Forcing Turnovers and Getting to the QB is Big for the Cowboy Defense

Sept 18, 2021; Laramie, WY, USA; Wyoming Cowboys linebacker Keyon Blankenbaker(18) scores a touchdown against the Ball State Cardinals at War Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-UW Media-Athletics

by Keith Kelley–21 Sep ’21

The Wyoming Cowboy defense has forced seven turnovers this season. Three of those have resulted in defensive scores in the Pokes first three games. On the flip side, the Cowboys have turned it over just twice this year. At a plus-five turnover margin through three weeks, that’s a good recipe to be 3-0. Senior cornerback Azizi Hearn says that their practice habits are carrying over into games.

“It’s something that we work on in practice,” said Hearn. “Whenever we’re doing team periods, whenever they’re (running backs) running the ball, everybody’s trying to strip the ball. Everybody’s fittin’ to hit, making sure we’re in good leverage or good position to tackle. It’s practice habits translating to the games.”

The Cowboys are also getting good pressure on the quarterbacks, especially last Saturday. Wyoming had six sacks in the win over Ball State. Head coach Craig Bohl says it was a good combination of pressure on the quarterback, and good coverage.

“There were a couple of coverage sacks. We were getting a good push, but the guys were in the right spots on some zones, and it forced the quarterback to hold the ball. And then some other times, that quarterback was really under duress. Certainly, to have six sacks, that has a huge impact on the game,” said Bohl. “We’ll need to do everything we can to replicate that this next week, because that has a big, big bearing on the ball game.”

Wyoming is on the road this weekend to wrap up non-conference play. Kickoff at UCONN is set for 1:30 pm mountain time on Saturday.