Friday, October 31, 2008

Cowboys, Aztecs in dire need of a win

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming senior Wynel Seldon runs against Bowling Green earlier in the season.

By Richard Anderson

The numbers don’t lie: No wins in Mountain West Conference play, three wins overall.

That’s just not one team, that’s the combined record for Wyoming and San Diego State, which meets Saturday at noon at War Memorial Stadium.

Not exactly game of the week material on paper.

But, like the old sports cliché, something has to give. One team will walk out of the War with a win and feeling better about itself down the stretch.

“We are both two teams that are struggling; there’s no question we’re trying to find continuity and rhythm on both sides of the ball,” SDSU head coach Chuck Long said. “I will say this, they (Wyoming) are a tough team. They run to the ball very well, they are tough on defense; they want to play sound on defense with their system. Offensively, they have been working some quarterbacks in, working new package on offense every week and they had a nice package against TCU. We’re expecting a new wrinkle or maybe the same one.”

The Aztecs, though, might be feeling a little better about themselves after coming up just short against Colorado State, 38-34. Wyoming, however, despite a fairly good first quarter and early second quarter, fell to No. 14 TCU 54-7 in Fort Worth.

San Diego State, however, knows the feeling. Two weeks ago they were hammered by New Mexico, 70-7.

“It was a much better effort than the week before,” Long said of the loss to CSU. “I was proud of the fact that our guys stepped up and our pride kicked in and gave us a chance to win it at the end of the game.”

Against CSU, Aztecs junior running back Atiyyah Henderson had his best game of his career with a nice 177-yard effort, including a 72-yard touchdown run against the Rams.

“It was our best production with the run game all year and we needed that,” Long said. “We had great balance and we scored some points. We finally got some rhythm back in our offense for the first time in a number of weeks.”

Wyoming coach Joe Glenn said the SDSU running game does concern him, especially with the speed of Henderson

“If he can go for 177 and 72 for a touchdown, you know he has that Devin Moore type speed,” Glenn said. “If he can shake you, he can take it to the house. You don’t see many 70-yard runs in college football any more with dbs running like they can and everybody having angles on you. You have to be awfully fast to take one to the house.”

San Diego State redshirt freshmen quarterback Ryan Lindley has been hampered by a shoulder injury, but he did manage to go 24-of-33 for 166 yards and one touchdown against Colorado State.

“He’s getting stronger, getting more confidence in his arm,” Long said. “We thought we had an excellent game plan working around that. You can see on film that he had trouble throwing the deep ball. He was better last week than he was the week before. He still has his accuracy, although he’s not quite all the way there, but he makes good decisions and we’re getting stronger with him.”

Injuries have hurt both teams. Wyoming, which has been inconsistent at best at the quarterback position, will likely go with redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem, with junior Karsten Sween still suffering from a concussion he received from a devastating hit from TCU linebacker Robert Henderson.

Sween is still experiencing headaches and is a game-time decision, Glenn said.

“The evaluation goes on,” Glenn said.

The Cowboys also got some bad news as sophomore receiver David Leonard is out again with an ankle injury. He is expected to miss at least two weeks.

“That is really tragic. That guy needs a break and we really need him,” Glenn said.

Injuries have been an issue all season for the Aztecs. Long said they are just trying to find a healthy 22 players each week.

“It’s not getting much better just because it is late in the year now,” Long said. “All of the pounding adds up. Each week has been a difficult challenge for us, especially our coaching staff, because they have to find out who is going to play. We have a number of guys out during the week and don’t know if they will play or not, so we have to plan around that.”

While the results haven’t shown it, both Long and Glenn have maintained that their teams are fighting hard and trying to stay positive. They’re always looking for something positive -- hard as it seems -- to prepare for the next game.

That positive for the Cowboys was how they played early against TCU.

“We played better in some ways on offense,” Glenn said.

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