All players who appeared in Wyoming's 24-15 Border War win over Colorado State last Friday night will be available against UNLV, per Bohl.
* Wyoming has faced Odom once before. That came in the 2019 season opener when he was the head coach at Missouri. The Cowboys ran all over the Tigers that night inside War Memorial Stadium, rolling up 297 on the ground. The visitors also turned the ball over three times in that 37-31 stunner. "He was let go at Missouri," Bohl said. "You know, I think our game certainly didn't help that cause." Odom admitted as much last July at Mountain West Media Days.
* Speaking of turnovers, the Cowboys forced three in that win over the rival Rams. They will likely need to accomplish something similar Friday night. "It's going to be really hard," Bohl said. "I mean, these guys take care of the ball. Even though they have a triple-option phase, the quarterback is well-schooled. He's a tall guy that's sturdy -- 6-foot-4 -- he's got good accuracy. Turnovers are really important. Our defense has done a better job of ball hawking." UNLV is plus-9 in turnover margin. They've forced 19 of those through nine games.
* It was concerning to see the Cowboys not punch it into the end zone from three yards out late in the win over CSU. Three of those snaps came from the 1-yard line. "We didn't stick it in and, you know, we've addressed that with our football team," Bohl said. "We have to finish those drives."
* Bohl said wide receiver Ayir Asante should "probably get the ball more." The senior transfer from Holy Cross has hauled in just 13 passes this fall, five of which have gone for touchdowns.
* You're not the only one who realizes Wyoming's record away from home has been "abysmal." That's the word Bohl used on Monday -- and it's fitting. The Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this year with losses coming at Texas, Air Force and Boise State. The program has lost five straight, dating back to last year. During Bohl's 10-year tenure in Laramie, that record sits at 18-50. That includes just a single win over a conference opponent that has finished with a winning record (Utah State in 2021). Is he trying anything new? "I'm taking out offense, and I'm putting them inside all week," he said, adding that they typically practice outdoors. "... I think beyond going on the road, we were flat against Boise. We just have to bring our own energy. I do know that there's going to be a lot of our fans (in Las Vegas), though. I think we'll have a big contingent." Bohl also talked about this being a business trip, needing to be focused and executing early. One more thing. "We are staying off the strip," Bohl added. "We're staying way the heck out of town. So there should be no distractions."
* Wyoming has played inside the Rebels' new digs. In fact, the Pokes played in Allegiant Stadium during its inaugural season. That was 2020, though, and no fans were allowed in the building due to the ongoing coronavirus. "There will probably be a lot more energy in the building than what it was last time, obviously," he joked. "It's a great place to play." Wyoming rolled to an easy 45-14 victory.
* Bohl said there is always the concern of coming off an emotional win like the one over the Rams Friday night in front of a crowd of more than 27,000 inside War Memorial Stadium. "We've really strived to steer away from that to make sure we play with a great deal of energy," he said. "You know, we came into Sunday's practice and I thought it was spirited. It's going to be 'bloody Tuesday' today ... We've got a pretty mature football team. I think they saw the pitfall of what happened to us against Boise and for us not to be playing our best football. We've got to be on point and that's going to be a challenge this week."
* Is the "chip" officially back on the collective shoulder of this Wyoming football team? "We talked a little about that and challenged them," Bohl said. "Because that's the makeup of our football team. We have good ability, but we don't have a bunch of draft choices running around out there. When we play well, it's because we play complimentary football and guys bring their best potential to the stadium. That is an easy thing to say and a tough thing to do."
* Many fans are focusing on the different scenarios that could land the Cowboys in the Mountain West title game. Bohl said that line of thinking has already gotten this team in trouble. You remember the New Year's Six Bowl talk, right? "You take care of business and that means being focused on the opponent and the task at hand," he said.
* Wyoming leads the all-time series with the Rebels 14-11, and has won 10-of-13 against UNLV, including two straight.
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