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Turnover problem plaguing 'Pokes

U.'s Quinton Ganther rushes for a gain against Wyoming's John Wendling. Ganther's status for Saturday's game with Wyoming is questionable.
U.'s Quinton Ganther rushes for a gain against Wyoming's John Wendling. Ganther's status for Saturday's game with Wyoming is questionable.
August Miller, Deseret Morning News

Who has more turnovers than a bakery? Who is more generous than Santa Claus? Does Ed McMahon wear brown and gold?

Pick a line, any line.

The Wyoming Cowboys, though, aren't laughing about their recent woes. They've turned the ball over an amazing 14 times in an ongoing three-game losing skid.

"That's what is killing us right now," said Wyoming coach Joe Glenn, whose team faces Utah at Rice-Eccles Stadium tomorrow afternoon.

The Cowboys had seven turnovers against TCU, five against Colorado State, and two in the fourth quarter against New Mexico. The miscues proved costly. Wyoming's promising 4-1 start is gone. They're now 4-4 and fighting for a winning record with three games to go.

"What has surprised me more than anything is our inability to hang onto the ball," Glenn said. " . . . It's an epidemic and we've got to get if shut off. Otherwise we're not going to beat anybody."

The Utes, for obvious reasons, hope the trend continues. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged, however, that "probability says it'll probably slow down."

Turnovers, he explained, are inexplicable.

"They come in rashes," said Whittingham, who has talked to hundreds of coaches about the unpredictability of turning the ball over. "For whatever reason they come in bunches. They're a funny thing."

Laughter, however, isn't the best medicine. Same goes for placing an extra emphasis on stripping the ball away or other drills designed to increase turnovers.

Whittingham said it's something the Utes do every day anyway.

"We've practiced turnovers the same way here for the last 11 years. We've been first in the league, we've been last in the league. It's just the way the ball bounces," he said. "If you hustle and run to the ball you can increase your opportunities to get takeaways. We don't practice any differently from year to year as far as how we go about it defensively."

Turnovers aside, Wyoming's offense does sport powerful weapons in wide receiver Jovon Bouknight and quarterback Cory Bramlet. The Cowboys are also good defensively, ranking first in the Mountain West Conference in passing defense and total defense.

"They're a well-coached team and one that plays extremely hard," Whittingham said.


Utes on the air

Wyoming (4-4, 2-3) at Utah (4-4, 2-3)

Saturday, 1 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: 700AM


Ganther will be game-time decision

Utah tailback Quinton Ganther, who tweaked his knee after landing wrong in practice last week, took several reps Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. His status for Saturday's game with Wyoming, though, remains questionable.

"He looked better today than yesterday and we're hopeful for the best," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "But I would say it will be a game-day decision."

The Utes' leading rusher with 771 yards on 147 carries is determined to do whatever he can to be on the field this weekend.

"It feels OK. It's still weak in some areas. There are some things I can do good and some things I can't," Ganther said. "But come game-time, everybody will see what's going on."

Whittingham added that if Ganther is able to withstand the pain associated with the injury, they'll likely see what he can do on Saturday.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com