Patterson: Dalton not practicing, will travel

Who will be the Horned Frogs’ starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at the University of Wyoming is questionable, but the team will look to a steady running back and a mobile backup quarterback to continue its success.Redshirt freshman Andy Dalton has started every game this year for the Horned Frogs, but after leaving last week’s game against Colorado State in the first quarter with a severe bruise, it is still uncertain whether he will play against the Cowboys.

Head coach Gary Patterson said Dalton has not practiced since his injury and most likely will not before the Wyoming game.

“He’s not practicing,” Patterson said. “It’s one of those things where he’ll have to go clear through the week and we’ll probably take him and we’ll find out Saturday at noon (whether he’ll play).”

Sophomore quarterback Marcus Jackson will likely see a lot of playing time for the third game in a row.

Jackson took over during the Colorado State game when Dalton was injured and led the team to victory with two rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown.

Junior running back Aaron Brown returned to the starting lineup for last week’s game.

During Brown’s absence, sophomore Ryan Christian led the team with 112 rushing yards during a stretch of more than two games – a total Brown surpassed with 124 yards against Colorado State alone.

Patterson said Brown’s return is a boost for the entire team through both his athleticism and leadership.

“He was one of our leaders on offense,” Patterson said, “and when you don’t take him to Air Force and you don’t take him to Texas, you lose leadership.”

The Frogs will be Wyoming’s Mountain West Conference opener and the Cowboys started the season 3-1.

The Cowboys have had two weeks to prepare for the Horned Frogs during their bye week, which Patterson said is a big advantage.

The bye week gives a team the chance to work on weak points, develop young players and rest, Patterson said.

“Last year, it helped us,” Patterson said. “We had two weeks off and we were 3-2, and then we went on not to lose a ball game the rest of the season. I think having breaks is very big.”

The Cowboys are led by a defense ranked No. 4 in the nation and rank in the top five in the Mountain West Conference in every major defensive category.

Patterson said he is not sure what to expect from Wyoming because it started its season with four non-conference games.

“Right now, they look like the Dallas Cowboys,” Patterson said.

Junior linebacker Jason Phillips said Wyoming has a large front that plays hard the entire game.

“Every snap they go one-hundred miles an hour,” Phillips said. “These guys play four quarters straight. That’s one thing we have to look at in practice this week to make sure we get ready to play four quarters.”

Junior defensive end Matt Panfil will again play for senior Tommy Blake, who will be on his second week of medical leave.

Panfil said Wyoming has had a few long drives this season and the Horned Frogs need to make sure to shut it down.