Friday, August 29, 2008

Cowboys ready to host Bobcats

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming quarterback Dax Crum hands off to running back Devin Moore during an earlier scrimmage.

By Richard Anderson

It’s down to just a wakeup for Joe Glenn and his Wyoming Cowboys.

The anticipation is over for the Cowboys, as they open the 2008 football season on Saturday (noon), by hosting Ohio at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

“They’re ready and I’m excited,” Glenn said as he enters his sixth season at the helm “When I first put my little chalkboard up, it said 266 and a wakeup, and now it says one (on Thursday) and a wakeup. Our guys have worked hard to get where they are at and they feel good about themselves.. We’re sky-high about our team and their chances. We’ve gone through 43 practices since spring, so they are way-ready.”

The Cowboys look to improve on last year’s disappointing 5-7 overall record, including late-season collapse in which they lost six of their last seven games.

“We have a lot of new faces in the lineup and they have to show up,” Glenn said. “But I am very confident that they will. I’m way excited to see this team play a football game.”

Ohio returns 15 starters -- eight on offense and seven on defense -- from a team that finished 6-6 overall and 4-4 in Mid-American Conference (MAC), tied fourth place in the seven-team East Division of the MAC.

Among the top returning players for Ohio is tight end Andrew Mooney, who earned Second Team All-MAC honors as a junior in 2007. Mooney, a native of Lubbock, Texas, led Ohio in both receptions (34), receiving yards (498) and touchdown receptions (9) in ‘07.

Gone is Ohio’s all-time leading rusher, running back Kalvin McRae who ended his career in 2007 with 4,398 career rushing yards. Also gone is starting quarterback Brad Bower, who threw for 1,766 yards in ‘07. Junior Theo Scott is the projected starter at QB. Scott played in 10 games as a sophomore last year completing 63 of 109 pass attempts (.578) for 743 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also the second leading rusher on the team with 40 carries for 120 yards.

Ohio is coached by former Nebraska player and head coach Frank Solich, who is in his fourth year at the helm. Solich is 19-18 overall with the Bobcats.

“He’s now had several years to put his hand print on that football program. You can see it from the way that they play,” Glenn said. “They play really hard and they are going to be fundamentally sound. He has a group of guys on the staff that I have coached against and have admired from afar. I just have terrific respect for Frank, his coaching staff and his team.”

Saturday’s game marks to debut of sophomore transfer quarterback Dax Crum, who beat out incumbent Karsten Sween for the job in a tightly-fought battle this spring and into the fall.

“I’m very confident in Dax and I think he is confident in himself as well,” Glenn said. “Again, it’s his first game. But he’s tall, he sees well and he knows where the football has to go. I’m way-fired up to see this guy play. He has a lot of pizzazz and he has a lot of spring in his step. I’m anxious to see him to play, just as we all are.”

The big key for Crum to hold on to his job is getting the Cowboys into the end zone and not turning the ball over. Sween had 17 interceptions last season, which led the MWC.

“He has to realize what he can and cannot do, there’s no doubt of about it. It’s fun to take chances and make great plays, but you can’t take chances and mis-fire in there," Glenn said. "You can miss, but it better be on the ground and not in somebody else’s hand.”

When Wyoming struggled offensively last season, the Cowboys’ opponents jammed up the middle, stopping the potent running game of Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon.
A consistent passing game will help alleviate that potential problem.

“We want to run the football, there’s no doubts, but if you have numbers problems in the box, it makes no sense,” Glenn said. “It will filter everything back to the eighth guy and he stand in there unblocked. With that said, we want to go seven on seven on a hat. We’ll get busy, and see what we can do. Just as soon as we get more guys in the box we have to be smart enough, and we’ll be smart enough to figure it out.”

After Saturday’s game, Wyoming opens league play on Sept. 6 at home against Air Force.

Fletcher named to Lombardi Watch List

Wyoming junior defensive tackle John Fletcher is one of 59 players added to the 2008 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List .

Fletcher, who was a Second Team All-Mountain West Conference selection as a sophomore, ranked No. 11 in the nation in sacks his sophomore season. He was named a 2008 Preseason First Team All-MWC pick by conference media prior to the start of this season.

Fletcher is one of 11 Mountain West Conference players named to this year’s list.

The 39th annual Rotary Lombardi Award, presented by Wachovia, honoring the top lineman in the Football Bowl Subdivision and benefiting the American Cancer Society, will be presented in Houston on Dec. 10 at the Hilton Americas Hotel.

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