UW scrimmage thoughts

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.

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Christensen happy with Crum

Wednesday’s fourth and final scrimmage for Wyoming was dedicated mostly to backups and youngsters.

Senior Dax Crum looks like he solidified his spot as the No. 2 quarterback behind sophomore Austyn Carta-Samuels. As he did in all four scrimmages Crum took all the snaps with the No. 2 offense and was 8 of 11 for 96 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. There was a fumble on a hand-off to true freshman Robert Herron, but Crum recovered.

Crum had a 34-yard pass to junior running back James Davis for the longest play of the scrimmage.

True freshman Emory Miller Jr., was impressive with the No. 3 offense. He was 8 of 9 for 70 yards and ran three times for 10 yards.

“We’re going to still look at it,” said second-year coach Dave Christensen on the battle for the No. 2 quarterback job. “I think Emory did some good things today. But Dax has had a good camp. He’s progressed quite a bit from the time I arrived until now. He’s done a lot of good things and we’re not going to base anytong on one scrimmage or one practice It will be based upon all the practices. I’m pleased where (Crum) is at.”

The No. 1 and No. 2 offensive and defensive units got about 20 snaps. The only touchdown came from the defense when true freshman defensive back Darrenn White returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown. True freshman safety Dylan McElveen forced the fumble after a hard hit on junior receiver Jonathan Aiken.

Christensen said a depth chart for the season opener a week from Saturday against Southern Utah will be released Monday.

Other thoughts and observations from the scrimmage:

–Junior Austin McCoy had a much better day kicking field goals. He was 6 of 7 with a long of 43. In last Saturday’s scrimmage he was 3 of 6. McCoy will kick in the opener as sophomore Ian Watts serves a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

–True freshman Nehemie Kankolongo saw his first scrimmage action in a couple of weeks since he re-injured a knee. He had one carry for one yard. Christensen said he will practice with the scout team this week and then get back in the running back mix the following week. Like Watts, Kankolongo was suspended for the season-opener.

–UW ran for only 59 yards on 32 carries. UW also mixed and matched its offensive lines with starters and backups to give certain guys looks with other players.

–As far as who will redshirt, Christensen said: “We won’t make any decisions until we get closer to the end of the season. Normally with three weeks left in season we don’t want to pull their redshirt, but up until that point we’re certainly going to play who we have to play to win a football game.”

–No injuries were reported from the scrimmage, and Christensen was pleased with how his team made it through camp with no significant injuries to key players.

“A lot has to do with (strength and conditioning coach) Trent Greener and his staff along with (head athletics trainer) Bob Waller and his staff,” Christensen said. “They do a great job of training the kids an rehabbing the kids. The players also are working hard to get in great shape.

“I’m pleased our kids understand what it takes to come out  and practice hard day in and day out. We haven’t had a bad practice yet.”

Game preparation for Southern Utah begins Friday.

“We want to get out there and play someone, and beat up on someone else besides our teammates,” junior defensive end Gabe Knapton said. “I think everyone is fired up about that.”

See Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on the scrimmage. See my top five things learned from fall camp, along with some bonus items.

And once again, thanks to all those who joined me for the live blog today. Can’t wait to get one going for a real game. Stay tuned here to a live chat coming prior to the opener next week.

Scrimmage No. 3 update

The offense finally came to life for Wyoming in its third scrimmage of fall camp Saturday morning in Laramie.

The No. 1 offense scored 17 points on its three possessions. Sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels was 11 of 13 for 115 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 26 yards on four carries.

“I knew we had it the whole time. But then two (scrimmages) in a row it doesn’t happen and you wonder where it went and when will it come out again,” Carta-Samuels said. “It came out  today. I knew we were going to be fine, it’s good to see it come out today rather than in Week 1 or Week 2.”

Carta-Samuels threw an 11-yard TD pass to junior Jonathan Aiken in the back of the end zone in the first quarter. During a two-minute drill near the end of the scrimmage, he connected with senior David Leonard for 15 yards. Leonard did most of the work on his own.

“(Carta-Samuels) played well and made good decisions with the football,” coach Dave Christensen said. “I thought he did a lot of good things. He used his feet well, he made good throws, he protected the football. He had a good day.”

So did all of the offensive units with 345 yards and 6.5 yards per play. They also didn’t have a turnover and didn’t commit a penalty (or at least one that was accepted).

Christensen would like to see better play from his red zone offense, and said that will be worked on a lot leading up to the season-opener in two weeks against Southern Utah.

The No. 1 defense didn’t allow any points, but Christensen didn’t like the fact the No. 2 offense drove it 65 yards in 12 plays on its second possession. A blocked field goal by senior Marcell Gipson kept the offense off the board.

Some other notes and observations:

–True freshman Robert Herron looked good at running back, and took several snaps with the starters. He finished with 17 yards on four carries, and caught one pass for 31 yards.

“I want to watch the video and make sure he’s running hard and making the right cuts,” Christensen said. “He protected the ball and took some shots. I would like to see him do some more Wednesday in our next scrimmage.”

See more on Herron in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com

–Oliver Schober had the play of the scrimmage. The junior middle linebacker returned a Dax Crum interception 59 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the day. Schober is playing with the starters as junior Brian Hendricks recovers from an injury.

“It’s a normal competition but (Hendricks) has been helping me a lot and I have a lot of respect for that man,” Schober said.

Schober also had three kickoffs all go into the end zone.

“I still have to work on that and my consistency so I kick every one out (of the endzone),” he said.

–Junior Austin McCoy struggled kicking field goals. He was 3 of 6 with a long of 32. He had a 23-yarder blocked. He will kick in the season-opener as sophomore Ian Watts serves a one-game suspension. Watts made all seven if his field-goal attempts. McCoy was 4 of 6 last year in field goals, but all of his makes were from 20 to 29 yards.

–True freshman quarterback Emory Miller Jr., continues to look good with the No. 3 offense. He had a 21-yard touchdown pass to true freshman receiver C.J. Morgan, and he was the second-leading rusher with 27 yards on four carries.

–No injuries were reported.

For more on the scrimmage, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang. Also what WyoSports senior columnist/writer Bob Hammond thinks of BYU and its actions this past week.

Thanks to those who joined me for the live blog today during the scrimmage. It was a blast as always. We will do it again Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. for the final one.

Scrimmage No. 1 thoughts

The optimists will say the defense was just that good.

The pessimists will say the offense was that bad.

I think it was a little of both for Wyoming in its first scrimmage of fall camp Friday morning.

The defense, both the ones and twos, flew around and played well, especially in pass coverage. UW quarterbacks ran 23 times, and I would guess 80 percent of those were because the coverage down field was good.

Or, as coach Dave Christensen said: “Most of the issues were guys not getting open. The pass protection seemed good to me.”

The defense won the 128-play scrimmage 52-33 in  UW’s scoring system. There were no ones vs. ones. It was all starters vs. backups, or threes vs. threes.

The No. 1 offense scored just 10 points, and sophomore QB Austyn Carta-Sameuls was less than stellar. He was 9 of 17 for 89 yards and an interception (should have had two). He bolted after the scrimmage to talk to some of his coaches and didn’t come back until about 30 minutes later to talk to the media.

“I’ve always been a winner, and I hate losing,” Carta-Samuels said. “I haven’t done much losing, to be honest. After that I really needed a break and didn’t want to talk to anybody other than my coaches and air what I was feeling and what was going on for me. For me to lose leaves me a very sick feeling in my stomach. I’m 19 years old and I can cry like a baby after I lose.”

“I let down my teammates down, but there is a lot of room to improve.”

Some other observations:

–UW’s new Thunder and Lightning combo (see my story at www.wyomingnews.com or www.laramieboomerang.com) of true freshman receiver Robert Herron and JC transfer Jonathan Aiken saw a lot of playing time. Herron caught three passes for 32 yards. Aiken didn’t catch a pass but had a couple of long passes thrown his way.

–The longest play of the scrimmage was a 49-yard run by true freshman walk-on running back Vincent Bobbitt with the No. 3 offense.

–The defense had seven sacks and 24 tackles for a loss of 66 yards. Redshirt freshman Patrick Mertens and sophomore Mike Purcell looked great at defensive tackle with the No. 1 defense. They combined for 10 tackles and four tackles for loss.

–Some bad news at defensive tackle as junior Alex Stover’s career is done because of a lingering groin injury. He will remain as a volunteer student assistant coach.

–A ruling is out on linebacker Oliver Schober’s eligibility. The 23-year-old from Germany will have three years to play two. He was listed as a true freshman. Per NCAA rules, after you turn 21 and play with some “club” level sports, you lose a year of eligibility for each year you play.

–A buzz is going on about Schober’s ability to kickoff. Two of his three went for touchbacks in the scrimmage. One was an ugly line-drive that bounced at about the 20 and trickled into the end zone.

–Two of the more impressive freshmen today were defensive ends Sonny Puletasi and Riley Lange. Puletasi had two sacks and Lange had one. They worked mostly against the No. 3 offense.

–Senior Austin McCoy took the first reps with the No. 1 field goal and extra point team. He made a 24-yard field goal, but had a 20-yarder blocked. He doesn’t get the ball up as fast as sophomore Ian Watts, who will miss the season-opener because of a one-game suspension for a violation of team rules.

–The MRI on true freshman running back Nehemie Kankolngo’s knee is in, and Christensen said he expects him to be ready for the Sept. 11 game at Texas. Like Watts, Kankolongo was suspended for the opener for a violation of team rules. He didn’t play in the scrimmage.

Wyoming returns to practice twice Saturday, with the first at 8:45 a.m. Will post live updates via Twitter at www.twitter.com/rpgagliardi.

Thanks to all those that joined me for the live blog from today’s scrimmage. It was a blast and tons of great conversation. Will try to do it again Tuesday.