The Wyoming Cowboys came into Saturday's game with one of the top defenses in the country, registering 21 sacks in their first seven games as well as having the top two pass rushers in the Mountain West Conference. Even with the odds staked against the Ram offensive line, which was coming off a sub-par performance in Provo versus BYU, the front line stood up to the challenge.
"We had good protection today. Justin stepped in there and stepped away from the pressure and threw the ball in there," said head coach Sonny Lubick.
Senior quarterback Justin Holland seemed to always have enough time to throw for his career high 417 yards and four touchdowns. The o-line also led sophomore running back Kyle Bell for his fourth 100-yard game of the 2005 campaign. Bell finished with 123 rushing yards on the day.
"They did an unbelievable job in pass protection, it was great," Holland said.
Holland was only hurried a few times late in the game and officially sacked once, not including a late game scramble to burn some clock.
"It was an unbelievable effort by everyone. Our offensive line played their butts off," Holland said. "Wyoming came out and was determined to stop the run, but we got plays we needed to get done, it was a great day for the offense."
Not only did the offensive line hold up against the physical Cowboy defense, but Holland also showed off his mobility. On a critical fourth down and seven play late in the fourth quarter, Holland scrambled out to his right and somehow found sophomore H-back Kory Sperry for a 31-yard touchdown.
"It's is also a matter of the quarterback getting rid of the ball," Lubick said of Holland.
The Rams, who are still without starting senior center Albert Bimper, are leading the MWC in sacks given up even though injuries have been a season-long battle for this tight-knit group. The Rams came into Saturday's game only allowing seven sacks, four of which came in last game at BYU where the Cougars blitzed for the majority of the game.
"I thought our kids did what they needed to at the right time," said offensive line coach Darrell Funk. "(Wyoming defenders) were blitzing and we picked it up right…I'm proud of our kids' effort."
The Rams look to have their all-Mountain West center (Bimper) back in the starting line-up next week versus the University of New Mexico.
"Our kids are playing hard and playing together, and if Albert comes back, that only makes us better; I think he is one of the best centers in the conference," Funk said. "And when we get him back, there is just a lot of flexibility to do some things."