April 6, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
In the first major scrimmage of 2002 spring football drills, Wyoming Cowboy fans saw outstanding performances on both sides of the ball in a scrimmage that lasted nearly two hours.
The scrimmage began with the defense dominating, allowing the Cowboy offense only two first downs in its first seven possessions. That defensive stand was highlighted by a fumble recovery in the seventh offensive series. Junior-college transfer, Nate Young, a safety, forced the fumble by sophomore running back Kit Bradshaw, and the fumble was recovered by redshirt freshman defensive end Herb Jones Jr.
But on its next possession, the Cowboy offense led by running back Derek Armah and quarterback Casey Bramlet came alive. The two juniors combined to lead the Pokes on a 38-yard drive that resulted in a 39-yard field goal by senior place-kicker Jarvis Wallum. In that drive, Armah broke a 20-yard run on third and 10 from the offense's own 40-yard line down to the defense's 40. Bramlet later took off on a five-yard scamper of his own on third and five to give the Pokes a first down on the defense's 30-yard line. After a sack by Jay McNeal on a safety blitz, Bramlet completed a 12-yard pass to the 22-yard line, putting Wallum in range for his 39-yard field goal.
Including the field goal by Wallum, the No. 1 offense scored on four of its last five possessions, with two of the four scores coming against the No. 1 defensive unit. Armah scored the Cowboys' only rushing touchdown of the day against the No. 1 defense when he broke loose into the right corner of the end zone on third and goal from the nine-yard line. That capped a 40-yard touchdown drive. The No. 1 offense's other score against the No. 1 defense came on a short field. Starting at the defense's nine-yard line, during a period devoted to redzone offense, Bramlet hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Jovon Bouknight on a nine-yard TD strike.
Bramlet also threw an earlier touchdown against the No. 2 defensive unit. He hit senior wide receiver Scottie Vines on a 20-yard pass in a series that began at the defense's 20-yard line during the series of plays focusing on redzone offense (scoring within the opponents 20-yard line).
Not to be outdone, the Wyoming defense recorded one score of its own on Saturday. Redshirt freshman Colter Lange, a safety, picked off a pass by Corey Bramlet, the younger brother of Casey Bramlet, and returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown.
All total, the scrimmage included 79 plays with the majority of the plays pitting the No. 1 offense against the No. 2 defense and the No. 1 defense against the No. 2 offense.
Casey Bramlet completed seven of 15 passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Armah led all rushers with 58 yards on 13 carries for a 4.5 yard-per-carry average, and Vines led the receiving corps with 47 yards on three catches, including one touchdown reception.
Defensively, the Cowboys registered four quarterback sacks, broke up five passes, recovered one fumble and intercepted one pass. Defensive backs Jacque Finn and Jay McNeal enjoyed outstanding days. Finn broke up two pass attempts, and McNeal broke up one pass and had one quarterback sack on a safety blitz. Also recording sacks were defensive linemen Jacob Bonde and Anthony Jones Jr. and sophomore Shane Powell, who recently switched from H-back to linebacker.
Wyoming head coach Vic Koenning was pleased with the performance of his team, and was also excited about the effort given by the entire squad.
"We had two of our longest practices of the spring on Wednesday and Friday of this week," said Koenning. "We knew that the players were going to be a little tired today, but we wanted to see how they would react after such a grueling week. I must say that I was very pleased with the effort and attitude they brought to the scrimmage today. I think that says a lot about the leadership we have on this team."
In terms of specific areas of the team that Koenning felt stood out in Saturday's scrimmage, he noted the performance of the defensive secondary, quarterbacks and running back.
"I think it was evident today that we have improved ourselves in the secondary with the junior-college players we brought in at semester," said Koenning. "There are some real battles for playing time shaping up in the secondary.
"I also thought our quarterbacks handled themselves well today. Derek Armah (running back) is the best I've seen him by far. He has added about 10 pounds to his frame, and has been working extremely hard.
"We are starting to develop the depth we've been looking for on the defensive line. Today we played a lot of different defensive linemen, and they did a good job as a unit.
"The other area we have a lot of depth at is wide receiver. Scottie (Vines) and Jovon (Bouknight) both had good scrimmages. Although we are missing (Ryan) McGuffey, Brock Ralph and Malcom (Floyd) due to injury and off-season surgeries, the guys we have out there at receiver have shown that they can compete for playing time next fall."
McGuffey and Ralph both had off-season surgery on their right shoulders. Floyd had surgery on his right knee. The three combined for 154 catches and 2,125 receiving yards last season.
Wyoming completed its eighth practice of the spring. UW has seven practices remaining. The Pokes will practice Monday, Wednesday and Friday of the coming week, and will hold their next scrimmage on Saturday, April 13 at Natrona County High School in Casper, Wyo., beginning at 11:30 a.m.