Aug. 17, 2002
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Wyoming's football team continued its string of "excellent" practices with its first full scrimmage of fall camp Saturday in War Memorial Stadium.
The Cowboys ran 109 plays on a glorious morning in the stadium, and Head Coach Vic Koenning was impressed with his team. "We've been through a week of two-a-days, yet the demeanor and effort of this team was still there today. We have put together a string of positive practices like I haven't seen in the six years I've been at Wyoming."
Koenning was quick to point out that one of the most positive aspects of Saturday's two-hour-and-twenty-minute practice was that the injuries were kept to a minimum. "We have been very aware of injury," he said. "We're attempting to not allow fatigue become a factor. They are going to be tired during two-a-days, that's part of this time of year. But we have been able to take the serious injury out of camp. There are some guys with hamstring pulls and the like, but that is at a minimum."
The Cowboys came out of Saturday's scrimmage with just one injury of note, and that came to offensive guard Isaac Morales who banged up his shoulder. His status will be day-to-day.
Of the 109 plays, each unit received 40, or about half of a regular game. "I know they are a little tired," Koenning said, "but these guys will go hard. That's what this bunch is all about.
"It was a good experience for us to come out, and play in the stadium today. Last year we were always getting down early, and having to battle back. We want to come out and get it going early. I thought we were a little tight early today, because we were in the stadium. But I realize these guys are trying very hard to do well, and there were some butterflies. They need to relax a little bit, play under control, and get out of the gates ready to go."
Koenning said he was pleased offensively with the short passing game. He indicated, however, that that side of the ball needs to work on the "down-the-field" game. "We were ultra-conservative with the running game today, blowing the whistle early to prevent injury. But I think our running backs are coming along."
Since spring training Koenning has been asking for more leadership and a tougher demeanor from his offensive line. "They are coming along," Koenning said. "I think (Mike) Irvin is playing better than he has since he's been here. Rob Kellerman is providing outstanding leadership. A lot of our leadership must come from these guys."
There were some good numbers from the quarterback position with the exception of interceptions. The four Cowboy quarterbacks--Casey Bramlet, J.J. Raterink, Corey Bramlet and Jeff Rush-- threw for four touchdowns, but also three interceptions. The grand total was 37 of 57 fro 346 yards (.649), the four TD's, and the three picks.
Defensively there has been an emphasis on the pass rush, and that work was apparent on Saturday. As a unit the defense produced five sacks. Two veterans led the Cowboys in sacks. Defensive tackle Brandon Casavan had one-and-a-half sacks for a minus nine yards and linebacker Herman White had one-and-a-half for a minus 11 yards. He also had a fumble recovery. For the day, the leading tacklers were linebacker Tyler Gottschalk, who had five unassisted stops, Casavan who had four including the sacks, and defensive end Casey Adams who had a pass interception, three tackles and a tackle for a loss. Turning in the other interceptions for the defense were cornerbacks Stephon King and Gary Wright.
"Casavan and (Jacob) Bonde are playing well up front as well as Casey Adams," Koenning said. "We have really worked hard on getting more pressure on the quarterbacks, and that work is starting to show.
"Things are coming along in the secondary," he continued. "I'm really pleased with the way those guys are doing. We had some outstanding play today, and three guys we are counting on--junior college transfers Chris Dixon, Jay McNeal and redshirt freshman Chad White--were out with hamstring pulls. Those guys will be challenging for starting positions. I really thought Jacque Finn played well today. Guy Tuell and Tom Vincent are having a heck of a battle at safety.
"I think our corners are playing well, especially Wright and junior Roderrick Jackson.
Casey Bramlet led the Cowboy offense completing 26 of 36 passes for 213 yards and all four touchdowns. He had one interception. Bramlet scored himself on a rather bizarre play. The Cowboy quarterback caught his own tipped pass and raced into the end zone. Raterink was 5 of 11 for 35 yards, and Corey Bramlet was 3 of 7 for 66 yards. Rush, the true freshman, was 3 of 3 for 32 yards.
Ryan McGuffey led all receivers with 11 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, but the most effective receiver was Jovon Bouknight who caught eight balls for 126 yards. Malcom Floyd, and tight end Chris Cox caught the other two touchdowns.
On the ground, Kit Bradshaw led all carriers with eight rushes for 32 yards. The only other ground-gainer in double figures was quarterback Corey Bramlet who rushed twice for 12 yards. The Cowboys gained 57 yards on 32 carries.
In addition to the regular over-the-field scrimmage, the Cowboys worked on special teams. Kicker J.D. Wallum made good on one of two field goal attempts. He was successful from 33 yards out, and was wide right on a 48 yarder. He made all four extra points.
The Cowboys also worked on kickoff and punt coverage. Luke Donovan punted three times for an average of 41.3, including a long of 45 yards and Scott Parker averaged 39 yards on three punts.
According to the head coach, the Cowboys will have a "special-situation" practice Sunday afternoon, then return to two-a-days on Monday. Koenning said he would have another scrimmage similar to Saturday's on Wednesday. The Cowboys would return to two-a-days on Thursday and Friday, then have another scrimmage on Saturday.