Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cowboys rally again for big win

New Mexico Bowl game stats

By The Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Wyoming trailed by 11 points in the fourth quarter. Its offense was led by a freshman quarterback, its defense was facing the nation's leading rusher.

Time to worry? Not these comeback Cowboys.

Freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels threw three touchdown passes, the last a 13-yarder to David Leonard in the second overtime Saturday, and Wyoming rallied past Fresno State 35-28 in the New Mexico Bowl.

"Same old deal for all of us," Carta-Samuels said. "We knew we could do it."

The first of 34 bowls was a high-scoring matchup that was decided at the end by defense.
Wyoming (7-6) stopped the nation's leading rusher, Fresno State's Ryan Mathews on three rushing attempts from the 1 in the first overtime. The Bulldogs (8-5) tried a quarterback sneak on third down, and Mathews came up short again on fourth down.

"If you can't put it in from the 1-yard line, you have to give a lot of credit to the defensive stand by Wyoming," Bulldogs coach Pat Hill said. "We had our chances."

The Cowboys, who won four times this season after rallying in the fourth quarter, scored on the first possession in double overtime, then held Fresno State on downs.

"Another typical game by the Wyoming Cowboys first-year coach Dave Christensen said. "We kept everybody in their seats."

Wyoming fans spilled out of the stands to celebrate as the school band played "Cowboy Joe." This was Wyoming's first bowl appearance since 2005, and it capped a winning season for Christensen after the Cowboys were picked to finish last in the Mountain West.

Mathews, who led the nation in rushing average at 151.3 yards per game, finished with 144 yards on 31 attempts with two touchdowns. But he had a big fumble midway through the fourth quarter, setting up Carta-Samuels to lead a 19-play drive that tied it.

Wyoming lineman Mitch Unrein, picked the defensive MVP, stripped the ball.

"I got my hand on it. It kind of rolled away from him," Unrein said. "It was right on my chest. I said to myself, 'I can't believe that just happened.' I got up and I was showing the refs. They didn't believe me. They were like, 'No way.'"

Officials initially ruled Mathews was down but reversed the call after a replay.

Wyoming's Ian Watts kicked a 37-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation. After the Cowboys stopped Mathews in the first overtime, Watts was wide left a 40-yard field try that would have won it.

Christensen said there was no disappointment on the sideline.

"These kids don't change much," he said. "I don't know if it's belief or they don't know any better. They walked down to the end of the field. We scored a touchdown, then we stopped them."

Carta-Samuels, the Mountain West's freshman of the year, was chosen the game's offensive MVP after he completed 17 of 31 attempts for 201 yards passing with one interception.
He led the Cowboys back after Mathews' 5-yard TD run put the Bulldogs up 28-17 with 13:59 remaining. Carta-Samuels found Leonard on an 11-yard TD pass, then connected with Greg Bolling for a 2-point conversion that got Wyoming to 28-25 with 10:15 to go.

"I guarantee after that their defense didn't want to come out on the field again to try and stop us," Carta-Samuels said.

Fresno State, trying to build on the lead, was driving when Mathews fumbled at Wyoming's 26. The Cowboys took over with 8:08 left and converted three times on fourth downs -- including a daring fake punt -- on the march that ended with Watts' 37-yard field goal.

"We told our guys, 'You've got to believe,'" Christensen said. "Being behind is nothing new for this football team."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cowboys sign three JC transfers

Cowboys head football coach Dave Christensen announced on Wednesday that three junior college players have signed National Letters of Intent to attend Wyoming. The three players will join the football program beginning in the spring of 2010.

The players signed include DeJay Lester, a 6-foot-2, 200 pounds junior wide receiver from Columbus, Ohio (Snow College); Mazi Ogbonna, 6-1, 195-pound junior wide receiver from , Westbury, N.Y. (Snow College) and Nick Puetz, a 6-4. 305-pound junior offensive lineman from Salina, Kan. (Coffeyville CC)

Lester caught 27 passes for 456 yards this past season. In 11 games, he averaged 2.5 receptions per game and scored two touchdowns. He also returned kickoffs and had eight returns for 195 yards, which was an average of 24.4 yards per return.

Snow College finished 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the Western States Football League this past season. They earned a 41-37 victory over Grand Rapids to take the Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl Trophy. Both Snow College and Grand Rapids finished in the top six in the final National Junior College Athletic Association poll. Lester was coached by Steve Coburn while at Snow College.

Lester spent two seasons at Snow College and will be a junior at UW this coming fall.

Ogbonna, who also attended Snow College, was named First Team All-Western States Football League as a wide receiver this past fall. He was also selected Second Team All-WSFL as a kick returner. In 11 games, he caught 36 passes for 721 yards (20.0 yards per catch average). As a kick returner, he averaged 30.3 yards a return with 21 returns for 637 yards. Ogbonna scored ten touchdowns, while averaging 3.3 receptions per game.

He helped lead Snow College to a 10-2 overall record and a 7-1 mark in the WSFL. They earned a 41-37 victory over Grand Rapids to take the Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl Trophy. They ended the season ranked fifth in the final NJCAA poll.

Ogbonna spent two seasons at Snow College and will be a junior at UW this coming fall.

Puetz was a Second Team All-Conference selection while attending Coffeyville Community College this past fall. He helped lead Coffeyville CC to a 7-4 overall record this season, while ending the season ranked 12th in the final NJCAA football poll. The team also won the North Star Bowl against Rochester (Minn.) by a final of 54-12. He earned the Wayne Hittle Memorial Award and the Pete Peltzer Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award.

As a junior, he was selected Honorable Mention All-Jayhawk Conference, along with earning Academic All-Conference honors. He was coached at Coffeyville by Darian Dulin.

Puetz spent two seasons at Coffeyville CC and will be a junior at UW this coming fall.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Senior leadership pays out for Cowboys

By Richard Anderson

One more game … great for the development of the underclassmen, but a reward for the seniors, who led the Wyoming Cowboys to their 12th bowl game in the school’s football history.

For those Cowboy seniors, this has been what they have been waiting for all of their careers.

“My senior year of high school, they went to the Vegas Bowl,” Cowboy senior linebacker Weston Johnson said. “Our senior class, especially, when we came here, that’s what we really wanted to do is go to a bowl game. We hadn’t had that opportunity until this year. It’s a pretty sweet way to go out. We’re looking to get that seventh win.”

For many of those Wyoming seniors, getting a chance to go to a bowl game seemed to be slipping away. They had one more opportunity as fall drills began in August.

One more chance.

“With the changes coming in, it definitely crosses your mind that maybe we’re not going to get to a bowl game,” Wyoming senior defensive tackle John Fletcher said. “But once Coach (Dave) Christensen came in and talked to us and we went through winter conditioning with them, I think everybody could see that this guy knows what he is doing and he has won games before. His plan was to get us seniors to a bowl game and let us go out on a good note.”

The previous three seasons for the Cowboys, something always seemed to go wrong, whether it was early in the year or late.

“I think it is always in the back of your mind, and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Johnson said about another season of failure. “We just found a way to win some really tough games. That game against CSU was probably the most exciting game I had ever played in. To go out like that and get that sixth win and be bowl eligible, it’s a really neat feeling.”

Yet, Johnson said that going into each season, he thought they were going to turn it around from how they had worked. It wasn’t until Christensen was named head coach a year ago that he felt that feeling was going to finally develop.

“When Coach Christensen came in with this new style of offense and this new staff, and we kept Coach (Marty) English, it seemed like some things were in order,” Johnson said. “It was time for us to start winning some games and get an opportunity to get back to a bowl game.”

If Christensen had to pinpoint one reason that his team was able to get to a bowl game, he at least starts with his senior leadership. That’s a big reason why the Cowboys are going to the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 19, he said, in accepting the invitation Monday at the Rochelle Athletics Center.

“We’ve had tremendous leadership from this senior class, I’ve mentioned that numerous times.” Christensen said. “I’ve been involved with a lot of football team and a lot of them had good personnel but they didn’t have the success that we had this year because they didn’t have leadership from the top.

“Because of this leadership provided by this senior class and how hungry every player in this program was, to have an opportunity to get to the postseason, and we were able to get there in one short year. I take a great deal of pride in the effort these kids have put out on the field each and every Saturday.”

When did the Cowboys really think that had a shot at a bowl game? After the big come-from-behind victory over San Diego State on Nov. 14.

“That put us at five wins and two games coming up – one being against an extremely good team in TCU and against another good team in CSU,” Fletcher said. “We definitely thought we could win the CSU game. Once we got to that game, everybody got in their head that we were going to have to work a little harder, but it was a definite possibility that we could get six wins and become bowl eligible.”

The Cowboys edged the rival Rams 17-16 to earn that sixth win of the season.

They celebrated, to say the least.

“We got into the locker room and I think that was the wildest I have ever seen us after a game,” Fletcher said. “It was just a great feeling. We definitely knew we were going to get an invite to a bowl – we didn’t know which one – but we were happy to go wherever.”

Their opponent turned out to be Fresno State, a former Western Athletic Conference mate in the 1990s, well before most of this group was thinking about being Cowboys.

“We want to leave our mark at Wyoming, so being one of 12 bowl teams so far is doing that,” Fletcher said. “I think for us seniors, it is something we wanted to do throughout the year. That’s what we work so hard for this summer and fall camp and we have one more game to play.”

For the Cowboy seniors, that is what it is all about.

One more game.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cowboys vs. Fresno State in New Mexico Bowl

The Wyoming Cowboys are bowl bound as the New Mexico Bowl on Sunday extended an invitation to the Cowboys to face Fresno State. The Fourth Annual New Mexico Bowl will be the first bowl game of the 2009 bowl season, and will be played on Dec. 19 in Albuquerque. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m., Mountain Time.

New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Jeff Siembieda made the announcement of this year’s New Mexico Bowl selections.

“We are excited with this terrific match-up and look forward to the game,” Siembieda said. “Having two great programs with incredibly passionate fans makes Fresno State against Wyoming the perfect way to kick off college football’s bowl season. We look forward to hosting the Cowboys and Bulldogs for a fun-filled bowl week.”

Wyoming’s appearance in this year’s New Mexico Bowl comes in the first season under head coach Dave Christensen. Christensen led Wyoming to a 6-6 overall record and a 4-4 Mountain West Conference mark, playing the eighth toughest schedule in the country. The Cowboys placed fifth in the MWC this season after being picked to finish last by conference media in the MWC preseason poll.

“We are extremely excited to have an opportunity to play in postseason, and we are particularly excited to be going to Albuquerque to play in the New Mexico Bowl,” said University of Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen. “We’ve heard great things about the bowl and about the people who work so hard all year long to make the New Mexico Bowl a great experience for the teams involved and for the fans who attend the game and all the festivities surrounding it.

“Our kids were thrilled when they heard we were going to the New Mexico Bowl. This group of young men has worked so hard this season to earn this opportunity. My staff and I are happy for them, and we are happy for our fans.

“The fans of Wyoming have shown us great support all season, and I know that they will be there in Albuquerque to support us once again.”

Tickets to the 2009 New Mexico Bowl are $30 per ticket with a $25 shipping and handling fee per order, and can be purchased by going online at or by calling the University of Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-922-9461 or locally in Laramie at 766-4850.

The University of Wyoming will hold a press conference on Monday at 1 p.m. in the Rochelle Athletics Center. New Mexico Bowl Executive Director Siembieda will be in attendance to formally extend the bowl invitation to Christensen. University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan and UW Athletics Director Tom Burman will also speak and be available for interviews. The press conference will be carried live by the Cowboy Sports Network and the press conference will be video streamed live on

This year’s appearance in the New Mexico Bowl will mark Wyoming’s 12th bowl appearance in its history. UW’s most recent bowl appearance came in the 2004 Pioneer PureVision Las Vegas Bowl, where the Pokes defeated UCLA, 24-21.

Wyoming’s opponent in this year’s bowl, the Fresno State Bulldogs, are old foes of the Cowboys from the days that both teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference. Fresno State finished the regular season 8-4 overall, 6-2 in conference play and placed third in the WAC behind Boise State and Nevada. The Cowboys and Bulldogs will be playing each other for the seventh time in the two schools’ histories. The series is tied, with each team having won three times. The last meeting came in 1997. The two teams have never met at a neutral site.

This year’s New Mexico Bowl will be televised nationally on ESPN and ESPN-HD.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Prosinski earns league honors

UW junior Chris Prosinski

University of Wyoming junior Chris Prosinski was named Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance in a 17-16 road win over Colorado State last Friday that secured Wyoming its first bowl bid since 2004.

Prosinski recorded 10 tackles, including nine solo tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss and forced one fumble versus CSU. His biggest play of the day came in the fourth quarter with Colorado State third and goal on the Wyoming four-yard line. Prosinski tackled CSU's Dion Morton for a two-yard loss that forced the Rams to kick a field goal and kept Wyoming within two points at 14-16. Wyoming kicked a 33-yard field goal on its next possession to capture the victory.

With his 10 tackles versus Colorado State, Prosinski improved his season total to 130 total tackles. That ranks the Buffalo, native No. 8 on the UW single-season tackle list, with a bowl game yet to play.

Prosinski is averaging 10.8 tackles per game this season to rank No. 3 in the Mountain West Conference and No. 9 in the nation.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cowboys get the job done

UW-CSU statistics

by Richard Anderson
Just another game, another quarterback and another kicker getting it done for the Wyoming Cowboys.

So says first-year Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen ... in jest.

It was more than just another game for the Cowboys, who edged Colorado State 17-16 Friday in Fort Collins to not only get the Bronze Boot back, but earn a bowl-game berth in the process.

"You come down here to play in a game like this and you throw out the records, you know it's going to be a hard-fought battle and we said going into it that we needed to win the fourth quarter and we were able to do that with two key drives," Christensen said. "Austyn (Carta-Samuels) scored one on the long run and the freshman kicks the field goal on the other."

Carta-Samuels, at quarterback, ran for two touchdowns -- an 8-yard scored to give the Cowboys a 7-6 lead in the second quarter, and a 49-yard run to give them a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

He then drove Wyoming the own the field late, where true freshman Ian Watts nailed a 33-yard field goal with 1:27 left for what proved to be the winning score.

Picked last in the conference preseason poll, the Cowboys finished fifth in the Mountain West Conference standings at 4-4 and are 6-6 heading into a bowl game.

"At the beginning of the year, there was no respect for this program and the thing you can do about it is go out and win some games," Christensen said. "We were picked ninth, we won outright fifth in the league, we're going to a bowl, we got the Bronze Boot back. I'd say that's a pretty good year for our team.

"This is the best. I took a team that was not supposed to do anything and look what they've done. It's been an unbelievable experience for me. And what great, great players I have to work with. The saddest thing is that we only have one more opportunity with these seniors because the job that they've done leading this football team has been second to none."

Two weeks ago Carta-Samuels rallied the Cowboys from 21 points down in the fourth quarter, before Watts kicked the game-winner. Despite last week's lop-sided loss to 4th-ranked TCU, Carta-Samuels said they knew that if they were close in the fourth quarter, they would win the game.

“After the last couple of ones we have been able to put together, you just get more confident," Carta-Samuels said. "Coach and I had a conversation at halftime about how we are a fourth-quarter team and when we put it together, it was exciting.”

On that game-winning drive, Carta-Samuels said they just were thinking to grind it out.

"There was so much, and I didn’t even realize it until I was watching our defense try to hold them at the end, that there was so much on the line and so much to play for," he said.

It came down to the freshman foot of Watts, who walked on late to solidify the place-kicking position.

“I am pretty much used to it by now, so that is a good thing," Watts said. "The previous two were to win the game, but if I missed it would still be tied. If I missed this one, we would lose, so this was a lot more pressure and I actually felt more nervous on this one than any other kick I’ve taken this year.”

The Wyoming defense then stopped the Rams on an interception by Ghalli Muhammad in the finals seconds.

“We had no fear," UW defensive end Mitch Unrein said. "We knew we were going to stop them. Everyone just went out there and did their job and that is how we came out victorious this afternoon.”

Then it was all about two kneel-downs by Carta-Samuels to end the game.

After a little searching, the Cowboys, in a frenzy rush, found the Bronze Boot.

“I was so excited; I was running around trying to find the Boot and the whole game I was trying to figure out where they put it," UW senior offensive right tackle Ryan Otterson. "I saw the ROTC guys standing over there, so I ran over there and it wasn’t there. I ran over to the sidelines and it wasn’t there. It was already in the middle, so I was like ‘oh man c’mon’, but I finally found it.”

The Wyoming seniors then took turns holding The Boot.

“It was awesome. I can’t really describe it," Unrein said. "We have great fans that come down and support us everywhere we go. Now we have one more game for them to come watch us . play, so it is kind of a treat for them and us.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cowboys need a Border War win

The Wyoming Cowboys and Colorado State Rams will meet in the 2009 edition of The Border War Saturday at noon at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins.

It will mark the 101st meeting between the two schools, and it will be the 110th anniversary of the two teams first meeting back in 1899.

For Wyoming what is at stake is a bowl bid, as the Cowboys need one more victory to earn a bowl berth. Wyoming enters Friday's game with a 5-6 overall record and a 3-4 conference mark. CSU enters Saturday's game 3-8 overall and 0-7 in the MWC.

Since the end of World War II, Wyoming and CSU have played every season for 64 consecutive years from 1946 to this season. Colorado State leads the overall series 55-40-5. Over the past 63 consecutive meetings, dating back to the 1946 season, Wyoming leads 35-28-0.

Beginning with the 1968 season, Wyoming and Colorado State have battled for the "Bronze Boot", a traveling trophy that was established by the ROTC detachments of both schools. The "Boot" was originally worn by Colorado State graduate student Dan Romero in Vietnam. Since the Bronze Boot was established, the battle to take it home has been as close as a series can be. The Bronze Boot series has Wyoming trailing CSU by only one game, with Wyoming having captured it 20 times and CSU 21.

Wyoming is led by a strong defense, featuring six of the league's top seven tacklers, and one of the most exciting young players in the Mountain West in freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who has been named MWC Offensive Player of the Week three times this season.

A total of 26 natives of the state of Colorado are members of the Cowboy football team. Of those 26, 14 have started at least one game this season and 11 have started multiple games.

The Cowboys also feature 13 Wyoming natives on its roster. Leading the way among Wyoming natives is Cowboy junior free safety Chris Prosinski from Buffalo, who has been credited with 120 tackles this season. Prosinski needs only four more tackles to post one of the Top 10 seasons in University of Wyoming football history.

Friday's game will be televised live by The Mtn. The Cowboys Sports Network radio broadcast will begin one hour prior to kick off with the pregame show.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Horned Frogs too fast, too strong for 'Pokes

UW-TCU boxscore

By Richard Anderson

It’s like the saying goes: speed kills.

On Saturday, No. 4 TCU’s speed killed the Wyoming Cowboys at War Memorial Stadium, 45-10.

That was also the case earlier in the season when No. 2 Texas basically did the same to the Cowboys in the 41-10 victory.

The Cowboys got a big break in the second quarter when junior safety Chris Prosinski grabbed a fumble and raced 98 yards to the end zone to tie the game at 10-10.

As was the case against Texas in the second game of the season, the Cowboys were in the game against a top-ranked team.

Then there was a big boom that did not come from the National Guard canon in the form of Greg McCoy, who returned the kickoff 81 yards to quickly break the tie. The Horned Frogs then dominated the game in every aspect from that point on.

“When Pro (Prosinski) got the fumble and we took it down to tie the game, you have to have some breaks like that when you play a Top 5 team,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “Then we turn around and let them get a touchdown and that was extremely disappointing. Then they get another one. We tried to come back in the second half, but they had just too much firepower for us.”

Wyoming senior linebacker Weston Johnson said that type of play is somewhat demonizing, but then again, he said they have their best guys out there whether it is special teams, defense or offense.

“It’s just some fast guys back there and they made some blocks,“ Johnson said. “We had some guys not get in their right fits and that is what happens.”

TCU gets the ball back and strikes again before halftime on a 45-yard pass from quarterback Andy Dalton to speedy Jeremy Kerley to make it a 24-10 game.

Wyoming stops the TCU offense on in three plays to begin the second half, only to see sophomore running back Brandon Stewart fumble on the first play and the talented Horned Frogs defense recover the football on the UW 23-yard line.

Four plays later, Joseph Turner scores from 5 yards out and it is a 31-10 contest.

Twenty-one unanswered points in a little under nine minutes, going back to the second quarter.

Game over.

“That definitely put us in a bad position,” Christensen said. “The defense came out and I thought they did a tremendous job and forced a punt and on the first play we fumble. That’s devastating when you are trying to get back in the football game.”

The Horned Frogs ran up 507 yards of total offense -- 339 on the ground and 168 through the air. The Cowboys could managed just 178 total yards of offense.

There was no trickery involved for TCU. The Cowboy defense knew exactly what was coming and the UW offense knew the same.

Christensen said TCU played like every single film he has watched on them.

“They are a very good football team,” he said. “I don’t see any weaknesses out there. They’re strong on both sides of the ball, they’re kicking game … I don’t see a great weakness on anything.”

Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels struggled to get the Wyoming offense going and said the reason for TCU’s dominance is obvious.

“They’re the fastest team that we have played all season, for one,” Carta-Samuels said. “They disciplined, they have leadership. That’s what it takes to be the No. 4 team in the country. They’re a complete football team.

“I expected to come out and compete and that didn’t happen. But it is a lot easier to swallow when you lose to the No. 4 team in the country.”

Christensen said his team was mentally prepared to play the game and they gave everything they had.

All we wanted to do is to play hard on every single snap. We did against a very good football play,” he said.

For the Cowboys, time will tell if Christensen can get his team to TCU's level. That’s certainly his goal.

“I was hired here to build a football program and we came out and competed against two Top 4 teams in the country,” Christensen said. “We got a long ways to go. We fought in both of those games for 30 minutes, but it is a tough deal. They (TCU) are a great football team."


TCU does its job to stay in BCS hunt

By Bobby Abplanalp

It's not all about just winning games for TCU these days; it’s how the Horned Frogs are winning them.

TCU, ranked fourth in the country as well as in the BCS Standings, did nothing to hurt its position with an impressive 45-10 win over Wyoming Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

All eyes are on the state of Texas these days, especially in comparison to No. 2 Texas’s 41-10 win over the Cowboys in September.

“Not only are we playing at a high level, but we’re also playing smart, and that’s how you win a championship,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “They came out and did what they needed to do, about the same score that a Texas team beat Wyoming. I think you can say that in comparison we’re very close, but I think we can play with a lot of people.”

All-American TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes, who had four tackles, said the score of the Texas-Wyoming game was not a factor in his teams’ preparation.

“We go in there and try to execute our game plan to the fullest,” Hughes said. “We don’t worry about anyone else; all we can do is take care of ourselves.”

TCU had 507 total-yards of offense with 339 of those on the ground led by running back Matthew Tucker gaining 134 yards on 11 carries, while fellow running back Joseph Turner amassed 69 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Andy Dalton also had 88 yards on 12 carries.

“We got three backs that are so explosive,” Dalton said. “The offensive line has been doing a heck of a job. They’re the main reason we why we have been able to do so much with the running game.”

Dalton completed 10 of 19 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown to Jeremy Kerley with no interceptions. With their BCS Bowl hopes still very eminent, the Horned Frogs embraced the idea of playing in one of the big money games.

“Now we’re one game away,” Dalton said of beating winless New Mexico next week to be considered for an at-large bid into a BCS game. That is motivation in itself to come out and play next week.”

“We’re Cinderella and we’re trying to get to the ball,” Patterson said of a going to a BCS game. “I been saying for the past few years when we’ve been very close if you keep knocking on the door just like Boise (State) did, then somebody is going to open it up. We’ve been going through this process the last six to eight years and hopefully if we win next week, we’ll get a chance to open it.”

Wyoming on the other hand is 5-6 and a Border War rival win over Colorado State next week from being bowl eligible.

“I think he is trying to change the attitude of where they’re trying to get to,” Patterson said about UW head coach Dave Christensen. “They have chance to win a game next week and go to a bowl. I think that’s big.”

The Cowboys tied the game 10-10 in the second quarter when safety Chris Prosinski returned a fumble 98 yards for a touchdown. But 16 seconds later, TCU kick returner Greg McCoy returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for the go ahead score and the Horned Frogs never looked back.

“I think it was a big change (in momentum),” Patterson said. “We didn’t have a lot of emotion on the sideline and then Greg (McCoy) comes back and does that and then we get a stop and the long play to Kerley and in some ways the game is over.”

TCU is 11-0 for the first time since 1938 when it finished that season 11-0 with a national championship..

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cowboys close home schedule with TCU

The Wyoming Cowboys will be playing their fourth Top 25 ranked opponent of the 2009 season when they host No. 4 ranked TCU Saturday, with kickoff at noon at War memorial Stadium.

Wyoming will bring a 5-5 overall record and a 3-3 Mountain West Conference mark into Saturday's final home game of the season. TCU is 10-0 and 6-0 in the Mountain West. The Horned Frogs are ranked No. 4 in this week's BCS rankings and are also No. 4 in all three major polls -- the Associated Press Media Poll, USA Today Coaches' Poll and Harris Interactive Poll.

Earlier this season, Wyoming played No. 2 ranked Texas on Sept. 12, faced then No. 16 ranked Utah on Halloween night and hosted BYU on Nov. 7 when the Cougars were ranked No. 25. UW is still looking for its first win vs. a Top 25 opponent this season.

Last time at home with TCU
The last time Wyoming hosted TCU, the Cowboys defeated the Horned Frogs 24-21 on Oct. 6, 2007. Wyoming held a 21-6 lead over TCU entering the fourth quarter of that game and held on for the 24-21 victory. Former Cowboy receiver Hoost March caught TD passes of 65 and 8 yards from Karsten Sween and Wyoming running backs Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon rushed for 135 and 100 yards, respectively, in the 2007 win.

Series history
This week's meeting between the Cowboys and Horned Frogs will only be the sixth in the two schools' histories. Wyoming trails 2-3 in the overall series versus TCU. Wyoming is 1-1 vs. TCU in Laramie, having lost at home in 2005 by a score of 28-14.

One more win for bowl eligibility
The Cowboys will enter this Saturday's game versus TCU looking for a sixth win that would earn them bowl eligibility. Wyoming needs to win one of its final two games -- versus TCU or at Colorado State. The Mountain West Conference currently has five automatic bowl berths available and if TCU earns a BCS bowl bid, the MWC could have six bowl opportunities. Four MWC teams have already achieved bowl eligible status -- TCU, BYU, Utah and Air Force. Wyoming and San Diego State are the two remaining MWC teams that have an opportunity to become bowl eligible. SDSU must win both of its remaining games -- at Utah and at UNLV -- to reach the six-win plateau.

Last week
Last Saturday's win over the Aztecs was one of the great comebacks in Wyoming football history. The Cowboys overcame a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit last Saturday at San Diego State to capture a 30-27 road win. Trailing 27-6 entering the fourth quarter, Wyoming scored 24 unanswered points. Cowboy quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw for 246 yards, rushed for 51 and had 297 yards of total offense on Saturday. He ran for one touchdown and threw another in the fourth quarter. Ian Watts kicked a 43-yard field goal with only 23 seconds remaining to seal the win for Wyoming.

The victory brought back memories for Cowboy fans of another great Wyoming comeback back in 1988. Oddly enough, that comeback also saw the Cowboys trailing by 21 points entering the fourth quarter in a game on the road. That Sept. 24, 1988, game pitted Wyoming against Air Force and the Falcons held a 38-17 lead to begin the fourth quarter. In that comeback, UW quarterback Randy Welniak rallied the Pokes for 31 fourth-quarter points as the Wyoming defense held Air Force to a single TD in the final period. Like Carta-Samuels, Welniak ran for one TD and threw for another in the final stanza, while place-kicker Sean Fleming made a 27-yard field goal for the 48-45 victory. Like Watts, Fleming scored a total of 12 points on the day. Welniak ended the day with 359 passing yards, 108 rushing yards and 467 yards of total offense, 3 TD passes and 1 TD rushing. Welniak is now the sideline reporter for Cowboy Sports Network radio broadcasts.

Cowboys honored
Carta-Samuels and Watts were named Mountain West Conference Players of the Week on Monday. Carta-Samuels shared this week's MWC Offensive Player of the Week award with Air Force running back Asher Clark. It marked the third time this season that Carta-Samuels was honored as the Offensive Player of the Week. Watts earned his second Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Freshman tight end David Tooley was honored this week as the national tight end of the week by A native of Moberly, Mo., Tooley caught four passes for 70 yards and one touchdown versus San Diego State. His TD reception tied the game at 27 all with 2:07 remaining in the game.

Watts was named Honorable Mention place-kicker of the week by

Road breakthrough
The Cowboys broke a 10-game road losing streak in conference play when they bat the Aztecs.

Prior to the win over SDSU, Wyoming had last won on the road in MWC play on Nov. 18, 2006, in Las Vegas. The Cowboys captured a 34-26 win over UNLV in Sam Boyd Stadium for their last conference road win.

On the air
Saturday's game will be televised live on The Mtn. The game will also be broadcast on radio over the 25 affiliate stations of the Cowboys Sports Network, beginning at 11 a.m.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Carta-Samuels, Watts earn POW honors again

University of Wyoming freshmen football players Austyn Carta-Samuels and Ian Watts were named Mountain West Conference Players of the Week on Monday.

Carta-Samuels shared this week’s MWC Offensive Player of the Week award with Air Force running back Asher Clark. For Carta-Samuels it marked the third time this season that he was honored as the Offensive Player of the Week. Watts earned his second Special Teams Player of the Week award.

Carta-Samuels led the Wyoming offense to three fourth-quarter touchdowns and a total of 24 fourth-quarter points as the Cowboys came back from a 21-point deficit to win on the road at San Diego State. Carta-Samuels completed 16 of 22 (.727) passes for 246 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed 13 times for 51 yards and one rushing touchdown, and accumulated 297 yards of total offense.

Both the 246 yards passing and 297 yards of total offense were personal bests. His TD run was for 10 yards on the second play of the fourth quarter to pull the Cowboys to within two touchdowns at 27-13. His touchdown pass came with 2:07 remaining in the game on a nine-yard hookup with fellow true freshman David Tooley to tie the game. Following Wyoming's recovery of the ensuing kickoff, Carta-Samuels led the Pokes on an 18-yard drive to setup Wyoming's winning field goal with 23 seconds remaining in the game. With his third MWC Offensive Player of the Week honor this season, Carta-Samuels is second only to BYU quarterback Max Hall this season. Hall has earned the award fourth times this year.

Watts was a perfect 3-of-3 in field goals versus San Diego State. He converted two from 27 yards each, and with only 23 seconds remaining in the game he made a career-long, 43-yard field goal that proved to be the game-winner.

Watts was not only a perfect in field goals on the day, but he was a perfect 3-of-3 in extra points, scoring 12 of Wyoming’s 30 points. Watts is one of only three MWC players to earn the MWC Special Teams Player of the Week honor multiple times this season. The other two are TCU place-kicker Ross Evans and his teammate, return specialist Jeremy Kerly, who each have earned the award twice this year.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cowboys rally to edge Aztecs

UW-SDSU game statistics

SAN DIEGO -- The Wyoming Cowboys and their struggling offense have some life in them after all.

Freshman Ian Watts kicked a 43-yard field goal with 23 seconds left as Wyoming battled back from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to beat San Diego State 30-27 Saturday night.

Wyoming (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West) rallied from a 27-6 deficit with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the score. Wyoming senior John fletcher blocked a short field goal and the Cowboys, after tying the game late, recovered a fumbled pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff that set up Watts' game-winning kick.

The loss snapped a 10-game MWC losing skid on the road for the Cowboys, who hadn't won in San diego in six straight games.

Wyoming rallied on freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels' 10-yard run 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, a 33-yard scoring run by freshman Alvester Alexander and Carta-Samuels' 9-yard TD pass to freshman tight end David Tooley that tied the score.

"It was a heck of game by our kids and the fight they showed in the 4th quarter; the will to come back to make plays was incredible," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said on his postgame show on the Wyoming Sports Network on Learfield Sports.

The difference in the 24-point fourth quarter for the Cowboys was simple, Christensen said: They started making plays.

"It wasn't like (the Aztecs) were shutting us down all game, but we had some opportunities where we didn't get 6's a couple of times and we had a fumble," Christensen said. "When it came time for the fourth quarter, we played extremely well. At halftime we talked and said that a time was going to come when we were going to need guys to start making plays, and in the fourth quarter, we had a lot of guys making plays."

Carta-Samuels finished the game by completing 16 of 22 passes for 246 yards one and one touchdown. he also ran for 51 yards and one score. Sophomore Brandon Stewart and Alexander led the way on the ground with 76 and 73 yards respectively. The Cowboys ran for 200 yards in the game.

Tooley, who had two career receptions going into the game, had four big catches for 71 yards. David Leonard also had for catches for Wyoming.

Brandon Sullivan, who rushed for 105 yards, ran for two touchdowns for San Diego State (4-6, 2-4). Sophomore quarterback Ryan Lindley was 18 of 29 passing for 200 yards, but no touchdowns.

"Obviously, it wasn't very fun out there at the end. We got outwilled by a team," SDSU coach Brady Hoke said. "They played harder, they executed and that's pretty much how the game went ... (We) had some penalties in the first half and we hurt ourselves a little bit with that. You get a field goal blocked that (could have) put you up by 10. That's not executing, that's not being disciplined, and they did a much better job of coaching and playing the game."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lopsided loss embarrasses Cowboys

UW-BYU boxscore

by Richard Anderson

Things started well on Saturday for the Wyoming Cowboys: they won the coin toss.

Then the game started.

As it turned out, the highlight of the game for the Cowboys was the coin toss, as Brigham Young rolled to a 52-0 win over Wyoming Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

Despite decent showings in their two previous losses -- 10-0 to Air Force and 22-10 to Utah, both on the road -- there was nothing decent for Wyoming in its return home.

So much for home sweet home.

It was the second straight shutout defeat to BYU, as the Cougars won 44-0 last season in Provo.
And after scoring 97 points in a three-game win streak, the Cowboys have now scored just 10 points in three straight losses.

One step forward, two steps back.

Just how many ways can you spin embarrassing? Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen had a few.

"It was probably the most disappointing day in my coaching career," Christensen said. "We took steps backwards. I thought our program had improved. I'm embarrassed; I apologize. This is the worst effort I have ever seen by a football team."

And no, Christensen did not see this coming.

"We got out and we practice hard," he said. "We execute in practice. We don't allow these things to happen in practice. I don't have a lot of answers right now."

As poorly as the Cowboys played, BYU, their respective Cougar tails two weeks ago after the 38-7 loss to TCU at home, came back with a roar.

"I think our players responded well (from the TCU loss)," BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "We played a much improved Wyoming team that played everyone, except for a half against Texas, very closely.

"We played very clean football and played well from the beginning to end. I was impressed with our team and the preparation of our staff."

While Christensen was impressed with the Cougars as well, he was less than impressed with his own team.

"Obviously, my hat is off to BYU, they are an excellent football team," Christensen said. "They were much more physical than us today by a long shot. They were much tougher than we were today, by a long shot. They executed much better than we did today, by a long shot."

BYU scored the first seven times it touched the football, leading 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, 31-0 at halftime and 45-0 heading into the fourth quarter. The Cougars finished with 543 yards of total offense, to 225 for Wyoming.

BYU Quarterback Max Hall was nearly perfect and certainly unstoppable, as he completed 20 of 22 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns. Harvey Unga ran over the Wyoming defense, with 85 yards on 16 carries. Even backup quarterback Riley Nelson gained 71 yards on the ground on 10 carries.

Just what did the Cougars do right against the Cowboys, and what did the 'Pokes do wrong? Basically everything.

"The blocked us, we didn't get off blocks and we didn't cover properly," Christensen said. "We had blown assignments and we didn't make plays. We got beat physically, we got shoved around. It was awful."

While talking about a possible bowl game a month ago at 4-2, the Cowboys are now looking to just survive. while Saturday is a hard pill to swallow, Christensen said that's exactly what they will do as they get ready for San Diego State next week and then TCU and CSU to close the season.

"I can guarantee you that there is no quit in this coaching staff or this football team," he said.

Wyoming senior linebacker Weston Johnson said he is frustrated right now, the whole team is frustrating, the coaching staff is frustrated. At the same time, he said they will come back and work hard.

"Obviously, we're not doing something right," Johnson said. "We're going to have to come back this next week and really hit it hard, battle back, and salvage this season."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cowboys back home with BYU

by UW Athletics Media Relations

The Wyoming Cowboys are back in town after nearly a month away when they face the No. 25 BYU at noon in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

Wyoming has a 4-4 overall record this season and is 2-2 in Mountain West Conference play. BYU is 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the MWC. The Cougars are ranked No. 25 in all three major polls – the Associated Press media poll, USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Harris Interactive poll.

BYU will be the second Top 25 ranked team to visit Laramie this season, and will be the third Top 25 team the Wyoming Cowboys have faced this season. Wyoming hosted No. 2 ranked Texas on Sept. 12, 2009, losing to the Longhorns 10-41. Last week, UW faced No. 16 ranked Utah in Salt Lake City, losing 10-22.

Wyoming will be looking to improve on its 3-1 home record this season, and will be seeking its third consecutive conference home win when they host BYU. UW has begun the 2009 Mountain West Conference schedule winning each of its two MWC home games over UNLV (30-27) and New Mexico (37-13). The last time the Pokes won three consecutive MWC home games was at the end of the 2006 season and the start of the 2007 campaign. UW defeated Utah, Colorado State and San Diego State to conclude the 2006 home schedule and defeated TCU in the first MWC home game of 2007 to win four consecutive conference home games.

Last Saturday, the Pokes had the No. 16 ranked Utah Utes on the ropes until midway through the fourth quarter before losing 22-10 in Salt Lake City on Halloween night. Wyoming took an early 3-0 lead as they put together a 13-play, 49-yard drive on its opening possession of the game capped by an Ian Watts 32-yard field goal. Utah came back to tie the game 3-3, early in the second quarter on a Joe Phillips 43-yard field goal to conclude a 7-play, 55-yard drive by the Utes.

With 4:56 remaining in the first half, Wyoming scored a touchdown on a play that involved both of the Cowboys’ quarterbacks. Freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels threw a lateral to junior quarterback Robert Benjamin, who was lined up as a wide receiver. Benjamin then threw a pass back across the field to Carta-Samuels who took the ball 30-yards down the sideline to give UW a 10-3 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Utah’s offense penetrated the redzone twice, reaching the Cowboy four-yard line on its opening drive of the second half and reaching the Wyoming 15 on its second drive, but the Wyoming defense stiffened both times and held the Utes to two field goals. Wyoming retained a 10-9 lead after three quarters of play.

It wasn’t until the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter that Utah took its first lead of the game. The Utes got good field-position at their own 45-yard line, and drove the ball 55 yards on 7 plays culminating in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Wynn to Jereme Brooks to take a 16-10 lead.

The final TD of the game was scored by Utah, after Wyoming went for a fourth and six at its own 20-yard line with two minutes remaining in the game. Utah sacked Cowboy QB Carta-Samuels at the Wyoming nine-yard line and two plays later Utah scored its final touchdown to capture the home win.

The Cowboys not only led Utah throughout most of their meeting on Oct. 31, but UW also held a lead against current No. 2 ranked Texas on Sept. 12 in Laramie. The Cowboys led Texas 10-6 with 1:32 remaining in the first half before the Longhorns went on to post a 41-10 victory over Wyoming.

Wyoming’s loss to No. 2 ranked Texas is its only home loss this season. In its three home wins, Wyoming has averaged 32.0 points per game, scoring 29 vs. Weber State, 30 vs. UNLV and 37 vs. New Mexico. In its three home wins, the Pokes have held opponents to an average of 20.6 points per game per game -- 22 vs. Weber State, 27 vs. UNLV and 13 vs. New Mexico. UW has won or been even in turnover margin in all four of its home games in 2009. Wyoming has committed a total of only two turnovers at home this season, while forcing 12 opponent turnovers in War Memorial Stadium. UW was a +4 in TO margin vs. Weber State and UNLV, was a +2 vs. New Mexico and was even vs. Texas.

The Cowboy defense continues to be the only team in the nation with three players ranked in the Top 25 in the NCAA in tackles. Inside linebackers Brian Hendricks and Gabe Knapton and free safety Chris Prosinski rank No. 4, 5 and 15 in the NCAA this season. Only one other team in the nation has two players ranked among the Top 25. That is the University of Houston.

UW also has six of the Top 14 tacklers in MWC this season. Hendricks, Knapton and Prosinski rank No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 in the league. Senior outside linebacker Weston Johnson ranks No. 5 in the league and No. 60 nationally, and freshman strong safety Shamiel Gary ranks No. 6 in the Mountain West and No. 70 in the NCAA. Junior cornerback Marcell Gipson ranks 14th in the MWC in tackles.

Wyoming sophomore inside linebacker Gabe Knapton not only ranks No. 5 in the NCAA in tackles this season, but he has recorded double figures in tackles in each of Wyoming’s last seven games. The streak of double-figure tackle games began against Texas (12 tackles). Since then he has had: 10 at Colorado, 17 vs. UNLV, 10 at Florida Atlantic, 11 vs. New Mexico, 11 at Air Force and 12 at Utah.

Saturday’s Wyoming-BYU game will be televised live on The Mtn. The Cowboy Sports Network will, as always, broadcast the game on radio over its 25 affiliate stations beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Utes rally late to stop Cowboys

Wyoming-Utah game stats

By Richard Anderson

For three quarters plus, the Wyoming Cowboys were right where they wanted to be. The last seven or eight minutes on Saturday was a different story.

Utah, ranked 19th in the country, scored the game’s final 19 points, including two late touchdowns, to hold off a pesky but offensively challenged Wyoming team 22-10 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Until midway trough the fourth quarter, the cowboys had the lone touchdown of the game and were holding on to a 10-9 lead. The Utes, however, kept their dominance of Wyoming in tack to remain in the hunt for the Mountain West Conference title.

"I thought our kids fought the whole way through,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “There is no quit in these kids. We battled and were in this thing until the last minutes of the game and we (gave ourselves a chance to win)."

It was a much different game for the Cowboys than in the past two years against Utah, as the Utes outscored Wyoming 90-7 in the last two meetings, including 50-0 two years ago the last time the two teams met in Salt lake City.

As could be expected, Christensen said that being close was not good enough.

"I've talked with our guys, and sticking with a top-20 team is not a moral victory,” Christensen said. “We got our tails kicked in the end. We did some things well, we made some progress, but in our program, losing is not acceptable. That's not what we are out here to do."

After being shut out 10-0 by air Force two weeks ago, the Cowboys came out of the bye week rested and with a few changes on the offensive line. In the first half, it appeared as if it would pay off as the Cowboys were able to show some life offensively, led by the passing and pass catching from freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.

The lone touchdown of the first half came on a trick play, as Carta-Samuels passed to backup QB Robert Benjamin, who passed back to Carta-Samuels, who then ran down the sidelines untouched from 30 yards for the score.

But that was about it as the Utes defensive stiffened and held the Cowboys to just 74 yards of total offense in the second half.

"We struggled a little bit in our offense,” Christensen said. “It's not a secret that when you play top-20 teams in the country and top defenses in the country week in and week out, there will be some struggles, especially when you have the youth that we have."

For the Utes, freshman Jordan Wynn passed for 82 yards and a touchdown in his college debut, replacing starter Terrance Cain in the second half to rally Utah.

Utah’s Eddie Wide also tied a school record with his fifth straight 100-yard rushing game and added a late touchdown to seal the win. Wide had 24 carries for 135 yards and a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:41 remaining.

Despite another close win at home, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said it was a real positive win for the Utes.

“The offense played well tonight,” Whittingham said. “This was the first game of the season where we didn't have any turnovers. We moved the ball well between the 20's, but we have to get points on the board. Eddie Wide played a great game tonight. He went over 100 yards for us again and that was huge. `What can you say?' He was great.”

Carta-Samuels was 19 for 30 passing for 121 yards and the Wyoming running game had just 51 yards in the contest. Brandon Stewart led the Cowboys with 28 yards on the ground.

"We're doing everything we can to try to make plays and win a football game,” Christensen said. “Our kids are working their tails off. They work extremely hard every single day to get better and they came out and battled. We had a lot of positive things in the game."

It won’t get any easier for the Cowboys, as they host BYU Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

Friday, October 30, 2009

UW-Utah notebook

The Wyoming Cowboys travel to Salt Lake City Saturday to face long-time conference rival Utah for a Halloween matchup. Wyoming and Utah will be meeting for the 82nd time in the two schools’ histories.

The Cowboys enter this week with a 4-3 overall record and a 2-1 Mountain West Conference mark. Utah is 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the MWC. The Utes are ranked No. 16 in this week’s BCS standings are ranked 19th in the Associated Press, USA Today and Harris Interactive Polls.

Saturday’s game will kick off at 6 p.m. The game will be televised live on The Mtn., and will be broadcast on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network. The radio broadcast will begin one hour before kickoff at 5 p.m. with the pregame show.

Trick or Treat
The Wyoming Cowboys will be playing their 13th Halloween game in school history. The last time Wyoming played on Halloween was in 1998 when the Cowboys traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, and defeated TCU, 34-27, when both schools were members of the 16-team Western Athletic Conference.

The only other time that Wyoming and Utah have played one another on Halloween was the first meeting between the two long-time rivals. That meeting came in 1904, and Utah won in Laramie by a score of 23-0. Wyoming played its first Halloween game back in 1896, winning on the road over Northern Colorado by a score of 10-6. Wyoming is 7-5-0 in Halloween games. The Pokes are 4-2-0 at home on Halloween. UW is 3-3-0 on the road in Halloween games.

Bye bye bye week
Wyoming is coming off its one bye week of the 2009 season. Through the years, the Cowboys have been very successful in games played immediately following a bye week. In the modern era of Wyoming football, since World War II, the Pokes have had 40 bye weeks during the regular season. Wyoming has won 25 of its 40 games played following a bye.

Overall series
Wyoming trails in the overall series versus the Utes 49-31-1. The last time Wyoming defeated Utah was in 2006 in Laramie, by a score of 31-15. Wyoming last won in Salt Lake City in 1999, defeating Utah 43-29. Utah has won the last four meetings in Salt Lake City.
The Cowboys and Utes have played two common opponents to date – Air Force and UNLV. Wyoming defeated UNLV, 30-27, in Laramie, while Utah won in Las Vegas, 35-15. The Pokes lost on the road at Air Force, 10-0. The Utes defeated Air Force in Salt Lake City by a score of 23-16, but it took Utah an overtime period to get the win.

Coaching reunion
This week’s coaching matchup features two head coaches who have known each other for nearly 20 years. Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen and Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham coached on the same coaching staff together at Idaho State back in the early 1990s. Christensen was an assistant with the Bengals for the 1990 and ‘91 seasons, coaching the offensive line, tight ends and running backs during his two seasons in Pocatello. Whittingham served as an assistant at Idaho State for six seasons, from 1988-93. He was the linebackers and special teams coach from 1988-91 and was the defensive coordinator his last two seasons of 1992 and ‘93.

Cowboys in the rankings
Wyoming sophomore inside linebacker Brian Hendricks was credited with 23 total tackles at Air Force on Oct. 17. Not only did his performance earn him Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors, but that tackle total is the best individual performance in the nation this season. In fact, he is one of only two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players to record 20 or more tackles in a single game in 2009.

He is also one of only two players in the nation to have two of the Top 25 single-game tackle performances this season. The other is Carmen Messina of New Mexico. Hendricks other Top 25 performance was 18 tackles at Colorado on Sept. 19, which ties for the sixth best performance in the nation.

Two other Cowboys also rank in the Top 25 in the nation in terms of single-game tackle performances this season. Sophomore inside linebacker Gabe Knapton had 17 vs. UNLV to tie for 12th in the nation. UW junior free safety Chris Prosinski also is tied for 12th with his 17 tackles coming against Texas.

There are three talented senior defensive linemen in the Mountain West Conference that are running neck-and-neck for the MWC Career Sack record. Wyoming’s John Fletcher, TCU’s Jerry Hughes and BYU’s Jan Jorgensen are all within 2.0 career sacks of one another entering this week. Fletcher has 24.0 career sacks. Jorgensen has been credited with 24.5, and Hughes is the current MWC career leader in sacks with 26.0.

This season, Fletcher and Hughes are also among the nation’s leaders in sacks. Hughes has 9.0 sacks on the year to rank No. 4 in the nation, and Fletcher has 7.0 sacks in 2009 to rank No. 8 in the NCAA. Jorgensen has sacked opposing quarterbacks twice this season.

Young bloods
Wyoming is one of the youngest teams in the country, having played 12 true freshmen and started six true freshmen in ‘09. The six freshmen starters tie Wyoming for the second most in the nation with Miami of Ohio. Texas A&M leads the way with eight true freshmen starters.

Up next
Following the Utah game, Wyoming will return home next week to host the BYU Cougars on Nov. 7 in a game set to kick off at Noon.

Utah (6-1, 3-0 MWC) is No. 16 in the BCS standings and No. 19 in the Associated Press, USA Today Coaches and Harris polls. Radio is KALL 700 AM (

Saturday's game is the second-annual "Blackout" game at Utah. Fans are encouraged to wear black and the Utah team will wear black uniforms. A year ago, in the first "Blackout" game in Rice-Eccles Stadium, No. 9 Utah handed No. 11 TCU a 13-10 defeat.

Trick or Treat II
In honor of Halloween, there will be a Trick-or -Treat zone for kids in Rice-Eccles Stadium prior to the game. The Trick-or-Treat zone will open at 4 p.m., two hours before kickoff, and will feature a tent with spooky music, fog, balloons, interactive games, a black costume contest and more. Ute student-athletes will be on hand to pass out candy. A giant spotlight up 500 South will lead fans to two giant inflated Halloween creatures outside the Trick-or-Treat zone. A game ticket is required for entry.

Utes jump in rankings
In the latest rankings, Utah jumped two places in the BCS standings to No. 16, held steady at No. 19 in the A.P. and Harris Polls, and improved one spot to No. 19 in the Coaches' poll. The BCS standings are based on the Harris poll, Coaches' poll and the computer rankings--the latter which has the Utes at 15th this week. Utah's only loss this season was to current No. 10/12 Oregon in Eugene.

More Bowling
With six wins, Utah is bowl eligible for the seventh-straight season. Utah has the nation's longest postseason win streak at eight, which includes bowl wins in 1999 and 2001, and from 2003-08.

Another Sellout Saturday?
The Utes are looking for their 10th-straight sellout of Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday. Utah has drawn over-capacity crowds dating back to the first game of the 2008 season, averaging 45,506 during that time in a stadium that seats 45,017.

Streaking Utes
Utah has won 20 of its last 21 games and 27 of its last 29 games.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hendricks earns POW honors

Sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks

University of Wyoming sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks was named the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance versus Air Force this past Saturday.

Hendricks set a new UW single-game tackle record with 23 total tackles against the Falcons, breaking the UW record that had stood since 1972 when Frank Erzinger made 21 tackles against New Mexico.

Hendricks, a sophomore from Burlington, Colo., had 11 solo tackles, 12 assists and also forced one fumble. The Falcons ran a total of 74 offensive plays on the day of which Hendricks made the tackle on nearly one-third of those plays (23 total). His biggest stops came midway through the second quarter as Air Force had a first-and-goal at the Wyoming 10-yard line. Hendricks made tackles on both first and second down, holding the Falcons to only seven yards on those two plays. Air Force ended up going for it on fourth-and-goal, but Hendricks and the UW defense forced an incomplete pass to maintain a 0-0 tie going into the half.

Hendricks got stronger throughout the game. He made three tackles in the first quarter, five in the second, seven in the third and eight in the fourth. He becomes only the third Cowboy in 113 seasons of Wyoming Football to record 20 or more tackles in a single game. In addition to Erzinger's 21 tackles in 1972, former Wyoming All-America linebacker Paul Nunu made 20 tackles against New Mexico in 1976.

Despite the loss, Hendricks and the Cowboy defense held Air Force to its lowest point total of the season -- 10 points -- and held the Falcons 90 yards under their total offense average (269 yards of total offense as compared to 359.0 average for the season) Only Navy held Air Force to fewer total yards this season (240). Wyoming’s defense also held Air Force to only two yards passing – the second fewest in MWC history.

Earlier this season, Hendricks recorded 18 tackles against Colorado, which tied for the fifth-best, single-game tackle total in school history at the time.

It is Hendricks’ first MWC Player of the Week honor of his career. He is the first Cowboy on defense to earn MWC Player of the Week honors this season. He joins teammates Austyn Carta-Samuels (two-time MWC Offensive Player of the Week), Austin McCoy (Special Teams Player of the Week for Sept. 5) and Ian Watts (Special Teams Player of the Week for Sept. 26) as Cowboys to earn the honor this season.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cowboys punchless in loss to Falcons

Wyoming-Air Force statistics

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- For the second time this season, the Wyoming offense put up a goose egg on the scoreboard.

The Wyoming defense was strong, but Air Force was a little stronger in blanking the Cowboys 10-0 Saturday, handing the Cowboys their first Mountain West Conference loss of the season.

Wyoming’s lack of offensive production came off of scoring 97 points in its previous three games, all victories. The Cowboys fell to 2-1 in league play and 4-3 overall. Air Force, which has now won four straight over Wyoming, is now 3-1, 4-3.

"It was just nip and tuck, as it so frequently is whenever Air Force plays Wyoming,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “You can go back a number of years where you can talk about very, very close contests. You just have to find a way to win with resolve. I thought today we were extremely resilient and we did what we had to do to win a football game, which was a really good victory. You had two good teams, and hats off to Wyoming for what they've done and for what they're going to do up there. It was a great win."

After a scoreless first half, the Falcons scored the only points of the game on a 29-yard field goal by Erik Soderberg in the third quarter and a 17-yard touchdown run by Jared Tew in the fourth quarter. Both scores were set up by short punts, putting air Force in good field position.

Air Force got going offensively in the second half when sophomore quarterback Connor Dietz came off the bench to spark the Falcons, replacing Tim Jefferson, who got the start despite missing the previous two games because of injury.

That was more than enough for Air Force's defense, one of the stingiest in the nation. The Falcons shut out of a conference opponent for the first time since a 24-0 win at Colorado State in 1997.

"I don't think there is any difference in their quarterbacks,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “They are both equally as productive running the offense. There was really no difference between the second half and the first half, our defense was just on the field a whole bunch today."

Tew led Air Force's rushing attack, finishing with 105 yards while Savier Stephens added 46.

The Cowboys were rolling along coming into Saturday. They had won three straight and were averaging more than 32 points a game since true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels took over at quarterback.

But Carta-Samuels struggled against the Falcons, completing 14 of 31 passes for 74 yards. He also threw an interception and the Cowboys never moved the ball inside the red zone.

Brandon Stewart finished with 51 yards rushing for the Cowboys, while David Leonard while had seven catches for 36 yards.

A stout Cowboys defense kept Air Force at bay for most of the game, but wore down late. Sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks finished with 23 tackles for Wyoming and senior defensive tackle John Fletcher had a pair of sacks.

In the scoreless first half, the teams combined for 12 penalties and Air Force mustered 79 yards of offense.

The Falcons got inside the 5, but Asher Clark was stopped by Chris Prosinski and Shamiel Gary from the 3 before Jefferson's fourth-down pass was knocked away by Tashaun Gipson in the corner of the end zone.

With time winding down in the opening half, the Cowboys caught the Falcons in a coverage mix up and Stewart broke into the clear along the sideline.

However, Carta-Samuels sailed a pass too far and Stewart caught it out of bounds near the Air Force 10.

Wyoming's 47-yard field goal attempt just before halftime was blocked by Zach Kauth.

The Cowboys had 10 penalties in the game for 71 yards.

"Absolutely awful job on my part of preparing our kids for that,” Christensen said.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cowboys happy, but not satisfied

UW photos
Wyoming quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels congratulates running back Alvester Alexander after Alexander's 33-yard touchdown run in the first quarter against New Mexico. At left, the UW defense swarms over a New Mexico running back.

By Richard Anderson

Is it too early to talk about a bowl game for the Wyoming Cowboys?

Yes … kind of.

The Cowboys don’t want to get caught up in the bowl talk with a tough schedule ahead, but when pressed, they admit it is their goal and each win puts them closer to that goal.

Opening the season at 4-2 will do that to a team.

“I know there is a locker room that is excited to be 4-2 right now,” Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said after Saturday’s 37-13 win over New Mexico. “They have probably exceeded a few of your (media) expectations at this time. The kids are playing hard, they have bought in and they continue to come out and play every single game from start to finish. We know the schedule is going to get harder and harder, we have a very difficult game next week against a very good Air Force opponent.”

Have the Cowboys exceeded Christensen’s expectations? Not even close.

“They haven’t met mine, yet,” Christensen said. “We plan on winning every single time we play. I said that the beginning and that is the way it is going to be in this program.”

Wyoming freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels said that 4-2 is a good start, but it is just that – a start.

“We’re going to take it one at a time definitely because we have a tough schedule and that starts with Air Force next week,” Carta-Samuels said. “That’s all we are going to think about. We’re going to take it in stride and hopefully we can keep stacking wins, keep stacking wins. A bowl will be talked about eventually, but we’re not going to talk about that yet or we will lose sight of our goals.”

Cowboy senior linebacker said they aren’t satisfied with being 4-2. They want to be 5-2 after next Saturday’s game with the Falcons. That is their next goal.

“All of the coaches have high expectations for us,” Johnson said, “and I think we are just starting to scratch the surface of what we can do. We have to take it one game at a time and we have a good Air Force team next week.”

Wyoming senior defensive end Mitch Unrein said they are playing with much more confidence and that started with the coaching staff.

“We’re not worrying about if a mistake is going to happen,” Unrein said. “We know good things are going to happen. That is one of the things you can tell in our locker room and in our practices, the meeting room. The team has a whole new look at the program.”

Christensen said that they talk to the team about putting streaks together, winning back-to-back-to-back games. He said that is what you have to do to have success and do the things that you want to do.

“You can’t win a game, lose a couple, win a game, lose a couple. You have to put together back-to-back-to back game to start some streaks. So, it is huge," Christensen said. “The thing is we are changing the landscape and they are learning to do things and what it takes, how to think like a champion. They are doing a great job, but they have along ways to go, believe me. We have no arrived, but we are playing hard, learning how to finish, learning how to compete. Right now, I am happy with where we are at.”

Happy, but not satisfied.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Defense puts it together in the second half

Richard Anderson photo/Senior linebacker Weston Johnson clutches the football after an interception as he is greeted by teammates.

By Richard Anderson

Some of their problems were their own fault in the first half, some of them were not.

The Wyoming defense made sure the second half and final score was no problem at all, pitching a shutout in the final two quarters as the Cowboys rolled to a 37-13 win over New Mexico Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.

The Cowboys gave up a 24-yard touchdown pass on a one-play drive that was set up by a fumble on a fake punt attempt. They then gave up two field goals on long drives by the Lobos, the second with less than a minute to play until halftime.

Although Wyoming was up by four points at halftime, it wasn’t the effort the Cowboy defense was looking for.

“We challenged them at halftime and I thought they came out in the second half and made some big stops,’ Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said.

Per man, the solution was almost identical; they had to do the little things well to play big.

“We just went out there and didn’t have any mental errors,” Wyoming senior defensive tackle John Fletcher said. “They had a wheel play that as a defensive end, we were suppose to come down the spill and we weren’t getting that in the first half. Coaches got on us a little bit. We started hitting it in the second half and they weren’t getting anything on us. Once we were able to shut down the run and get them in passing situations, that’s when we did the best up front, getting pressure.”

Added senior defensive end Mitch Unrein: “We didn’t execute as well in the first half as we should have. We got a little talking to there. Then everyone came out and just did their job. That’s what we try to stress on the defensive side of the ball.”

The Wyoming linebackers said they were guilty as charged, not filling the gaps the way they needed to stop the New Mexico ground attack.

“It’s just the little plays. There might be a broken pass coverage or not filling the right gap. It’s little things like that that need to be fixed. That’s all it was,” said sophomore linebacker Gabe Knapton, who led the Cowboys with 11 tackles, his fifth straight game of double-digit tackles. “When we came into halftime, we all knew what we needed to do. We all came together and came out and played great defense.”

Senior linebacker Weston Johnson said much of the same thing as Knapton.

“We just had guys not doing their exact assignment, not filling the gap,” said Johnson, who had 10 tackles (two for a loss) and one pass interception. “The coaches got on us and it kind of woke us up. We knew we could play better, so we just came out and focused on that.”

The Wyoming coaches got on the Cowboys and they listened. After giving up 178 yards and 13 points in the first half, the Lobos had just 112 yards and a goose egg on the scoreboard in the final 30 minutes.

“First half, definitely not. In the second half, we got a shutout and played the way that we know we can play," Johnson said about how he thought they played. “I think it gives our team offensively and defensively going into next week’s game against Air Force.”

Johnson said that on defense, preached all week about players being responsible, being accountable to their teammates.

“There were a few plays, including myself, where guys were coming out of coverage or not doing what they were supposed to on that play," Johnson said. "That enabled New Mexico to move the ball on us that they would like.”

In fact, the Lobos had 25 yards rushing on their first three carries, all by James Wright. New Mexico finished with just 47 yards on the ground in the game.

“We came out in the second half and played mistake free and cleaned up on those errors. If we keep doing that, we’ll get better every single week,” Unrein said.

Maybe one of the first half highlights for the Wyoming defense was when Unrein caught Wright in the end zone on a little swing pass for a safety -- the team’s first points of the game.

Unrein, who had put good pressure on this season but had little to show for it, finished with one quarterback sack and three tackles. He was actually surprised he was credited with the sack.

“Sweet, I didn’t know that,” Unrein said when he was told that he had a sack. “It’s nice to get on the sheet. It has been kind of a long five games. I’d get back there but he (quarterback) would get the ball off. We have such great playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. If somebody is blocking me, that frees up somebody else. It’s just a team effort. I don’t care what my stats are, I just play as hard as I can. I’m more worried about us winning the ballgame.”

Wyoming’s sackmaster -- Fletcher -- caught New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie one time as well, as the Cowboys finished with five sacks in the game.

“Every week Coach C is getting us ready to play. If you do your technique, the big hits will come. I think from the beginning of fall camp to now we have become more physical unit than we ever have been,” Fletcher said.