Wyoming Offense Impresses in Final Fall Scrimmage

Aug. 22, 2012


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In their third and final scrimmage of fall camp, the Wyoming Cowboys looked impressive in a Wednesday morning scrimmage that included 62 plays. While the scrimmage wasn't scored on Wednesday, the offense may have had their best scrimmage of the fall.

Senior wide receiver Chris McNeill saw his first action in a scrimmage this fall and enjoyed a strong day, catching three passes for 25 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith connected with McNeill on a 14-yard touchdown pass in the No. 1 offense's first series of the scrimmage against the No. 2 defense. That TD pass was set up by a 44-yard run by Smith on the previous play. On the day, Smith rushed for 66 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries and completed 9-of-13 passes (69.2 percent) for 79 yards, one TD and no interceptions.

Freshman running back Shaun Wick was close behind Smith with four carries for 59 yards, including a long run of 39 yards.

When asked specifically about McNeill, head coach Dave Christensen said, "Yes he (Chris McNeill) made some big plays today. We wanted to get Chris some live reps, and get him tackled today, which we did. I think he's good to go."

On the No. 1 offense's second series of the day, Smith guided the Pokes on a 10-play, 71-yard drive that was capped off by an eight-yard TD run by the sophomore quarterback.

The third series for the No. 1 offensive unit saw them face off against the No. 1 defense for the one and only time in Wednesday's scrimmage. Operating in a two-minute drill, the offense drove the ball 57 yards in 12 plays and concluded the drive with a 35-yard field goal.

After the scrimmage one of the first questions for the head coach was about the offense's productiveness on the day.

"I think we're doing some really good things on offense," said Christensen. "We're working together -- all 11 guys. We're making good progress. Anytime you move the football, it's a good thing. There were a lot of positives to take out of today. I was real pleased with how Jason (Thompson) ran the two-minute offense at the end."

True freshman quarterback Thompson led the No. 2 offense on an 11-play, 48-yard drive against the No. 2 defense during that two-minute period. The drive culminated in a 43-yard field goal by the offense. Thompson completed 7-of-10 passes for 57 yards on Wednesday.

Junior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard led the offense's other touchdown drive of the scrimmage. Included in that seven-play, 64-yard drive was a 43-yard pass by Kirkegaard to sophomore wide receiver Josh Smith. On the next play, redshirt freshman running back Zaquoya Parham ran in from seven yards out for the TD.

"Overall, I thought it was a good day," said Christensen. "We had a lot of competition in the scrimmage amongst players. We practiced a lot of different scenarios. I think we accomplished what we set out to do today. It was a productive day.

"We will look at the film obviously and make some decisions in the next couple days about getting guys at the right positions on the depth chart."

Perhaps overlooked in Wednesday's final scrimmage was the continued consistent play of the No. 1 defense. Even in the 57-yard drive by the No. 1 offense in the two-minute drill, the defense held the offense to a field goal. In the three other series involving the No. 1 defensive unit, it held the No. 2 offense to drives of 15 yards, nine yards and on the final series intercepted a Hail-Mary pass in the end zone. That interception was made by sophomore strong safety Mark Nzeocha.

When talking about the rest of the week's schedule, Christensen said it was time to start preparing for the season opener at Texas on Sept. 1.

"We'll have some meetings the next couple of days, and then start focusing in on Texas," said the head coach. "I think our guys are tired of banging each other around. Now we can start working on our gameplan for Texas, get everything installed in the gameplan as soon as we can and have plenty of practices to get ready to play that first game."

Christensen said that he would not announce a depth chart until Monday, Aug. 27. He was asked if he foresaw some tough decisions regarding where players would end up on the depth chart.

"I think there will be a few tough decisions," said Christensen. "That is a good thing. Now we have some depth, with players competing for spots, and that is where you want to be."

The kicking competition was another area of Wednesday's scrimmage that was very competitive. Sophomores Stuart Williams and Daniel Sullivan dueled each other throughout the scrimmage. Williams ended the day 5 of 7 in field goals, making kicks of 28, 35, 40, 43 and 48, while missing from 33 and 44. Sullivan was 4 of 7 in field goal attempts successfully connecting from 28, 33, 35 and 43 yards. Sullivan's misses were from 40, 44 and 48 yards. Both were 2 for 2 in extra points.

Highlights from Saturday's scrimmage included:
Other Offensive Highlights
•Brett Smith concluded the three fall scrimmages completing 40 of 64 passes (62.5 percent) for 477 yards, six touchdowns and only two interceptions.
•Junior wide receiver Robert Herron caught two more passes for 30 yards on Wednesday, improving his fall total to 16 receptions for 200 yards and three TDs.

Other Defensive Highlights
•The only points the No. 1 defense gave up in Wednesday's scrimmage was one field goal.
•Senior free safety Luke Ruff led all defenders with four tackles and a pass breakup on Wednesday.
•Joining Ruff with four tackles was junior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens, who also had one tackle for a loss.

Other Special Teams' Highlights
•Freshman punter Tim Gleeson punted six times for a 49.2-yard average, with a long punt of 71 yards.
•Place-kicker/punter Stuart Williams also punted twice for a 42.5-yard average.

The Cowboys will not practice on Thursday, and will begin preparation for the season opener at Texas on Friday.

It was also announced by the University of Texas on Wednesday afternoon that the Sept. 1, Wyoming vs. Texas game will kick off at 6 p.m., Mountain Time (7 p.m., Central Time) from Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. The game will be televised on the Longhorn Network.