Even when - and perhaps especially when - Wyoming was suffering one difficult loss after another, football coach Dave Christensen believed his team was better than what the results showed.
"I had no question," he said Tuesday. "We've had some opportunities. We didn't make the plays when we were in those positions, but we are certainly a better football team than what our record indicates."
The Cowboys lost four times during a five-game stretch by a touchdown or less, including in overtime at UNR.
Three of those defeats were by a field goal or less.
Not having quarterback Brett Smith during parts of that stretch didn't help. Concussions forced him to miss two games.
Smith is on a roll, having thrown four touchdown passes each of the past two weeks, leading the Cowboys (3-7, 2-4 Mountain West Conference) to victories over Colorado State and New Mexico.
Now they have momentum going into Saturday's 1 p.m. game against UNLV (2-9, 2-4) at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Christensen said if Smith had played the entire schedule, the season "would've been drastically different. But, you know what, we can't go back. We can't change the past. So we're focused on the future and improving on a daily basis."
Smith, a sophomore, has completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 2,165 yards and 22 touchdowns, with six interceptions. He averages 270.6 yards passing per game and 299 yards of total offense, having gained 227 yards rushing.
In a season in which UNLV has faced six backup quarterbacks - going 1-5 against them - the Rebels face a starter. But they probably would prefer not to play someone of Smith's caliber.
"He makes them go," Rebels coach Bobby Hauck said. "Everything runs through him. Whether it's running it or throwing it, he's had a couple of big weeks.
"We've got to account for him on every play."
As for UNLV's quarterback situation, Hauck listed redshirt freshman Nick Sherry as doubtful with a back injury. He banged his head in Saturday's 33-11 loss at Colorado State.
"We're hoping he can play," Hauck said after Tuesday's practice. "Obviously, he didn't get much today. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."
If Sherry doesn't play, junior Caleb Herring will start.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.