To help breakdown the teams on Texas' 2012 schedule, HornsNation will be conducting Q&As with the opposing team's beat writers to get a more in-depth look at that opponent.
To get more information on the Wyoming Cowboys, Carter Strickland talked with Wyoming (Cheyenne, Wyo.) Tribune-Eagle sports editor and Wyoming beat writer Robert Gagliardi.
Carter Strickland: Texas was mediocre at best in passing offense last season. How good is the Wyoming’s pass defense? Are there some studs that stick out there who can change the game with a pick or a sack?
Robert Gagliardi: Wyoming’s pass defense has a chance to be good, especially with the guys it has in the secondary. The Cowboys have one of the better cornerback duos in the Mountain West in sophomore Blair Burns and junior Marqueston Huff. Burns earned three different Freshman All-America honors last season and led the team with four interceptions. Huff had three interceptions and was tops on the team with three fumble recoveries, two of which he returned for touchdowns. At safety, there is senior Luke Ruff, a preseason All-Mountain West candidate and pretty much the leader of the secondary -- and the defense in general. Sophomore safety Mark Nzeocha played outside linebacker last season and was moved to safety in the spring. He really took to playing safety in the spring and could make things happen there. There also is some good depth in the secondary, although it’s young with sophomore cornerbacks DeAndre Jones and Darrenn White, and sophomore safety Chad Reese. Wyoming should be more athletic at linebacker with seniors Korey Jones and Oliver Schober. The line is a bit thin on numbers and production, but it has a good one in the middle in senior defensive tackle Mike Purcell (6-3, 303). But some newcomers will need to help along the line.
CS: The Longhorns are most likely going to run the ball on 60-plus percent of their plays. The hope is to wear down the opponent. How deep is Wyoming across the front four and how good are the linebackers?
RG: Wyoming allowed 232 rushing yards per game last season, but survived that for the most part by forcing 31 turnovers (13 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries). With some uncertainty along the line, this remains a big concern for the team heading into the season. New defensive coordinator Chris Tormey also likes to disguise coverages and looks to cause confusion. The Cowboys may need to rely on more of that if the defensive line struggles to progress.