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September 30, 2013

A look back: Texas State

Back in the year 2005, I had the privilege (and yes, it was) to take a television crew up to Kaycee to meet a couple of sheep ranchers and film the process of driving sheep from the feed lot to the summer range in the Big Horns.

During that shoot, the show's producer asked one of the ranchers what was his secret to life and he replied, "boys... I live life by three rules... Never pass up, never waste, and never trust."

Rule to live by for sure.

I may suggest we add a rule to that list. No matter how many nice things as has been written and said about this Wyoming team, they aren't yet good enough to roll their helmets on the field and pull out a win against anyone.

Given the fact the Longhorn network has tens of viewers and none of them in Wyoming, it was impossible to see what exactly happened to the Pokes in San Marcos last weekend in Texas State's 42-21 win over Wyoming Saturday. So we take our weekly look at the stat sheet and try to surmise what worked, what didn't and what we learned about the Cowboys this weekend.

WHAT WORKED

That guy - It's not what we are used to, which may say as much about Brett Smith as anything. A ho-hum performance for him on Saturday meant 25 completions, 292 yards and a score. It isn't 511 of a week prior, but if you can name 12 other quarterbacks in the country (any level) who would see that as an off-week you are a step ahead of me.

Huff and puff - Senior safety Marqueston Huff played a game. He posted 11 stops and one interceptions. Everything is bigger in Texas, in this case Huff's stat line.

Miller time - Running back Brandon Miller turned in one of his top performances as a Poke, rushing for touchdowns of four and five yards on his way to 72 yards rushing and 92 total yards.

- Yep.. That's right. We are throwing a bone to the punt team. Ethan Wood punted seven times for a 44.3 average and his coverage team helped him account for a 35.9 yard net. When you see this unit under this heading on a weekend where the punter has not averaged 60 yards per kick, that means it was not likely a win.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK

256 - So... Looks like the Texas State football staff got the Nebraska tape after all. The Bobcats averaged 5.3 yards per rush and were led by Robert Lowe's 138 yards. In the news release by Texas State on this one the words, "career high," and "season high," peppered the paper and they weren't talking about Wyoming.

Trouble along the line - If we are going to celebrate the work of the offensive line during the first four weeks, we have to call a spade a spade in week five. The Pokes ran for just 64 yards (2.2 yards per carry) and gave up three sacks. A big-time setback for an offensive line who had defied everyone's expectations until Saturday.

Who is the new guy? - Wyoming offered little more than token resistance to Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones in his first career start. Jones completed 14-of-18 passes or 196 yards and rushed for another 60.

No first-quarter points - Aside from a 14-point first quarter against Air Force, the Pokes have scored just seven points in the first quarter the rest of the season. I am reminded of the Mike Tyson quote, "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

This is a team that seems to be willing to absorb that first quarter blow, regroup and dominate the second (Wyoming has scored 91 points in the second quarter of games this year). I don't know that you want to hang your hat on a strong second period performance if you are the Pokes. This week that slow start was embodied by the running game as much as anything, which managed just eight yards on nine totes in the first quarter.

WHAT WE LEARNED

Cowboy State citizens were reminded of two things this weekend. The first, no matter who you are or think you are, don't mess with Al Simpson (God bless the man).

Second, there is no clear formula to explain how a four-hour rain delay impacts a football team. Dave Christensen was right when he said there is no manual for addressing such a thing. The Cowboys had scored touchdowns in two of their last three drives prior to the delay. Who is to say that trend doesn't continue if the game had gone on without a delay. Perhaps the only thing that was capable of stopping the Cowboy offense was the weather. Who knows?

I think we can say at this point that the recipe for the opposition this season will be to hit the Cowboys early, stagger them and then grind it out, over-powering the Wyoming defensive line through the second half. The question for the Cowboys now is how to make that game plan look less attractive to conference foes.



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