April 13, 2007
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Expect Wyoming's final scrimmage of spring training on Saturday afternoon to be even more competitive than normal.
The Cowboys will practice on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium for the final time this spring-training period at 1 p.m. Head Coach Joe Glenn said the scrimmage itself would probably begin around 1:30 p.m.
This scrimmage will be a little different than the Pokes' usual sessions. A scoring system has been added to this finale to make the afternoon practice more fun, and no doubt more competitive.
Four quarters and a running clock will be featured during the scrimmage. Offense will score in the conventional ways, with a couple of wrinkles added. It will receive a point for big plays (runs of +12 and passes of +16). The defense will be awarded points for turnovers (3 points unless its a touchdown), sacks (2 points), sudden change (4 points), and blocked PAT's (1 point). Kickoffs will not be at full speed, Glenn said, but punting and place-kicking will be in sequence. He indicated that the number one offense will go against the number one defense for most of the afternoon.
"We are looking forward to a good day," Glenn said prior to a light practice on Friday. "I told the coaches that we want to get a look at every guy who has been hanging in there through the spring. We want everyone to get an opportunity in this one."
What's the most important thing Glenn wants to see out of this scrimmage? "That everyone stays healthy. That's always the primary concern," he said. "After that, we just want to see every guy execute his position. We want to protect the ball, and don't turn it over.
"Let's face it, this is an opportunity for a young man to get himself on the field more. If a guy plays well Saturday, then he's going to get more reps, and more game experience in the fall. From that standpoint, it's important. As far as winning jobs tomorrow, that probably won't be happening."
A number of Cowboys will be missing from the scrimmage for one reason or another. A total of 17 players will be shelved because of injury including veterans Jacob Doss (6-2, 218, Jr., quarterback), Kyle Howard (6-7, 312, Jr., offensive tackle), Sean Claffey (6-3, 227, Sr., linebacker), Ward Dobbs (6-0, 229, Jr., linebacker), John Fletcher (6-6, 274, So., defensive tackle), Karsten Sween (6-2, 204, So., quarterback), Chris Sundberg (6-5, 238, Jr., tight end) and Wade Betschart (6-3, 250, Sr., tight end).
In addition to those injuries, free safety Quincy Rogers (6-1, 207, Jr.), receiver Greg Bolling (6-2, 180, So.) and receiver Evan Weatherspoon ( (6-1, 183, So.) will be held out of the scrimmage for violating team rules, Glenn said.
The head coach indicated that he was very pleased with the progress of this spring-training period. "From a number of standpoints, this is the best spring we have had since we've been at Wyoming," he said. "Everything that we wanted installed has been installed. All of the nuts and bolts are in. With the injuries, lots of the younger guys got more turns than they might have otherwise. That is always a good thing as you head into fall.
"Because of everyone's understanding of what we wanted done, we were humming from day one. We added some wrinkles, and they need polishing, but we have our bread and butter down pat. We have a lot of veteran players, and tremendous continuity within our coaching staff. That is very big. We are on as many cylinders right now as we have been on through our five springs here. We have more depth, more athletes and more speed. Sure, we have areas of concentration for fall camp, and there are holes to fill--we're going to miss guys like John Wendling. But we have a lot of good football players in this program."
Two areas of concentration heading into spring training were the offensive and defensive lines. There is still work to be done in both areas, according to the head coach. "I don't know that we have identified all of our starters yet in those two areas. It may take the fall preseason camp, or it may take a couple of games into the season before we know. It's hard to show the coach enough in practice.
"For instance, we didn't really find out that Karsten (quarterback Sween) had an overdrive until he got in the Syracuse game. We did not see that in practice. He had a next gear, and it took seeing in a live situation to show us."
The competition in both lines is keen, according to Glenn. "In the offensive line Bond (junior center/guard Tim, 6-4, 296 Jr.) and Howard (tackle, Kyle) are locks, but after that no one else is really out of the mix. Right now, I think Ryan Otterson (6-5, 281, So.) and Sam Sterner (6-4, 288, RFr.) may have established themselves as starters.
"It's the same with the defensive line. We have had guys produce outstanding springs--like Mitch Unrein (6-4, 257, So.). But competition should really be something in the fall when everyone is fresh and healthy."
Who has been the most pleasant surprise of spring training? According to the head coach, it's been Karsten Sween. "Even though he has not been able to go in contact drills, he has been impressive," Glenn said. "His presence, his poise, his understanding of the offense, his ability to anticipate and put the ball in the center of the bull's-eye have all been impressive. We have really been impressed with his improvement at quarterback.
"We've been very pleased with most of the things that have gone on this spring. When we take the field tomorrow for our last practice, we will have 140 days and a wake up before we meet Virginia. We can't wait."