Brett Smith led the Wyoming offense in passing and rushing last year, averaging 201.7 yards through the air to go along with his 54.6 yards on the ground per game. A dual-threat sophomore quarterback comparable to Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Smith has shown the ability to hurt opponents with his legs when needed. Although his 61 percent completion rate showed he’s not deadly accurate and his 11 interceptions showed he’s inconsistent at times, Smith is a guy that must be respected for his ability to get to the outside and make plays when the pocket collapses. Penetrating the Cowboys’ offensive line and forcing Smith to make decisions under heavy pressure should be at the top of the Texas defense’s game plan.
Safety Luke Ruff was the cornerstone of this Cowboy defense last season. His numbers were solid, including a team leading 102 tackles, 54 of which were solo. He recorded no sacks or picks, but his presence in the secondary allowed his teammates to pad their stats and help the team allow a formidable 199 passing yards a game. With Ruff lingering in the minds of opposing quarterbacks, his cornerbacks are able to shut down receivers at a greater capacity. David Ash will need to attack covering corners on Ruff’s side of the field early to force him to make plays. Ruff’s consistency and presence should make him a player to watch in the season opener.
A player sliding under the radar a bit for Wyoming is linebacker Korey Jones. Jones led the team with four sacks last season and will be needed to slow down the Longhorn running attack which seems poised for a big year. Every time David Ash decides to make a play on the ground, Jones should be in the back of his mind. At 6-foot-2, 233 pounds Jones is big enough to lay some big hits on Texas’ backs and has the speed to make it a rough night for Ash. He’s not widely known, but Korey Jones could make a name for himself after this week.