Saturday, August 30, 2008

Crum has successful debut

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming quarterback Dax Crum led the Cowboys to a tough 21-20 win over Ohio on Saturday.

By Richard Anderson

His coach likened him to Major League pitcher Greg Maddux; his teammates had George Patton-like thoughts dancing in their heads.

Sophomore quarterback Dax Crum opened his career with the Wyoming Cowboys with high marks Saturday in the Cowboys 21-20 win over Ohio at War Memorial Stadium.

Crum was not spectacular, but effective, especially in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys rallied to win their season opener. Crum was 14-of-22 through the air for 111 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, workman-like numbers for a player in his first Division I game.

“Dax is the winning pitcher. Maddux is a winning pitcher all of the time,” Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said. “The other guy might have thrown better, but you throw away the stats and Maddux wins. That was kind of like what we did today."

Ohio quarterback Theo Scott was 26 of 35 passing for 224 yards and one touchdowns. Scott, however, was the losing pitcher.

Crum, who came to Wyoming and won the starting quarterback position over incumbent starter Karsten Sween in a tight battle, had about 40,000 eyes on him for much of Saturday’s game.
It proved to be a huge relief for Crum to get the first game out of the way.

“I’m glad to have gotten through that first game and see what it was like to play in front of a big crowd,” Crum said. “It was my first Division I start and I think I will be a better player next week.”

Crum certainly had his ups and downs -- a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jesson Salyards and a 23-yard scoring pass to Donate Morgan. He also threw two interceptions, something that the Wyoming coaching staff has insisted is a key for quarterback survival.

Both pass interceptions came off of deflections from Wyoming receivers.

“He only had one bad throw,” Glenn said. “He sprinted left and they jumped the route that he was going to throw to. He should have thrown it out of bounds and he knows it. Sometimes he tries to do too much and that is something we have talked about a lot going into this game. We had a little trouble last year with the interceptions, so he tried to throw back across his body and the only guy in this game I saw who could do that is John Elway … we’re not John Elway yet.”

Despite those two interceptions, Crum battled back to lead the Cowboys to the win.

“I try to stay even keel because everybody makes mistakes,” Crum said. “Running backs fumble, defensive players miss tackles. It is important as a quarterback to stay even keel and have the same level of confidence throughout the level.”

New offensive coordinator Bob Cole said Crum has confidence in his ability, which was instrumental in selecting him as the Cowboys starter.

“I think you need that playing quarterback,” Cole said. “He could have easily hung his head and let things go downhill. That’s a positive sign for our football team, that he is not going to do that. He always feels he can make a play and you need a guy like that back there. Hats off to him.”

Crum’s teammates like what they see and call Crum the leader of the Wyoming offense. Center Tim Bond saw composure out of Crum on Saturday.

“He’s a new guy, but you couldn’t tell that,” Bond said. “You would have thought he was a fifth-year senior. I was very impressed with his performance.”

Wyoming senior running back Devin Moore took it a step further and called Crum a “true” leader.

“He’s a comfortable guy under center. That’s what you need,” Moore said. “When we’re in the huddle, he’s still cracking jokes, just keeping us alive, so to speak. He’s letting us know that we’re going to go down and score a touchdown. He doesn’t like field goals.

“When you have a guy like that in the huddle, you can’t get your head down. I think he came back and executed well.”

If Crum had a few butterflies before his first start -- which would be entirely understandable -- he didn’t let it show on Saturday. With his parents in for the game, he said he felt right at home.

“I slept great last night. I got to see my dad and mom and I hadn’t seen them in a few months, so that was a big relief for me,” Crum said. “I really wasn’t that nervous before the game. I was just ready to go out there and try to get a win for the Cowboys.”

And that’s all that the Wyoming coaching staff, his teammates and UW faithful can ask for.

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