LARAMIE — Blair Burns says he should have more.
Chris Tormey adds that it should be four or five.
But all that matters is that Burns, a sophomore cornerback for the University of Wyoming, has one.
One interception this season.
Burns returned that “pick” 99 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Cowboys a 21-7 lead en route to their 45-31 home win over Colorado State last weekend.
It was a 14-point swing since CSU had the ball at the UW 9-yard line. The pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Smith sailed over the receiver’s head, and Burns did the rest.
“(Burns) has had several of them in his hands (this season),” said Tormey, UW’s first-year defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “The timing of it in a big game like that was key. We’ll take that any time.”
Burns tells the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (http://bit.ly/TvSLZM) that he had a good shot at a pick-six late in UW’s Sept. 8 home game against Toledo. The Cowboys lost 34-31.
Burns also had four solo tackles against CSU and has been named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career.
He is hoping Saturday’s interception won’t be his last this season.
“It’s kind of shot my confidence up a little bit,” Burns said. “It’s just a reaction type of thing. You see the ball coming your way and you practice on that since you were a little kid, catching it. Then you drop it and it’s like it’s a play you make 99 percent of the time.”
Coach Dave Christensen said he is pleased Burns picked off his first pass of the season, and that UW had two interceptions in the game. Sophomore safety Chad Reese had the other, his second of 2012.
The Cowboys had only three interceptions prior to the CSU game. Burns led the team last season with four and earned Freshman All-America honors by three different organizations.
But as pleased as Christensen was with Burns on that play, he was just as disappointed on another.
CSU scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns after UW built a 45-17 lead. The first was a 31-yard touchdown pass. The other was on a 3-yard run that was set up by a 65-yard pass.
Burns was beat on a switch route on one of those plays.
Said Christensen, “I’m not going to sit here and build a statue for him. He has got to work to do better on that.
“I challenged him to make sure that he does that. He’s capable of playing at a higher level. When he’s playing fundamentally sound on each and every snap, then he’s got an opportunity to be in position and challenging receivers to make more interceptions.”
A switch route is when two receivers run down the field and, as Reese said, “break underneath each other.” Against CSU, the blame for the receiver getting open should have been on him, Reese added.
“We should have had a safety over the top, and it was on me,” he said. “I should have given better communication to my corner that I was supposed to take the deeper route.”
Switch routes have hurt UW in the past. Nevada hit a couple in the Cowboys’ 35-28 overtime loss there on Oct. 6.
Said Burns, “We just got a little bit too relaxed with the lead that we had. We were down on the sideline not as focused as we were at the beginning of the game. We just need to complete the game, play all 60 minutes.
“When the game’s over we can celebrate and have fun and talk about plays. We’ve been doing a little too much of that on the sidelines when the offense is on the field.”
UW (2-7, 1-4) might not face a lot of those on Saturday when it plays at New Mexico (4-6, 1-4).
The Lobos are an option-and run-oriented team that averages 53.5 passing yards - the worst mark in the nation by nearly 74 yards — and 303.1 rushing yards per game, which is fifth-best nationally.
But you can bet the Lobos have seen film of the Cowboys’ struggles against switch routes.
Said Reese, “We feel like teams are going to keep going to it until we prove we can stop it. We look forward to the challenge.”