BOISE — It’s unclear what message University of Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen was trying to send his team — and the Cowboy fan base — when he fired defensive coordinator Chris Tormey two weeks ago, with four games remaining in the season.
What’s even more nebulous: The direction of Wyoming football and the future of Christensen himself.
As the Cowboys (4-5, 2-3 Mountain West) ride into Bronco Stadium tonight for a divisional showdown, they’re saddled with a three-game losing streak during which they’ve surrendered 50.3 points and 583.6 yards per game.
Tormey, who starred at the University of Idaho in the 1970s and returned to coach the Vandals from 1995-99, had been Wyoming’s defensive coordinator the past two seasons. Last year, the Cowboys ranked 106th nationally in total defense out of 123 FBS teams. This year, Tormey’s defense was 105th.
Christensen fired Tormey Oct. 29.
Firing the D.C. right before facing two of the top offenses in the MW — Fresno State and Boise State — seemed either curious or brilliant. Or perhaps both.
Despite giving up 600 yards in a 48-10 loss to the Bulldogs last week, Christensen said on defense, “There was a lot of improvement. The biggest issue was on the other side of the ball, not keeping the foot-ball. The defense was out there too long. We’re not going to be successful playing 90-something plays right now. We don’t have enough depth.”
Fresno State ran 89 plays and wore out a thin Cowboy defense — an issue that could recur this evening as Boise State is the 16th fastest offense in the country, running 81.5 plays per game.
But Christensen points the finger of blame at his offense, which converted 5 of 16 third-down plays and drove into the red zone only three times against Fresno State. The Cowboy offense didn’t do the defense any favors, producing season-lows in points (10), passing yards (140) and total yards (296) against the Associated Press’ 16th-ranked Bulldogs.
“What we do offensively and our lack of depth defensively, it’s not a good combination,” said Christen-sen, who in his fifth season at Wyoming has a 26-33 record and two appearances in the New Mexico Bowl.
So if firing the defensive coordinator didn’t solve Wyoming’s problems and the offense is to blame, what about firing the guy calling the offensive plays?
Oh, wait. That’s Christensen.
“We’re working on problems right now, trying to solve them,” Christensen said. “Sitting around being frustrated isn’t going do anything.”
Especially when the seat is getting warmer.