Aug. 8, 2011
Tuesday will mark the sixth practice of the fall for the Wyoming Cowboy football team, but practice No. 6 will be a special one as it will be the first of four fall scrimmages scheduled for the Pokes. Tuesday's practice is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m., with the scrimmage portion of the practice set to begin at 9:20 a.m. The scrimmage is open to the media and the general public, and will be held in War Memorial Stadium.
The Aug. 9 practice will consist of approximately 130 total plays, with the goal of getting each player 40-45 plays in the scrimmage. The three top quarterbacks for the Cowboys -- true freshmen Brett Smith and Adam Pittser, and junior-college transfer Colby Kirkegaard -- will rotate throughout the scrimmage, each taking snaps with the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 offensive units.
The scrimmage format will pit the No. 1 offense versus the No. 2 defense, No. 2 offense vs. the No. 1 defense and the No. 3 units on both sides of the ball against one another. Tuesday's scrimmage will also feature live, full-speed tackling. A year ago in fall camp, the Cowboys tackling included more thudding up, which means the play was whistled dead once contact was made and prior to taking the ball carrier to the ground.
Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen had a couple reasons for including a full-speed scrimmage so early in fall camp.
"One reason for including live tackling in this first scrimmage was we had a lot of missed tackles in our season opener last season, so we determined months ago that we wanted to have more live tackling early in the fall," said Christensen. "Two, we wanted to put our young quarterbacks in as many live situations as possible this fall to help identify a starting quarterback. By having a scrimmage early in fall practice, we can get an earlier evaluation of where our quarterbacks are at in their development.
"The top three guys will all get similar type reps. They'll all get an opportunity to work with the No. 1 offense, all work with the No. 2 offense and all work with the threes."
Special situations that will be incorporated into the scrimmage will include: the offense coming out from its own one-yard line; offense beginning at its own 25, 35 and 40-yard lines; the defense trying to defend from its own 25-yard line; and a final period of two-minute offense, with the offense trailing by two points with 1:50 remaining on the clock and starting at its own 35-yard line.
Through the first five practices, Christensen has been most impressed by the effort his team has put forth.
"Our kids have worked hard these first few days of fall camp," said Christensen. "This group has a great work ethic. They're a little bit sore, as probably every team in the country is at this point, but they're giving great effort at every practice. The young men who have been in our program the last couple years have developed strong practice habits. That in turn gives our young players great role models to follow, and it has resulted in very productive practices thus far."
Six players will definitely miss Tuesday's scrimmage due to injury. Those six are: senior linebackers Brian Hendricks and Oliver Schober; junior running back Ghaali Muhammad; sophomore running back Nehemie Kankolongo; sophomore tight end T.J. Smith and redshirt freshman offensive tackle Daniel Fleischman.
The scoring system utilized in Tuesday's scrimmage will award the offense and defense points based on certain plays. The offense will earn 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 may earn 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 may earn three points for forcing a punt, blocking a 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 missed field goal, tackling a ball carrier for a loss of yardage, blocking a point-after-touchdown attempt or when holding the offense to a field goal after the offense began its series in the red-zone (inside the defense's 25-yard line).
Following Tuesday's scrimmage, the next scrimmage for the Cowboys will be held on Friday, Aug. 12 and is also scheduled for the morning. All four of Wyoming's fall scrimmages will be open to the public and media.