Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stutzriem, Cowboy offense can't take advantage of opportunities

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming quarterback Chris Stutzriem calls out a play with running back Devin Moore on Saturday against Colorado State.

By Richard Anderson

For much of the season, all eyes have been on the struggling Wyoming offense as the UW coaching staff searched for a quarterback to lead them.

First it was sophomore transfer Dax Crum, unseating last year’s starter, Karsten Sween. But Crum failed to do what Sween failed to do -- hang on to the football, move the team and put points on the scoreboard.

Then there was Sween, who did a better job but was still hampered by turnovers before a concussion took him out of the lineup.

Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn and offensive coordinator Bob Cole then turned to redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem, who basically was fourth on the depth chart when the season began.

Stutzriem showed the ability to not only move the ball, but not turn it over. He was steady, if not spectacular in wins over San Diego State and Tennessee and took a 14-9 lead into the fourth quarter at UNLV before the sky fell again with a pair of interceptions in what turned out to be a 22-14 defeat, which ended any bowl eligibility hopes for Wyoming.

In Saturday’s 31-20 loss to Colorado State, the Cowboys ran up 429 yards of total offense and put another 20 points on the board.

But three costly fumbles -- two by senior back Devin Moore and the other by senior Wynel Seldon -- stymied the offense once again.

“It’s like a reoccurring nightmare, unbelievable,” Glenn said. “We practice ball security all of the time, have since I got here. We can’t get it shut off. The football Gods are down on me for something I did. You have to protect the ball or you don’t have a chance. Two of those turnovers turned directly into seven points, seven points and look at the difference in the game.”

For the season, Wyoming turned the football over 36 times -- 17 interceptions and 19 fumbles.

While Stutzriem didn’t turn the ball over himself on Saturday, he said he made a couple of critical mistakes that could have turned into scores.

Stutzriem was 21 of 39 passing for 201 yards -- and no touchdowns. CSU quarterback Billy Farris was just 15 of 25 passing for 235 yards and one interception. But Farris threw three long touchdowns to Dion Morton.

CSU played a good game and they took advantage of their opportunities, and we didn’t,” Stutzriem said. “We left a couple of touchdowns out there. I missed a wide open throw to Greg Bolling in the first half for a touchdown. That is one of the difference makers right there.”

Although the Cowboys gave up a late first-half touchdown to close the gap to 14-10, Stutzriem said all they had to do offensively to begin the second half was move the ball and score, and they would have been fine. As it turned out, the Cowboys could only muster two Nick Landess field goals.

“We should have come out in the second half and done a little bit more,’ Stutzriem said. “For myself, nobody remembers that I hit Greg Genho on the flat and Greg Bolling was wide open for a touchdown. I missed a couple of throws there. We could have had more touchdowns and more points on the scoreboard. That’s my fault.”

In his final four games as a starter, Stutzriem was 47 of 86 passing for 605 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. As a team, the Cowboys averaged 383 yards a game and 20 points a game in his starts.

“I thought Stutzriem did a good job for a guy with no more experience than he had,” Glenn said. “I don’t think he threw a pick all day long and they brought a lot of heat on him. He did some good things.

“You take away the fourth quarter in Las Vegas, and he has played really darn well. I really admire him for his toughness, he is a stand-up guy. He’s a great kid and I think he has a great future.”

Stutzriem said it was just a matter of time before the Cowboys would get used to Cole and his system.

“When you bring in a new coach, whether it is a head coach or a defensive coordinator, offensive coach, it takes time,” Stutzriem said. “People don’t understand that. We’re going to get going in the off-season, we know what we need to do, what we need to do to get better. As long as we take care of that, we’re going to be fine in the future.”

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