LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys make their first road trip of the 2015 season this Saturday when they travel to Pullman, Wash., to play the Washington State Cougars. The Cowboys are looking for their first win of the season, having lost their first two games of the year. Washington State is 1-1, having lost at home the opening week to Portland State by a score of 17-24 before capturing a 37-34 road win at Rutgers last Saturday. This week's game is scheduled to kick off at 6:40 p.m., Mountain Time (5:40 p.m., Pacific) from Washington State's Martin Stadium.
Wyoming and Washington State have met five previous times. This week's meeting will be the first since a 1990 game played in Pullman. UW has won two of the previous five meetings. Both Wyoming wins came on the road in Pullman. The Pokes won 34-13 in 1990 and 28-7 in 1964. This week marks only the fourth time since 2000 that Wyoming has played a Pacific-12 Conference school. UW lost at Washington, 7-38 in 2002, defeated UCLA 24-21 in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl and lost 14-48 last year at Oregon.
Senior quarterback Cameron Coffman returns to the starting lineup this week for the Cowboys after missing last Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan with a sprained knee. He will be joined in the backfield by sophomore Brian Hill and senior Shaun Wick. Hill rushed for 242 yards last week against EMU. Hill's performance was the second best in the nation this season. He leads the Mountain West and ranks No. 9 in the nation in rushing this season, averaging 136.5 yards per game. Hill is averaging 8.81 yards per carry to rank No. 1 in the MW and No. 6 in the NCAA.
Wick rushed for 76 yards against Eastern Michigan, which moved him into the Top 10 in career rushing yards in school history. Wick now has 2,173 career rushing yards and ranks No. 8 in Wyoming history. The senior also ranks No. 25 in the nation among active players in career rushing yards.
Wyoming rushed for 430 yards as a team last Saturday, marking the first time since a 1988 game at San Diego State that a Cowboy offense had rushed for over 400 yards in a single game. UW ranks third in the Mountain West and 36th nationally in rushing yards (229.5 yards per game) in 2015. The Pokes rank fifth in the MW in total offense (396.0 yards per game).
Who is playing quarterback for the Wyoming Cowboys through the early part of the 2015 season has not been an easy question to answer. In the season opener, redshirt senior Coffman was the clear No. 1 and started his first game as a Cowboy after transferring from Indiana University a year ago. But Coffman suffered a knee sprain at the end of that season opener versus North Dakota and missed the Eastern Michigan game. In Week 2 vs. Eastern Michigan, sophomore Josh Allen was inserted as the starter for the injured Coffman. Allen began his start in impressive fashion vs. EMU, leading the Cowboys on an 84-yard scoring drive on his first possession as a starter. But on Wyoming's second series of the game, Allen suffered a shoulder injury on a 24-yard scamper. That injury resulted in him being lost for the remainder of this season. After Allen's injury, redshirt freshman Nick Smith came off the bench to lead the Wyoming offense for the remainder of the game vs. Eastern Michigan and rushed for 65 yards.
It was announced by head coach Craig Bohl at his Monday press conference this week that senior quarterback Coffman would return to the starting lineup for this week, and sophomore Allen would undergo surgery this week to repair his injured shoulder and would apply for a medical redshirt.
Youth has been evident on the Cowboy team this season. Wyoming has played a combined 23 true and redshirt freshmen this season. That ties Wyoming with Florida State and N.C. State for the second most freshmen to play this season. Only Clemson, which has played 27 freshman, has had more freshmen play in 2015.
Last week, the Cowboy defense was led by junior linebacker Lucas Wacha and true freshman free safety Andrew Wingard. Wacha was credited with 10 tackles, including six solo tackles and one tackle for a loss. Wingard had 12 tackles, including six solos and one tackle for a loss.
Special teams continue to be a strength for UW this year. Junior punter Ethan Wood is averaging 48.3 yards per punt to rank No. 2 in the conference and No. 7 in the nation. Junior punt returner/wide receiver Tanner Gentry is No. 2 in the league in punt returns (10.8 yards perr return), and he continues to lead the league and ranks 27th in the nation in receiving yards, averaging 91.0 yards per game. That includes a career best 176 yards receiving in the opening week against North Dakota.
Saturday's game will be televised on the PAC-12 Networks. Check your local provider for availability. The game will be broadcast on radio over the 26 affiliates of the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff.