April 25, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Senior quarterback Karsten Sween completed 16 of 34 passes for 154 yards, one touchdown pass and one interception as the Brown Team defeated the Gold Team 20-3 in the Spring Game on Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. The Brown squad was made up of the Cowboys' No. 1 offense and No. 2 defense. The Gold featured the No. 1 defensive unit paired with the No. 2 offense.
Saturday's game featured four, 12-minute quarters. The clock ran continually except for the final two minutes of each half, in which normal NCAA timing rules were utilized to allow both offenses to simulate two-minute drills. A total of 110 plays were run in Saturday's spring game.
The Spring game began with the Gold Team taking a 3-0 lead that was keyed by an interception from sophomore cornerback Tashaun Gipson. Gipson intercepted Sween at the Brown's 38-yard line and returned the ball 13 yards to the Brown 25. Four plays later, senior place-kicker Jake Scott hit a 37-yard field goal to give the Gold its one and only lead of the day. For Sween it was the first interception he had thrown in a scrimmage all spring.
Sween quickly rallied his team when, on the very next series, he led the Brown squad on a 75-yard drive that took 13 plays and resulted in a six-yard touchdown run by junior running back Darius Terry. The point-after-touchdown by Scott failed, but the Brown team took a 6-3 lead. Terry was the leading rusher for the Brown on Saturday, with 49 yards on 11 carries. He also caught four passes for 35 yards on the day.
The two teams went to halftime with the Brown holding on to its 6-3 lead.
Sween's performance probably secured his No. 1 position at quarterback, pending release of Wyoming's depth chart on Monday.
"We'll set the depth (chart) on Monday," said Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen. "I would say it's a pretty fair assessment that he will be the No. 1 guy when we start fall camp. But we will bring in two more quarterbacks in the fall, and we have three in our program right now. We're going to let them compete in the fall just like we are at every position in our program. Everybody has to earn their starting spot."
During a 10-minute halftime, the Cowboy coaching staff recognized seven players as the "Most Improved" at their positions during spring ball. Those seven were:
The second half began with the Gold offense converting a third down and 10 on a 10-yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Adam Barry to redshirt sophomore Kaither Holiway. But the Brown defense forced a punt four downs later. Holiway was the top receiver for either team Saturday, catching five passes for 50 yards.
On the Brown's first drive of the second half, Sween gained two successive first downs on his own, running for six yards on a third and five and following that up with a run of seven yards on a second and one. Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Stewart capped off an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run. Scott added the PAT to put Brown up 13-3.
The Gold team had its best drive of the day on its next possession, driving the ball all the way down to the Brown 31. That drive was highlighted by a 29-yard run by sophomore running back James Davis, who led all rushers with 60 yards on 11 carries. But on a critical fourth down and seven from the Brown 31-yard line, Barry was sacked by sophomore defensive end Alex Hays for a loss of 10 yards, ending the drive.
"Offensively, we of course want to reduce the turnovers. I think we've done a good job of that this spring."
UW head coach Dave Christensen
The final scoring drive of the day came on Brown's final possession as Sween executed an outstanding two-minute drill. He eventually hit junior wide receiver David Leonard on a 13-yard touchdown strike that concluded an eight-play, 65-yard drive. Scott added the PAT to give the Brown a 20-3 lead. Leonard caught four passes for 39 yards, while Stewart had five receptions of 49 yards in the game.
"I thought Karsten (Sween) did a nice job in that last two-minute drill," said Christensen. "That's why we put the regular timing rules in the last two minutes to get practice in that situation. I thought he moved the football team well. It wasn't a situation where his team was down by two points or six points and he had the pressure of coming back to win the game, but he did a nice job and led us to a touchdown. He managed the clock well on that drive and didn't take any negative plays. It was probably the best executed two-minute offensive drill we've had all spring."
Barry threw his one interception of the day on the first play of the Gold team's final series. Senior free safety T.J. Atwater came up with the interception for the Brown team, and returned it 27 yards to conclude the game. The final score was Brown 20, Gold 3. Barry concluded the day completing seven of 24 passes for 64 yards.
Atwater's interception was the second turnover forced by the defense on the day -- the first by the Brown defense. The two interceptions were the only two turnovers of the day.
"Defensively, we've got to take the ball away better, and the defense got two turnovers today," said Christensen. "Offensively, we of course want to reduce the turnovers. I think we've done a good job of that this spring."
Leading the No. 1 defense for the Gold team was senior outside linebacker Weston Johnson, who had nine tackles. Senior defensive end Mitch Unrein had five tackles, including one sack for three yards. Sophomore inside linebacker Brian Hendricks and sophomore defensive lineman Alex Stover were also each credited with five tackles.
Four Cowboys on the Brown defense tied for the lead in tackles with five apiece. Those four were: sophomore noseguard Marcus Felker, redshirt freshman free safety Patrick Hartford and two alums who played in the game -- former Cowboy linebackers Sean Claffey and Guy Tuell.
Place-kicker Scott was a perfect one for one in field goals, converting on his 37-yard attempt. He was two of three in PATs.
Sophomore punter Austin McCoy averaged 40.2 yards on nine punts, including a long of 53 yards.
The Brown team had three penalties for 25 yards, including two false starts on the offense and one interception call on the defense. The Gold team committed two penalties for 20 yards -- one false start and one interference penalty.
One area that was disappointing for Christensen and his staff were a number of dropped passes in its final practice of the spring.
"You have to throw the ball accurately, and you have to catch the ball when it comes to you," said Christensen. "The bottom line is you have to catch the ball to play in our offense. Our guys have three months to work on their skills before we start fall practice, and they have to do that or we'll put somebody else in there."
Christensen was asked whether Crum's missing the spring game affected his position on the depth chart entering the fall. Christensen was also asked to assess Barry's performance on Saturday.
"No -- there's 26 practices in fall camp, so Dax (Crum) is going to have plenty of opportunities," said Christensen. "I don't think this is going to be a deciding factor in where he's going to be come fall.
"Today did give Adam (Barry) a chance to get a lot of reps. He took a pretty good hit and had to get his chin stitched up, but he came back in -- that shows you something about his toughness. He showed me some courage today."
And in regard to the number of injured players who missed time during Wyoming's 15 spring practices Christensen had this to say.
"I wish we had more time in the spring," concluded Christensen. "I wish we could have gotten more players out there to get better evaluations on them, but we had several guys injured. Some of them were established players in this program, but everybody needs the work. Hopefully when fall comes around, those guys will all be healed up and ready to go."
The Cowboy coaching staff invited all former Cowboys, who they had contact information for, to return for a pregame function prior to the spring game. Over 50 former Cowboys returned Saturday for that function and some put the pads on one more time to participate in Saturday's Spring Game.
A total of eight former Poke defensive players suited up Saturday. Those eight included: linebackers Sean Claffey (a letterman from 2004-07), Ward Dobbs (2005-08), Jake Edmunds (2005-08), John Prater (2004-07) and Guy Tuell (2001-04); as well as defensive linemen Adam Diehl (2003-06), Mike Groover (2003-06) and Jake Mayes (2003-06).