#120CowboyTough, 31 Days to Kickoff: Defensive Architect

Aug. 1, 2013


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Defensive Architect

In 1971, Fritz Shurmur took a job with myriad challenges. As the UW head coach, he faced an uphill battle, having to recruit in the wake of the Black 14 incident. But he knew what Wyoming was all about, having served as an assistant coach at the school from 1962-70.

Perhaps his greatest contribution to the program came in the form of the team's defensive prowess throughout the 60s. Shurmur's group ranked fifth in total defense in 1966, and also led the nation in rushing defense (38.5 yards per game allowed). The UW rush defense limited Wichita State to minus-85 yards rushing in one game. The next season, UW again led the nation in rushing defense, and featured an All-American defensive lineman in Mike Dirks, a First-Team All-American his senior season. After a 9-1 mark in 1966, Shurmur's defense held Florida State to minus-21 rush yards in the Sun Bowl.

Some highlights of his tenure as head coach include an upset of No. 11 Arizona State in 1972. Shurmur also recruited two NFL first-round picks to Laramie with the addition of Lawrence Gaines and Aaron Kyle.

He went on to coach in the NFL for 23 years, and he became one of the league's premier defensive coordinators for the 1996 Green Bay Packers, who won the Super Bowl.

About the #120CowboyTough Countdown

The 2013 season will mark the 120th anniversary of Wyoming Cowboy Football. To commemorate that anniversary, we will be counting down some of the great memories and moments from Wyoming football history over the next eight weeks leading up to the Cowboys' season opener at Nebraska on Aug. 31.

The 2013 "Countdown to Kickoff" will take Wyoming fans through Cowboy Football history chronologically. The first week will highlight some of the memorable moments from the period from the first season in 1893 through the 1940s. Then each successive week, the countdown will recall great moments from the 1950s, `60s, 70s, 80, 90s, 2000s and the current decade.

Our countdown will only touch on some of the greatest moments, but we encourage you, the Wyoming fans, to share your favorite memories through the official University of Wyoming Athletics Twitter (@wyoathletics) and Facebook pages (Wyoming Cowboys). Fans are encouraged to use #120CowboyTough when sharing their memories.

Enjoy the countdown, and we look forward to seeing you in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 7 for the home opener versus the Idaho Vandals.