Saturday Scrimmage Scheduled for Cowboys, Free High School Coaches' Clinic Will Be Friday

April 16, 2009


The Wyoming Cowboy football team has a busy weekend ahead of it with two major events being conducted on Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18. Head coach Dave Christensen and his coaching staff will host a free coaching clinic for high school coaches on Friday, April 17. Then on Saturday the 18th, the Pokes will conduct their third scrimmage of spring drills.

Friday's coaching clinic will begin at 8 a.m. with registration of high school coaches. During the registration period from 8 to 9 a.m., coaches will be offered the opportunity to watch video of Cowboy practices. Beginning at 9 a.m. and running until noon, the Cowboy coaches will be available in question and answer sessions. Following a break for lunch, high school coaching staffs will be invited to sit in on position meetings with UW coaches and players starting at 2:45 as they prepare for the afternoon's practice that will begin at 3:30. Friday's practice will focus on teaching techniques and will run for a little over an hour.

"We're expecting at least 100 coaches in here Friday," said Christensen. "It is a free clinic open to all high school coaches. They will have an opportunity to clinic with each member of our staff throughout the day. We will structure Friday's practice so that the high school coaches can be out on the field with our staff and players learning the drills that we use to instruct our team.

"It is also a great opportunity for us to get to know high school coaches in the area and build relationships with them. There are a lot of coaching clinics out there this time of year. We felt we wanted to make ours free of charge and open up our program to any area coaches who wanted to come and learn about how we do things."

Saturday's scrimmage is scheduled to begin at approximately 9:45 a.m. The offense has won the first two spring scrimmages by scores of 38-27 and 51-23. But this Saturday's scrimmage will be the first one in which the defense will be allowed to blitz. The defense will go into Saturday with three returning starters still out due to injury or illness. Senior defensive tackles John Fletcher is out the remainder of spring practice with mononucleosis. Senior noseguard Fred Givens continues to be limited with an injured shoulder, and sophomore inside linebacker Gabe Knapton will miss the rest of spring with an injured knee. On offense, the Cowboys' leading receiver last year, senior Greg Bolling, is also out after having arthroscopic shoulder surgery earlier this spring.

Other players out for Saturday include: Jimmy DeAndrea (senior linebacker), Matt Barella (senior linebacker), Josh Biezuns (sophomore linebacker), Matt Birkeness (redshirt freshman linebacker), Corey Orth (redshirt freshman defensive lineman) and Zeb Whipp (senior linebacker, who is scheduled for back surgery on Friday, April 17).

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.

"This scrimmage will be similar to our first Saturday scrimmage (on April 4)," said Christensen. "We'll go ones against twos primarily, with some ones versus ones. Our goal is to get every player about 48 snaps. We will probably run somewhere between 85 and 95 total scrimmage plays, with some kicking mixed in.

"At this point of spring, we have about 75 percent of our offense and defense installed. We've been limited some in installation because of injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. But also you don't want to overwhelm kids in the spring. When we get to the fall, we will start over in terms of installation anyway. Spring is to get our players familiar with the vast majority of our system so we can hit the ground running in August.

"The one aspect of the game we may be behind a little bit in is the kicking game, just because we haven't been able to get outside a great deal."

With the Cowboys having completed 10 of 15 spring practices through Thursday, Christensen singled out several areas that he has been pleased with in his first spring as head coach of the Pokes.

"On offense we've done a good job of protecting the football," said Christensen. "We've definitely made some positive strides there. I've been really happy with that.

"Defensively, they've done a good job of trying to force more turnovers, trying to strip the ball loose from ballcarriers and forcing interceptions. We've put a huge emphasis on turnovers on both sides of the ball.

"I think our secondary has done a pretty good job in coverage. We've had a lot of injuries at linebacker and on the defensive line, so we have had to play without a lot of players at those positions. That has forced several players to stay on the field both with our No. 1 unit and No. 2 unit, and they've responded and done a nice job.

"I think we've made good progress on becoming a more physical football team, which is something I feel we have to become to compete in this league. We want to get back to that Cowboy tough attitude that is the tradition this program was built on.

"The overall practice habits of the kids has been something that we as a staff have continued to be very encouraged by. I think the way our guys have improved in terms of maintaining their intensity from the beginning of each practice through to the end of each practice has also improved.

"There are a number of kids who are doing good things out there. There are a number of backup players who have had an opportunity to show us what they are capable of doing due to some frontline guys being out with injury. It has created a chance for some kids who haven't played a lot to gain a great deal of experience this spring."

The Pokes enter the weekend coming off a strong practice on Thursday.

"We had a really good practice today (Thursday)," said Christensen. "The tempo of today's practice was good. I thought the players' focus and execution was strong throughout practice.

"We've emphasized to our kids that you can't let up on any day -- you can't take a day off. You have to be consistent every day in practice, and I can see our guys picking up on that philosophy and bringing that attitude with them to each and every practice."

A unique scoring system will again be utilized that awards the offense and defense points based on certain plays. The offense will be awarded 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 will be awarded one point for each play of 20+ yards and one point for each first down.

The defense will earn five points each for an interception or a recovered fumble. If they return an interception or fumble recovery for a TD, the defense will receive 12 points. The defense will earn 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 will be 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 will be 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 begins its series in the red-zone (inside the defense's 20-yard line).

Following is a schedule of the remaining five spring practice dates and times for Wyoming's 2009 spring drills.

2009 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule
Friday, April 17, 3:30 p.m. (Shells only, Coaching Clinic)
Saturday, April 18, 9:45 a.m. (Scrimmage #3)
Tuesday, April 21, 3:30 p.m. (Full pads)
Thursday, April 23, 3:30 p.m. (Helmets only)
Saturday, April 25, 2:00 p.m. (Spring Game)