Turnovers also tell story of UW’s latest struggles

Giving up 482 passing yards and five touchdowns, and 642 yards of total offense were the biggest factors in Wyoming’s 51-44 loss at San Jose State last Saturday.

UW (4-4 overall, 2-2 Mountain West) has lost consecutive games for the first time this season, and while the defense’s poor play is what many fans look at, which is deserved, so is another factor.

Turnovers.

UW committed two turnovers against San Jose State — a fumble by senior running back Brandon Miller after a pass completion and an interception by junior quarterback Brett Smith.

Both turnovers came in the second half. Miller’s fumble led to a San Jose State touchdown. San Jose State went three-and-out after Smith’s interception.

UW’s defense got one turnover — a fumble recovery — in the first quarter but the offense went three-and-out.

The Cowboys had a minus-3 turnover margin in its 52-22 home loss to Colorado State Oct. 19. UW has had a negative turnover margin only twice in eight games — both losses.

“If we win the turnover battle we probably win that football game,” Christensen said. “We have to do a better job protecting the ball, and we also have to do a better job of forcing turnovers.”

UW has forced 12 turnovers this season , and the offense has turned it over 13 times. It is 2-0 when it has a positive turnover margin and 2-2 when the turnover margin has been even.

Some other news and notes from Monday’s interview session with players and coaches:

–Smith didn’t did interviews over the phone because he had a sore throat and sounded like he had a cold. Junior defensive end Sonny Puletasi also didn’t attend due to illness.

–Christensen normally talks to the media at 3 p.m., but it was moved back to 4:30 p.m. as he came back from the funeral of former Washington coach Don James. The funeral was Sunday. James coached Christensen at Washington in the 1980s, and Christensen also was a graduate assistant for James.

–There was no new injury or depth chart news. Since UW doesn’t have a game it didn’t release a depth chart and Christensen didn’t have any injury news. Christensen expects to have all players (those not already out with season-ending injuries) available for the Nov. 9 game with No. 16 Fresno State.

–UW announced that the Fresno State game will start at 8:15 p.m. MT and be televised by ESPN2. Both schools will get a $500,000 bonus for the game being televised by either ESPN or ESPN2. The time is not ideal, especially this time of year. “Like having a pathetic excuse for a team wasn’t bad enough, now add THIS insult to the fans. Have fun. Guess we will watch the game from home,” said a disgruntled UW fan at wyosports.net. ESPN and its family of networks made this decision, not UW. Welcome to the world of being on ESPN and its control of when games can and will start.

–Sophomore Rafe Kiely and junior Albert Perez split time at center last week, as did senior Tyler Strong and redshirt freshman Chase Roullier at left guard. Christensen said he expects both to continue to share time based on how they all have played in practice and games in recent weeks. Same can be said at strong safety between juniors Chad Reese and Jesse Sampson.

–Sophomore running back Shaun Wick returned two kickoffs for 41 yards, and Christensen said Wick will likely keep returning kicks … along with Miller. Wick returned eight kickoffs last season as a true freshman, which was the second-most on the team.

–Wick also said the 234 rushing yards he had at San Jose State was the most he ever rushed for in a game in his football career. He also said he didn’t know he ran for that many yards until a teammate told him after the game.

As mentioned above, UW’s defense struggled mightily against San Jose State’s passing game. For more on that, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.