Wyoming Football will conclude their spring practice season on Saturday with their Spring game that starts at 2pm. The game is set to take place at War Memorial Stadium but may be forced indoors due to thunderstorms that are forecast to start at the same time. The event is free and open to the public regardless of venue but there could be only minimal viewing spots available if held inside.
The main focus will be almost entirely on the offense that has struggled through the spring practices and both scrimmages. With the exception of the running backs there have been issues with the offensive line, receivers and young quarterbacks. Now in the third year under Coach Christensen and his spread offense there should not be so many questions marks right now. The defense dominated the last scrimmage and the offense was plagued by errors.
This is where the top battle is happening this spring with Emory Miller and Brett Smith battling it out. Smith excelled in the first scrimmage in which he faced mainly the second team defense. When forced to play against the #1 defense he did not have the same success but still made some plays. He is still very young and while most kids his age are getting ready for the prom he enrolled early at Wyoming in order for a shot to compete for the starting job.
Emory Miller has been consistent through the first two scrimmages but has not been setting the world on fire. Still when OC Gregg Brandon was asked who the #1 QB was he gave the slight edge to Miller. Will one of the two candidates step up and put their stamp on the top spot or will we head into Fall with a virtual tie?
2011 commit Adam Pittser will be joining the battle in August after he enrolls. Having a two way battle heading into camp will easier to manage than a three way race. Some clarity on the situation would be nice to have.
With the two leading receivers from last year gone it is time for someone to step and take those spots. Unfortunately the receiving unit hasn't stepping up to the challenge over the last few weeks. Dropped passes has plagued them all Spring and the coaching staff is not impressed with their performance.
"You can’t drop touchdown passes and think real highly of guys," Christensen said. "You’ve got to catch the football in this offense no mater how quick or fast you are.
"The great news is there are five receivers coming this summer and the comeption is going to heat up like someone threw kerosine in it."
Robert Herron has been the top performer so far as catches and he seems to be enjoying the move from RB to WR. His big advantage is speed but he been spending more time trying to make sure he doesn't continue to drop passes. Converted QB Sam Stratton had a great first scrimmage and this is his first time playing at that spot.
The starters listed for Wyoming are Mazi Ogbonna, Chris McNeill and DeJay Lester. All three have had some catches but not made a lot of noise yet. Spencer Bruce and Shane Sullivan have been getting plenty of reps at TE since starter TJ Smith has missed scrimmages due to an injury.
Injuries hurt the offensive line before practice even started when it was announced that Justin DiRe couldn't continue football due to a medical condition. Also RFr Daniel Fleishman sufferered that would cause him to miss the entire spring camp. Due to these losses BJ Sumter and Tyler Strong were moved over from the defensive line to provide some depth.
In both scrimmages there been mental mistakes resulting in numerous penalties. When facing a #1 defensive line that returns all four starters it has not been pretty. Last season the offense line had plenty of issues with protecting the quarterback or creating running line and their doesn't appear to be much progress this year.
Brandon Miller and Nehemie Kankalongo have done a nice job with their increased number of reps they've received. Alvester Alexander and Ghaali Muhammad are out due to injuries but should be fine in August. Kongo has grown up over the last year and is ready to fill some have of the success that was projected for him last year.
If all of the backs are healthy and ready to go when the season starts then this unit should be the most talented and deep on the offensive side of the ball.
The defense appears to be much improved and the # returning starters is one big reason. The d-line is returning all four starters and they haven't missed a beat. At linebacker quality players just keep emerging everyday. Todd Knight has been fantastic this spring after being a top recruit from the 2009 class. Mark Nzeocha went from a third string safety to a starting outside linebacker spot.
Kenny Browder and Eric Mitchell are vying for the free safety spot that Chris Prosinski held for so long. Meanwhile roomates Luke Ruff and Luke Anderson are shooting for the strong safety job that Shamiel Gary vacated.