Aug. 15, 2011
Laramie, Wyo. - The third in a series of four fall scrimmages will be held Tuesday morning in Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium as the Wyoming Cowboy football team has surpassed the halfway mark in fall camp. Tuesday's practice is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m., with the scrimmage portion of practice set to begin at 9:20 a.m.
Wyoming began fall camp on Thursday, Aug. 4 with 27 practices scheduled prior to its season-opening game versus Weber State on Saturday, Sept. 3. Tuesday's scrimmage will mark the 14th practice of the fall. Unlike the first two scrimmages, which included 130-140 plays each, Tuesday's scrimmage will be in the neighborhood of 70 plays.
"There will still be competition at all positions throughout this week," said head coach Dave Christensen. "But we're getting closer to determining which players we think can help us this season. Each of the four scrimmages help us narrow down the depth chart, but we won't limit the competition until we get through all four scrimmages and get four good evaluations of all our players in game-like situations."
Christensen said he would announce an updated depth chart at his first fall press conference on Monday, Aug. 29 leading up to the season opener later that week versus Weber State.
Christensen announced Monday that senior H-Back Bryson Studnicka will miss the entire 2011 season due to a season-ending injury he suffered in last Friday's scrimmage. Due to the loss of Studnicka, two Cowboys were moved over to H-Back this week to help at that position. Those two are defensive linemen Mat Birkeness and Riley Lange. Another player who was injured in last Friday's scrimmage was sophomore tight end Spencer Bruce, who is expected to be out approximately two months. Sophomore running back Nehemie Kankolongo will redshirt the 2011 season due to injury.
"As far as position changes, we've made most of the changes we plan on making heading into the season," said Christensen. "It was unfortunate to lose a senior, in Bryson Studnicka, who started several games for us last year, and a young receiver, in Spencer Bruce, who was having a good camp. But we will have to make adjustments for those losses, and new people will have to step up to fill their roles."
In the quarterback battle, Christensen said that freshman Brett Smith would again take his reps with the No. 1 offense on Tuesday. Christensen also said that freshman Adam Pittser and sophomore Colby Kirkegaard would continue to rotate between the No. 2 and No. 3 offensive units.
On the offensive line, there is on-going competition at a number of positions. Christensen said he likes the depth that has developed on the O-line.
"We have good competition across the offensive line," said Christensen. "If there is equal production from a number of offensive linemen, there is a chance we may play more individuals than last year. Hutch (John Hutchins) and (Clayton) Kirven are battling at left tackle, and I would expect them to both play. (Josh) Leonard and Mags (Kyle Magnuson) are in a battle at right tackle, and will likely both play. Zach Rushing has done some nice things, and has a chance to contribute. He joins Travis Strong and Brandon Self, who came out of spring as the projected starters at guard, to give us some depth inside. Nick Carlson is of course a proven commodity at center, and he's backed up by a good prospect in Travis Bogard.
"It looks like Daniel Fleischman has a chance to be back for us this season. After his injury last spring we thought he would be out this entire year. But he might be back as early as game one or two, and if he can help at tackle we could also move Leonard in to play at guard where he has experience."
In the kicking competition, redshirt freshman Stuart Williams and true freshman Daniel Sullivan continue to compete for the starting duties, which according to Christensen will come down to the final two fall scrimmages.
"We worked those guys a lot early in camp," said Christensen. "They've both got some soreness now, so we haven't kicked them a lot the last couple days. Basically, it will come down to these last two scrimmages. They will compete in live situations these final two scrimmages, and whomever performs the best in those two scrimmages is going to earn the job."
In the return game, Christensen said that his staff was narrowing the field of potential punt and kickoff returners, but the competition for the starters at those spots was ongoing.
"At punt returner, we have Chris McNeill, Trey Norman and Kody Sutton," said Christensen. "Kick returners are: Alvester (Alexander), Ghaali (Muhammad), Luke Ruff, Dominic Rufran, (Kody) Sutton and (Luke) Anderson.
While the number of plays on Tuesday will be fewer, the scrimmage situations will be very similar to the first two scrimmages. Situations will include a red-zone offensive period, a two-minute drill and a final period in which the offense will take over at its own 35-yard line with 4:00 minutes left on the clock and attempt to drive down for a score.
The majority of the scrimmage 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. There is one series in the scrimmage that is scheduled to have the No. 1 offense and defense facing off versus one another.
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 final scrimmage of the fall will be held on Saturday, Aug. 20 and is also scheduled for the morning. All four of Wyoming's fall scrimmages will be open to the public and media.