Monday, August 24, 2009

Cowboy defense not quite satisfied with progress

Richard Anderson photo/Wyoming defensive coordinator Marty English and his staff watch Saturday's scrimmage.

By Richard Anderson

It has all been about the ball for the Cowboys this season … the offense needs to hang onto the pigskin and the defense needs to take it away.

For the Cowboys on defense, that has certainly been a bright spot so far in the fall drills. For the offense … not so much.

In Saturday’s third scrimmage at War Memorial Stadium, the Cowboys had three takeaways – two interceptions and one fumble recovery. In the three scrimmages, Wyoming has six interceptions and six fumble recoveries.

Yet, walking off the field after Saturday’s scrimmage, two of the Cowboys responsible for takeaways – senior defensive tackle Mike Neuhaus and junior free safety Chris Prosinski – acted like it was the offense that had the upper edge.

“I think that we are finding out with this up-tempo offense, mentally, we are a little behind with our conditioning and everything,” Prosinski said. “We were dragging out there a little bit.”

Neuhaus earned his second interception of the fall – both off of junior quarterback Robert Benjamin. Neuhaus said that he hasn’t done anything special, but has just been in the right place at the right time.

“I guess I need to take Benjamin out to lunch or something, he’s thrown two passes right to my chest,” Neuhaus said. “I can’t take much credit for that.”

Senior defensive tackle John Fletcher also has an interception of Benjamin, leaping high to snag a pass at the line of scrimmage. So far the Wyoming defensive linemen are showing good hands.

“The thing is, if we can’t get to the quarterback, our coach tells us to get your hands up, jump and try to knock the pass down,” Neuhaus said. “Fortunately for me and Fletcher, we not only knock the ball down, but we picked it off.”

Prosinski, meanwhile, made a high-light film interception late in the two-minute portion of the scrimmage, picking off freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels.

“It the two-minute drill and we just wanted to get three and out and get off the field, especially when we are up,” Prosinski said. “It was good to get the interception and hopefully we have more to come.”

While Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen was displeased with his offense for the second straight scrimmage after it took it to the defense the first time out, Saturday’s scrum was a little more balanced than in the previous two.

“The offense did some good things, we did some good things, but we both have some things to improve on,” Prosinski said. “We’re not close to getting there yet. We have two weeks to get ready, and we have a ways to go.”

That improvement all starts in the film room before they get out to the practice field again on Tuesday afternoon. The Cowboys took Sunday and Monday off from practice as classes got underway, and will now prepare for the third and final scrimmage Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Wyoming opens the regular season on Sept. 5 when it hosts Weber State.

“We have a lot of work to do. We did some good things, but we’ll go into the film room and check it out and see what we can improve on,” Prosinski said.

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