Aug. 21, 2007
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys will scrimmage for the second and final time on Wednesday, Aug. 22 at 5 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium. The scrimmage will mark the end of the installation of the Cowboys' offensive, defensive and special teams playbooks. Wednesday's scrimmage will also provide players an opportunity to improve their position on the depth chart, while giving the Wyoming coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate players in a game-like setting.
This second scrimmage of the fall will include between 80 to 100 plays. The format will be a game-like setting with Mountain West Conference officials and a 25-second clock. The scrimmage is scheduled to begin from the offense's own 30-yard line with the No. 1 offense going against the No. 2 defense and the No. 1 defense going against the No. 2 offense. A series of plays in the redzone -- from the defense's 20-yard line to the goal line -- will follow. That will be repeated by another set of plays from the offense's 30, another redzone sequence and finally a series of plays simulating a two-minute drill to conclude the scrimmage.
"What we hope to accomplish in this scrimmage is to give our players a game-type experience," said UW head football coach Joe Glenn. "We have some new people who will be starting for us this season for the first time, and it's important as we get closer to the start of the season to simulate a game.
"Another important part of this final scrimmage is to play at full speed -- to tackle and block, pass and catch and defend at game speed. We don't do a lot of full-speed tackling during our practices because I don't believe in beating up `Wyoming', but this scrimmage will be at full-speed. For our vets, it's important for them to get some hitting in to get battle tested for Virginia.
"We also feel it is important to have game officials out there to give the players a sense of what penalties are going to be called in a game and to get used to any new rules, and we will run the 25-second clock to add to that game feel."
Glenn said that after the tape of Wednesday's scrimmage is graded by the coaching staff, the very next day the Pokes will begin preparing for their Sept. 1 meeting with Virginia. A year ago, Wyoming played the Cavaliers for the first time in history on UVa's home field in Charlottesville before the Cavs won in overtime 13-12.
"We will start scheming for Virginia and building a gameplan on Thursday," said Glenn. "Our scout teams will start learning the Virginia offense and defensive plays on Thursday so that they can begin simulating those schemes against our offense and defense."
Overall, Glenn has been extremely pleased with the attitude of his 2007 Cowboy squad.
"It's been a sensational job by our kids," said Glenn. "They've worked hard, taken to coaching and continued to stay the course through a long stretch of hard practices. I will also say the coaches have worked just as hard. When you practice hard for 10 days straight, including several of those days being two practices a day, it becomes physically and mentally draining. This group has stayed focused, stayed motivated and I couldn't be prouder of the way they've worked."
As the Cowboys conclude the installation phase of fall camp, Glenn broke down some of his team's strengths, as well as some areas that continue to need improvement heading into the 2007 season.
"Defensively, our blitzing unit is exceptional -- we can bring some heat," said Glenn. "We also do a strong good job in pass coverage. I would expect the defense to be ahead of the offense at this point in camp, and it is.
"Offensively, I thinking we're coming along well. We've got some playmakers on offense, starting at quarterback, with Karsten; Devin Moore at running back; and three or four receivers, who are pretty special."
The receiver spot, which is led by seniors Michael Ford and Hoost Marsh and junior Kyle Jacobo, looks to be a little deeper since fall camp began. Junior-college transfer Chris Johnson, sophomore Greg Bolling and freshmen Travis Burkhalter and David Leonard have all shown potential in fall practices, but Glenn is quick to point out he will reserve judgment until he sees them in a game setting.
"I need to see them in a game," said Glenn. "I expect each of them to perform well, but some of them are pretty young. Hoost (Marsh), Michael (Ford) and Kyle (Jacobo) all have experience playing at this level. But when you throw in (Greg) Bolling, (David) Leonard, Travis (Burkhalter) and Chris (Johnson) you have to wait and see how they react in a game suit. Greg got in a few plays last year, but Travis and David have never played in a college game, and Chris is moving up from the junior-college level.
"Now when you add the tight-end group to this mix of receivers it helps balance out that experience a little bit. Our tight ends and H-backs have showed well blocking and catching. You start with Bucky (senior Wade Betschart), Chris Sundberg, (Jesson) Salyards, (Greg) Genho and Joe (Evers). They are a big part of what we're doing right now, and you might see as many as three of them in the game at the same time."
The offensive line unit is perhaps the youngest on the Cowboy squad. Juniors Kyle Howard, at right tackle, and Tim Bond, at center, are the two returning starters. The other players vying for playing time are young. Sophomore Russ Arnold played in five games and started three last season when former Cowboy Jason Karcher missed time due to injury. The other potential contributors are all either redshirt freshman or sophomores.
"This is a question mark on our team," said Glenn. "We're young and inexperienced after graduating three seniors, but you just have to have some young guys step up and make the most of their opportunity. Kyle and Tim have been great leaders there for us all last spring and this fall. What I do like about our offensive line group is they are athletic, they're smart kids and they are competitors. It's just going to take some time for them to get some starts under their belt and develop some chemistry."
Another area on the team that is still developing is the place-kicking position. Senior Billy Vinnedge and sophomore Jake Scott are competing for the starting spot to kick field goals and extra points.
"I think Wednesday's scrimmage is going to have a lot to do with determining our starting place-kicker," said Glenn. "We know that Billy (Vinnedge) is our punter, and he'll be our kickoff guy, but in terms of field goals and PATs Billy and Jake are too close to make a call just yet. I do believe Jake has come on of late in his consistency, but Billy has a stronger leg. We will see what they each do in the scrimmage, and will continue to chart both of their performances over the next week of practices."
Other that a foot injury to senior cornerback Michael Medina and a sprained foot by junior linebacker Mike Juergens, the Cowboys have made it through fall camp with few injuries to starters. Glenn said he still hopes both Medina and Juergens will be ready to go for the Cowboys' season opener versus Virginia, which is schedule to kick off at Noon, Mountain Time, on Saturday, Sept. 1.