Sween Loses Starting Job

For the second straight year, the Cowboys will see their quarterback replaced midway through the season. Will this year's change be as successful as last year's? With a late-November shootout against league-leader BYU and two tough road games at San Diego State and Utah following this weekend's home battle against UNLV, it better be—or the Pokes can forget about playing in December.

After Wyoming opened 2006 with four losses in its first five games, then-freshman quarterback Karsten Sween took over the starting role from junior Jacob Doss and led the Pokes to five victories in just seven contests, sparking the team to bowl eligibility and a third-place conference finish.

Now just one year later, Sween has found himself following in Doss's footsteps, and coaches hope a change of quarterbacks will be as profitable as it was a season ago.

Former backup Ian Hetrick will replace Sween this Saturday, making his first ever start for Wyoming when the Pokes take on UNLV in Laramie at 12:00 p.m.

"We hope that he does a great job and manages the game for us," head coach Joe Glenn said, adding that offensive coordinator Bill Cockhill will call the game and determine how many snaps each of the Pokes' gunslingers will take.

Turnovers are the main reason for the lineup change. Sween has had at least one in each of the Cowboys' seven games this season, including throwing eight picks over the last four contests.

A four-interception outing at Ohio prompted coaches to bench Sween midway through the third quarter, but Hetrick threw a pick of his own on his first pass, and a Bobcat defender took it all the way back for a touchdown. Sween started the next three games for the Cowboys (although Hetrick has seen field time in each of the past two contests), but when he tossed up three picks against Air Force last week, coaches pulled him once again.

"We've had a little trouble managing the game, so it's up to Ian to protect the football," Glenn said.

"We've talked about this ever since Ohio, but when we protect the ball, we win, and when we don't, we lose."

Hetrick had by far his best outing of the season against the Falcons, completing six passes on eight attempts and leading the Cowboys inside the AFA five-yard line on their final drive before being held to a field goal.

Coaches hope it was a sign of better things to come.

"Ian's job is to put the ball on the money, protect the football and throw the ball in the center of the bull's eye," Glenn said.

The way the Cowboys' defense has played this season, all he'll really need to do is avoid throwing interceptions. The Pokes are ranked eighth in the nation in total defense despite the offense and special teams continually helping out the opposition with turnovers and dismal kick coverage. Sween and Hetrick, on the other hand, have combined for 13 interceptions and just eight touchdowns through seven games.

"I think our team is together," Glenn said, "but there is a lot of frustration from the defense. At Ohio and then last week, we just keep turning it over, and the defense keeps coming in and stopping them and keeps us in the game. But there's frustration from everybody, from our fans to our coaches to our players to the guys committing the turnovers.

"It's got to stop if we want to smile a little bit."

If he can control the ball against the Rebels this weekend, Hetrick will have plenty to smile about.

If not, the Pokes' shot at playing in the postseason could be in serious jeopardy.

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