by staff–11 Apr ’16
A two-touchdown performance by sophomore quarterback Josh Allen and a strong return by redshirt senior running back Shaun Wick highlighted the day for the Wyoming offense on Saturday. The Cowboy defense recorded four quarterback sacks and 14 tackles for loss, led by sophomore Kevin Prosser’s two sacks, as the Wyoming Cowboys held an open scrimmage at Cheyenne Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Saturday.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s scrimmage, Cowboy players and coaches remained on the field to sign autographs and talk with the many fans in attendance.
Allen completed 8 of 19 pass attempts for 112 yards through the air. He connected with senior wide receivers Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt on touchdown passes of 25 and five yards respectively.
Wick carried the ball eight times for 28 yards on the day. Most impressive of the runs was a 10-yard TD carry that saw Wick and the Cowboy offensive line steadily push the pile forward until Wick forced his way into the end zone.
The fourth Cowboy touchdown of the day was scored by redshirt freshman running back Milo Hall, who broke through the line of scrimmage, made a nice cutback to his left and took the ball 40 yards for the score. Hall was the leading rusher in Saturday’s scrimmage, carrying the ball 11 times for 53 yards.
Prosser had 2.0 sacks and four total tackles on the afternoon. He was joined by fellow sophomore defensive end Carl Granderson and senior middle linebacker Eric Nzeocha, who each had 1.0 sack. Leading tacklers for the Cowboy defense were junior cornerback Robert Priester and sophomore outside linebacker Christian Irving, who each had five tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Twelve different Cowboy defenders were credited with tackles for loss on the day.
Immediately following the scrimmage, Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl addressed the media on the field.
“I thought Josh (Allen) threw the ball well, particularly with our older receivers,” said Bohl. “It was great to see Shaun Wick out there running again. I think he is going to be a really good weapon for us. I thought he had a great run on the 10-yard TD.
“I also thought our defensive ends rushed the passer well today.
“We did not incorporate any of our kicking game into today’s practice. I thought that would be counterproductive (due to the wind in Cheyenne on Saturday.)
“We did not scrimmage Brian (Hill) today as you all noticed.”
Junior running back Hill is healthy and has participated in all Wyoming’s first eight spring practices leading up to Saturday’s scrimmage. But Bohl has told media on several occasions this spring that the plan is not to play Hill in scrimmage situations. Bohl has said that he and his staff already know what the 2015 Doak Walker Award semifinalist is capable of and don’t want to risk injury to Hill, who set the Wyoming single-season rushing record last season, with 1,631 rushing yards.
Bohl was asked by media for an evaluation of both of his two sophomore quarterbacks, Allen and Nick Smith.
“When I saw Josh (Allen) operate with the first unit, I thought he had a good command of the offense,” said Bohl. “You never know how a young man is going to respond in a game-like setting. I think he showed good mobility. His accuracy probably needs to improve a little bit.
“I thought Nick (Smith) did some good things too. We’ll grade the tape and get a better evaluation from that.”
Smith ended the day completing 8 of 20 passes for 63 yards.
When asked about how he thought his defense performed as a whole on Saturday Bohl replied, “We are more athletic. We have better speed. Our starting secondary is coming around well. Our linebackers and defensive ends are faster than what we’ve had, and that is going to be important for us in the Mountain West.”
The third-year Cowboy head coach also commented on the turnout of fans at Saturday’s open scrimmage at Cheyenne Central High.
“I was really encouraged. It is great to be over here in Cheyenne,” said Bohl. “I think it is important when you’re the state’s school to get out in the state. We’ll continue to look at these opportunities. I’ll talk to my boss, Tom Burman (UW Athletics Director), as far as us continuing to do some things around the state. It is important for us to recognize that we are the University of Wyoming, not the University of Laramie.”
Earlier in the week, Bohl had said that Saturday’s scrimmage may include as many as 100 plays. The number of plays run on Saturday was 72 plays (33 rushes and 39 passes), plus a few plays that don’t count in the statistics due to penalties, so the final count was in the 80-play range. He was asked why he and his staff decided not to extend the scrimmage to more plays.
“We looked at how many players we had available, and I think if you extend the scrimmage to too many plays you run the risk of opening yourself up to more injuries — so that was why,” said Bohl. “I think when we evaluate the tape around 80 plays is going to give us a good reflection of where we’re at.”
Bohl also commented on the number of penalties, which included, among others, a personal foul and holding penalties by the offense and a pass interference penalty and two face-mask penalties by the defense.
“We did have way too many penalties, and that comes with not having officials around at many of our practices until today,” said Bohl. “I was also disappointed in the number of dropped balls by our underclassmen, and we have to make improvement there.”
Bohl concluded his post-scrimmage press conference by providing an injury update, “While we had some guys miss today’s scrimmage with previous injuries, like D.J. May, who has a sprained ankle, it was good to get through about an 80-play scrimmage without any injuries occurring today.”
In addition to senior linebacker May, other returning starters who did not play Saturday due to injury included: junior center Charlie Renfree, who has missed all spring due to a back injury; junior offensive tackle Ryan Cummings, who suffered a concussion earlier this spring; and sophomore nose tackle Sidney Malauulu, who has also missed all of spring practice due to offseason shoulder surgery.
The Cowboys will return to the practice field in Laramie Tuesday, April 12 for an afternoon practice.