Brett Smith and Blair Burns Named MW Players of the Week
A fourth straight win in the Border War for the Wyoming Cowboys came on the strength of a couple of great performances by Brett Smith and Blair Burns. For their efforts, they were recognized Monday as the Mountain West Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week.
The Sophomore quarterback Smith threw for four touchdowns and ran for another, as the Wyoming offense scored a season high 45 points in the 45-31 win over Colorado State last Saturday. He completed 19 of 32 passes (59.4 percent) for 235 yards and rushed for an additional 27 yards for 262 yards of total offense.
Smith threw TD passes of 26 yards to Chris McNeill and 16 yards to Brandon Miller in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he connected with Robert Herron on a nine-yarder. Smith helped secure the win for the Cowboys in the third quarter with a five-yard touchdown run of his own, followed by a three-yard scoring pass to Dominic Rufran that built Wyoming’s lead to 42-17 at the end of the third quarter.
He also helped UW amass 468 yards of total offense, which is the Cowboys’ second highest total of the season. He guided Wyoming to an amazing 15-of-20 third-down conversions on the day. He was personally involved in converting 10 of UW’s 15 third-down conversions, eight by completing a pass and two more by running on his own. Smith led the Cowboy offense to a perfect five of five in red-zone opportunities.
This is Smith’s second MW Offensive Player of the Week honor this season, and the fourth of his career.
Sophomore cornerback Burns returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown and added four tackles to help key UW’s 45-31 win over Colorado State last Saturday. Burns interception of 99 yards was the second longest in school history, and ties for the third longest in Mountain West history.
The interception came at a critical juncture in the game versus CSU. With Wyoming leading 14-7 late in the first quarter, CSU had the ball third and goal at the Wyoming nine-yard line with an opportunity to tie it. Rams quarterback Conner Smith threw a pass to the left-front corner of the end zone, but Burns made the interception and proceeded to take it 99 yards down the sideline, breaking one tackle to turn the momentum back in the favor of the Cowboys and give UW a 21-7 lead. Burns also had four solo tackles.
Burns’ 99-yard return is one yard shy of the Wyoming record of 100 yards held by Jacque Finn. Finn returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown against BYU in 2002. The only MW players to exceed Burns return are Finn and Jamar Taylor of Boise State versus Arizona State in last year’s MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
This is the first MW Defensive Player of the Week honor in Burns career.