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CEDAR CITY -- Southern Utah's football team will open the 2010 football season Saturday against the Wyoming Cowboys of the Mountain West Conference.
The Wyoming Cowboys finished the 2009 season with a record of 7-6 winning three of their last four games including a 35-28 double-overtime win against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl.
After starting the season 1-3, the Thunderbirds ended the season winning four of their final seven games including their last game of the season; a 37-32 win against San Diego on the road. Despite the late season success, Head Coach Ed Lamb hopes and expects his team to improve on its 5-6 2009 record and said the team has done a lot of work in the preseason and feels ready for its first game.
"Our offensive and defensive systems are designed to be sound against any opponent that we face," Lamb said. "We are really focusing on what we do best, trying to put that product on the field and challenge Wyoming to match up and defend that."
Sophomore quarterback Brad Sorensen said the biggest preparation for the week prior to a game is to watch and study film of the opponent. He said he has been studying film in between his classes.
"By watching film, I can get to know what Wyoming is doing on defense," he said.
Lamb said watching film of the opponent helps in some respects, but plays and set-ups often change within a year.
"We study what our opponent does, so we can prepare our guys for those looks," Lamb said. "We have film from a year ago, but there are typically a lot of changes."
Lamb said the biggest key to success is the offensive line and how well they can protect the quarterback.
"This is going to be a real test of our athleticism in our front seven," Lamb said. "We've got to be able to have an effective pass rush regardless of the defensive front."
In order to be successful against the tough Cowboy defense, Lamb said the offense must work hard to perfect two things that go hand in hand.
"We've got to protect our passer and have great quarterback play," Lamb said.
Sorensen said the T-Bird offense can match up with the toughness of the Cowboy defense.
"They have a good defense, but we've got just as good of weapons on offense," he said. "My job is to just get the ball to the receivers and running backs, and let them make the plays."
Senior linebacker Akeem Anifowoshe said the team has prepared itself well throughout the week.
"We are going to come out and play with enthusiasm," he said. "I believe the defense plays best when we congratulate each other on big plays. We feel like we got a good jump on what their offense is going to do, and we hope to come out successful."
Cowboy sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels is a dual threat; able to beat teams with his arm and legs. But the Thunderbird defense feels confident in its ability to stop the momentum of Carta-Samuels and his offensive weapons.
"We feel like we can flush him out to the perimeter and be able to contain him," Anifowoshe said. "We definitely have good athletes and the players on the team to shut their offense down."
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. in Laramie, Wyo.
Picture of senior linebacker Tui Siliva courtesy Asher Swan