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COWBOYS LEAD WAC IN OFFENSE

Back in July at the Western Athletic Conference Media Day in Colorado Springs, Wyoming running back Ryan Christopherson said not to expect much from the Cowboys' offense early in the season.

"We may start off a little bit slower than last year," he said. "But once we get rolling, we'll be the same offensive team as in past years."If the Cowboys are off to a slow start so far, then future Wyoming opponents better watch out, beginning with Utah Saturday night (7 p.m.) at Rice Stadium.

The Cowboys are already at the top of the offensive standings in the always-explosive WAC and rank No. 11 in the nation in total offense.

And Christopherson?

The 241-pound fullback just happens to be the No. 2 runner in the country with a 182.3-yard average in three games.

Some slow start.

"This should be an interesting matchup because we have been moving the ball effectively and they have been stuffing the run," said Wyoming coach Joe Tiller.

The Utes rank third in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 45 yards per game.

Utah coach Ron McBride is plenty concerned about Christopherson. "He's real powerful. He's like a bowling ball. He reminds me a lot of (former Ute) Jamal Anderson."

The Cowboys are averaging 490 yards per game, including 283 on the ground. They have defeated UTEP and Tulsa and lost to Oregon State 44-31 on the road.

In last week's 17-7 win over Tulsa, the Wyoming game plan was to keep the ball on the ground. On the second play of the game, Christopherson injured his right shoulder. However he continued on, carrying the ball 33 more times and gaining 163 yards.

Although they only passed 16 times, their lowest number of passes in nine years, the Cowboys have shown they can pass the ball this year.

The Cowboy quarterback is John Gustin, a fifth-year senior from Boise who is a returned Mormon missionary. Gustin is in his first year as a starter and doing an adequate job, completing 40 of 85 passes for 576 yards and five touchdowns.

His top receiver is Marcus Harris, who is averaging 20.9 yards per reception on 14 catches.

The Cowboy defense is not too shabby either. Last week they gave up just 39 yards ruching against Tulsa and they rank second in the WAC in defense behind Utah.

Linebacker Jim Talich leads the team in tackles with 23, while Ty Williams, expected to be one of the WAC's top defensive tackles, should be back in action after missing last week's game with knee strain.