LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Dave Christensen of the Wyoming Cowboys claps as his team takes the field for a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium November 13 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. UNLV won 42-16. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Chris Tormey showed off the new revamped Wyoming defense today and it passed with flying colors. There was plenty for the linemen, linebackers and defensive backs to celebrate. The offense had it's moments but in terms of big plays the defense showed the most in this scrimmage. Using the teams modified scoring system for scrimmages the defense won easily 70-35.
The scrimmage started outside but was soon forced inside due to lightning and then more showers.
It's normal for the defense to shine early in camp. The are also very used to playing against the offense and have a good idea what play is being run. The important thing is to see where both groups move from here.
Let's take a look at who shined today.
Zach Berg picked up right where he left off this spring. The redshirt freshmen linebacker had two interceptions including one that he returned for a touchdown. He played safety in high school and that seems to have given him a sixth sense when the ball is near him. Berg almost had two pick sixes but stepped out right before the goal line. Three others also had interceptions: DeAndre Jones, Todd Knight and Devyn Harris. Impressive that linebackers accounted for four of the five interceptions.
There was plenty of other fine performances from the defense.
The unit totaled up eight sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Continuing the fine play from linebackers Korey Jones had four TFL. Mike Purcell and Kurt Taufa'asua each had 1.5 sacks. Others who picked up sacks were: Kenny Browder, Jeff Rouche, Devyn Harris, Miraldo Michel and Chase Appleby.
Luke Ruff and Cortland Fort led the team with six tackles. A large group also had five tackles: Korey Jones, Chad Reese, Browder and Alex Borgs. It seemed the consensus of those in attendance was that the hit of the day went to freshmen LB Siasi Hala'api'api. He impressed a number of his teammates with a thunderous lick.
While the defense got most of the glory today there was still plenty to be excited about for the offense. The offense really put itself in a hole with 10 penalties for 50 yards. The group started off slow with mistakes and penalties but put on a late surge to help build some confidence heading into week two.
Brett Smith is healthy and made his return to field. On the day Smith finished 17 of 29 for 214 yards, he threw four touchdowns and two interceptions. He had a pair of 45 yard passes on the day. Smith had no fear of running the ball, rushing eight times for 56 yards. Colby Kirkegaard was 13 of 26 for 117 yards and two picks. Freshmen Jason Thompson was 6 of 14 for 47 yards and one pick. Kirkegaard scored one touchdown on the ground with one net rushing yard. Thompson rushed nine times for eight yards.
The youngest running backs provided the biggest plays of the group on the day. Shaun Wick had 56 yards and D.J. May finished with 27 while showing some nice flashes. Nehemie Kankalongo ran for 26 yards and caught one pass for 14 yards. Unfortunately he suffered shoulder injury towards the end of the scrimmage and had to leave the field. Coach Christensen said that he would have an update this week on the status of Kankalongo, Really hope that he it is nothing serious and that he can make a quick recovery. Brandon Miller rushed eight times for 24 yards while Kody Sutton carried six times for 15 yards.
Late in the scrimmage Robert Herron got really in sync with Brett Smith for two touchdowns. On the day Herron led the receivers with 10 catches for 81 yards. An impressive day for Keenan Montgomery who had seven catches for 63 yards. Spencer Bruce caught four passes for 67 yards. Of the new receivers, the one we never knew was on the team had the best day. Jalen Claiborne is a juco transfer from Tyler College (TX) who caught three passes for 66 yards including a 45 yard touchdown. He apparently signed with Wyoming this summer and no one picked up on the news. Nice Brown caught two passes for 26 yards and Trey Norman finished with two catches for 14 yards and a score.
As far as the kicking game goes things looked pretty good. No one missed a extra point the entire scrimmage. Stuart Williams was a perfect 5-5, Taylor King 4-4 and Justin Martin 1-1. In field goals Williams was 2-3 with makes from 24 and 37 yards. He had a 30 yard attempt blocked by Taufa'asua. Martin made his only attempt from 24 yards.
As far as punting goes Tim Gleeson kicked six times with a long of 58 and an average of 43.2. Cody Clem punted twice with a long of 61 and a 45.5 average. The punting was done all at the beginning of the scrimmage when the team was still outside.
What are your thoughts after the first scrimmage? Any big surprises or disappointments? Can the defense keep this up? Let me know if the comments.
The next scrimmage will take place on Saturday, August 19th at 10am.