The time that so many of our readers have been anxiously awaiting for nearly two months is upon us. No, I'm not talking about the end of our "7 Positions in 7 Weeks" series; I mean the start of the Cowboys' 2007 season. Nonetheless, with Virginia just two and a half short days away, it does mean that our series must come to a bittersweet conclusion.
It feels like we've been through a lot together. In less than two months, we've brought you stories about all your favorite starters. We covered the defense in thought-provoking depth, dealing with crucial issues like how the Cowboys can possibly replace John Wendling, or how many quarterbacks Fred Givens injured during high school. We gave you insightful stories about each of the Pokes' offensive starters, tackling challenging questions, such as, "What should we expect from Wyoming's two running backs?" or, "How can Murl's food plan work for me?" We've laughed together, we've cried…well, okay, no one has cried. In fact, wait a minute...Does the end of this series really deserve this much of an introduction? You're right, let's get on with it.
Today we wrap up our literary painting of the Pokes' '07 squad by bringing you a few words about Wyoming's offensive leader and key returning starter at quarterback, sophomore Karsten Sween.
Last year Sween took over the starting position midway through the fifth game of the season at Syracuse. With the score tied 10-10 at halftime, head coach Joe Glenn decided it was time for a change and pulled junior Jacob Doss. On Sween's first possession under center, he led the Pokes down the field and into Syracuse's red zone before kicker Aric Goodman missed a 42-yard field goal try. On his second possession, Sween marched the team down the field again, this time throwing his first touchdown pass as a Cowboy to give Wyoming a 17-10 lead.
Late in the game, with only 6:09 remaining and the Pokes down 20-27, Sween engineered a 14-play, 92-yard drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Hoost Marsh. Although Wyoming went on to lose the game, it was a turning point in Sween's career, as well as the ‘06 Wyoming season.
"We didn't find our stride really until we found the guy that we put in at quarterback," said Glenn. "I'm not putting anything on Jake Doss. I thought he played admirably and worked hard, but at the quarterback spot, you just have to have that little extra, and Karsten Sween brought us that little extra."
Sween went on to post a 5-2 record in his seven starts in '06, losing only to Top 25 teams BYU and TCU on the road. He finished the year with 1,304 passing yards, ranking him sixth in the conference and 80th in the nation—impressive numbers for a redshirt freshman who only played in half his team's games. His 135.1 total yards of offense per contest were good enough to rank him 6th in the league.
If you look at statistics, it's easy to find yourself believing that Sween singlehandedly turned the Cowboys' season around, and its no wonder Glenn expects big things from the young quarterback in 2007.
"His throws are coming out in rhythm, his anticipation and understanding of the offense all give us every reason to believe that he will have a great year," Glenn said about Sween's 7-on-7 performance earlier in the off-season.
Sween gears up to throw a pass during the Cowboys' 2nd Fall Scrimmage.
A year older and more mature than last year, with tons of returning talent surrounding him, look for Sween to become one of the Mountain West's most dominant passers. If he can find time to throw in '07, he could surprise a lot of team's with his football skills. Let's hope he also bring the team a lot of wins.
Sween's 2007 Keys to Success:
1. Less picks. Interceptions have been a problem that has plagued Wyoming QB's for the last several years. Fans seem to sense their quarterback is good for at least one pick per game (or sometimes five during the Bramlett years), and seem to anticipate it with every possession. If the Pokes can keep their turnovers down in '07, the offense should be among the best in the conference. Last year Sween threw eight interceptions—only one less than his 9 touchdowns and three more than the five picks thrown by Doss. Obviously he'd like to see that ratio improve, and it should as he matures as a quarterback. Furthermore, with three more years of eligibility left, Sween could become the most mistake-free, and dangerous, quarterback in the league by the time he graduates.
2. Rhythm. Sween missed the majority of spring practice due to minor knee surgery. Although he looked great in the 7-on-7 practice, he has not had a lot of full-speed, full-contact practice this fall. Hopefully for his sake and the Cowboys', he'll need to come out in rhythm and get the offense moving. With the red-hot Hetrick right on his heels, it will be important for Sween to continue where he left off at the end of ‘06. Perhaps most importantly, he'll need to avoid injuries this season. That may depend in large part on the offensive line, which allowed a dismal 3.3 sacks per game last season, but Sween should do a better job avoiding the rush in his second season under center.
In his own words:
Karsten Sween on the knee injury that kept him out of spring ball:
"(It is) one hundred percent. My knee doesn't bother me at all. It hasn't been giving me any trouble. I spent a lot of the winter rehabbing my knee, and it's one hundred percent. In all the drills, I'm not taking anything off, and it's not giving me any trouble."
What are you working on the most right now?
"Probably just my reads, like mental stuff, just making sure that I've got the offense down and that I can make my reads and just be smart with the ball."
QBs at a Glance: Karsten Sween
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