LBs at a Glance: Ward Dobbs

As the rest of the country takes a tedious journey through the middle of the week, you and I know that the most important seven-day measurement in all of our lives--linebacker week--is actually drawing to a close. And while most of us will have to go back to work in the morning, perhaps today's feature will add a bit of gusto to the dreary monotony of your average Wednesday evening.

Then again, perhaps it won't. I guess that mostly depends on me.

Either way, I doubt we have written a feature on this site less likely to ruin your night than this one. How's that, you ask? Read on.

Perhaps the best thing that has happened to the UW defense in the last few years took place in the sixth week of the 2005 season, when senior weakside linebacker Jeff Tatnall went down with an ankle injury (other than, of course, the day an ex-safety of whom we will try to minimize sentimental reminiscences committed to play in Laramie).

The loss of Tatnall opened the door for a red-shirt freshman, Ward Dobbs, who made the most of a rare opportunity. With opposing teams at first paying little attention to the newcomer, Dobbs surprised everyone, including his own sideline, putting up an eye-popping 12 tackles per game over the last five contests of the year. He had two especially impressive performances—an 18-tackle outing against Utah and a 16-tackle effort versus BYU—and his inspiring play caused enough of a stir around the league to earn him Honorable Mention All-Conference honors, an extraordinary feat for a player initially inserted into the starting lineup as a band-aid.

In 2006, opponents were far more prepared for the athletic defenseman, but it didn't stop Dobbs from posting two more double-digit tackling performances and garnering Second-Team All-Mountain West Conference honors. He finished his first full season as a starter with 69 tackles and three sacks. Surprisingly, the 69 tackles were still six less than he posted as a freshman, but he showed the potential to literally go nuts on occasion and put up mind-boggling numbers. He posted an 18-tackle exhibition against Air Force and provided 12 stops against Boise State. Equally impressive was an 8-tackle, two-sack, one-forced-fumble exposition on Homecoming night against Utah, which landed the sophomore MWC Player of the Week honors.

With such an impressive resume of accomplishments, there's no doubt Dobbs should be the best player on the Cowboy defense in '07. He'll also likely make a run at the best linebacker in the league if he can improve upon what he's already shown on the field. Built almost more like a safety than a linebacker, Dobbs is a tackling machine when he gets near ball carriers. He also has tremendous speed and is a nightmare for opposing offenses, which can't seem to find a way to neutralize him. Nevertheless, without the added help of him of whom we do not speak at the safety spot this year, Dobbs will need to step up even harder and distinguish himself not only as the Pokes' premier defensive weapon, but also as the kind of leader Wendling…oops, I mean our most prominent ex-safety who now plays for the Buffalo Bills and used to wear No. 23…proved to be.

So heading into this season, look for Dobbs to come up with a number of big plays and to be all over the field while inspiring and pushing the rest of his mates to do the same.

Dobbs' 2007 keys to success:

1. Get healthy. I guess I should mention that Dobbs has a slightly injured shoulder which caused him to miss out on some action this spring. It might be hard to tell if he's 100 percent until we see him on the field, but with as much healing time as he's had, his shoulder probably won't slow him down much.

2. ________. There is no second key to success. If Dobbs is healthy, he will be successful. This is as close to a lock as it gets for the defense other than you know who. So we should all make good on our responsibility as loyal Wyoming fans and take turns massaging Icy Hot into Dobbs' ailing shoulder until he promises to never get hurt again.

Dobbs' '06 stats:

30 solo tackles, 39 assists, 69 total, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for a loss, 1 pass broken up, 1 forced fumble

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