Monday, September 15, 2008

Looking ahead to BYU

UW photo service
Wyoming linebacker Ward Dobbs, 29, and safety Derrick McMahen knock the ball away form a North Dakota state receiver on Saturday.

By Richard Anderson

It‘s been a nice little three-game home stand to open the season for the Wyoming Cowboys.

Although the Cowboys have struggled at times, going 2-1, they have been home and that is always a benefit. Now, Wyoming hits the road for the first time and it probably couldn’t be at any tougher destination -- Provo, Utah and 14th-ranked Brigham Young.

The Cowboys thoughts quickly turned to BYU after Saturday’s 16-13 win over North Dakota State.

When asked Saturday after the game when the Cowboys start thinking about the Cougars, Wyoming senior running back Wynel Seldon said he already had begun that process.

“As soon as the last seconds ticked off the clock, now we have to switch and think about BYU and game plan it with those guys,” Seldon said. “We have to come out focused; we have to come out ready to control the ball and control the clock; just take it to them. That is a fundamentally sharp team. They have an NFL-caliber offense and defensively they are sound.”

The Cougars have been more than sound this season, they’ve played as well as any team in the country. On Saturday, 3-0 BYU crushed UCLA 59-0. Quarterback Max Hall threw seven touchdown passes, including six in the first half.

After talking in length about the win over North Dakota State, Wyoming coach Joe Glenn closed by saying the game is in the past and now is the time to start focusing on BYU.

“We don’t care who they beat,” Glenn said of the unbeaten Cougars, who own two wins over Pac-10 teams. “We’re going to prepare and do the best that we can and hopefully get the W.”

Expect the Wyoming secondary to have a busy day on Saturday trying to slow down Hall and his high-flying passing attack. Wyoming free safety Chris Prosinski said they have a lot of preparing to do for the Cougars, which began Sunday with film work.

Prosinski said BYU has the complete package.

“They are a lot like this team, they have a big tight end, a good wide receiver and big backs,” Prosinski said, comparing BYU and North Dakota State.

Offensively, the Cowboys didn’t have that compete game they were hoping for against North Dakota State. But after struggling in the first half, the Cowboys showed some improvement in the final two quarters.

Wyoming senior Devin Moore said they will work hard this week and show improvement.

“I think we are going to come out ready. BYU is a good team, one of the best teams in the conference,” Moore said. “We’ll put something together. The pass game, it was fine. We caught some big balls. I think a lot of the fans want deep balls and touchdowns right away. Just know that we’re working on it and it is coming.”

Looking back at the win
Offensively, the Cowboys stuck to their run game in many ways because North Dakota State was putting a lot of pressure on quarterback Dax Crum. The Bison sacked Crum five times in the game.

“We couldn’t block them for a while. They were beating us one-on-one and hammering our quarterback,’ Glenn said. “We couldn’t throw short and we couldn’t throw long. We ran hard at them and Bob Cole did a great job of mixing it up the various plays. I don’t think they exactly knew where the blocks were coming at or where the double teams were at. The kids executed and the backs ran hard.”

Crum said the offense wanted to go back to ore of a power running game instead of the zone attack.

“We wanted to just getting our MoJo back, establishing that we should be pushing them around,’ Crum said.

Crum was 11-of-17 through the air, but had just 90 yards. He said production in the passing game has to improve.

“Ninety yards, it has to get better; I have to do better,” Crum said. “ We got the win and that is the most important thing. I’m young and I have to learn and develop for the next game. One of these days I am going to break out and throw for 300 … hopefully. That’s what we’re going to have to do to win games down the stretch. We have a great running attack, but we have to do both.”

Defensively, the Cowboys got off to a slow start but like the offense, began to clamp down when it counted. Wyoming had three pass interceptions in the game, including two by Prosinski, with the other a big pic by senior Derrick McMahen late in the game that set up the game-winning field goal.

“We started off slow, definitely, but our defense gave up more yards than we would have liked to in the first half too,” Prosinski said.

Prosinski now has three pass interceptions on the season.

“That first one I have to give it to Marcell (Gipson),” Prosinski said. “He; he tipped it and the second one he got a good jam on him too. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and came up with the ball.”

Another milestone
While Moore and Seldon were moving up in the record books for career yards rushing, senior middle linebacker Ward Dobbs did the same in career tackles.

With his sixth tackles, Dobbs moved into 10th place with 262, moving ahead of John Wendling and Pete Benedetti

“I don’t think about that that much. The biggest thing I think about is that we won the game,” Dobbs said. “We forced some turnovers, which were huge. Give it to the team as a whole. It was one of those things where we just came out in the second half and started fighting.”

In fact, the Cowboys won the turnover margin with four takeaways to just one lost fumbles. That compares to five giveaways against Air Force to just one takeaway.

“Anytime you win the turnover margin, you are likely going to win the game,” Dobbs said.

Quote of the Day
Don’t get Crum wrong, he was happy with the fact that Jake Scott was able to kick the game-winner and he was a perfect 3-for-3 on the day. At the same time, he said he would just as soon prefer that Scott doesn’t get too many field-goal kicking opportunities -- that is, with the Cowboys scoring touchdowns rather than settling for field goals.

“That’s great that he made those field goals, but we have to be better; we have to finish drives,” Crum said. “We have to score touchdowns. It’s good to know that you have the kicker backing you up, but we would have been better off at 28 (points) or whatever, if we got touchdowns instead of field goals.”

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