If Wyoming’s spring football game were a real game, fans would have been in for a treat.
The Gold beat the Brown 14-13 as redshirt freshman defensive lineman Riley Lange sacked redshirt freshman quarterback Emory Miller Jr., on a two-point conversion attempt to seal the victory with 30 seconds to go.
There were good plays by the offense and defense. Not much from the kicking games. No live punt or kickoff coverage, and no field-goal attempts.
I liked how both quarterbacks played. True freshman Brett Smith struggled against the No. 1 defense in last week’s scrimmage, but against a mix and match of starters and backups, he was 16 of 24 for 153 yards and an interception for the Gold. He also ran for 22 yards and a short TD run. I really like how Smith handles himself, and if he gets more comfortable against the No. 1 defense in fall camp I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the starter.
Miller Jr. is just steady, and always seems to play big when it matters most. He led the team on an impressive 13-play, 59-yard touchdown drive late in the game to cut the lead to 14-13. He also threw a TD pass to senior receiver Mazi Ogbonna. However, he threw two interceptions and four total in two scrimmages and the spring game.
Sophomore receiver Robert Herron was outstanding with five catches for 76 yards for the Gold. Drops have been his issue this spring, and even last season. Not today, or in last week’s scrimmage. He looks to be UW’s go-to guy.
Got to love redshirt freshman running back Brandon Miller. He played for both squads due to a lack of depth at running back, and he scored a touchdown for each team — both in the fourth quarter. The former walk-on earned a scholarship in January and he isn’t taking it for granted. I don’t know if he will play that much this season, but you can’t help but want to root for a kid like that.
Coach Dave Christensen said 15 players expected to contribute this season didn’t see action in the spring game due to injury or suspension. But he indicated they should all be ready for fall camp.
UW handed out several most improved awards at halftime of the game. See my story in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and laramieboomerang.com for that list. But when I asked him who in particular had good springs, he said both quarterbacks, true freshman linebacker Mark Nzeocha and junior linebacker Korey Jones, who ironically was suspended for the game for a violation of team rules. However, I don’t expect that was too serious of a violation or Christensen wouldn’t have singled him out. Jones also won UW’s most improved linebacker award for the spring.
Here are some quotes from after the game:
–”From a depth stand point and a speed stand point we’re certainly further than we’ve been since I’ve been here.” — Christensen
–”I think if we put both offenses together we can do some damage this season.” — Herron
–”It shows a lot about Emory that he led the team down the field in the last two minutes and scored.” — Brandon Miller on QB Emory Miller’s final scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
–”I’d give them both an A. They both mange the offense really well and have the things like that you look for in a quarterback.” — senior receiver Mazi Ogbonna on both quarterbacks.
–My confidence is getting up there. There’s a lot I still have to learn and I have to put on more weight.” — Lange, who added he is 250 pounds now and wants to get up to 275 by the start of fall camp.
–”Let’s talk about the team that’s here. I have no comment on that. I have two quarterbacks that have done extremely well and I’m excited about the one coming in. We’ll have a great quarterback when we start in the fall.” — Christensen on the Internet rumors that former QB Austyn Carta-Samuels may return to UW.