Cowboys Scrimmage for the First Time in 2009 Spring Drills on Thursday

April 2, 2009


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Dave Christensen put his Wyoming Cowboys through their first scrimmage of the spring on Thursday. The scrimmage took place during the final half of Thursday's practice in Laramie, and consisted of 69 total plays. The offense won the scrimmage by a score of 38-27 over the defense. It was a fast-paced scrimmage, displaying Wyoming's new no-huddle, spread offense.

"Today's scrimmage was our first opportunity to see how players reacted at full speed, in game-type situations," said Christensen. "We took the blue jerseys off the quarterbacks and made everything live.

"We were a little bit short at a couple of positions, so we had to mix the No. 1s and No. 2s together, but it was good for us to put the players in game situations in preparation for what will be a longer scrimmage on Saturday.

"I was pleased that the penalty numbers were down today. The offense only had two procedure penalties and the defense had one holding penalty. We had two turnovers offensively that were disappointing, but on the other side of it the defense got two takeaways. We've been emphasizing having a positive turnover margin, and when you're practicing against yourself one side has to come out on top.

"I thought the kids competed fairly well for the first scrimmage going live," said Christensen. "We have a lot of things to work on, but the good thing about having a live scrimmage under our belts is we, as coaches, now have about 68 or 69 plays of film to grade and evaluate and identify the things we need to work on. We want to look for mental errors when we grade the film and get those corrected. I want to see players playing to the end of the whistle. Those are all important things to evaluate to see what kind of progress we are making.

"I was pleased with the way the offense moved the football. But we only had five healthy defensive linemen available today, so it is a little hard to evaluate that particular part of our play at this time."

The No. 1 offense, with senior Karsten Sween at quarterback, scored three touchdowns on the day. The first came on a 65-yard drive against the No. 2 defense that was capped by a five-yard TD pass from Sween to senior tight end Orlando Arnold on the first series of the scrimmage. The second score by the No. 1 offense came on a 55-yard drive that was keyed by sophomore wide receiver Brandon Stewart, who broke a 38-yard reverse down to the No. 1 defense's one-yard line. Senior running back Darius Terry scored on the very next play. The final score by the No. 1 offense started on a series from the defense's own 25-yard line. The offense took four plays to go the 25 yards, with Terry once again scoring from one-yard out against the No. 2 defensive unit.

The No. 2 offense, quarterbacked by redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Barry, scored one touchdown on its final series of the scrimmage versus the No. 1 defense. That TD came on a two-yard run by sophomore running back James Davis to complete a 25-yard drive. The No. 3 offense also scored one touchdown behind junior QB Dax Crum versus the No. 3 defense. That scoring drive covered 55 yards, culminating in a nine-yard TD pass from Crum to junior tight end Joe Evers.

Sween completed seven of nine pass attempts for 72 yards and one TD. Crum was also seven of nine for 43 yards and a touchdown pass, and Barry completed five of 10 passes for 38 yards and threw one interception.

Crum was the leading rusher on the day, carrying the ball six times for 48 yards. He was followed by wide receiver Stewart who had two rushing attempts for 46 yards, while running back Terry carried eight times for 38 yards.

Junior wide receiver Travis Burkhalter led all receivers with three catches for 31 yards. Fellow junior wideout David Leonard had two receptions, also for 31 yards.

Leading the Cowboy defense was sophomore linebacker Brian Hendricks, who was involved in both defensive takeaways. He intercepted a pass thrown by Barry that bounced off the hands of Burkhalter. Hendricks returned the interception 18 yards. The defense's other turnover came when senior linebacker Weston Johnson forced a fumble by Barry following a bad snap from center out of shotgun formation. Hendricks recovered that fumble for his second takeaway of the day. Hendricks recorded four tackles on the day. Johnson also added four tackles, including one tackle for a loss and one pass breakup. Leading the way for the Cowboy defense in tackles were senior defensive end Mitch Unrein and sophomore linebacker Gabe Knapton, who each had eight total tackles. Senior free safety T.J. Atwater had seven tackles, and junior linebacker Jimmy DeAndrea had six before leaving with a sprained knee.

On special teams, senior Jake Scott and junior Nick Landess alternated at the place-kicking position. Both showed their nerves at the beginning of the scrimmage when each attempted an extra point following the offense's first touchdown of the day and each missed their first attempt. But from that point forward both Scott and Landess hit their next six point-after-touchdown attempts. Landess was two of two in field-goal attempts, hitting two 37-yarders. Scott was one of two in field goals, making one from 37 and missing one from the same distance.

The scrimmage began with the offense running six series from its own 35-yard line, followed by seven series of plays from its own 45 and finally two series beginning at the defense's 25-yard line.

A scoring system was utilized that awarded the offense and defense points based on certain plays. The offense was awarded a normal six points for a touchdown, one point for a point-after-touchdown, two point for a two-point PAT and three points for a field goal. In addition, the offense was awarded one point for each play of 20+ yards and one point for each first down.

The defense could earn five points each for an interception or a recovered fumble. If they returned an interception or fumble recovery for a TD, the defense received 12 points. The defense earned three points for a blocked 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 punt, forcing a missed field goal, tackling a ball carrier for a loss of yardage, blocking a point-after-touchdown attempt and 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).

Due to some injured and sick players, the defensive line and receiver units were limited in the number of players who could scrimmage.

Among those injured or sick and not competing were senior wide receiver Greg Bolling, who had arthroscopic surgery on his injured right shoulder on Wednesday, and senior noseguard Fred Givens, who is suffering with a right shoulder sprain. Bolling will miss the remainder of spring drills. Senior defensive tackle John Fletcher was diagnosed with mononucleosis on Thursday and is expected to miss an undetermined amount of time this spring. Sophomore noseguard/defensive tackle Alex Stover was held out due to the flu. Wide receivers Donate Morgan, a senior, and Matt Sando, a sophomore, both were suffering symptoms from concussions and so didn't participate in Thursday's scrimmage.

During Thursday's scrimmage two players suffered injuries. Senior linebacker DeAndrea sprained a knee and redshirt freshman cornerback David James bruised some ribs, but both may have a chance to return for Saturday's scrimmage.

One scholarship player has decided to leave the Cowboy Football program. That scholarship player is redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dylan Kildahl from Ault, Colo.

Wyoming's next practice will be Saturday, April 4 at 9:00 a.m. The scrimmage portion of Saturday's practice will begin about 9:45 a.m. Saturday's scrimmage will be significantly longer than Thursday's and will consist of approximately 100-120 total plays. Saturday's scrimmage will feature series beginning at the offense's own two-yard line, 25-yard line and 35, followed by series beginning at the defense's 45-yard line and 25, along with some work on two-minute offense and concluding with series beginning at the offense's own 30 and 40-yard lines.

It is expected that Saturday's scrimmage will be held in Wyoming's Indoor Practice Facility. For safety concerns, fans at Saturday's scrimmage will be allowed to watch the scrimmage from the west endzone of the Indoor Practice facility but will not be allowed on the sidelines. Only media members with press credentials who are covering the scrimmage will be allowed on the sidelines.