Wyoming meets No. 5 Texas while still mourning death of freshman LB Narcisse in crash

By Jim Vertuno, AP
Friday, September 10, 2010

Wyoming, mourning death of player, faces Texas

AUSTIN, Texas — On Saturday night, Ruben Narcisse’s photo will grace the giant scoreboard screen at Royal-Texas Stadium and 98,000 fans will honor him with a moment of silence.

A Wyoming teammate will don his No. 12 jersey and the Texas band will play a tribute song.

Then the Cowboys will be asked to somehow tuck away the emotions surrounding the death of their freshman teammate and go play the No. 5 Texas Longhorns for the next three hours.

Narcisse, who was from Miami, was killed and three other Cowboys players were injured Monday in a single-vehicle accident in Colorado.

“It’s a tough time right now, but when you have tough times you come together as a team and a family,” senior receiver and team captain David Leonard told the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. “His spirit will be with us. We don’t have a choice. We’re going to go out there and play in his honor.”

Wyoming has organized a campus memorial service for Narcisse on Monday back in Laramie, but Texas coach Mack Brown felt his program needed to show support with a tribute of its own.

“From all people in the state of Texas, not just football fans, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wyoming football family for their loss,” Brown said. “We have been through that. We know how hard it is.

Texas defensive lineman Cole Pittman was killed in a 2001 in a single-car accident, which Brown calls one of the worst days of his life. When Texas paid tribute to Pittman at a game that season, Brown said he was nearly overwhelmed with emotion.

“I still have the video of Cole’s funeral in a drawer behind my desk,” Brown said. “I haven’t been able to watch it.”

Wyoming players will wear decals with Narcisse’s initials on their helmet and a different player will wear his jersey each game. On Saturday, it will be safety Shamiel Gary. No name will be on the jersey.

For Wyoming (1-0), the challenge will be finding the energy to play a game 1,000 miles from home after such an emotional week. The trip to Austin and the chance to play in a stadium three times bigger than their own was supposed to be a highlight of the season.

Last year in Laramie, the Cowboys hung around with Texas for the first half, but that was on a cool and breezy day at 7,200 feet above sea level. Austin promises to feel more like a sticky swamp after Tropical Storm Hermine dumped about 12 inches of rain on the area this week and temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s.

Brown has challenged his players to find more energy after a lackluster 34-17 win at Rice.

“My expectation of playing an opener like it’s the Oklahoma game … that’s probably not going to happen all the time,” Brown said “We need to have more fun. We didn’t have enough fun last week.”

The Longhorns found that changing from the pass-heavy offense of the last four years to one centered on a running game and play-action passes by Garrett Gilbert still needs work. Texas ran for 197 yards against Rice but got stuffed in several short-yardage situations and got stopped at the goal line on the first drive.

Tre’ Newton, who scored three touchdowns, will start at tailback instead of Cody Johnson.

Gilbert had a modest starting debut, passing for 172 yards against Rice with no touchdown or interceptions.

“It’s going to be cool running out of the tunnel knowing it’s my first (home) game,” Gilbert said.

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