Sept. 22, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys will open Mountain West Conference play this Saturday against the UNLV Rebels in what will be the 11th season of the MWC. Saturday's Wyoming-UNLV contest will kick off at 1 p.m. from Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium, and is also the first conference game of the year for the Rebels.
There will be no television coverage for the Wyoming-UNLV game. As with all Wyoming Football games, the Cowboys Sports Network will broadcast the game live over its 25 affiliated radio stations. The Cowboy Sports Network will begin its radio broadcast one hour prior to kickoff.
Wyoming enters this week with a 1-2 record, having defeated Weber State of the Big Sky Conference in the season opener before losing back-to-back games to Big 12 opponents Texas and Colorado. UNLV also began the year with a home victory over a Big Sky opponent in Sacramento State. In week two, the Rebels lost a two-point game (21-23) to then No. 24 ranked Oregon State in Las Vegas. Last week, UNLV defeated Hawaii 34-33. This week will mark the Rebels first road game of the '09 season.
The Cowboys and Rebels have played 17 previous times. In those 17 meetings, over half --10 of 17 -- have been decided by 10 points or less. Four of the last five games have been decided by eight or fewer points. There have been three overtime games in the series, and the series has been one in which home-field advantage hasn't been a factor. Both teams have nearly identical records against one another home and away. Wyoming is 4-4 in games played in Laramie, and UNLV is 5-4 in games played in Las Vegas.
Wyoming is 4-6 (.400) in Mountain West Conference openers. UW is 2-3 (.400) when opening MWC play at home, and is 2-3 (.400) when opening conference play on the road. This is the first time in the 11 seasons of the MWC that the Cowboys and Rebels have opened Mountain West Conference play against one another.
Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen named true freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels as the starting quarterback for the UNLV game. Carta-Samuels will become the first true freshman to start at QB for the Cowboys since Rick Costello in 1974. While there have been a number of redshirt freshmen to start at quarterback for the Cowboys since 1974, among them Scott Runyan in 1984, Jeremy Dombek in 1994, Jay Stoner in 1997 and Casey Bramlet in 2000, Carta-Samuels becomes the first true freshman since '74 to start. He has played in each of Wyoming's first three games of `09, but has yet to start a game. He has completed 26 of 53 passes on the year for 294 yards, while rushing for an additional 50 yards. He enters this week ranked No. 7 in the Mountain West Conference in total offense (114.7 yards per game) and ranks No. 8 in the league in passing yards (98.0 yards passing per game).
One of the standout performers for the Cowboy defense the past two weeks has been sophomore inside linebacker Brian Hendricks. In each of the past two games, versus Texas and Colorado, Hendricks has recorded double figures in tackles. He was credited with 18 at Colorado on Sept. 19 and had 14 against Texas on Sept. 12. His 18 tackles at CU tied him for the fifth best single-game total in Wyoming school history. He is tied with 11 other Cowboys for fifth. Among the other Cowboys he shares fifth place with are his current running mate at inside linebacker, sophomore Gabe Knapton who recorded 18 at UNLV in 2008, and the man Hendricks replaced, former Cowboy Ward Dobbs who made 18 tackles in a single game twice during his career -- vs. Air Force in 2006 and at Utah in 2005. Hendricks has become one of the leading tacklers in the Mountain West Conference and the nation through the first three weeks of the 2009 season. He is averaging 13.0 tackles per game this season to tie for No. 2 in the MWC and tie for No. 4 in the NCAA.
This Saturday, Sept. 26, will mark the second annual Coach to Cure MD weekend, which is a national charity project of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The University of Wyoming football coaching staff will be one of numerous college coaching staffs across the nation to participate by wearing arm patches. A year ago, 2,675 college coaches participated in the event. On Saturday, thousands of coaches nationwide in all levels of collegiate football will help to raise awareness and research funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed during childhood and primarily affects boys across all races and cultures. Families affected with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy will also be gathering for fundraising tailgate parties to encourage more fans to get involved. TIAA-CREF, the national financial service firm, is once again the national sponsor for the event. TIAA-CREF will donate air-time for Coach to Cure MD commercials during college football telecasts. Fans can donate to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research by either going online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word "CURE" to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill and standard text message rates apply).