Wyoming Ground Attack Outshines QB Play

Wyoming Ground Attack Outshines QB Play

With four nonconference games under their belt, the Cowboys have made it clear what their bread and butter is on offense. And while Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon have been next to unstoppable in ‘07, the passing game has all too often made things tough on a solid Wyoming defense. Will too many turnovers through the air and a sensational ground attack change the Pokes' identity offensively?

When the Cowboys took the field against Ohio last Saturday, the offense looked as good and as bad as it had all season.

As Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon reeled off long run after long run and finished with 290 yards and three scores, quarterbacks Karsten Sween and Ian Hetrick tossed up five interceptions—one of which was returned for a touchdown—and continually put the Pokes' defense in some tough spots.

Moore's 198-yard, two-touchdown performance may have been his best ever as a Cowboy, and certainly Wyoming's come-from-behind 34-33 victory would not have been possible without it.

"It felt great," he said this week. "I got to give thanks to the offensive line for opening up some huge holes.

"I believe it was all-around the best game (he has had at Wyoming) just because my folks were there, all my family members, and man, the numbers, I can't complain about them."

For Sween, it was just the opposite. His two touchdowns—the first on the Pokes' opening drive and the second coming on fourth-and-four from the Ohio five-yard line with the game on the line—sandwiched a 174-yard effort that saw the southpaw throw four picks and get benched midway through the second half.

"It was pretty ugly and it might not have been a good one for the fans to watch," Sween told the Casper Star Tribune. "I really don't like playing in them too much, but we got a win and I'm going to try to get better."

"He can be better than that," UW coach Joe Glenn told the Tribune. "That's not Karsten.

"He protects the ball pretty good a lot of the time. He just got a little sloppy with it."

As most of the rest of the country begins conference play today, Wyoming will have a little extra time to review last week's game film—an experience that will likely be every bit as nerve-wracking as it is reassuring. The running game could not have been better against the Bobcats. What's more, with the exception of one mediocre effort on the ground against Boise State, the Cowboys have looked nearly unstoppable rushing the football in 2007 and are ranked second in the Mountain West Conference with 172 yards per contest.

The passing game, on the other hand, while impressive at times—like in the Cowboys' 23-3 rout of Virginia—has left much to be desired at others. Over its last three games, Wyoming has thrown twice as many interceptions (eight) as touchdowns (four).

"We need some emphasis on it," Glenn said. "We've got to get solid on our protection. We've got to hold it in there, so we can step into our throws.

"We all share the blame there a little bit. It's totally not just Karsten because he had some trouble getting the ball off."

A New Offensive Identity?

With a sophomore quarterback and a new no-huddle offense, mistakes are expected, but the performance of Wyoming's junior running back tandem on Saturday left little doubt about where the strength of the team lies. Whether that calls for more run and less pass as the season progresses remains to be seen. If the backs can equal their early-season production, however, an increased workload would only add more troubles to opposing defenses and take pressure off a struggling passing attack.

"I think that's putting up an argument for it, a little more run and a little less pass," Moore said. "At the same time, we are a passing offense, and I have to respect that. We have a great quarterback. Karsten Sween, he's a great quarterback. With that being said, if the run has to outweigh the pass sometimes just to help the pass, then so be it."

Still, Glenn doesn't plan on making any drastic changes in the play calling of next week's conference home opener with TCU.

"What we always strive for is balance, and we've got to take what the defense gives us," Glenn said. "Now, if we're able to run the ball, we're going to run the ball. That's a no-brainer, and we were able to run the ball Saturday. We probably could have run it in the first half better, but we turned it over too much. So if we're making money running the ball, we're going to run it. Those two guys (Seldon and Moore) are pretty handy, and we'll take a little pressure off the passing game."


NOTES and QUOTES

The Cowboys may not need to take quite as much pressure off Sween as originally thought. The Associated Press reported this week that TCU preseason All-American defensive end Tommy Blake will sit out the Wyoming game next Saturday due to a medical leave of absence. It will mark the second time in 2007 that Blake has missed time for undisclosed reasons.

"I don't know what's wrong with the guy," Genn said, "but he's a sensational football player when things are right. I don't know if something's wrong with him right now, but I hope he gets it back and can play."

Glenn will take whatever breaks he can get going into what may be the Pokes' most important game of the young season.

"That doesn't bother me," he said. "I don't want to play against the best they got. The guy makes it rough on you. I'm not kidding you. When he's right, he's a sensational player. It doesn't look like he's been right this year."

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