Positional breakdown

QuarterbacksJ.J. Raterink picked up co-offensive MWC player of the week, having subbed for aninjured Corey Bramlet against UNLV. Bramlet will most likely return this weekend, butsince he’s been rather inconsistent, observers should look for a short leash. Alex Smith,the other half of the co-MWC duo, has been dominating opponents week in and weekout, and so we don’t have anything new to say about him.Running BacksWyoming has a tradition of horrendous running backs to “compliment” their excellentpassing game, but this year they’ve actually gotten some production. Ivan Harrisonand Joseph Harris have lived up to their billing, running for almost 1,000 yards andnine touchdowns. Harris thrives in big games, running for 121 yards and a touchdown inWyoming’s win over Ole Miss. After another big game this weekend, Urban Meyer hasgiven the starting job to Quinton Ganther, relegating Marty Johnson to more of a goallinerunner.ReceiversIt’s a shame that all the other fine wide receivers in the MWC don’t have Alex Smiththrowing passes to them. Jovon Bouknight (pronounced BO-night) is a superb talent,and even though he is only a junior, will probably be playing on Sunday in the future. Hewill put additional pressure on a Ute secondary that has had a difficult time defendingdeep balls the last few games. Paris Warren and Steve Savoy will continue to duel overwho’s the best Ute receiver, as both have made spectacular one-handed grabs versusCSU and compiled very similar stats. John Madsen and Travis LaTendresse are alsoquietly having very effective seasons.O-LineWhile Wyoming has made significant progress in the running game, the big guys arehaving trouble protecting the QB. Versus Texas A&M, the Cowboys had a very toughtime against the aggressive Aggie front four, and Bramlet and Raterink were on therun. On the season they have given up 27 sacks. Utah got a big boost from the return ofMakai Aalona from injury, and it has shown in the running game. Ganther had some bigholes last weekend, and Johnson got into the end zone pretty easily. Utah’s big uglieshave sealed off the outside extremely well, making reverses and QB bootlegs lethal.D-LineDusty Hoffschneider leads Wyoming, ringing up 2.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.Senior Zach Morris will be missed by journalists who can’t get in enough “Saved Bythe Bell” jokes. On the other side of the ball, the Utes figure to have Sione Pouha back,which should be a huge help. They have been giving up big games to average runningbacks lately, and the QB pressure has been negligible at best.LinebackersGuy Tuell has been the senior rock for Wyoming, getting 7.5 tackles for a loss, an interceptionand a forced fumble. So far, opposing backers have not been able to shut offUtah’s middle passing game, so it will be interesting to see if Wyoming has any success.Tommy Hackenbruck had a big game versus CSU, making four solo tackles and forcingthe fumble that Morgan Scalley returned for a touchdown.SecondaryDerrick Martin is developing into one of the best corners in the league. Only a sophomore,he has 40 solo tackles, three interceptions and 12 pass breakups. Unfortunatelyfor the Cowboys, he’s only one man, and Utah has more than one good receiving threat.Scalley had a career day on Saturday with two interceptions ( it could have been four ifthe ball had fallen the right way) and a fumble return for a touchdown. Eric Weddle wasclose behind with an interception of his own and a fumble recovery. The corners havecontinued to be an issue, with a brilliant breakup often followed by a blown coverage ora pass interference penalty.Special TeamsDeric Yaussi is another great MWC kicker with a big leg (This is amplified at homegames, which are played at 7,220 feet). Bouknight brings his WR speed to kickoffreturns, making it tough on coverage units. David Carroll has been very good, havingconnected on all of his PAT or field goal attempts. If Utah didn’t have such a glut atkickoff return men, Justin Walker would probably be a household name by now. Thesame problem continues to plague Utah, with kickoffs continuing to go out of boundsor being fielded at the 30-yard line. It’s not a huge deal when you are up by 50, but theUtes won’t have that kind of luxury in the Fiesta Bowl.CoachingJoe Glenn has had the same revitalizing effect on Wyoming that Urban has had onUtah. In a state where even the big cities are rural, he has brought excitement, andmore importantly, ticket buyers to the university. Cowboy fans are thrilled to be bowleligible, and you can bet that the charismatic Glenn will have them loud on Saturday.Meyer is making Utah fans nervous with his non-committal approach to the coachingrumors, but as long as the Utes keep winning, the U supporters will make do.