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Improvement in multiple areas contributes to Wyoming's seeing progress in running attack


LARAMIE, Wyoming — Wyoming offensive line coach Scott Fuchs makes a great point:

"If we do really well we probably get more credit than we deserve, and if we do poorly we probably get more blame than we deserve, so it's somewhere in the middle there."

So for Wyoming's 29-yard rushing performance against North Dakota, take away some of the blame from Fuch's line. And for its 430-yard outing last week against Eastern Michigan, take away a bit of the credit.

"There's obviously tight ends attached, there's fullbacks and those are other positions involved in blocking," Fuchs said. "When the quarterback runs, your tailback's blocking, too. Everybody being on a little bit more made a difference there. A little bit sharper with how we're blocking."

Regardless, the fact remains that the Cowboys' ground attack caught its stride against EMU, displaying massive progress — 401 yards of progress, to be exact — from Week 1 to Week 2.

"That was a huge bright spot for us, particularly in the second half," UW coach said. "Not to tip our hand, but I think it's going to be important for us to run the football. Now, the numbers were way out of balance. We're going to be more balanced this week. ...

"Our ace in the hole — our long-term ace in the hole — and the brand that we're going to have, you saw glimmers of that Saturday. You saw our offensive line coming off the ball, our running backs running downhill and people getting cut. That's the type of brand of football we're going to play offensively."

Against Eastern Michigan, Wyoming ran 58 times and passed just 17.

For most of the game, third-string quarterback played under center while starter and backup were sidelined by injuries. Smith completed 3 of 13 passes for no yards, forcing UW to rely on its running game.

After Allen left the game midway through the first quarter, all of Wyoming's first downs came by run or via defensive penalty.

Yet the Cowboys moved the ball efficiently while facing their second straight 3-4 defense.

Eastern Michigan's defense featured less stunts and blitzes than North Dakota's.

"I think we were better assignment, technique, all those things," UW offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. "I think we came off the ball with more confidence. We were able to get more consistent. We were able to get paired up on linebackers. That was probably more the issue against North Dakota than it was purely not getting movement up front. We were just getting on guys."

Junior left guard said he felt more cohesiveness on the line, too.

After all, three of Wyoming's five starting linemen — center , right guard and right tackle — made their first career starts against North Dakota.

"An extra game of experience for some of the guys that didn't necessarily have much experience going into that first game," Roullier said, "I think really helped all of us to work together better and get a better running attack going."

And then there was sophomore running back , a man on a mission who racked up 242 rushing yards — the second-highest total of his career and his fifth 100-yard game in his past seven outings.

"More physical and I think he's faster, too," Vigen said. "You get him out in the open and he can make a guy miss. He can also stiff-arm or break some tackles, too. He's moving more and more toward that really complete back that we like to have in this offense."

On Saturday, Wyoming takes on Washington State, which passed 66 times last week at Rutgers.

Coach 's "Air Raid" offense is potent and could be a nightmare for the Cowboys' inexperienced secondary.

But the Cowboys know that the Washington State offense can't score when it doesn't have the ball. Controlling time of possession will be key.

"Right now for us as a team, and probably as long as we're here, that's going to have to be an ingredient that we're shooting for," Vigen said. "It might not happen every game, but we're always looking to possess the ball. Our defense sitting on the bench is the place that we really want them."

Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,

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