Wyoming Defense Dominates, While the Cowboy Quarterback Battle Remains Undecided In First Fall Scrimmage

Aug. 13, 2008


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    It was a night for the defense. It was also a night when the Wyoming quarterback battle was hoped to be decided, but that battle didn't have a clear winner on Wednesday in Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium.

    "I give the defense credit tonight," said UW head coach Joe Glenn. "But I will say that we played a lot better offensively all week in practice than we did tonight. We showed no emotion on offense. We were flat. I can't say that we played very well at any spot.

    "I can't see picking a quarterback based on what we did tonight, but I will talk with Bob (Cole, offensive coordinator) and we will watch the tape. If no one separates we may play a couple of guys. It's not ideally what we want to do entering the season, but at this point I think we have to continue to let both quarterbacks compete, take snaps and see if one of them will take charge at the position."

    Defensively, the Cowboys allowed only 330 yards of total offense -- 134 passing yards and 196 rushing. Wyoming's defense sacked Cowboy quarterbacks nine times for a minus 70 yards, and recorded 15 tackles for losses for a minus 101 yards. The Poke defenders recovered three fumbles and intercepted one pass.

    The one interception was made by sophomore cornerback Marcell Gipson, who picked off senior Ian Hetrick's pass and returned it 37 yards. Fumble recoveries were made by senior linebacker Jake Edmunds, junior linebacker Zeb Whipp and junior noseguard Fred Givens. Leading the way in the sack category was senior linebacker Mike Juergens, who recorded three sacks for a minus 24 yards. Mike Neuhaus, a junior defensive end, had two sacks for 11 yards. Ward Dobbs (senior linebacker), Weston Johnson (junior linebacker) and Alex Stover (redshirt freshman defensive tackle) each had one sack apiece, while Mitch Unrein (junior defensive end) and Gabe Knapton (redshirt freshman linebacker) got a half sack each.

    Cowboy head coach Joe Glenn speaks to his team following Wednesday's scrimmage.

    Leading the way in tackles was Whipp with eight. Dobbs and Knapton each had seven tackles.

    When asked if the next scrimmage will focus more on the passing game, Glenn responded that the goal for the offense in the two fall scrimmages is to move the ball down the field, not to focus on only one element of the offense.

    "We want to move the ball," said Glenn. "We didn't move the ball tonight as well as we have over this first couple of weeks of fall practice. I think once we establish that we can run the ball effectively, the passing game will fall in place with that, but tonight we didn't run it like we have been.

    "I know the offensive coaches will be really, really disappointed that we didn't get in the end zone. The offensive staff wanted to start every series from their own 25-yard line to see which quarterback could drive the ball down the field. In the next scrimmage, we will probably mix up the starting position for each drive and give the offense some field position to work with to start."

    Looking ahead to Wyoming's second fall scrimmage set for Wednesday, Aug. 20, Glenn said he told his team that through his years of coaching when one unit -- either offense or defense -- dominates one scrimmage usually the other unit bounces back in the next scrimmage.

    "Most every time we've had one side win a scrimmage the next week the other side of the ball usually steps it up," said Glenn. "We'll see what happens next Wednesday."

    In addition to the strong performance by the defense, some positives came out of the kicking game in Wednesday's scrimmage. Junior place-kicker Jake Scott was four of five in field goals, connecting on two 41-yard field goals, a 26-yard attempt and a 23-yard kick. His only miss came from 37 yards out. Freshman Kolten Jelden also made a 23-yard field goal. Those were the only scores for the Cowboys.

    A three-man competition at punter saw all three individuals have good performances. Sophomore Nick Landess averaged 45.0 yards on five punts, including a long of 61. Sophomore Cody Bousema averaged 48.8 yards on five punts, with a long of 55. Austin McCoy, a true freshman, also punted five times and averaged 39.2 yards, including a long of 50 and a 40-yard punt that was downed at the two-yard line.

    "Most of our punts were over 40 yards, some over 50," said Glenn. "Our operation time was good, and our hang time was pretty good. I'm not sure if we're ready to pick a punter just yet -- they're all that close. Statistically throughout fall camp I think Austin McCoy has a very slight advantage with his numbers, but it's minuscule. They're all three real, real close. We'll let them keep battling it out awhile longer."

    On offense, senior running back Devin Moore carried the ball 17 times for 74 yards. Junior-college transfer Anthony Smith ran the ball seven times for 81 yards, including a 64-yard dash for the longest play from scrimmage. Sophomore Darius Terry netted 50 rushing yards on eight attempts, and senior Wynel Seldon got seven carries for 20 yards.

    Neither of the two contenders for the starting quarterback job -- junior Karsten Sween and sophomore Dax Crum -- had particularly impressive numbers. Sween attempted only two passes for 14 yards. Crum completed four of seven passes for 33 yards. Each had a fumble on the night, as did freshman quarterback Adam Barry. Redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem completed six of 10 passes for a game high 48 yards. Stutzriem completed the long pass play of the night -- a 36-yard pass to junior Donate Morgan.

    The second and final scheduled scrimmage for the Wyoming Cowboys is set for Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium.