QBs at a Glance: Ian Hetrick

Unlike a season ago, the Cowboys enter 2007 with experience at the QB position. While starter Karsten Sween will lead the way, Ian Hetrick has displayed consistent talent as the No. 2 man—something the Pokes' have not seen much of in the Joe Glenn era. Hetrick leads a promising group of backups that should give Glenn a solid safety net and put a smile on coaches' faces for the next few years.

Security. It's not something the Cowboys have been able to boast much about when it comes to the quarterback position—at least not the last few seasons, that is.

Other than 2006 freshman Karsten Sween (who can't really be called a backup since he won the starting job midway through the year), you may have to go all the way back to 4.0 student and 2004 senior J.J. Raterink to find the Pokes' last reliable No. 2 man. Even then, it's a bit of a stretch. Filling in for Corey Bramlett, Raterink completed 57 percent of his passes for 373 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions—not bad for a fill-in, but not starter-quality numbers, either.

In 2005, wide receiver Jovon Bouknight appeared to be a more reliable option than backup quarterback Jacob Doss. Both threw one touchdown pass in limited under-center action, but Doss also threw an interception, and Bouknight finished with a passer efficiency rating nearly 50 points higher than the future starter. Doss fared a little better the next year. Still, despite a decent completion percentage and a fair amount of yards, he went just 1-4 as the Pokes' early season starter in '06 and threw almost as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns (7) before being benched at half time of the Syracuse game.

In less than a year, Doss has gone from being the Pokes' uncontested starter to fourth on the depth chart this fall. The thing is: that's not as much a sign of Doss' weaknesses as it is of how much the team has improved at the quarterback position the last two years. Sween proved to be a dependable freshman starter in the second half of '06, winning five of his last seven outings and earning coaches' confidence going into ‘07. Wyoming picked up the top-rated high school QB in the state of Oklahoma in the off-season, Chris Stutzriem, and junior Ian Hetrick emerged as a talented backup during spring ball this year.

Sween is the clear cut starter, but Hetrick is right behind him and has continued to impress coaches in fall camp.

"Ian pretty much picked up where he left off at the end of spring," said head coach Joe Glenn.

His spring performance, one that saw the junior go 21-of-30 for 269 yards and three touchdowns (including an into-the-wind, 71-yard bomb to wideout Hoost Marsh), vaulted him past Doss to take the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. After Doss injured his leg this summer, Stutzriem was given a chance to showcase his talents and took over the No. 3 position.

Hetrick transferred to Wyoming in 2006 from Santa Rosa Junior College in California where he proved he could not only win games, but put up huge numbers while doing it. During his sophomore year, he led his team to an 8-3 record as a team captain. Santa Rosa ran a no-huddle offense that focused primarily on passing. The team ranked No. 1 in the state among junior colleges for passing yards with an impressive 404.1 yards per game. Hetrick alone threw for 3,104 yards and a jaw-dropping 30 touchdown passes. He also led his team to a 35-12 JC bowl win over Fresno City College. In the game, he completed 36 of 43 passes for 311 yards and two touchdowns and was named MVP.

If all goes well, his services won't be needed much over the next two years; barring injury, Sween should be the Cowboys' starter under center for the next three seasons. Still, if the worst should happen, Sween is confident the team wouldn't lose a step. Nor would there be any jealousy between the two.

"It was the same thing with Jake (Doss) last year," Sween said. "There were no hard feelings between us, and if I got hurt this year and Ian was in there, I'd give him my 100 percent support and try to help him out throughout the season."

An accurate passer who can pick apart defenses as well as burn them with the long ball, Hetrick brings a bit of a different look to the Cowboys. While dominant threw the air, he also has the ability to scramble if given the chance and could add a whole new dimension to the Pokes' offense if Sween goes down in ‘07.

Hetrick's 2007 Keys to Success:

1. Adjusting to Wyoming's system. Hetrick's JUCO ran its offense purely from the shotgun position. Spring ball in ‘06 was the first time he took any snaps from under center since he was in high school. He didn't seem to have a tough time adjusting then, but should he get the chance to play this season, a regular season game will tell coaches a lot more than a spring scrimmage.

2. Handle the pressure. If Sween stays healthy and plays at all like he did at the end of last season, Hetrick may not have to worry about anything in 2007. Still, if given the chance, he will be playing in front of the biggest stage of his career. It's one thing to light it up in a spring scrimmage or in front of JUCO fans; it's another to be successful in front of demanding UW home crowds. Not to worry, we have faith in the talented scrambler…and really, what else matters?

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