March 26, 2011
The Wyoming Cowboys wrapped up their second week of 2011 spring drills with the first of three major scrimmages to be held this spring. Saturday's scrimmage was conducted in Wyoming's Indoor Practice Facility. It consisted of 116 plays and lasted for approximately one hour and 45 minutes. The final result saw the Cowboy offense outscore the defense 55-37.
Wyoming scored six offensive touchdowns -- four rushing and two passing TDs. The scoring system used in the scrimmage was a unique scoring system allowing the offense and defense to each score points for specific types of plays. During five of the six periods of the scrimmage, the No. 1 offense and defense faced each other and the No. 2 offense and defense faced off. One period pitted the No. 1 offense versus the No. 2 defense and No. 2 offense against the No. 1 defense.
"I really liked the physical nature of the scrimmage, and thought our kids gave great effort today," said head coach Dave Christensen. "The quarterbacks did a great job of managing the offense and protecting the football. We no doubt had two many penalties today. A lot of those came from young players. But those hidden yards lost by penalties are something you can't allow to hurt your football team. We've got to get that cleaned up. Other than that, I thought it was a real good scrimmage.
"It's difficult for me to speak about individuals who performed well today, because I'm focusing on the entire picture," Christensen added. "But we plan to go in immediately after the scrimmage and grade the film and then I'll have a lot better feel for who did well."
In the competition for the starting quarterback position, redshirt freshman Emory Miller took the majority of the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Miller completed 13 of 22 pass attempts for 59.1 percent and had 83 yards passing. Miller also scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown run. His TD run came while leading the No. 2 offense on a seven-play, 45-yard scoring drive against the No. 1 defense. Miller also led the No. 1 offense on a three-play, 25-yard scoring drive against the No. 1 defense. He began that drive with a 22-yard pass to sophomore tight end Spencer Bruce that set up a two-yard TD run by sophomore running back Nehemie Kankolongo two plays later.
True freshman Brett Smith took the majority of his snaps with the No. 2 offense, but had some opportunities to run a few series with the No. 1 offensive unit. Smith completed 21 of 27 passes (77.8 percent) for 208 yards and threw two TD passes -- one of 38 yards to senior wide receiver Jonathan Aiken and one of 27 yards on the last play of the scrimmage to senior DeJay Lester. Both of Smith's touchdown passes came while leading the No. 2 offense against the No. 2 defense. Smith also ran for a team high 73 yards on the ground.
The other two touchdowns for the Cowboy offense were on rushing plays by redshirt freshman running back Vincent Bobbitt. Bobbitt had TD runs of five and six yards for the No. 2 offense vs. the No. 2 defense. The leading rusher among the running backs was sophomore Kankolongo, who carried the ball nine times for 58 yards. Sophomore Brandon Miller carried the ball 10 times for 36 yards, and Bobbitt had seven carries for 28 yards. Junior running backs Alvester Alexander and Ghaali Muhammad are both out due to injuries.
Sophomore Robert Herron led the way for the receivers. He caught eight passes for 40 yards. Redshirt freshman Sam Stratton, who was switched from quarterback to wide receiver this spring, enjoyed a productive day with seven receptions for a team high 67 yards receiving. Seniors Lester and Aiken ranked next in terms of receiving yards with 46 and 40 yards, respectively.
Defensively, senior linebacker Brian Hendricks and sophomore linebacker Todd Knight led the way with seven tackles each. Junior cornerback James Caraway and freshman linebacker Alex Borgs were credited with six tackles. Three other defenders had five tackles apiece, including senior free safety Eric Mitchell, redshirt freshman strong safety Dylan McElveen and redshirt freshman cornerback Darrenn White.
Wyoming returns its entire starting defensive line from last season, and the four starters all made significant contributions on Saturday. Sophomore defensive tackle Patrick Mertens led the way with 2.0 quarterback sacks for 14 yards and recorded three total tackles. Junior defensive tackle Mike Purcell also was credited with three tackles. Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns had 1.5 sacks for six yards and two tackles, and senior defensive end Gabe Knapton had 1.0 tackle for a loss of four yards.
Junior free safety Kenny Browder led the secondary with two pass breakups. The biggest potential play of the day for the defense was called back due to a penalty. Senior cornerback Tashaun Gipson intercepted quarterback Miller, but the play was called back due to an unsportsmanlike penalty on the defense.
For the defense, they had only two penalties on the day for 13 yards. The offense had eight penalties for 50 yards, including three key personal foul penalties.
The kicking game saw three individuals attempt field goals and point-after-touchdowns. Two redshirt freshmen, Everett Scott and Stuart Williams, and senior linebacker Oliver Schober all attempted kicks. Scott was 2 of 4 (.500) on his field-goal attempts, connecting from 34 and 40 yards. His misses came from 35 and 37. Williams was 2 of 5 (.400). His successful attempts were from 37 and 40 yards, while he missed from 33, 34 and 35. Schober missed his four field goal attempts from 33, 34, 35 and 37, but did successfully make all four of his PAT attempts. Scott was 3 of 4 (.750) in extra-point attempts. Williams hit all four of his PATs.
The Cowboys will hold four practices next week. Christensen said the first two practices will be high intensity practices. Next Friday's practice will be a walk through that will also involve a coaches' clinic conducted by the Cowboy coaching staff for high school coaches in the area.
"Looking ahead to next week, we'll get after it pretty good on Monday and Tuesday," said Christensen. "Friday will be a light practice with a coaches' clinic, and then we'll come out next Saturday, scrimmage again and get another chance to evaluate where we are.
"Going forward these next two weeks, we have a lot of guys in the No. 1s and No. 2s competing for jobs. We're not worried about updating the depth chart right now. We just want the players to come out and compete everyday for the final two weeks of spring practice. We want to give them as many opportunities to show us what they can do, and then see how the depth chart falls after that."
The scoring system utilized in Saturday's scrimmage awarded the offense and defense points based on certain plays. The offense earned a normal six points for a touchdown, one point for a point-after-touchdown, two points for a two-point PAT and three points for a field goal. In addition, the offense earned one point for each play of 20+ yards and one point for each first down.
The defense earned five points each for an interception or a recovered fumble. If they return an interception or fumble recovery for a TD, the defense received 12 points. The defense earned three points for forcing a punt, blocking a field goal or by stopping the offense on a fourth-down play on the offense's side of the 50. Two points were awarded to the defense for a safety, a quarterback sack, stopping the offense on a fourth-down play on the defense's side of the 50 or stopping a two-point conversion attempt. Finally one point was earned by the defense for forcing a missed field goal, tackling a ball carrier for a loss of yardage, blocking a point-after-touchdown attempt or when holding the offense to a field goal after the offense began its series in the red-zone (inside the defense's 20-yard line).
The next scrimmage for the Cowboys on Saturday, April 2 will begin at 9 a.m., and is open to the public and media. Weather permitting, it will be held in War Memorial Stadium. In case of poor weather, the scrimmage will be moved to the Indoor Practice Facility.