Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cowboys find consistency in final scrimmage

Richard Anderson photos
Wyoming freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels (blue jersey) looks for some running room in Wednesday's scrimmage. At left, receiver Zach Bolger celebrates what he thought was a 28-yard touchdown pass from Carta-Samuels. The play, however, was nullified because of a penalty.

Scrimmage statistics

Christensen pleased with strides made

By Richard Anderson

Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen has been preaching focus and consistency to his team this fall – especially this week. If Wednesday was any indication, his message is beginning to sink in.

The Cowboys put together their best scrimmage of the four at War Memorial Stadium, coming off a couple of sub-par performances offensively.

With the season opener about 10 days away, that’s exactly what Christensen has wanted to see.

“This is where you want your team to be at this point of camp,” Christensen said. “We came out and executed, we cut our drops down by 75 percent. Our No. 1 defense was three and out every series. Our one offense scored every series. That’s where you would like to be.”

Freshman quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels said that Christensen has “hammered home that the lack of focus is not OK in this program.” He said that some of the players were using the lack of focus as an excuse, but he didn’t see that on Wednesday.

“I think we have now taken what he said seriously because he has emphasized it so much,” Carta-Samuels said. “We didn’t do anything wrong the first time, but we just weren’t serious about it as much. It’s good to see us do that and come out ready to play.”

Christensen said it was nice to see some consistency on offense … finally.

“I thought from a mental standpoint, we looked much better today,” he said. “That’s what you would expect to see at this point of camp. I’m very pleased with how we performed today.’’

Consistency might be bumping Carta-Samuels up the depth chart as he and junior Robert Benjamin split time with the first team offense on Wednesday.

Carta-Samuels finished the scrimmage 10 of 12 passing for 125 yards. He did have a 28-yard touchdown pass to Zach Bolger called back because of a penalty.

Benjamin was solid as well and got things off on the right foot with a spectacular 75-yard touchdown pass to Travis Burkhalter on the first play from scrimmage. Benjamin was 7 of 14 passing for 139 yards. He also had a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Orlando Arnold.

“We started out with four drives for touchdowns, although one got called back because of a penalty, but we’re moving forward,” Carta-Samuels said. “As long as we stay level headed, I think we can keep doing this every week and that will be fun.”

Carta-Samuel basically began fall drills as the No. 4 quarterback and might have supplanted senior Karsten Sween as the No. 2 signal caller.

Is he now challenging Benjamin for the starting position?

Carta-Samuels said he’s not concerned about that at this time, but he is just looking to improve.

“They (coaches) don’t talk to me that much about it (depth chart), they just talk to me about how I am doing,” Carta-Samuels said. ‘The way I assess it is that I am working as hard as I can to move myself up. I’ve been pretty consistent. I think they wanted to see how I did with the ones today. They’ll look at film and they’ll make their decision. Whatever it is, I’ll support it.”

Christensen said they will name a starting quarterback, as well as the other starters for Weber State, on Tuesday.

With that said, Christensen admitted he was pleased with the play of his two new quarterbacks.

“I liked what I saw from both of them, very much so,” Christensen said.

Carta-Samuels, meanwhile, said the offense has made nice progress as a whole.

“The talent is there. The talent is better on offense than it was on day one. Now it is day 30,” Carta-Samuels said. “For us it is all about getting OK with this offense and comfortable with the offense, running it and being smooth with two new quarterbacks who weren’t here this spring. We’re trying to get used to the whole offense. I don’t think it could have come at a better time at this scrimmage, we start putting it in the end zone. It’s good.”

KOWB sports director David Settle also contributed to this report.

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