Q&A with Robert Gagliardi: Texas State hosts Wyoming
Texas State plays in its first home game of the season Saturday when the team hosts Wyoming inside Bobcat Stadium at 6 p.m.
The Daily Record interviewed Rober Gagliardi, sports editor of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne and Laramie Boomerang about the Cowboys’ upcoming trip to San Marcos:
Daily Record (DR): Coming off a 6-6 season in 2018, what are Wyoming’s expectations for this season?
Robert Gagliardi (RG): For a lot of fans, the expectations were pretty high based on the Cowboys winning their last four games, and then those expectations grew a lot after beating Missouri at home last week. This is a young team (27 sophomores or younger on the depth chart) with some talent, but also with some holes to fill. This group may be a year or two away from being a serious contender for a Mountain West championship, but six or seven victories and a bowl game are realistic goals. Wyoming is seeking its fourth straight .500 or better season, which hasn’t happened in 20 years.
DR: What are your thoughts on Sean Chambers as the starting quarterback? What does he bring to the table?
RG: A big-time competitor and good athlete who has ran for 100 yards or more in four of the five games he’s played in at Wyoming. Throwing the ball remains a work in progress. When he was put in the lineup late last season, the offense was limited for him. Now he has a better grasp of everything, but he needs to be more consistent and accurate throwing the ball. The ability is there, but he needs to show it in games.
DR: Kelly Bryant threw for 423 yards last week, but Mizzou’s running backs were held to 3.0 yards per carry for 96 yards rushing. Do you expect similar splits from opposing teams throughout the rest of the season?
RG: I was surprised Wyoming’s run defense was that good last week because they are inexperienced and not that deep along the defensive line. Granted, Missouri threw it a lot more than they ran it, and Bryant is pretty good, but even though the defense came up with three turnovers the pass rush needs to be better and the discipline of the back seven guys needs to tighten up. If Wyoming had its way, those type of splits will occur this season, but as the season progresses I believe the pass defense will improve and the run defense will give up a few more yards.
DR: Wyoming lost its top pass-catchers from last season in wide receiver James Price and tight end Tyree Mayfield. Who do you expect to fill in their shoes this year?
RG: The three leading candidates are senior wide receivers — Austin Conway, Raghib Ismail Jr. (son of former Notre Dame standout Raghib Ismail) and John Okwoli. Conway entered the season with more than 100 catches in his career. Ismail showed flashes last season, and Okwoli needs to emerge as a go-to option.
DR: How do you see Saturday’s game playing out and who wins?
RG: The first road game for any team is a roll of the dice, especially with a young team. Texas State poses some major concerns for Wyoming on both sides of the ball, but I expect Wyoming to grind out a close one in the heat. Wyoming 27, Texas State 20.