Cowboys Look to Win Turnover Battle vs. UNLV

Something has to give in Laramie this weekend. Wyoming and UNLV are looking to bounce back this Saturday after both teams turned the ball over five times last week. While the Cowboys are in the middle of a two-game skid, the Rebels have managed to win just two games all year. Chances are, the team that can control the ball will have the upper hand—at least as far as Coach Glenn is concerned.

Like last week, turnovers promise to be a key in the Cowboys' upcoming home battle with UNLV.

This time, however, the Pokes hope they can cause a few more than they give out.

"I'm going to beat this drum until it's dead and buried," Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn said Tuesday, "but we'll be fine if we protect the football."

After a fast start, the Cowboys have given up 15 turnovers in their last four games and face a must-win situation this weekend against the Rebels after losing two conference games in as many weeks.

"We have to win," cornerback Julius Stinson said this week. "We have to get bowl eligible."

Wyoming (4-3, 1-2 in Mountain West Conference) needs just two more wins to earn eligibility, but with three conference road games and a home battle against league-leader BYU still left on the schedule, the Cowboys can't afford to add another "L" to their record this weekend.

A 20-3 home loss to New Mexico two weeks ago followed by a five-turnover debacle at Air Force last Saturday has left the Pokes with their backs against the wall. Along with a key lineup change at quarterback, coaches are now asking an already consistent defense to come up with more big plays.

"I think if there's one thing we're trying to improve on, it's just causing more turnovers," said UW inside linebacker Ward Dobbs. "We look at our season so far and we've done pretty well, but one thing we need to work on is turnovers as a whole, no matter what team it is."

It may help that the Cowboys will be facing UNLV walk-on freshman quarterback Omar Clayton, who gave up three interceptions against Colorado State last week.

"We'll try to bait the guy if we can," Glenn said.

It may work, but Clayton has shown flashes of brilliance despite the turnovers. He completed 23 of 36 passes last week for 304 yards and two touchdowns, and against BYU two weeks ago he was a perfect 5-for-5 for 43 yards and a score. Perhaps even more impressive has been Clayton's ability to scramble. He rushed 19 times for a team-high 135 yards against the Rams, including a 52-yard scamper that set up an early first-quarter field goal.

Clayton should get plenty of help from running back Frank Summers, a 5-foot-10, 240-pound smash-mouth tailback with a nose for the end zone. Summers is averaging nearly five yards per carry and has put up more than 600 yards this season to go along with six touchdowns.

"He's a big dude," Stinson said.

"He can get downhill on you," Glenn said. "You just have to get balanced up and get after him."

The Rebels most explosive offensive player is wide receiver Ryan Wolfe, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore who has come alive of late. Since making just three receptions for 50 yards against Utah on Sept. 22, Wolfe has pulled in 32 catches for 441 yards and two touchdowns. He is just six receiving yards behind New Mexico wideout Marcus Smith for the most in the MWC.

"They are very scary," Glenn said. "They put up 559 (yards) against CSU last week.

"They're talented. They can run (and) they got athletes."

Still, the Rebels have struggled all season to get wins. After edging out Utah State 23-16 in Week One, they've lost six of their last seven games. The lone bright spot in their season came in Week Four against Utah when Summers put up 219 yards of total offense and found the end zone three times while the Rebel defense held the Utes scoreless.

"I don't know what's wrong," Glenn said. "I can't tell you why they can shut Utah out 27-0 and play Wisconsin, a nationally ranked team, in a low-scoring game, and then they let a team like CSU (beat them).

"They're kind of a mystery, and you kind of wonder when they're going to come out of it and you hope it's not Saturday."

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