University of Wyoming football fans can breathe a sigh of relief.
Brett Smith’s right ankle is fine.
The University of Wyoming junior starting quarterback said as much Monday afternoon when players and coaches did media interviews.
Smith, who was hurt on the third play of the game in Saturday’s 35-7 win over Northern Colorado, is expected to start in the Cowboys’ Mountain West opener at Air Force at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
“It felt great (during Monday’s practice),” Smith said. “It’s going to be sore. But I felt well and was bouncing around out there.”
Smith had the ankle heavily taped after the injury, but didn’t miss a play. UW coach Dave Christensen said he couldn’t tell from Monday’s practice that Smith was hurt.
“He was 100 percent at practice. Unless something happens in practice this week, I would expect him to be 100 percent on Saturday,” he said.
One thing that wasn’t 100 percent last week was UW’s offense. Christensen said of the 89 plays the Cowboys ran, 32 had “execution flaws,” and it wasn’t with just one person or one position.
“It ranged from making the proper steps at quarterback, steps for some of the offensive linemen, adjusting routes as wide receivers, reading the right hole as running backs,” he said.
“These are not issues that can’t be fixed. These are all things that these guys are coached to do. It’s frustrating because it’s a lack of focus when those things happen. You can’t sleepwalk through games. If we play that poorly the rest of the schedule, we are going to get beat. That message has been delivered, and they understand that.”
Added Smith: “It’s about getting back to basics and making sure we know our reads and what the goal is of every play. Getting back to the little things and understanding why we are running that play.”
No looking back
Christensen fielded numerous questions about his obscenity-laced tirade toward Air Force coach Troy Calhoun after last season’s 28-27 Air Force win in Laramie. Video of the tirade went viral on the Internet and was shown on national sports media outlets.
The university suspended Christensen for one game and fined him $50,000 for his actions.
“I am not playing one snap, and I don’t think Troy is, either,” he said. “Our focus is in on execution and being ready to play Saturday night. My behavior is going to be much better. I will watch my Ps and Qs.”
Christensen said he and Calhoun have talked two or three times since last year’s incident. But he didn’t go into what they talked about.
“I’d rather move on now. I want the focus to be on two football teams playing on national TV on a big stage, not on myself and coach Calhoun.”
Christensen said senior starting left guard Tyler Strong, redshirt freshman starting outside linebacker Lucas Wacha, and junior backup receivers Keenan Montgomery and Trey Norman are questionable this week. Strong missed last week’s game with Northern Colorado. The other three were hurt in that game.
Christensen will give an updated injury report Friday afternoon.
Sophomore buck Siaosi Hala’api’api (knee) is back after missing the Northern Colorado game. Christensen said junior safety Jesse Sampson (Achilles) will be back next week. He also said junior defensive end Riley Lange (foot) and redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Awrabi (lower leg) will be back after the team’s first bye the first week in October.
Junior receiver Jalen Claiborne is back after being suspended last week for a “violation of team standards.”
Claiborne is listed as a starter at one of the four receiver spots, and also as UW’s top punt returner and one of the two deep men on kickoff returns.
Junior Chad Reese is back from an injury suffered in fall camp and is the backup behind senior free safety Marqueston Huff.
Junior DeAndre Jones, who was moved from cornerback to safety at the start of the season, is back at cornerback and is the backup for junior Blair Burns.
Christensen said director of recruiting Matt Rahl resigned recently to take care of some health issues.
Rahl was in his fifth season at UW. He also coached the defensive line from 2011-12.
Danilo Robinson, the current director of player personnel, will take over Rahl’s duties on the staff.
COWBOYS AT FALCONS
Game: Wyoming (2-1, 0-0 MW) at Air Force (1-2, 0-2 MW)
When: 8:15 p.m., Saturday
Where: Falcon Stadium, Air Force Academy
TV/Radio: ESPNU/1290 AM KOWB