Sunday, April 19, 2009

Offense comes on strong again

By Richard Anderson

For the third straight scrimmage, it was all offense.

Well, at least on the scoreboard.

The Cowboys had another solid offensive performance, thumping a depleted defense 59-24 Saturday in the third major scrimmage of the spring in the Indoor Practice Facility.

The defense did have its moments, though. The offense actually struggled for the first few series, but put too much pressure on the defense as a whole, especially in the second half of the 104-play scrimmage.

Defensively, free safety Chris Prosinski had a huge game hitting, with several big thuds. He also had 11 tackles. Tashaun Gipson had a nice pass interception in the back of the end zone. As has been the case, though, the defense, short on numbers wore down at times. A few former 'Pokes, including linebacker Ward Dobbs and Jake Edmunds, suited up to help out.

“I actually thought the defense came out and did extremely well and were very, very physical," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. "There were some big hits out there today.”

One bright spot injury-wise for the defense saw noseguard Fred Givens back in action for a few snaps. Givens has been hampered by a couple of shoulder injuries this spring.

The offense, which had out-scored the defense in its special scoring system, 89-50, overcame its slow start to finish with a flourish.

“We came out a little slow, but when we got our heads in there, we started clicking,” Wyoming sophomore receiver Brandon Stewart said. “We had a couple of mental errors and formation problems, but after that, we started clicking at the tempo that we want to.”

Stewart had a big day, catching five passes for 71 yards, including s 22-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Karsten Sween. He also ran one score in from 4 yards out.

After not scoring through the first nine possessions, the Cowboys began to wear down the defense. Wyoming finished with a spring-season high 343 yards passing, along with 128 yards on the ground.

"Our tempo wasn't where it was supposed to be," said Wyoming senior running back Darius Terry, who finished with 49 yards rushing and two touchdowns. "Coach set us aside and said that we had to get it going. Once you get that tempo going, if you are feeling it in your lungs, the defense has to be over there dying. When you got them on their heels, that's when you have to go for the knockout punch."

Sween finished the day by hitting 14 of 19 passes for 140 yards, while junior Dax Crum was 18-of-26 for 174 yards and one interception. Freshman Adam Barry was 3-of-3 for 29 yards.

With freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels, who was on the sideline watching the scrimmage, and junior college transfer Robert Benjamin also in the mix, Sween appears to be the top quarterback coming out of spring drills.

“He (Sween) is doing a nice job,” Christensen said. “Obviously, it is a lot for our quarterbacks to pick up as we install a new offense in a short amount of time. We put a lot on them, but he is managing the offense very well. We’ve told our quarterbacks, we don’t need them to go out and win every game for us. We need them to go out and manage the game and not lose the game for us. Make good decisions throwing the football. Get the tempo of the game going at the pace we want. Protect the ball and don’t turn the ball over. Don’t get sacked or take negative plays. If our quarterbacks can do those things, then it’s going to give us a chance in almost every game.”

Along with Stewart, wide receivers Justin Morgan and David Leonard had big scrimmages, as both caught four passes, with Morgan’s receptions going for 55 yards and Leonard’s for 46 yards.

Special team notes
Senior Jake Scott and junior place-kicker Nick Landess alternated kicking throughout the scrimmage. Prior to the scrimmage beginning, the two each made five of six field-goal attempts during a special teams session. Scott made one field goal attempt from 30 yards, two from 40 yards and two from 45 yards out. His only miss in pregame was from 30 yards. Landess hit two from 30 yards, one from 40 and two from 45, missing only one of 40 yards. During the scrimmage, Scott was a perfect four of four in field-goal attempts, converting from 25 yards, 39 yards, 23 yards and 30 yards. Landess was two of four during the scrimmage, hitting from 23 and 30 yards out, but missing from 25 and 39.

“We put a lot of live kicks in today, and Jake did a nice job,” said Christensen. “Landess is kicking well too, despite having a groin injury he’s been dealing with. I feel like we’ve been making progress in the kicking game. Our protection has been pretty good, but we need to work on getting more pressure from a defensive standpoint on kicks.”

The Cowboys will practice Tuesday and Thursday, before closing spring drills Saturday with the annual Spring Game at 2 p.m.

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