Aug. 25, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Wednesday saw the Wyoming Cowboys scrimmage for the fourth and final time during fall camp, with the focus of the final scrimmage being competition between the players who are fighting for places on the depth chart. The No. 2 offensive and defensive units each scrimmaged against one another for three series. The No. 3 units also ran three series versus one another, and younger players making up the fourth units got in two series. The starting offensive and defensive units each participated in one series during a two-minute drill to conclude practice.
Wednesday's scrimmage began with a 15-minute, game-like quarter that was scored like a regular game. The defense came away the victors in that period, winning 7-3 over the offense. The biggest play of the day came on a 37-yard fumble return for a touchdown by true freshman defensive back Darrenn White. White picked up the fumble after fellow true freshman safety Dylan McElveen put a big hit on wide receiver Jonathan Aiken, separating Aiken from the ball after he caught a pass across the middle.
The only score for the offense during that first 15-minute period was a 33-yard field goal by junior Austin McCoy to cap a 12-play, 60-yard drive by the No. 2 offense versus the No. 2 defense. One of the key plays in that drive was a 17-yard pass from senior Dax Crum to junior wide receiver DeJay Lester that took the ball all the way down to the defense's 10-yard line. Lester took a hard hit on the play, but held on to the ball down the far sideline.
"It was exciting to see some of the big hits in our kicking game."
UW head coach Dave Christensen
"We got our No. 2s and 3s about 20 plays each, and got a good luck at a lot of players competing for spots on the depth chart," said head coach Dave Christensen. "Dax (Crum) has had a good camp, he's progressed quite a bit from the time we arrived last year. Certainly we don't base any decisions on one scrimmage or one practice, but it will be based on all 22 practices we've had this fall. He's done a lot of good things and has made good progress.
"It was exciting to see some of the big hits in our kicking game. That's one of the last times we will go live in our kicking game. I thought the entire practice was physical today, and a lot of those younger guys were anxious to get in there and show us what they can do."
After a special-teams' period that focused on kickoffs and kickoff returns, the No. 4 units scrimmaged for two series beginning at the offense's own 35-yard line. Another special-teams' period followed involving PAT and field-goal work. During the kicking period, McCoy and sophomore place-kicker Ian Watts alternated on four field-goal attempts. McCoy and Watts were both a perfect four of four during that period, successfully making field goals from 32, 36, 39 and 43 yards out. All total on the day, McCoy was six of seven in field goals, including his 33 yarder during the first scrimmage period and a 32-yard field goal on the final possession of the day. His only miss was a 50-yard attempt that fell short during the two-minute drill. Watts was a perfect five for five on the day, as he also connected on a 33-yard attempt.
During that two-minute drill, the No. 1 offense made its sole appearance against the No. 2 defense. Sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels gained two first downs on that drive with rushes of five and seven yards. The offense drove from its own 40-yard line all the way to the defense's 24-yard line, but Carta-Samuels couldn't handle a shotgun snap from center on the next play and was tackled back on the 32 by sophomore defensive end Matt Birkeness. With only seconds left on the clock, the offense was forced to attempt a 50-yard field goal by McCoy that fell just a few yards short.
The No. 1 defense then came out to face the No. 2 offense in the scrimmage's final series. Beginning at its own 40-yard line, the No. 2 offense created the longest offensive play of the day when Crum completed a swing pass to junior running back James Davis, who proceeded to break tackles and weave his way through the defense for 34 yards down to the 23-yard line. Three plays later the offense had driven down to the 14-yard line, and with 10 seconds on the clock McCoy kicked a 32-yard field goal.
"We've made a lot of progress during fall camp," said Christensen. "I'm particularly pleased with the progress on the offensive side because we had so many new guys there that weren't with us in spring. I can see their timing is getting better, and they're playing together better as a unit.
"I think our defense has been very consistent all fall. They played well in the spring, and have played well all through fall camp.
"I'm pleased with where we're at. I'm pleased with how we were able to come through fall camp extremely healthy. I think a lot of that has to do with Trent Greener (UW Director of Strength and Conditioning) and his staff, and Bob Waller (Head Athletics Trainer) and his staff. They've done a great job of training these kids and rehabbing these kids to make sure they're ready to go out and compete.
"We're where I want us to be right now. There hasn't been a bad practice yet, and I don't anticipate us having one. I think we have a group of guys who really enjoy playing football. We can now turn our focus from playing against one another to preparing to play Southern Utah."
Crum led the passing stats on Wednesday, completing 8 of 11 passes (.727) for 96 yards. Freshman Emory Miller Jr. completed 8 of 9 passes (.889) for 70 yards. Carta-Samuels was 3 of 4 (.750) for 22 yards on his lone series, and freshman Austin Woodward completed his one pass attempt for 12 yards.
Sophomore running back Alvester Alexander carried the ball three times for 22 yards to lead all rushers. Freshman Nehemie Kankolongo saw his first scrimmage action of the fall after coming back from a knee injury. He had four carries for 12 yards. The leading receiver was redshirt freshman Brandon Miller, who had five receptions for 35 yards. Aiken had three catches for 25 yards and one fumble, and sophomore Chris McNeill caught three passes for 21 yards.
For the Cowboys, it was completion of their third week of fall camp. Practice began for the Pokes on Thursday, Aug. 5. They will take this Thursday off before beginning their regular week of game preparation for the season opener versus Southern Utah on Sept. 4 in a game that will kick off at 7 p.m., Mountain Time from Wyoming's War Memorial Stadium.