Spring Game: No. 1 Defense Shuts Down Pass

A stiff pass rush helped the Pokes' starting secondary win the battle through the air on Saturday …

Marcell Gipson notched a team-high four unassisted tackles in Wyoming's Spring Game on Saturday, helping the No. 1 defense give up just two field goals and no touchdowns on eight total series.

But afterward, the sophomore cornerback was quick to point out what he didn't do.

"I actually wanted to get a pick," he said. "I wanted to get an interception today, but I didn't really get the opportunity."

Gipson had the Cowboys' pass rushers to thank for that, at least in part. The starting defense recorded four sacks on the day and forced a bevy of hurried and errant passes.

And even when the unit gave up completions, the second-string offense generally didn't get far, like when Gipson leveled wide receiver Darion Donnelly for a four-yard loss on a screen pass late in the game.

"I want to establish the fact that I'm physical first off," Gipson said. "I felt like we did pretty good with the ones and twos…I don't think we had too many completions. I can't remember nothing deep."

All total, the No. 1 defense gave up just 69 yards through the air and forced one interception, which was hauled in by junior linebacker Weston Johnson. The longest completion the starters gave up was a 19-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Dax Crum to Donnelly.

"I think it was pretty good," Johnson said of the team's pass defense. "I think a lot of it had to do with the pass rush and the pressure that the d-line and some of the linebackers blitzing were putting on the quarterback.

"That just plays a big role in it."

Linebackers Mike Juergens and Zeb Whipp and defensive end Mitch Unrein each had a sack, and defensive tackle John Fletcher and linebacker Gabe Knapton both added half a sack. Unrein also led the team in tackles for a loss, with 2.5.

"That's actually a big help," Gipson said. "I was telling Fletch(er) that they're going to get us a lot of interceptions this year just by the pressure that…those guys down there put on the quarterback."

The domination by the starting defense wasn't unexpected; like most years, the 2008 Spring Game pitted the No. 1 defense against the No. 2 offense throughout the day.

"That's the way it's supposed to be," head coach Joe Glenn said. "We went ones against twos today, and your number ones should win."

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