To say the defense dominated in Wyoming’s first official spring scrimamge Wednesday would be an understatement.
The defense forced six turnovers, including four interceptions and defeated the offense in UW’s unique scoring system 72-41.
Was more impressed with the defensive dominance than concerned about the offensive woes. There’s some concern about the offense, but the defense was just down right good.
The line was active, whether it was in a 3-4 or 4-3. This is a true multiple defense folks. The guy that was a stud was senior defensive tackle Kurt Taufa’asau. He had nine tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. He was unblockable.
Other defensive guys that stood out to me were junior cornerback Marqueston Huff, senior defensive end Ben Durbin and sophomore safety Mark Nzeocha. Nzeocha closed in from his safety position to make a tackle for loss on an option play that reminded me of a safety from the SEC making. Nzeocha showed great breaking and closing speed. If he gets the hang of playing safety, he could be good.
OK, the defense was good but you can’t ignore the fact the offense wasn’t. Junior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard threw three interceptions, but bounced back near then end and threw three touchdown passes. He still doesn’t look real comfortable back there and he holds on to the ball too long. But it takes time to get used to the game at this level, a chance he really never got even though he was the back up to Brett Smith. By the way, Smith did some passing drills prior to the scrimmage and looked good.
If there’s a big concern right now it’s along the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon and co-offensive line coach Pete Kaligis both told me they wanted to find seven or eight guys there than can play. Brandon said after the scrimmage they’ve found four. Right tackle remains open and it could belong to sophomore Daniel Fleischman if he plays well the rest of spring. Junior-college transfer Connor Rains, who was expected to compete for one of the starting tackle jobs, ran mostly with the twos. Not saying he won’t play, but not real encouraging he’s there right now.
Didn’t see much from the running backs, but th offense gained only 65 rushing yards. Expect junior Brandon Miller and sophomore Kody Sutton to get most of the carries next fall. Don’t be surprised if a true freshmen gets into that mix.
Junior Robert Herron led the receivers with seven catches for 97 yards. He needs to have a big year. There will be more on him in the coming days.
UW’s kickers and punters had good days as well. Punter Tim Gleeson averaged more than 51 yards per punt.
For more on the scrimmage, and my column on the interesting story on how junior linebacker J.J. Quinlan has persevered to this point, see Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.