March 29, 1999
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Both the Wyoming offense and defense enjoyed some big plays in a 60-play scrimmage on Monday in Laramie. The Cowboy offense took the ball 80 yards in 10 plays on the opening drive of the scrimmage, culminating with a 23-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Matt Swanson to senior wide receiver Kofi Shuck. But the defense wasn't to be denied as it scored a touchdown of its own in the final series of the scrimmage. Senior defensive end Brian Van Emmerik recovered a fumble and ran it in five yards for a score.
In addition to its opening touchdown, UW's No. 1 offensive unit went on an 18-play, 68-yard drive midway through the scrimmage. That drive ended with a 38-yard field goal by junior place-kicker Aaron Elling.
Other highlights for the Cowboy defense were quarterback sacks by senior noseguard Jason Dreessen, sophomore linebacker Matt Klotz and defensive end Brandon Jones, a redshirt freshman.
Monday's scrimmage marked the first time this season that head coach Dana Dimel matched up his No. 1 offense against his No. 1 defense in a scrimmage.
"I wanted to give the No. 1 offense and defense a chance to go against one another in a scrimmage setting prior to the spring game this coming Saturday," said Dimel. "The offense had a good drive, and ate up a lot of time, which is very important for us. When you look at the games we won last year, we held the advantage in time of possession in most of those victories. It was real encouraging to see our offense put a couple of long drives together today.
"Defensively, we have talked a lot to our team about making big plays. In '97, we were one of the leading teams in the country in sacking the quarterback and in forcing turnovers. We want to be that type of team again this coming season. Today the defense did a good job of getting pressure on the quarterback, and they came up with a fumble at the end of the scrimmage.
Dimel added that he was encouraged by the progress the offense has made, particularly when considering the number of young players that he and his coaches have tried to evaluate this spring.
"We've tried to get a number of young players into the mix this spring so that we, as coaches, can evaluate them," Dimel said. "There have been as many as 10 different receivers and four to five running backs that weve been giving a lot of reps to in practice. Plus we've tried to give our two younger quarterbacks -- Matt Swanson and Brandon Neill -- a number of reps to prepare them in case they need to step in for Jay (Stoner) at any point next season.
"Another area I've been pleased with is the development of the offensive line," commented Dimel. "As we've moved through spring ball, I see the offensive line playing at a high level a lot more consistently.
"We feel like we have to continue to improve fundamentally in all areas, but I'm very pleased with the progress weve made."
This is the fourth and final week of spring practice for the Cowboys. The Pokes will conduct a regular practice on Wednesday, March 31. On Friday, April 2, Dimel indicated the Cowboys would focus on kicking and fundamentals. UWs next scrimmage will be this coming Saturday, April 3 when they will hold the annual Spring Game in War Memorial Stadium, beginning at noon.