Most of the time, quarterbacks are off limits in terms of being hit during practices or scrimmages.
Not Saturday for the four University of Wyoming quarterbacks in the Cowboys’ second scrimmage of spring drills.
Quarterbacks were live, and did take some hits.
“That first hit I took was a little bit of a shock,” said senior Sam Stratton, who was 7 of 10 for 69 yards and touchdown passes to sophomore receiver Nico Brown and sophomore running back Omar Stover. “It had been a while, and it was like ‘okay, we’re playing tackle football.’ It felt good, and after that first hit your brain goes into a different place.”
Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard was 8 of 12 for 126 yards and a touchdown to senior receiver Keenan Montgomery. Kirkegaard’s long pass was 50 yards to Montgomery. Stratton said he didn’t remember who hit him, but Kirkegaard remembered his first hit by senior linebacker Mark Nzeocha on a run up the middle.
“That first hit wakes you up a little bit and you realize you don’t have that blue jersey on and will just get tagged on the shoulder instead of being hit. It’s real football.”
Kirkegaard had ice on his right throwing shoulder after the scrimmage and during interviews with the media, but he said he does that after every game and practice.
Sophomore Aaron Young was 3 of 12 for 28 yards, and sophomore Tom Thornton was 4 of 5 for 45 yards and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.
First-year coach Craig Bohl said he wants to look at the film before making an evaluation on the quarterbacks. Bohl is expected to release a “fluid” depth chart as early as Monday. The scrimamge was closed to the public and media, but here is what Bohl told the media about the scrimmage:
The first six spring practices for the Wyoming football team were not easy, and there was some hitting.
But the real hitting will be Saturday as the Cowboys hold their first scrimmage of spring drills at 11 a.m. The scrimmage is not open to the public or media.
“I’m ready to hit some running backs,” said senior linebacker Jordan Stanton. “(Redshirt sophomore running back) D.J. May has been cutting back a lot in practice, so I am ready to lay some licks and have some fun.”
Senior offensive tackle Connor Rains heard what Stanton said and laughed.
“He has to touch (the running backs first),” he said with a laugh. “He is not going to chase down D.J. or Shaun (junior Shaun Wick).”
Rains also said he’s “anxious to hit” Saturday.
Here are some highlights from the early portions of Friday’s practice:
One of the first things first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said that stood out about Saturday’s first spring practice in full pads (third overall) was the play of two veteran defensive ends — senior Sonny Puletasi and junior Eddie Yarbrough.
“That was real encouraging,” said Bohl on both players so far this spring. “We have some seasoned and veteran guys there, and it is important for them to get acclimated to the 4-3. Their leadership on the field has been good. We are young inside, but I’ve seen our ends pop up.”
Yarbrough led all of UW’s defensvie linemen last season with 89 tackles. He also had team-highs with 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as he earned First Team All-Mountain West honors.
Puletasi, who switched his jersey number from 12 to 50 this season, had 47 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. Puletasi has started in 21 games.
Here are some highlights from the defense from Saturday’s practice:
Bohl said no one has stood out among the five quarterbacks this spring. “We have a lot of work to do there,” Bohl added. We’re putting in a lot of offense. I think the guys are paying attention to detail, but it’s not easy.”
That’s the big question this spring, and after two practices UW is not close finding that guy yet.
But if experience matters, don’t count out redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard.
Here are some highlights of Kirkegaard throwing the ball during Friday’s practice, along with other highlights from the early portions of practice:
This is Kirkegaard’s fourth year at UW after he came out of junior college in 2011. He’s played in seven games and started one. He redshirted last season. Granted, Kirkegaard’s career statistics don’t jump out at you — 21 of 36, 160 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
In his career, Kirkegaard has had two different head coaches, three different offensive coordinators and three different position coaches. He and the rest of the Cowboys’ quarterbacks on the roster are transitioning from a spread and high-tempo offense to a pro-style and more methodical offense under first-year coach Craig Bohl and first-year offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Vigen.
This is the seventh of a season-long series of video interviews with University of Wyoming football coaches, and how they teach and coach certain aspects of the game. This one features assistant head coach, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Pete Kaligis.
Kaligis has running backs Shaun Wick, Brandon Miller, Omar Stover and Tedder Easton go through some drills, and also features former UW player and current graduate assistant Ghaali Muhammad demonstrating a drill.
Check back to wyosports.net every week for this feature.
Wyoming’s first depth chart of the season for Saturday’s game at Nebraska came out Monday, and there were not a lot of surprises.
Eight first-year players are projected to start — three true freshmen, one redshirt freshmen, two redshirt juniors and two junior-college transfers. Here are some notable items from Monday’s depth chart:
–True freshman receiver Tanner Gentry will start at one of the four receiver spots. Gentry rapidly climbed up the depth chart throughout fall camp. He beat out junior Trey Norman.
–Senior Robert Herron, juniors Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne are the other starting receivers. Others listed on the depth chart this week are redshirt freshmen Eric Nzeocha, Nico Brown, Trent Sewell, Tanner Simpson and Jake Maulhardt; senior Jarrod Darden (a transfer from Colorado), and juniors Keenan Montgomery, Norman and Justin Berger.
–Junior-college transfer Tyran Finley will start at cornerback opposite of junior Blair Burns. Not a surprise there since the injury to junior DeAndre Jones midway through camp.
–Three of the four backups at the cornerback and safety positions are manned by guys who have never played a game at UW. True freshman Tim Hayes is behind Burns at one cornerback spot. Redshirt freshman Cortland Fort, who has gone back and forth from cornerback and safety, is behind Finley. True freshman Xavier Lewis is the backup at strong safety behind junior Darrenn White. Jones, who was the starter at cornerback when fall camp started before he was injured, is the backup for senior Marqueston Huff at free safety.
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen will release his first depth chart of the season Monday.
But I thought I would take a shot of predicting how it will look now, starting with the offense. Look for the defense and special teams to come later this weekend. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.
Brett Smith, Jr., 6-3, 206
Jason Thompson, So., 6-2, 206
Colby Kirkegaard, Sr., 6-3, 205
Tommy Thornton, Fr., 6-1, 205
Notes: There was never a doubt Smith would be the starter. In three fall camp scrimmages Smith was 39-55 for 553 yards with nine TDs and one INT. … Thompson also had a solid camp. He was 33-49 for 440 yards with four TDs and two INTs. … There was good competition at the No. 3 spot. I give Kirkegaard the edge based on his experience, but it would not surprise me if Thornton is No. 3 on Monday.
Wyoming junior starting quarterback Brett Smith was at practice Tuesday morning, but he didn’t do much.
Smith missed Monday’s workouts with flu-like symptoms. Smith participated in some individual drills, but didn’t take part in any of the team periods. Sophomore backup Jason Thompson replaced Smith for the second consecutive day.
“Not very good,” said Smith when I asked him how he felt after practice Tuesday. He said he had the flu and also an ear infection, which caused him to feel dizzy at times during practice. I would be surprised if Smith participates in Wednesday’s scrimmage, which marks the end of fall camp.
When asked what he is doing to get better, Smith said: “Medicine and rest.”
Two things dominated the the players first day off of fall camp on Tuesday for Wyoming — meetings and treatment.
Coach Dave Christensen the day was filled with meetings with coaches and medical treatments for players, and also a team swimming gathering at the Laramie Community Recreation Center. The Cowboys are pretty banged up at this point, even though most of the injuries are minor.
Christensen liked how the team came back from their day off during Wednesday morning’s practice. The Cowboys also practiced in the afternoon.
Still, the Cowboys’ top three running backs and top two cornerbacks remained limited due to injuries. Senior Brandon Miller, true freshman Omar Stover and sophomore Shaun Wick saw limited action at running back. Miller and Stover saw more action than in previous days, and Christensen is hopeful they will play in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Christensen is also hopeful junior cornerback Blair Burns will scrimmage Saturday. He didn’t sound as hopeful junior DeAndre Jones, although his injury also is not believed to be serious.