Tuesday, August 12, 2008

First scrimmage set for Wednesday

Richard Anderson photo
Wyoming senior running back Wynel Seldon looks to get past senior safety Quincy Rogers Saturday in practice.

By Wyoming Sports.org

A closer look into who will likely land the starting quarterback spot will be showcased in the Cowboys first scrimmage on Wednesday on Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Wednesday’s scrimmage, which begins at 5 p.m., is expected to include 80 to 100 plays. All series will begin at the offense’s own 25-yard line, with the No. 1 offense facing the No. 2 defense and the No. 2 offense versus the No. 1 defense.

“We are going to try and drive the field, which is different from what we’ve done in past scrimmages,” Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn said. “We will incorporate as many PAT and field-goal attempts into the scrimmage as we can. We need lots of kicking in this scrimmage and lots of punting to help determine our starters at both of those positions.”

Glenn said another big part of the scrimmage will be working on the new 40-second play clock to get used to the new timing rules.

“Particularly on long plays, you now have to hustle down field and get your team ready to go because the officials are going to spot the ball as soon as they can and start the 40-second clock,” he said. “It will be a learning process for all teams.”

All eyes, though, will be on the ongoing quarterback battle. The Wyoming coaching staff plans to release an updated depth chart on Friday, which will include naming a starter at the quarterback position.

Glenn has said throughout fall practice that after the first scrimmage the coaching staff will name a starter at quarterback. That competition has been narrowed to junior Karsten Sween and sophomore Dax Crum. Glenn said they want to put both quarterbacks in similar situations in the scrimmage, so that they can best evaluate the two QBs.

“We will give Karsten and Dax equal number of series with the No. 1 offense, and see what they do with the opportunity,” said Glenn. “We want to put them out there with the same offensive players around them, and have them face the same defense so that we can evaluate them equally and make it as fair a competition as we can.”

Just over a week into fall drills, Glenn said that with the number of veteran players returning this year, there haven’t been that many surprises. Glenn, however, is happy with what he has seen.

“Guys have come through that we anticipated would,” he said. “Brandon Stewart (redshirt freshman wide receiver/punt returner) has played very solid and steady. He seems to be a big-play threat for us. Greg Bolling (junior wide receiver) has come back after missing the spring, and has reestablished himself as one of our top receivers. David Leonard (sophomore wide receiver) continues to improve.

“I would say this that if I were pleased with one individual, not so much surprised, but pleased with what we’ve seen early from one player this fall it would be Tashaun Gipson (freshman cornerback). He does unbelievable things for a true freshman. What may be surprising is that he has played so well at a position that he doesn’t have that much experience at -- cornerback. He played more as a safety, quarterback, and return guy in high school. He’s pretty special.”

Glenn added that a player who has done some special things on the practice field has been junior wide receiver Donate Morgan.

“He’s made some plays inside and deep, and the fly-sweep series seems to fit him well with his speed,” Glenn said. “(Josh) Biezuns and (Greg) Genho aren’t a surprise at fullback, but we’ve been pleased with their play.”

On defense, Glenn said that senior strong safety Derrick McMahen has had a surprisingly good camp. “He’s definitely played himself into the mix,” he said. “When I talk to the defensive coaches, Derrick’s name is one I’ve heard a lot.”

Another battle this fall has been in the kicking game, Glenn said, with Jake Scott separating himself from the other placekickers.

“His kickoffs have been higher and deeper than anyone else,” he said. “The punting job looks like a three-way race between Nick Landess (sophomore), Cody Bousema (sophomore), and the guy who can turn the ball over better than anyone is our true freshman, Austin McCoy. That’s a real horse race there; it could go down to the wire.”

With two senior starters at cornerback graduating a year ago, the cornerback spots are among the most competitive on the defensive side of the ball with brothers Marcell Gipson (sophomore) and Tashaun Gipson (freshman) competing, with juniors T.J. Atwater and Tramaine Brown and sophomore Keith Lewis.

“Several guys are in the mix at corner,” said Glenn. “Keith Lewis has been real physical in fall camp. He’s a different kind of corner because of his size (5-11, 190 pounds) and physical style. T.J. Atwater is miles ahead of where he was a year ago, and Marcell has certainly continued to play like he did in the spring. Tramaine has been consistent, and they’re all trying to hold off Tashaun.”

A few players will miss Wednesday’s scrimmage. Joe Evers (sophomore tight end) reinjured his lower back and will not play in the scrimmage. Marcus Felker (redshirt freshman noseguard) hyper extended his right elbow and sprained his right wrist and will also miss Wednesday’s practice. Levi Salmans (freshman offensive tackle) dislocated his left knee cap and will be held out of the scrimmage, as will Travis Hillen (redshirt freshman center) with a left shoulder sprain. True freshmen Ben Durbin (linebacker) and Nick Williams (offensive lineman) will not participate in the scrimmage -- Durbin due to a left shoulder sprain and Williams because of a left knee sprain.

One Cowboy veteran who has been ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA is senior backup defensive tackle Anthony Wilson. The NCAA denied Wilson’s eligiblity appeal on Tuesday night.

The Wyoming Cowboys will have the second and final scrimmage of the fall on Aug. 20, also at 5 p.m. in War Memorial Stadium.

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