Saturday, September 12, 2009
Ruff goes from spectator to contributor
Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming's Ghaali Muhammad, 23, looks at the official to verify his touchdown after teammate Luke Ruff's blocked punt Saturday against Texas.
By Richard Anderson
Freshman cornerback Luke Ruff had been preparing himself for a redshirt season when head Dave Christensen pulled him aside this week and told him to start getting ready to play against Texas.
So much for just working hard in practice and watching from the sidelines on Saturday.
As it turned out, Ruff was more than just a spectator against the Longhorns, as he played a big part in the Cowboys lone touchdown of the game in the 41-10 loss.
After coming close to a block earlier in the game, Ruff electrified the sold-out War Memorial Stadium crowd when he got a hand on Texas punter John Gold’s kick deep in Longhorns’ territory, with teammate Ghaali Muhammad scooping up the block in the end zone for the touchdown.
Suddenly, the heavily underdog Cowboys were leading the No. 2 team in the nation, 10-6, with just barely a minute left in the first half.
Texas, however, would go on to score late in the quarter for a three-point halftime lead and totally dominate the second half. For a moment, though, Ruff was the talk of the town.
“I don’t even know what was going through my head. I was just racing and then I was on the ground after the dive and I saw Ghaali pick it up,” Ruff said. “Happiness, I guess. It was excitement.”
Ruff, a highly decorated prep player from Castle Rock, Colo., has been a spark plug in practice for the Cowboys this season, and he was rewarded with the chance to get out on the field.
“I brought Luke in this week and I told him that the way he is working at this point and time, I felt he could help this football team,” Christensen said. “We decided to pull his redshirt and get him on special teams. It’s pretty exciting for a freshman to come in and block a punt against Texas.”
Christensen said they thought they could get to the punter after film work, and he was right. In fact, Ruff actually got to him earlier in the game, but missed the block and was called for a roughing the kicker penalty.
“The first time he should have just tackled the guy,” Christensen said.
Ruff said that he was just doing his job. As it turned out, he did his job well.
“The coaches were like, ‘This is their weakness. This is what we are going to do to exploit it,’ and that’s what they told me to do and I just ran it,” he said. “It wasn’t just me. It was Alex Toney and everybody else on the team. I was just lucky enough to be the guy chosen to go through the hole and block it.”
After that first miss, Ruff admitted he wanted to redeem himself.
“I was like, ‘I can’t believe I missed the first one.’ They gave me a second chance and here we are,” Ruff said.
When asked how he felt having his redshirt pulled, Ruff said he really didn’t have a choice.
“I just said, ‘Tell me what to do and I’ll do it,’” Ruff said. “It wasn’t too hard of a choice. I’m not going to say no to my coach.”
Muhammad said Ruff was in position for the block because he deserved to be on the field.
“On the scout team, he is always the one going 100 percent; that’s why Coach took his redshirt off because it is all about effort,” Muhammad said. “Luke is a 100 percent effort guy and I knew Luke would get in there at least one time. I seen it out of the corner of my eye, then scooped and scored and put some points on the board.”
Muhammad, a Missouri native who has also worked his way onto the field on defense as well, said it was it was an overwhelming experience just to be out there competing in his true freshman season against a team like Texas. To score a touchdown was a bonus.
“We knew we needed a big play and that was a momentum changer, right there,” Muhammad said. “It felt good to put some points on the scoreboard for the team.”