O-line at a Glance: Ryan Otterson

Just two short days away from the start of fall drills and preseason practices, the Cowboys are revving up for what Head Coach Joe Glenn thinks will be a breakout year in Wyoming. At the same time, we at CowboyBlitz.com are revving up for what you already know will be a breakout year for this website.

"It's time for us to take another step forward," Glenn said about his team. "We made progress last year, but we are setting our sights higher this year. Our mission is to catch TCU and BYU, clearly the two best teams in our league. That's an energetic goal, but it's where we want to be."

Showcasing a defense that finished ninth in the nation last season, one of the league's best running back tandems, a preseason all-conference tight end, a couple proven senior receivers and an up-and-coming sophomore quarterback who led the Pokes to five wins in their last seven games of 2006, Glenn has reason to be positive.

As far as the success of this site goes, with a message board growing in activity on a daily basis, one and a half college graduates working on these features, 18 paying Total Access subscribers and two writers with nothing better to do than spend countless hours analyzing every aspect of your favorite college team…well, you get the point.

And while the Cowboys' success will likely be far less problematic than ours, after losing six key senior starters on the offensive and defensive lines, fans are concerned about the strides Wyoming will need to make on the line of scrimmage to reach Glenn's goal.

Tight end Wade Betschart isn't worried.

"As far as the O-line, we lost some individual talent," Betschart told the Laramie Boomerang last month, "but overall as a unit, I think we will be just as good or better."

Don't tell that to the Mountain West Conference's media pollsters, who picked the Pokes to finish fifth in '07—two places worse than they ended 2006.

With great size and potential on the defensive line and a corps of outstanding and proven linebackers that can make up for a few sophomore mistakes, the brunt of the pressure among this year's linemen will likely be felt on the offensive side of the ball—and perhaps more particularly by sophomore first-time starter Ryan Otterson, who will have the daunting task of replacing former two-time all-conference selection and current NFL offensive tackle Chase Johnson.

Otterson played in just two games last season—the first and the last—and his abilities are consequently a bit of a question mark for the team.

One thing that is certain, he'll need to bulk up and improve his strength in '07. Coaches are impressed with Otterson's footwork, but Glenn said the 6-foot-5 tackle needed to get "to 300 pounds" over the summer.

Unfortunately for the Cowboys, he is currently listed at 281 pounds and still has a long way to go.

Being faithful Wyoming fans ourselves, we decided it was time to do our part. We don't know any nutritional scientists, however, so we turned to the next best thing and brought in our own weight expert (and loyal friend) Josh Murley. We asked Josh exactly what he's doing to bulk up for the upcoming EA Sports college football X-Box 360 season, and he had some interesting insights.

"I prefer a strict regimen of cheese puffs, chocolate and Mountain Dew," Murley said. "But that's just me."

There you have it: expert advice. We should also say, in the name of the kind of true professionalism which we practice, that we cannot be held responsible for any unexpected side effects which may result from stringent adherence to Murl's diet. We can say, however, that we have attempted it on numerous occasions and have found it to be astoundingly effective in adding sheer mass to our own frames.

Weight aside, Otterson has the height and athleticism to be a solid blocker for the Pokes. He "really helped himself during spring ball…(and) had a great camp," Glenn said. "He is an outstanding athlete who has great feet…He has a chance to be a tremendous tackle."

Playing on the outside, Otterson's athleticism should allow him to be successful against agile pass rushers, and he showed his foot speed often during a productive prep campaign at Thornton High School in Brighton, Colo. He earned All-State, First Team All-Conference and First Team All-Region honors as an offensive tackle during his senior year and was named Front Range League Athlete of the Month in October of 2004. On the defensive side of the ball, Otterson posted 75 tackles and sack as a senior and 70 tackles and six sacks during an all-conference junior season.

Otterson's 2007 Keys to Success:

1. Strength. If Josh's food plan doesn't work out, Otterson will have to hit the weight room. And while he won't be able to add much size between now and September 1, he has likely been working closely with the coaching staff all summer, and may actually weigh more than the 281 pounds the UW media guide currently lists him at. If not, let's hope he's still quicker and stronger than the players lining up opposite him.

2. Quick learning. With just two short appearances last season, Otterson may be the biggest question mark on the team. If he's not, one of the other offensive linemen is. And if he and the rest of the newcomers don't find a way to quickly adjust to their new starting positions, Wyoming's line could be in serious trouble.

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