July 16, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
By all measurements, Wyoming's first spring training under new Head Coach Joe Glenn was a successful one.
Glenn anticipates that with similar progress from his Cowboys during fall camp -- they report on Aug. 5 -- Wyoming will be ready to get back on track, and begin the healing process.
With just five victories--one in Mountain West Conference play--during the last three seasons, there is much to be done. It's been a painful three-year drought for players and fans alike. But with Glenn's arrival, new life has been breathed into the program.
Thanks to Glenn, Cowboy fans are looking forward to the 2003 campaign with more excitement and anticipation than they have for several seasons. The new head man, who has won football games wherever he has coached, has the state buzzing about the return to the glory years Wyoming has enjoyed during its rich history.
When fall camp begins, Glenn will welcome 47 lettermen from last year's team, including seven offensive starters, seven defensive starters and two kickers.
Most of the Cowboys' offensive yardage was produced by those returning starters, including quarterback Casey Bramlet, four of the top six receivers and the top two rushers. Defensively, six of the team's top seven tacklers are back, including linebacker Tyler Gottschalk, whose numbers were far-and-away best on the team.
"These kids have done everything we've asked them to do," said Glenn. "From winter conditioning through spring practice, they showed us how hungry they are to have success. We've thrown a lot at them, and they have continued to achieve. We have a ways to go, and some things to refine. But their effort during the spring put them in a position to enjoy the success they deserve."
Without question, the strength of the team is on the offensive side, especially quarterback, with Bramlet, and wide receiver where a stable of talented veterans reside.
"There's no doubt that offense is the strength of this team," Glenn said. "There is more senior leadership there, and we have more of our premier guys there. When you start talking about guys like Bramlet, (Ryan) McGuffey, (Derek) Armah, (Malcom) Floyd, and (Henry) Randle, you are talking about leadership, and darn good football players. That's the spearhead of our team. Those are the marquee guys.
"Those guys, and younger guys like Jovon Bouknight (wide receiver), Trenton Franz (center) and Isaac Morales (guard) have been able to put up some big numbers," Glenn continued. "But we must guard against getting caught up in all the numbers. We will have numbers, but what we must be so aware of is helping our defense win games. One of the offense's most important jobs will be to keep the defense off of the field. We want to produce extended drives and increase our time of possession. We do that with the utilization of our run game, we do that by protecting the football. We are going to minimize turnovers."
Wyoming opponents' time of possession for the 2002 season averaged exactly five more minutes per game than the Cowboys.
"There is no question that our personnel fits what we like to do. Our offensive philosophy will work very well with the players we have. I wish we had a little more depth, but I do feel good about these guys."
Bramlet, who is now third on Wyoming's career passing list, had an outstanding junior season. He threw for 3,290 yards and 24 touchdowns, and carried the team on his back game after game. He has an outstanding group of receivers returning, including sophomore Bouknight, who led the team with 63 receptions last year. McGuffey and Floyd produced 35 and 27 catches respectively, and Dustin Pleasant contributed 18 as a redshirt freshman. Bouknight was selected as a Third Team Freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
In Glenn's mind, Armah is a huge key to the Cowboys' success. As a junior, Armah gained 596 yards on 124 carries. His ability to run effectively is vital to Wyoming's ability to control the ball. While the new head man's "m.o." is a balanced attack that shortens the game through ball control, he also believes the ability to run the ball makes a team tougher. The Cowboys will count heavily upon three veteran o-linemen. . .Franz at center and Morales and Randle at guards.
Glenn's concerns are more evident on the defensive side of the ball where the Cowboys gave up 36 points and 491 yards of total offense per game a year ago.
Gottschalk is the impact player on defense. He and veteran Guy Tuell successfully switched positions during spring training. Gottschalk moved from the middle linebacker spot to strongside linebacker, while Tuell was switched from strong safety to weakside linebacker. Both moves make the defense much better. The third linebacker, Randy Tscharner, is a junior-college transfer, who came to campus last January. That trio has become the strength of the defense.
In the secondary, veterans Chris Dixon and Roderrick Jackson return at the corners, and Jay McNeal and Jacque Finn are back at safeties. McNeal, Finn, Dixon and Jackson were among the Pokes' top tacklers a year ago. Yet, Glenn is concerned about the secondary.
"That's an area of the team that we may look for some help from freshmen coming in for the fall," Glenn said. "We have to improve in that area.
"We hope we can hold up," Glenn said of his defense. "We aren't nearly as deep there as we are on offense. The strength of our defense is at linebacker. We are really going to be counting on Tyler (Gottschalk), Guy (converted safety Tuell) and Randy (transfer Tscharner). We expect them to give us what we need. But the secondary is going to have to get better. It is a team game, and in order for the guys back there to improve, the guys up front must put more pressure on the quarterback."
Glenn was very pleased with the improvement in the area of special teams. "We know what we have with Luke Donovan," Glenn said. "Not only is he an outstanding punter, but he is a great competitor, and pound-for-pound one of the toughest guys on the team.
"I was very happy with our two place-kickers. I know Scott Parker had some rough times last season, but he made great strides during spring training, as did Deric Yaussi. I would say that Deric probably had a slight edge at the end of the spring. But both are sophomores, and both will continue to get better and better.
"We put a lot of emphasis on special teams during the spring, and I would say that by the end we were snapping it, getting the ball down and kicking it as well as any group I've been around. We did not go full speed with the return game because of the injury possibilities, but we have some guys who can make a difference there. I really believe our special teams will be a plus for us."
One of the major goals for Glenn and his staff during the spring was to come out of it without major injury. "When everyone came off of the field on their own legs after the last scrimmage, we knew we had accomplished one of our goals," he said. "I said all along that we were not trying to beat Wyoming during the spring. We took more of the professional football mentality. I wasn't interested in guys beating each other up. So we had a good spring from the injury standpoint.
"There are a lot of good leaders among this group who are sick and tired of losing. They are willing to do what it takes to do something about it. I was so impressed with their attitudes. As coaches, we are going to help them. As I have said, we are going to get our pride, our toughness and our scoreboard back. These kids deserve to have success, and we are really looking forward to helping them achieve it."
Head Coach Joe Glenn's Position-by-Position Evaluations
"We were a little worried about our tackles heading into spring training. But our two young guys were probably the surprises of the spring. Chase Johnson (6-8, 293, RFr.) made great strides at left tackle. He has a great frame, and is athletic. We believe he has a great future in the program. On the right side, Dan Fisher (6-5, 293, So.) made similar progress. He is a very good athlete, and like Chase, has a good frame for a tackle. Our depth at tackle needs to become more developed. Going into the fall, Jason Karcher (6-3, 294, RFr.) is the backup on either side. Brandon Avery (6-4, 296, So.) also will provide backup. These are very young players in a position that requires a lot of seasoning. But we are really happy with the progress these guys made, especially Johnson and Fisher. The middle of the o-line is its strength. The guards have been around, and seen a lot of things. There are three that we can go to battle with and feel good. At left guard Isaac Morales (6-5, 312, Jr.) is a load, who is strong and athletic. He has been playing since he was a freshman. At right guard, senior Henry Randle (6-3, 295) has played a lot of football for the Cowboys. He is a good leader and a good football player. Our third guard is probably Drew Severn (6-1, 280, So.), who also backs up Trenton Franz at center. Severn may be the toughest of the offensive linemen. He was moved from the defense before we got here, and he has done a great job of adjusting. We feel really good about those three guys at the guard spot. We also have a couple of redshirts in backup roles there, Mark Schwarz (6-4, 278, RFr.), and Sean Stronach (6-2, 268, Sr.). I have no doubt that Trenton Franz (6-3, 276, Jr.) will be one of the finest centers in this part of the country. He is a leader, and he loves to go to battle. He sets the point, and calls all of the defensive sets. We feel very good about him."
"This situation will be excellent for us if everyone can get healthy and stay that way. Chris Cox (6-7, 250, Jr.) had a good spring, and showed marked improvement as things progressed. But the guy we would like to have start there has been injured for most of his career here --Marshall Schaap. Schaap (6-4, 245, Sr.) is a guy with lots of ability, but has not been able to get on the field because of injury. He could give us a lot of maturity and athleticism. He could be an excellent weapon. To his credit, even though he has not been on the field, he has made all of the meetings, so he knows what's going on. He's also valuable because he is a long snapper. We love to utilize this position (tight end), we have to make sure we have the right personnel in there."
"Aaron Robbins (6-4, 228, So.) is a young guy, but he demonstrated in spring practice that he can be a very effective player at this position. He is a devastating blocker, and possesses an excellent pair of hands. Athletically, he is the guy we want. The guys we will be looking to back him up will be young people who will be here in the fall. Spencer Miller, who will be a true freshman in the fall, will get a good look. We'll also look at another freshman in Jeston Karn from Glenrock. We'll have to see how the depth plays out in the fall."
"This area is the strength of the team in my opinion. We have a number of players who can play and make a big impact. I can't imagine anyone having more, outstanding receivers than we do. With seniors Ryan McGuffey (6-1, 216) and Malcom Floyd (6-6, 215) and sophomores Jovon Bouknight (6-1, 181) and Dustin Pleasant (6-1, 170), we have playmakers. All of those guys are impressive. There will be a lot of production from this group. We also have a couple of additional young players, who we are excited about in Josh Barge (6-0, 195, So.) and Jarreau Grant (6-1, 188, RFr.). I have a feeling that both will see a considerable amount of playing time in the fall."
"The way things went in spring practice, we feel good about our running back situation. It usually takes a stable to make you feel real good, but we have three or four who we think can help us. We are really pleased with Derek (Armah, 5-10, 207, Sr.) as our number one guy. He is what we thought he would be as we entered the spring. He is our point. He has paid the price, and I think he is going to have a great senior season. He has great pad level, and gets square to the hole. He is a leader, and one of the seniors we are counting on. Ivan (Harrison, 5-7, 176, RFr.) and C.R. (Davis, 5-10, 192 So.) give us a different gear. Ivan is like spitting in a skillet. C.R. also has excellent speed. We aren't sure about Kit Bradshaw (6-1, 206, Jr.). He was hampered with injuries all spring. If he can get healthy, we feel he can give us a boost, as well. Kit gained over 300 yards last year, so he has the experience. But injuries have certainly caused him problems. He has been there, and he has proven he can get it done. We really need for him to get well."
"Casey (Bramlet, 6-4, 231, Sr.) is our guy. We could not be happier. His focus, his attention to detail, his presence, his arm, his competitive nature and temperament all get straight 'A's'. He has done a tremendous job of picking up our offense. We threw a lot of things at him, and he handled it all. In the final spring scrimmage, he executed the offense very effectively. I think he has an opportunity to be one of the very best in the country. He's done a great job of getting himself ready, and now he needs to let it happen. Our emphasis on the running game should take some pressure off of him. Since we run a lower risk offense, we will be asking a little less of him. He might be throwing 25 to 30 passes per game rather than the 38 to 40 he threw last year. He did not have a turnover during our two scrimmages, which is a great sign. But with a talent like that, we will be throwing the football. I must say I didn't realize he could throw the ball that well. He's got a rocket for an arm. Plus, he's bigger and stronger. His brother, Corey (6-4, 209, So.), really improved during the spring, and established himself as a solid backup. Junior J.J. Raterink (6-1, 206) is a steady player, who is so valuable to the team in many ways. Not only is he capable of giving a solid effort at quarterback, but he also is the team's holder on point-after attempts and field goals."
"I can't help but think this area is improved over last season. There are seven players capable of playing the four down positions. (The Cowboys's front has a noseguard, a defensive tackle and two defensive ends, one known as a 'buck'.) The two most improved players during spring training were Zach Morris (6-2, 270, Jr.) at noseguard and Derrick Glasper (6-1, 255, So.) at the buck end position. Morris made a lot of things happen during our scrimmages, and has gained a great deal of confidence. Glasper was certainly a surprise. He came on early in camp, and proved to be very effective. I think John Flora (6-3, 245, So.) could be a surprise for us. We have him listed behind Glasper. But he was playing very well when he suffered a concussion, and missed the last half of spring ball. Brandon Casavan (6-5, 279, Sr.) is a veteran who has dealt with injuries and position switches, but I know he wants to go out with a great year. We feel he is best suited for the defensive end position, although he has played inside and outside. Anthony Jones Jr. (6-5, 264, Jr.) has matured, and appears ready to help at that end spot behind Casavan. At tackle, Jacob Bonde (6-3, 289, Jr.) will be an effective player. He is bigger, stronger and older, and all three of those things will help him. Casey Adams (6-5, 263, Sr.) is another veteran who we are counting on . When fall camp starts we will be trying to find our best combinations up front. We did not get many sacks out of that area last year, and we are looking to do a much better job. For us to be effective, it is important that Casavan have a big year. He is our senior leader, and is capable of making a huge difference for us."
"This is the strength of our defense. Our three starters will be the playmakers on defense. We feel like our starters are outstanding players. We are counting on them to give us what we need. We made a couple of moves that have worked out very well for us. Our top defensive player is Tyler Gottschalk (6-4, 236, Sr.). We moved him from the middle to the strongside, which we believe will make him even more effective. He should have an outstanding season. He is a sideline-to-sideline guy who loves to play the game. I think the move will be very good for him. J.C. Trautwein (6-0, 205, Sr.) had a good spring, and we look for him to be a solid backup. Austin Hall (6-2, 200, RFr.) was injured, but we really like what he's going to be able to do for us. He's a tough Wyoming guy. In the middle, Randy Tscharner (6-3, 231, Jr.) had a great spring. He is a mid-semester guy who really picked up the system, and made an impact. There are a couple of good, solid players behind him in Shane Powell (5-10, 222, Jr.), who has played a lot of football, and Matt Chase (, 6-1, 221, So.). Our other spring move has made a big impact on the weakside. We took a good football player in Guy Tuell (6-1, 207, Jr.), and moved him from safety to linebacker. We really like the way that experiment is working out. He needs to add some weight, but he can make a big difference for us there. We also moved another safety, Tom Vincent (6-2, 201, Sr.), to that position, and he is going to be solid for us there. Jeff Tatnall (5-11, 208, So.) is our third weakside backer, and he had a good spring. We feel he can be a very capable backup player. The linebacking corps made a lot of strides during the spring. I think with a good fall camp they are going to be ready to go."
"This is probably the area of biggest concern to us. We received great effort from this group, but we need to develop more depth. The safety position became a bigger concern when our starter, Nate Young (senior), decided to quit football and leave school. That was a big blow to us, and left a void at free safety. He was the team's second-leading tackler a year ago. We should have a spirited battle for that starting spot at free between Chad White (6-2, 199, So.) and Jacque Finn (6-2, 191, Sr.). We have redshirt freshman John Wendling (6-1, 198, RFr.) backing them up. Jay McNeal (6-1, 186, Jr.) made outstanding progress at strong safety. He has really bought into the system, and we feel very good there. His backup is Marcial Rosales (6-1, 199, RFr.), who also had a solid spring. The cornerback positions are areas of concern for us. We are very thin there. We are counting on Chris Dixon (6-0, 172, Sr.) at boundary corner. He is a veteran who has to be a leader for us back there. Stephon King (5-10, 193, So.) is the backup, but he missed a good deal of spring training due to injury. He has game action under his belt. On the other side, Roderrick Jackson (5-11, 164, Sr.) is the starter, and Leonard Jones (5-9, 156, Sr.) is the backup. Roderrick has seen the field, but Leonard has never played in the secondary, since he was moved from running back. Leonard was coming along very well during the spring until he injured his shoulder. We are expecting him to be a factor. Those four corners need to come through for us. That is imperative. The secondary, as a whole, is one big question mark as we head into the fall. We do have several freshmen coming in who are going to get a look. Derrick Martin, Terrell Vinson and Andre LaCaille, all will receive consideration. That's certainly not the way you want to do it, but that's the depth situation we are facing."
"There was some talk that this area would be one of concern as we headed into spring camp. But I didn't feel that way. I think when it was all said and done those guys did a pretty good job. I think we are going to be just fine. Luke Donovan (6-0, 189, Sr.) should be one of the best punters in the league. That guy is a bulldog. He works harder than any I have ever been around. He is going to be a key weapon for us. He considers himself a football player, and he has a great deal of respect from his teammates. I think he could be the pride of the league in his area. Our kickers made a great deal of progress. Deric (Yaussi, 5-11, 168, So.) and Scott (Parker, 6-0, 182, So.) had a very spirited battle through the spring. I would say that Deric had the edge at the end of practice, but they are very close. They were pretty consistent through spring training, and we look for them to continue that into the fall. We do have a freshman, Drew Larson (6-0, 170), coming in for the fall, who will be given an opportunity to battle Yaussi and Parker. Our snapper, David Gough (6-6, 256, Jr.), and holder, J.J. Raterink (6-1, 206, Jr.), are the best I've ever been around. The snap and hold are as good as they can be. We put a lot of emphasis on our kicking during the spring, and I think it paid off. I thought we received a great effort in the final scrimmage from all of those guys. Although we didn't go full speed with our returns during the spring, we feel we have plenty of individuals capable of handling those duties. We are looking at Jovon Bouknight, Dustin Pleasant, Leonard Jones and Derek Armah to return our kicks, and Josh Barge and Ryan McGuffey, returning punts. I think we are going to be fine in the special-teams area. Like any football team, special teams is a vital area. We certainly expect it to be an effective one for us."