LARAMIE, Wyo. -
A strong performance on offense highlighted Saturday’s second spring scrimmage by the Wyoming Cowboys. The Cowboy offense generated 417 yards of total offense -- 222 rushing yards and 195 passing -- and scored five touchdowns on the day. Saturday’s scrimmage was held inside Wyoming’s Indoor Practice Facility due to inclement weather, and included 75 plays from scrimmage plus a few kickoff returns for a total of 80 plays.
Sophomore quarterback Josh Allen enjoyed his most consistent day of the spring, connecting on 9 of 18 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman running back Milo Hall rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns, including a 61-yard TD run. And redshirt senior running back Shaun Wick was very impressive, displaying the skills that have earned him the No. 9 spot on the Wyoming career rushing list. Wick ran for 60 yards on 10 carries Saturday, including a 21-yard run that was the key play on a 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive to open the scrimmage.
Three different Cowboy tight ends also had productive days. Senior tight end Jacob Hollister caught two passes for 24 yards. Both of Hollister’s catches came on 12-yard TD passes from Allen. Sophomore Tyree Mayfield led all receivers, catching two passes for 41 yards, including a 26-yarder from Allen, and sophomore Austin Fort caught two passes for 29 yards. Fort’s longest reception was a 20-yard pass from sophomore QB Nick Smith.
“(Jacob) Hollister really has good ability, and has put on some more weight,” said Bohl. “I thought Austin Fort had a couple nice catches, as well. We certainly used the tight ends well today, and in our offense tight ends are a big component so to have those guys integrated in our offense is really good.”
Wyoming’s defense saw sophomore safeties Marcus Epps and Anthony Makransky lead the team in tackles, with seven tackles each. Sophomore safety Andrew Wingard recorded five tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss and one pass breakup, and sophomore defensive end Carl Granderson also was credited with five tackles, 1.0 quarterback sack and 1.0 tackle for a loss.
“Offensively, I thought we really did some good things today,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “It is probably as well as I’ve seen Josh (Allen) throw since he’s been here. His command of the offense is significantly improving.
“It was great to see Shaun (Wick) out there. He really ran the ball well today, and I thought there were some good holes opened up by our offensive line.
“We didn’t have a chance to do much with the kicking game. We did work on some kickoffs.
“It was a pretty long scrimmage, and it was an intense atmosphere out there today. Guys are doing a good job of competing.
“I think our offense is starting to have more of a presence, and certainly did a better job of staying on the field today and sustaining drives.”
When asked where the quarterback competition stood following the second scrimmage of spring Bohl responded, “From my standpoint, I thought Josh really had a good day, and we’re encouraged by his maturation with our offense. We did work Nick (Smith) in one session with the ones and he did some good things.”
Wyoming’s 417 yards of total offense on 75 plays from scrimmage Saturday was a significant improvement from the 225 yards the Pokes gained on 72 plays in the first spring scrimmage a week ago.
This Saturday saw the offense run for 222 yards on 43 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per carry, as compared to only 50 rushing yards on 33 carries the week before that included 14.0 tackles for loss by the Cowboy defense and 4.0 quarterback sacks.
The UW passing attack was also improved on Saturday, gaining 195 yards on 15 completions as compared to 175 passing yards on 16 completions in the first scrimmage.
Big plays were a contributing factor to the offense’s effectiveness on Saturday. Wyoming’s offense generated seven plays of 20 yards or more (three runs and four passes), while the Cowboy defense held them to only three plays of 20 or more yards in the first scrimmage.
“Last Saturday the offense didn’t have as good a day, and sometimes adversity brings out more focus,” said Bohl. “I think that came about during the course of this week.
“I don’t think the defense played poorly today, but we’ll take a look on the tape to evaluate everyone’s performance. I thought Andrew Wingard tackled extremely well in the early part of the scrimmage, and Carl Granderson did some positive things.”
The scrimmage began with the 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive by the offense on its opening possession, capped off by a 12-yard TD pass from Allen to Hollister.
On its second possession, the offense scored again, this time on a four-play, 70-yard drive that concluded with Hall’s 61-yard touchdown run.
It was then that the Cowboy defense stepped up its play, holding the offense out of the end zone for the next 10 consecutive series. On the day, the UW defense recorded 8.0 tackles for loss by eight different individuals, 5.0 quarterback sacks by five different players and six pass breakups by six different Cowboys.
The offense scored its third touchdown on a six-play, 51-yard drive that included as its key play a 26-yard pass from Allen to tight end Mayfield that took the ball down inside the defense’s 10-yard line. Two plays later, Hall ran into the end zone from five yards out for his second TD run of the day.
Following another defensive stop, Allen directed a four-play, 60-yard drive for the offense’s fourth TD of the game. The biggest play of the drive was a 25-yard pass from Allen to redshirt freshman wide receiver C.J. Johnson. A pass interference penalty two plays later took the ball to the defense’s 12-yard line. On the next play, Allen connected with Hollister on their second 12-yard TD pass play.
The defense got another stop on the next series. Then on a series beginning at the offense’s 35-yard line, quarterbacks Allen and Smith combined on a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive that included a 26-yard pass from Allen to sophomore wide receiver Joseph Parker, a nine-yard pass from Smith to Fort and a 31-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman running back Garrett Gardner to give the offense its fifth and final TD of the day. Smith also connected with Fort on a successful two-point conversion pass following the final touchdown.
Following the scrimmage, Bohl shared with media an update on Wyoming’s injury situation after the approximately 1 hour and 30-minute practice.
“As far as injuries, Trevor Meader sustained a knee injury in the scrimmage,” said Bohl. “We don’t know the full outcome. I’m a little concerned, but he was able to walk and move around some on the sideline, which was encouraging. Drew Van Maanen also suffered a stinger (in neck and shoulder) today.”
Bohl added that it was the same knee that Meader had injured during fall camp in 2015 that caused him to miss the entire 2015 season. The head coach was then asked for an update on senior nose tackle Chase Appleby, who suffered an MCL sprain in a knee this past Thursday.
“What we feel like right now is that the knee is intact,” said Bohl. “There may have been some scar tissue in there. We are hopeful that Chase (Appleby) will be back full speed by next fall, but I don’t know if he will be back prior to the spring game.
“Brian (Hill) didn’t scrimmage today. He has a strained hamstring, so we held him out, but hopefully he’ll be back this next week.”
Sophomore defensive end Kevin Prosser who suffered a concussion in last Tuesday’s practice is still going through the concussion protocol and didn’t practice on Saturday. Bohl also announced that sophomore wide receiver James Price was focusing on academics right now and also didn’t participate on Saturday.
The Cowboys have now completed their fourth of five weeks of spring practice. They have three practices remaining in spring, including practices on Tuesday and Thursday of this coming week and the Spring Game on Saturday, April 23. The Spring Game is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m. in Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium. The game will be free and open to the public.
2016 University of Wyoming Football Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, April 19 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #13)
Thursday, April 21 - 4 or 4:30 p.m. (Practice #14)
Saturday, April 23 - 2 p.m. (Spring Game, Practice #15)