LBs at a Glance: Mike Juergens

As we here at continue our struggle to provide Wyoming readers everywhere with the kind of keyed up, edifying sports reviews that our reputation will likely one day trigger, I will continue my descent into the alluring depths of linebacking analysis.

This week's main thrust has been one of energizing optimism, with three returning starters and a quagmire of defensive experience ruling a rousing ration of sports prose that has undoubtedly given our readers the kind of journalistic buzz they seldom encounter in other media outlets.

Throughout it all, however, my mind has been plagued by at least one nagging question: Can this year's squad live up to the incredible amount of hype which we have surely generated on this website?

That question was answered today in a quite moment of humble clarity that, with any luck, will never again darken my visage: We only have 18 subscribers. With that thought in mind, I hope you, like I do, feel free to give the '07 team as much preseason praise as you want. And don't worry; if in the end we're wrong about the defense's potential, we can always blame it on one of the Bramlett brothers.

Despite our modest numbers, I have no doubt that in the probing minds of our worthy 18 subscribers there has developed a collegiate football knowledge not to be rivaled by mere newspaper readers.

Tangentially, as you may have long been curious to know, CowboyBlitz's two editors have a system by which we, with such seeming effortlessness, provide you with the nearly-daily sports content that undoubtedly keeps you getting up in the morning. I generally handle most of the writing…unless you think one of our articles sucks, in which case our Managing Editor Kyle Revelli probably wrote it. Kyle, in contrast, takes on much of our research. That is not to say that I do not do research, or that I am incapable of setting myself to such academically oriented tasks; it's just that Kyle likes to feel needed, and I'm a good friend. Conversely, that is also not to say that Kyle doesn't write many of our stories, because he does.

So in reality, we both do a little bit of everything, and you can pretty much disregard the entire preceding paragraph other than to simply note that for this particular story, Kyle did the research, and I did the writing…the good parts anyway. (And Kyle's work was so terrific today that I had time to add this ridiculous introduction. So, again, if you don't like it, you know who to blame.)

As far as our 18 subscribers go, it is the noble thought that we have made a difference in their lives as fans, and the hope that there are more out there like them, which keeps us working on these features. Well, that and the fact that Kyle's grandma had to work today so he didn't have anyone to play with, and Stuart Little 2 and the 16 episodes of Deadliest Catch that I have recorded on my DVR will probably eventual make me go insane if I watch them too many more times…if I'm not already there.

Whether you believe any of those things or not, the honest truth is that, at the linebacker position, we, in the spirit of true UW fans, have found it difficult not to get excited about the talent we'll be welcoming back in 2007. And hopefully you can at least agree with that.

Today we'll take a look at junior Mike Juergens, who has provided UW coaches with yet another reason to stay committed to the 3-4 defense. In fact, Juergens' abilities have impressed Joe Glenn's staff so much that Sean Claffey has been moved to the strong side this year to give Juergens a starting position at the "Buck" spot.

While backing up Claffey last year, Juergens played in every game, putting up almost 20 tackles and a couple of sacks. He got field time in all 11 contests the year before, and with 23 straight appearances on the DI level, he shouldn't have any trouble getting acclimated to the added playing time he'll see in ‘07.

To boot, Juergens has also proven to be relatively clutch in close games. He put up four tackles, forced a fumble and assisted on a sack in his best game of the ‘06 season against New Mexico. The performance helped the Pokes squeak out a tight road win that snapped a disappointing four-game losing streak. Fans expect to see more of the same this season as the outside backer prepares for his first crack at being a starter.

Juergens seems to fit perfectly into the starting lineup with the other two linebackers we've discussed in our features this week. He is extremely athletic and a well-rounded defender. He has the speed to break into the back field and fly around in coverage, but he's also blessed with the size and strength to put the clamps on opposing teams' running games.

As a high school star, Juergens earned All-Colorado honors, was a First Team Class 5A selection by the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News and was named both the 5A Defensive Player of the Year and the Colorado Defensive Player of the Year for all classifications by the Rocky Mountain News. A lineman on defense, Juergens posted an impressive 11 sacks as a senior. On offense, he was almost equally dominant, putting up 300 yards receiving and two touchdowns on limited touches as a tight end.

Now as a first-time starter, fans and coaches alike hope the junior can live up to the potential he's shown in his first two seasons.

Juergen's 2007 keys to success:

1. Step up to the plate. Okay, wrong sport, but the point is that Juergens must not be timid in his new role as a defensive leader. Some guys like coming off the bench and some were born to be starters. This year, we will find out which one Juergens is. As he will probably start every game and has the potential to be a star, there is no reason why he couldn't post 40+ tackles and 3-5 sacks. If he does even better than that, you, as fans, can really get excited about 2008, and we, as writers, could have an aneurism.

2. Get into the back field. Juergens is replacing a player in Claffey who was one of the best in the league at penetrating through the line. The question this year will be whether or not his replacement can do the same. Considering he is athletic, fast and placed on the outside (where the Cowboys should run a few blitzes), Juergens could make his mark as a premier pass rusher/run blitzer.

Juergen's '06 stats:
9 solo tackles, 9 assists, 18 total, one sack, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one large snow cone with cherry topping

Note: We'll try to keep these things a little shorter in the future. We realize that many of you, unlike us, may actually have other things to do before the next millennium.

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