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Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen observes before Thursday's scrimmage.
By Richard Anderson
Let’s just call Thursday’s scrimmage a dress rehearsal for the Wyoming Cowboys.
The Cowboys will amp it up from 69 plays on Thursday, to about 120 plays for Saturday's scrimmage. Practice begins in the Indoor Practice Facility at 9 a.m., with the scrimmage slated for about 9:45 a.m.
Saturday will also be a chance for the Cowboy defense to get back its brown jerseys, after the offense prevailed in its scoring system, 38-27.
Wyoming junior cornerback Marcell Gipson said the defense has to do a better job on Saturday, as they complete their first week of spring ball.
“No touchdowns, definitely, and get some turnovers,” Gipson said. “For the secondary, I just hope we don’t make any mental mistakes and communicate out there for the most part.”
Cowboy senior running back Darius Terry, who scored one touchdown on Thursday, is looking forward to additional work they will receive.
“It’s exciting … about 120 plays to get after it,” Terry said. “I’ve been waiting for this all year.”
First-year Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said it will be more of the same for all facets of the team and hopefully a chance to refine what they have accomplished.
“We’ll look to put guys in the actual pressure of game situation, the tempo of the game when the ball is being moved,” Christensen said. “We’ll look at turnovers, taking the ball away on defense and protecting the ball at offense. Those are a couple of things that we are emphasizing this spring. Obviously, we’re looking at the number of penalties, which we were good (Thursday). We’re just looking for competition, to see how the kids compete, their physicalness in a live situation. We’re getting a lot of questions answered.”
Offensively, the Cowboys had their best day of practice on Thursday, considering how much they have had to absorb in this first week.
“We’ve put a lot of stuff in, but we’ve had to taper back a little because they are getting a little overloaded,” Christensen said. “We’ve backed off. I would say at this point of time, what we have wanted to get put in this spring, we’re probably 65 percent of what we want to get in. We’ve made good progress.”
At the same time, Christensen said they are coming along at the pace that he expected.
“They are picking up the system, they are learning the tempo of how we want to play," he added. “The big thing is we have to become a much more physical offensive line to help our running game and get a chance to throw. We have to be able to play catch better and catching the football in this offense is very, very important.”
Terry, who looks to pick up for departed backs Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon, said it has been a good spring to date. The fast tempo has been a big change, almost to the point that it hurts physically.
“But you look across the line, and you think, ‘man, if I’m hurting, our defense is hurting,’” Terry said. “It gives us a little spark and makes us want to go harder. It’s more explosive to what we are used to.”
Defensively, Christensen said he likes the experience coming back from last season, although the defensive line is a little banged up with injury and illness. At the same time, he said that is enabling some of the younger players to pick up some valuable playing time.
“We’re making good progress defensively and we’ll continue to improve on getting the proper leverage positions and keep every thing in front of us,” Christensen said.
Gipson said it isn’t as much of a change defensively as it is for the offense, with the retention of Marty English, who moved up from linebackers coach under Joe Glenn to defensive coordination under Christensen.
“For the most part, Coach English has put his twist on the coverages and things like that, but it is not too much of a change,” Gipson said. “ It’s the tempo -- we’re just running and running.”
Saturday’s scrimmage will feature the series beginning at the offense’s own 2-yard line, 25-yard line and 35, followed by series beginning at the defense’s 45-yard line and 25, along with some work on two-minute offense and concluding with series beginning at the offense’s own 30 and 40-yard lines.
Fans are reminded that while the scrimmage is open to the public, they will have to observe in the west end zone for safety reasons.
Editor’s Notes: KOWB/KCGY sports director David Settle contributed to this report.