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Wyoming Takes Top D into MWC Play


Staff member
Article from the Casper Star Tribune

Star-Tribune staff writer Thursday, October 04, 2007

If it was the half that determined the course for the rest of the season, the Wyoming defense set the sails.

They were playing on what amounted to a flag football field while the offense turned the ball over with alarming regularity.

They were battling self-inflicted wounds from untimely penalties and flags that could have gone either way, but went mostly against them.

The Cowboys bent plenty in their last outing at Ohio, but their wrecking crew defense never broke.

"They've just been sensational," UW coach Joe Glenn said. "We've put them in harm's way so many times, and all they've done is three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out.

"If it's not out, they're holding them to field goals."

For the most part, any kind of points the Cowboys have allowed must be set up with premium field position.

They rank fourth in the nation in total defense, and they're giving up 83 fewer yards per game than any team in the Mountain West Conference heading into their league opener on Saturday against TCU.

They've allowed just five touchdowns during the Cowboys' 3-1 start, including a 68-yard Bobcats' bomb during a dismal first half that left UW down 20-6 at intermission.

But as the offense continued to alternately speed and sputter, the defense consistently protected the little amount of real estate behind it over the last half hour.

Ohio started outside of its 30-yard line on every drive but two during the second half -- and in UW territory twice -- but never managed to convert more than a field goal.

There were four straight punts in the third quarter.

A fourth-quarter fumble in the red zone.

The Cowboys didn't exactly storm back offensively, but with the Bobcats limping to 117 yards of offense after halftime, they didn't really need to.

"We knew it would take how our defense played against Virginia (to come back and win)," linebacker Mike Juergens said. "Just completely shut down their offense, and I feel like that's what we did when we came out for the second half.

"Just completely embarrassed them. Just shut them down. Shut them down."

The junior's six tackles and a sack played a big part in Operation Shutdown, but he had plenty of help.

The Cowboys had eleven players tally at least half of a tackle for a loss and seven were in on sacks.

Sean Claffey and Quincy Rogers didn't have either, but the former forced a fumble and the latter recovered one as UW forced four turnovers.

The effort was so overwhelming, Glenn ran out of adjectives to describe it -- offering multiple "spectaculars" and "just greats" with no indication that the assessments were any different.

"We've got three sophomores up front that are just doing a great job," Glenn said. "You've got those guys playing good up front, and then the linebacking corps is, to me, the best.

"And even when (Ohio) got a big pass on us, we were able to hold them. They're all just so determined."

And they seem to know where they want to take their ship.

Contact sports reporter Austin Ward at (307) 266-0634 or [email protected]

Getting Defensive

The nation's top 10 teams in total defense

Team Yards per game

1. LSU 174.6

2. Ohio State 197.6

3. Kansas 218.8

4. Wyoming 248.8

5. Connecticut 250.6

6. Oklahoma 263.6

7. Penn State 265.0

8. Boise State 266.8

9. Iowa 267.4

10. Pittsburgh 268.4

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