Wyoming’s Frank Crum: ‘I think this will be a reality check for us up front’
LARAMIE -- It's not often you hear things like "out of whack" and "poor execution" when describing Wyoming's offensive line during the Craig Bohl era.
Despite utilizing three new interior linemen this fall -- Jack Walsh, Nofoafia Tulafono and Emmanuel Pregnon -- the Cowboys still feature one of the top units in the country when it comes to sacks (six) and tackles for loss allowed (26), which is good enough for No. 20 and 33, respectively.
Those descriptors listed above, however, were not a strength in Saturday night's 33-16 setback against San Jose State inside War Memorial Stadium.
Led by defensive tackle Viliami Fehoko, the Spartans sacked UW quarterback Andrew Peasley twice and hurried him seven times. The visitors also finished with five tackles for loss, including taking down running back Titus Swen in the end zone in the first quarter for a safety and stuffing a 4th-and-1 from the SJSU 39-yard line in the second.
Fehoko, a First-Team All-Mountain West selection in the preseason, tallied six tackles, a sack, 1.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and two quarterback hurries.
"They have a really, really good defensive front," Bohl said Monday, during his weekly press conference in Laramie. "I knew that watching their tape, but when I saw them live, I was like, Whoa. I know there's going to be several of those guys who play in the NFL. And when you combine maturity, strength, explosiveness -- and then they are aggressive and they took some shots, they'll take some chances -- the more athletic you are, the more you have a chance to recover, which they did."
Wyoming's right tackle, junior Frank Crum, credited the Spartans with having one of the best interiors he's faced during his four-plus seasons on campus.
"We knew that was going to be a challenge for us," the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Laramie product said. "You know, the game plan going into it, we felt like we could handle it. Execution, when it comes down to it, was poor. Everybody was taking their turns not executing. It starts with us and nobody else can do their job if we can't do ours correctly."
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Left tackle Eric Abojei echoed those same sentiments, giving SJSU plenty of credit while also shouldering the blame for Saturday night's inconsistencies.
"We had high expectations," the 6-foot-5, 330-pound senior said. "We wanted to come out and show these guys who we are. But, I think, at the end of the day, a lot of (the loss) had to do with our performance."
Abojei squared off with preseason Co-Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cade Hall throughout. Hall capped his night with just two tackles, including half a sack and tackle for loss. The senior also hurried Peasley twice and picked off a deflected pass on the Cowboys' first drive of the second half, setting up a quick score that put the Spartans up 26-10.
While Air Force and its triple-option offense traditionally sit atop the rushing charts in the Mountain West, Wyoming's run-heavy attack has gotten cozy in the second spot more years than not since Bohl arrived in Laramie in 2014.
Through six games, though, the Cowboys (3-3, 1-1) rank fifth in the league, averaging 153.5 yards per outing. Boise State has been better. So has UNLV, San Diego State and, of course, Troy Calhoun's Falcons.
Wyoming, which already has 215 rushing attempts (second most in the MW) for 921 yards for an average of 4.3 yards per carry, has also played one more game than the four programs ahead of it in the standings.
Swen and Co. rolled up 143 yards on the ground on 31 attempts against the Spartans. Peasley led the way with 74 rushing yards, 61 of which came on one play.
"It's going to be important that they improve this week, because as you guys noted, and I have said, up until this last game that group has been steady Eddie," Bohl said. "I mean, it didn't matter who we were playing, they got man on man and we got movement. This week, it did not happen and we've got to bounce back."
After each game, players are allotted 24 hours to celebrate or brute about the previous outing. For Crum, this one wasn't so easy to get over after reviewing the film.
"Getting stuffed on 4th-and-1 is something we can't accept. And a safety, we can't accept those things," he said. "We can't have that happen again. As an offensive lineman, that's a slap to the face, for sure. And that's on us. It's on nobody else but us.
"I think this will be a reality check for us up front. We can grow from this and learn. We can't have this game beat us twice."
A trip to Albuquerque is next on the docket for this UW team. New Mexico (2-3, 0-2) features the third-best rushing defense in the conference, allowing just 113.2 yards per outing on the ground.
"I mean, every game we have high expectations for ourselves just to come out and just play our asses off," Abojei said. "... I think we need to come into this game with our piss hot and just make sure that we actually execute on everything that we establish for ourselves and that we set out for ourselves. No one is going to give us a win."
Especially not the Lobos, who have upset the Cowboys in back-to-back meetings.
Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. Mountain Time and the game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.