Friday, September 11, 2009

Cowboys look to be prepared for Longhorns

Austin P. Ontiveroz photo
Wyoming running back Darius Terry breaks off a big run against Weber Sstate last Saturday.

By Richard Anderson

Just another game, huh.

In some ways, that’s how the Wyoming Cowboys are preparing for second-ranked Texas.

But the Cowboys know it isn’t just another game. It is Texas and it is an experience most of them have never experienced and won’t likely experience until, say next year when they face the Longhorns in Austin, Texas.

“I’m really excited to get Wyoming some national exposure, finally. Hopefully, we can make it a game with those guys,” Wyoming junior running back Darius Terry said.

Many of the Cowboys said after the 29-22 win over Weber State last Saturday that they prepared mentally as hard as they ever had for the Wildcats.

What does that mean with one of the top programs in the history of college football coming to Laramie the next week?

“You have to look at this as if it is any other game. They are Texas but you can’t focus on that,” Terry added. “You have to prepare like you would for anyone else.”

Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels echoed Terry’s belief.

You prepare like any another week,” Carta-Samuels said. “I think the nerves are going harder, but nothing changes in terms of work ethic. If we work harder for Texas than we prepared for Weber State, then we’re setting ourselves sup for failure later in the season.”

Preparation, however, is the key for the Cowboys, whether it is Weber State or Texas. That has been the case this week for the Cowboys, on and off the field.

“We have to go in the film room and watch film and go to practice and keep working hard and come prepared for Saturday,” Wyoming freshman cornerback Shamiel Gary said.

Wyoming’s spread offense looked sharp at times against Weber State, scoring on its first possession. The Cowboys, however, left points out on the field when they didn’t take advantage of good field position off of turnovers.

Against the Texas defense, if that happens again, the end result will be much different.

“All we can do is take our game into Saturday and not let them affect our game,” Carta-Samuels said. “We know they have unbelievable athletes on the other side of the ball. We’re going to be ready for that. Hopefully, we can have some success; I believe we can.”

Defensively, Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said that the Longhorns are solid in every position.

“They have speed in all positions, they are very, very athletic, particularly in the defensive line areas,“ Christensen said. “There have no weaknesses. You have to be sound and fundamentally sharp on every snap.”

As was the case last week, Christensen will go with his two quarterbacks, Carta-Samuels and junior Robert Benjamin, who started against Weber State and will do so again on Saturday against Texas.

Christensen, the former offensive coordinator from Missouri, prepared each season for the Texas defense. Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said that will be an advantage for Wyoming. At the same time, Brown said that because his defense has prepared for the Missouri offense throughout Christensen’s tenure there, and because both offenses play similar schemes, they won’t come into Saturday’s game blind.

“We’ve seen Missouri and our offense is more like Missouri than it used to be. It is easier for our defense to prepare and we feel it give us some advantages,“ Brown said. “Coach Christensen has some of the same advantage that he has prepared for our defense. These two teams should be more familiar with schemes than most cases.”

The Wyoming defense, which was solid until the final minutes against a good Weber State offense, will have its hands full against the Longhorns, led by Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Colt McCoy, who threw for 327 yards in the 59-20 win over Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.

“Colt had a little stretch in the second quarter when he competed 4 of 8 passes. But then from that point he came out and competed 17-of-21,” Brown said. “He took a little dip, but then competed 85 percent. We felt it was banner performance for Colt in his opener.”

Wyoming senior defensive tackle John Fletcher, who had two sacks against Weber State, said the Cowboys have to stay technically sound on defense against the talented Longhorns.

“I’m sure we’ll do a good job on defense and I’m sure the coaches will put a good game plan together,” Fletcher said.

Just another game for the Cowboys? Not hardly. Wyoming might prepare for that way, but once the ball is kicked off at 1:32 p.m., everything will change.

“It is going to be a great challenge for our program,” Christensen said. “I know our kids will compete their tails off. It will be a great evaluate of where we stack up against one of the top teams in Division I. We’re excited about it. This place is going to be sold out and our kids will be fired up and ready to play.”

In a way, Fletcher said it is a win-win situation for the team, regardless of the outcome.

“The crowd is going to be wild, we’re playing the No. 2 team in the nation. It is going to be an exciting game,” Fletcher said. “We have to go out and play and just let the cards fall.”

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