Aug 11, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe 6-3, 205-pund junior is beginning his third season as Wyoming's starting quarterback.
LARAMIE -- Brett Smith has embraced his role as the starting quarterback at the University of Wyoming.
Smith is entering his third season running the offense for the Pokes and is one of the elite quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference, one of the top passers in the country.
The UW junior answered questions from the media Friday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium.
"When I got my first opportunity as a freshman, I took it and ran with it," Smith said. "I didn't want to lose it. I have been doing it ever since."
As a sophomore, Smith was an explosive quarterback.
He ranked No. 5 in the NCAA and No. 1 in the Mountain West Conference in "points responsible" for the 2012 season. Smith directly to 20.2 points per game.
He also ranked No. 16 in the country and No. 3 in the Mountain West in total offense with 308.5 yards per game.
Smith hasn't thrown an interception in his last 174 passes, which ranks him No. 2 all-time in the MWC. Former Wyoming quarterback Casey Bramlet is No. 1 on that list with 178 passes without a pick. Bramlet did it in the 2003 season.
"I feel very comfortable this year," Smith said. "I think that every year it just gives me more and more experience. I'm feeling good about it. I'm feeling confident about it. I'm confident in my guys. I'm confident in our system that we are going to run."
Smith is No. 2 on the all-time touchdown pass career list for the Cowboys with 64. Bramlet is No. 1 at 70.
University of Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen has announced he will be taking over the play calling duties for the season after an assistant had the duty last year.
"To be honest, there won't be a big change," Smith said.
"It's just a different guy calling the plays. For our offense, we are not doing completely new things. It's not so different."
UW wide receiver Robert Herron is one of Smith's favorite targets. In 2012, Herron averaged a team-high 82.1 receiving yards. The UW senior recently was named to the 2013 Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list. The award honors the nation's top college receiver.
Herron and Smith showed Friday morning in practice that they are already on the same page, connecting several times on 7-on-7 drills.
"Rob is awesome," Smith said. "He is very explosive.
He is a playmaker. He is a guy that works extremely hard. He is a good receiver with a good work ethic.
Those are the type of players that I like to play with. He is one of my best friends off the field. I love playing with him."
Smith said it's critical for the Pokes to get a balanced running attack going early in the season. The top running backs at the start of fall camp are senior Brandon Miller, freshman Omar Stover and sophomores Shaun Wicks and D.J. May.
Miller started eight games in 2012 and rushed for 352 yards. He snagged 30 receptions for 309 yards.
"The running game opens up the pass, as does the pass open up the run,"
Smith said. "I think that we have the tools to do it."
Coach Jim Harding is in charge of the offensive line for Christensen. UW senior Tyler Strong has started 23 consecutive games and has the potential to be one of the top lineman in the league.
"Coach Harding does a great job," Smith said. "They are extremely hard working group."
Wyoming finished the season last year with a disappointing 4-8 record after playing in a bowl game in Smith's freshman year.
Two years ago, Wyoming was 6-7 in Smith's first season as the starting quarterback.
"It's extremely important to get momentum at the start," Smith said. "We have a big game in the opener."
UW opens the season at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, at Nebraska. The Pokes begin the home season at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, vs. Idaho at War Memorial Stadium.
"I grew up watching Nebraska," Smith said. "I heard some great things about that stadium."
Manning QB camp
Smith attended the Manning Passing Academy last month. Peyton Manning is the starting quarterback this year for the Denver Broncos.
Brother Eli Manning is the quarterback for the New York Giants.
"At the Manning camp, we are mentors to the young kids," Smith said. "We had a situation where we were able to talk to Eli and Peyton. That was cool and get their advice on things on some ways on how they approach the off-season.
Smith was first invited to the camp by Archie Manning, the father of Peyton and Eli and himself a former all-America college quarterback and successful pro. The two met for the first time at the 2012 New Mexico Bowl.
"Peyton has been one of my heroes since I was 5 years old. That is something that you can't replace and can't buy," Smith said. "It was a great thing for me."
Here is the 2013 University Of Wyoming football schedule
(All times are Mountain Standard)
Saturday, Aug. 31 at Nebraska, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 7 vs. Idaho, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 14 vs. Northern Colorado, 2 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 21 at Air Force, TBA
Saturday, Sept. 28 at Texas State, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 5 Open.
Saturday, Oct. 12 vs. New Mexico, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 19 vs. Colorado State, Noon.
Saturday, Oct. 26 at San Jose State, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 2, Open.
Saturday, Nov. 9 vs. Fresno State, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16 at Boise State, TBA
Saturday, Nov. 23 vs. Hawaii, noon.
Saturday, Nov. 30 at Utah State, noon.
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