Friday, September 26, 2008

Wyoming defense: No pressure here

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming senior linebacker Ward Dobbs returns an interception earlier against Air Force.

By Richard Anderson

There’s no doubt that turnovers have caused havoc with the progress of the Wyoming offense.

Turnovers have done the same with the Cowboy defense, which has been put in bad field position and left on the field longer than the Wyoming coaching staff would like.

Although the Cowboy defense has played well at times this season, a few more takeaways are in line with the team’s success Saturday when the Cowboys host Bowling Green at 2 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.

“In order for us to win, we have to take the ball away from the other team a couple of times to give us field position,” Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said. “Field position has given us trouble. I don’t recall many years where we just haven’t had better field position. Our returns are pretty good on kickoff and punt returns, but we’ve been bombed into our own area a lot this year. It seems like our average drive start is way in the shadows.”

With the Wyoming offense struggling as one of the worst statistically in the country, the pressure is on the Cowboy defense to try to make up for some of those woes. Glenn said verbally he tries not doesn’t put any pressure on the defense.

“They’ll help us score some points and help us with field position. It just has to break loose pretty quick,” Glenn said.

Bowling Green (1-2) has struggled at times offensively this season as well. Yet, their spread offense, led by quarterback Tyler Sheehan, has the ability to score from anywhere on the field.
Again, no pressure for the Cowboy defense.

Slowing down the Bowling Green offense could hinge on the pressure given by the Wyoming front line of John Fletcher, Fred Givens and Mitch Unrien, along with pressure from the line backing crew led by Gabe Knapton, Ward Dobbs and Westin Johnson.

“We have to step it up a little bit. They can’t do it with a three-man rush,” Glenn said. “Again, we’ll see (Mike) Breske with a combination of coverage stuff and pressure stuff. Us getting pressure on Sheehan has everything to do with us slowing down with what they are doing.”

Offensively, the Cowboys showed signs early against BYU that they had the ability to move the football, but then took several steps backwards and never got into the end zone. Changes are on tap offensively, Glenn said, but a little different that many might expect … it doesn’t really affect the quarterback position, at least at first.

“I know we got shut out last week, but you saw what I saw, there were points where we were moving the ball and throwing and catching it and protecting and those kind of things,” Glenn said. “ We need to settle the turnovers down and get some field position.”

In Wyoming’s two losses, it has turned the ball over 11 times; in the two wins, the Cowboys have three turnovers.

Glenn said the Wyoming offense might have a different look on Saturday.

“I think fans will be pleasantly surprised by some of the new stuff they will see,“ he said. “We’ll pull out some stops. I don’t know if we’re going to pull out all of the stops, but I am pretty excited to see the way things take shape on Saturday.”

One change could come with the added playing time of running back Darius Terry. In fact, Terry, starter Devin Moore and top backup Wynel Seldon all could be on the field at the same time.

“I think we have two really good running backs and I think you’re going to see a third one Saturday in Darius Terry, a little bit more than you have seen.,“ Glenn said. “Darius has really worked his way into the mix, so you might see some sets with two or all three of those guys out on the field at the same time. I’m fired up about that.”

With that said, balance again will be the key for Glenn’s Cowboys. Glenn said they will have a package that they think they can throw in and a package they think they can run in.

“We’ll go to the line of scrimmage a lot of the time with two different plays -- it might be a pass or another pass, it might be a screen or another screen, it might be a run or another run or it might be a run or a pass," he said. “We’ll try to take what is there. If they continue to give us the run and we think the run is there, then we got to take it. Our play-calling might be dictated on how they are playing on defense.”

The cowboys did receive some good news this week with sophomore receiver David Leonard’s health status. Leonard suffered a concussion against BYU, but has been cleared to play against Bowling Green.

“You take a test after so many days; check the systems of your concussion and he passed with flying colors,“ Glenn said. “We may limit him a little bit; we probably won’t throw him right in on punt returns just yet. He’s a vital part of what we are doing. We’re glad to have him back.”

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