Tom Burman wants Wyoming football fans to know the frustration is shared. The athletic director made that clear as he reflected on a 4-8 season during a recent interview with the Star-Tribune.
“I thought we would win seven games, maybe eight games, if things really bounced our way,” Burman said Tuesday. “But they didn’t. We didn’t get that accomplished. And it was frustrating.”
The bulk of the athletic director’s disappointment hinges on the performance of the UW defense. A unit that was expected to improve this season did not. In fact, it was worse. And making sure the trend of lackluster D doesn’t continue, Burman said, is the key to getting Wyoming football back on track next year.
“We’ve got to improve on defense,” Burman said. “We redshirted 18 kids [this season]. The coaches believe there are some good players on the defensive side of the ball there. We’ve got to get healthy. And we have to go get some players who can play immediately.”
Wyoming’s defense, directed by first-year UW defensive coordinator Chris Tormey, fell in nearly every statistical category compared to last season. The Pokes surrendered 33.4 points and 469 yards per game.
Burman believes UW’s best defensive performance was in the first game of the season, a 37-17 loss to Texas on the road.
“From that point on, it got worse,” he said. “Some of it could have had to do with injuries.”
A string of injuries to starters plagued UW’s defense this season. Safety Luke Ruff missed the majority of the year with a shoulder injury; defensive tackle Kurt Taufa’asau ended his season early after falling awkwardly on his knee; defensive ends Sonny Puletasi and Miraldo Michel were in-and-out with injuries; and linebacker Devyn Harris was out all year.
“There are a lot of reasons,” Burman said. “But even when we were healthy, I don’t think were good enough on defense to really make a difference.”
Burman said it is not his style of management to demand changes in Wyoming coach Dave Christensen’s assistant coaching staff or defensive schemes. Christensen told the Star-Tribune Monday his staff, at this point, is not expected to change.
But it could.
Burman and Christensen both confirmed reports that Tormey is interviewing for the vacant head coaching position at Idaho, a position he held earlier in his career. Burman spoke with Idaho athletic director Rob Spear Monday, and said the Vandals are hoping to name their next coach within a week to 10 days.
If Tormey stays, the UW defense will still have new faces on defense. Burman said Christensen and his staff are currently pursuing an increased number of junior college players who will be capable of competing for playing time immediately upon their arrival.
“They’re going to go find some guys who can play next year,” Burman said. “Because we can’t waste another year of that offense. That offense [26.8 points and 389.3 yards per game this season] is too productive.”
Burman met with Christensen on Sunday to talk about the 2012 season. While he demanded no changes, he said he made his expectations and opinions known.
“He [Christensen] understands we need to get better on defense,” Burman said. “He’s got to figure out how to do it. That’s his job.”