Commentary

Early Wyoming preview

Strong seconday and O-line will key Cowboys in 2012

Updated: June 15, 2012, 8:55 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

[+] EnlargeBrett Smith
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesWyoming QB Brett Smith returns after throwing 20 touchdown passes in 2011.
Editor's note: HornsNation will count down to the start of fall camp by taking an in-depth look at each team Texas will face in 2012.

The rundown

Wyoming record in 2011: 8-5

Last meeting against Texas: 2010 -- The Longhorns won 34-7 at DKR.

All-time against Texas: 0-4

Top returners: QB Brett Smith, OL Nick Carlson, WR Dominic Rufran, WR Robert Herron, WR Chris McNeill, CB Blair Burns, FS Luke Ruff, LB Korey Jones

Key losses: LB Brian Hendricks, DE Gabe Knapton, DE Josh Biezuns, RB Alvester Alexander, OL John Hitchens

Statistical leaders

Rushing: Brett Smith, 54.6 yards per game, 5.1 rushing average and 10 touchdowns.

Passing: Brett Smith 61 percent completion rate, 201.7 passing yards per game, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Receiving: Robert Herron, 43 receptions, 379 yards and three touchdowns

Tackles: Luke Ruff (102)

Sacks: Korey Jones (4)

Interceptions: Blair Burns (4)

Did you know: Wyoming has six players from Germany on its roster. Eric Nzeocha is a freshman wide receiver from Neusitz, Germany. His brother, Mark, a sophomore strong safety, is also from Neusitz. Linebacker Alex Borgs is from Dusseldorf. Defensive end Justin Bernthaler is from Stuttgart. Linebacker Oliver Schober is from Munich. In addition, punter Tim Gleeson is from Melbourne, Australia. And defensive tackle Kurt Taufa'asau is from Pago Pago, American Somoa.

Three things to watch

1. The battle on the line: Wyoming senior center Nick Carlson is considered one of the top players at his position in the country. Last season, Carson led an offensive line that allowed only 12 sacks in 13 games in 2011 to rank No. 11 in the nation in fewest sacks allowed. He also was a key contributor in Wyoming averaging 181.6 rushing yards per game to rank No. 33 in the nation. He has started 33 of the last 34 games.

2. The secondary: Blair Burns was one of the top freshman cornerbacks in the Mountain West Conference last season. He's quick and has the timing it takes to grab interceptions. His play is enhanced by safety Luke Ruff. The senior was the cornerstone for a defense that only gave up 199 passing yards per game last season. He had 102 tackles, 54 of them solo.

3. The quarterbacks: This game will feature two true sophomore quarterbacks. For Wyoming, Brett Smith, who struggled at times with 11 interceptions, will be under center. While Smith is not deadly accurate passing, he is a dual threat. He led the Cowboys in passing and rushing last season. He is not as prolific as Kansas State's Collin Klein, but he can get outside of the pocket and run.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation