Aug. 20, 2008
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The second and final fall scrimmage for the Wyoming Cowboy football team saw improved play from the offense as they scored two touchdowns and converted four field goals, while the defense for the Cowboys continued to impress.
In a 74-play scrimmage that lasted approximately one hour and 10 minutes on Wednesday night, the starting offense scored on a six-play, 50-yard drive on its final possession of the night culminating in a two-yard toudown run by senior running back Devin Moore. Earlier in the scrimmage, the No. 2 offense scored the first TD of the night on an eight-play, 70-yard drive versus the No. 2 defense. The scoring play came when redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Stutzriem completed a 46-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Travis Burkhalter. Burkhalter made an outstanding juggling catch between two Cowboy defenders in the end zone.
"Our number one defense is pretty good, but we need to protect them."
UW Head Coach Joe Glenn
"I liked the fact that the offense was able to come out of the shadow of their own end zone and get two first downs," said Glenn. "We were two of two coming out of the end zone, getting first downs both times.
"We weren't going to leave the field until the number one offense scored, so that was a great way to end the scrimmage with them getting in the end zone."
For the night, starting quarterback Dax Crum completed 7 of 9 passes for 34 yards. Junior Karsten Sween was 4 of 9 for 37 yards and one interception. Stutzriem connected on 4 of 7 pass attempts for 80 yards and a touchdown and senior Ian Hetrick was 2 of 4 for 34 yards.
The leading receiver was Burkhalter, who pulled down three passes for 71 yards, including the 46-yard TD reception. Three other Cowboys -- junior tight end Jesson Salyards and junior wide receivers Greg Bolling and Donate Morgan -- each had two receptions apiece.
The offensive accounted for 236 yards of total offense -- 185 passing and 51 rushing -- for an average of 4.1 yards per play.
"We want to be more of a downhill running team this year than we have been," said Glenn. "I want to watch the tape, but when we block power our running backs have to stick it up in there like it's a fist fight. We've got to go get four yards. We need to run tougher. I know we can do it, but our backs have to understand they're not going to hit doubles, triples or home runs everytime. Once in awhile you just have to get a single.
"In terms of the passing game, Travis Burkhalter made a great catch. That is a big step forward for him. Some of the defenses' blitzes got to us off the corner tonight, but that is something we will work on more as we prepare for Ohio."
Defensive highlights included a team high 12 tackles by redshirt freshman linebacker Brian Hendricks. Hendricks also had two tackles for losses for 10 yards and one sack for eight yards.
"(Brian) Hendricks on the second team was special tonight," said Glenn. "The pressure the defense put on our offense coming off the edge was hard to handle. I know our defense was successful at that last year, and I think we will be again this year. We have some pretty good corners.
"Our number one defense is pretty good, but we need to protect them. We can't allow a punt to be blocked like we did on our first punt attempt tonight."
There was only one turnover for the night. Senior strong safety Michael Ray picked off a Sween pass and returned it 39 yards. The only fumble of the night came when senior free safety Derrick McMahen hit Moore on the sideline, with the ball going out of bounds and staying with the offense.
The Cowboy offense committed five penalties for 25 yards. Two penalties for 26 yards were called against the defense -- both on interference calls.
"I was not happy with the penalties," said Glenn. "One called back a touchdown. One called back a 35-yard run. That is devastating to your offense. When you have to take a five-yard penalty that can be the difference between third down and four and third and nine -- that makes a huge difference in the plays you can call. We've got to clean up those penalties."
A couple of areas that the offense improved upon from its first scrimmage was limiting turnovers and sacks. The one turnover was significantly better than a four-turnover night for the offense in the previous fall scrimmage. The offense gave up only three sacks to the defense in the final scrimmage as compared to nine sacks allowed in the first scrimmage a week ago.
Other outstanding defensive performances were turned in by senior linebacker Ward Dobbs (five tackles and two tackles for losses), junior linebacker Weston Johnson (four tackles, including one tackle for a loss) and senior linebacker Jake Edmunds (four tackles, including one sack).
Special teams saw continued competition at the punting spot. Nick Landess, Cody Bousema and Austin McCoy continue to battle for the starting spot. Landess, after having his first punt blocked, had kicks of 56 and 45 yards for a 50.5-yard average. Bousema punted twice for 43 and 34 yards, placing his 34-yarder on the 10-yard line and averaging 38.5 yards. Freshman McCoy had the lowest average of 33.5 yards, but his punts of 32 and 35 yards both ended up inside the 20-yard line at the 16 and 10-yard lines.
"Our punters did well tonight," said Glenn. "They had nice high punts, with good hang time. We've got to pick a punter but I don't know who it will be. We feel good about that competition. If I had to pick someone with an edge right now, it would have to be number 28 (Austin McCoy).
"Nick Landess will kick off for us. He's done a good job of kicking high and deep. A week ago, I would have told you that Jake (Scott) was home free on sewing up the place-kicking job, but we have to take another look at that after this week."
Junior place-kicker Jake Scott, after converting four of five field goals a week ago, hit on only 50 percent of his field goals in the final fall scrimmage. Scott was successful from 36 and 38 yards, but missed from 31 and 38. Landess connected on his one field-goal attempt, a 34-yard field goal, while Braden Shoop also made his lone attempt from 27 yards out.
"We can't be 50 percent in the kicking game," said Glenn. "That can't happen. We'll probably look at several guys in practice. Number twenty-one (Jake Scott) has the most experience, but right now he is a 50 percent guy but that is not good enough. We have to be better than that."
The Cowboys remaining practice schedule this week will include 3:15 p.m. practices on Thursday and Friday and a 9:15 a.m. practice on Saturday, before the Pokes enter their regular practice schedule next week in preparation for the season opener versus Ohio on Saturday, Aug. 30. That Ohio game will kick off at Noon, Mountain Time from Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.