There wasn’t anything elaborate about Wyoming’s first full-scale scrimmage Saturday. That’s par for the course in the spring, particularly when the entire scrimmage is open to fans and media.
The Cowboys kept things elementary, putting an emphasis on fundamentals and execution with competition still in full swing at a number of positions. The Cowboys ran through 83 plays in a little less than two hours at Cheney Alumni Field on the campus of Natrona County High School with the Brown team coming away with a 17-0 victory over the White team.
It left Wyoming coach Craig Bohl largely satisfied once it was over.
“I think we accomplished a lot of things that we wanted to,” Bohl said. “Wanted to see who could throw, who could catch, who could run and who could tackle. It was pretty vanilla, which we anticipated. I thought we moved the football on the ground today. Our offensive line did some good things, and our running backs did some good things.”
With rising sophomore Xazavian Valladay being held out in order to avoid the risk of injury, two in-state products — Casper native Brett Brenton and Yoder native Jeff Burroughs — along with Ryan Marquez, who doubles as a quarterback, shared carries in the backfield. Fullback Skyler Miller, a Torrington native, was also available, though he didn’t get a carry.
Brenton led all rushers with 71 yards on 17 carries and finished the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run. Burroughs had the first touchdown of the day on a 4-yard run that was set up by a muffed punt returned inside the 10-yard line by freshman linebacker Charles Hicks.
Burroughs and Marquez combined for 74 yards on 22 carries.
“I call it the Pony Express. We had an all-Wyoming backfield there a couple of times,” Bohl said. “We had Skyler Miller, Brett Brenton and some of the other guys. That was fun to see. We’re down tailbacks a little bit, so we’re watching the amount of contact we give (Valladay).”
Of course, all eyes were on quarterbacks Sean Chambers and Tyler Vander Waal, who rotated frequently amid their competition for the starting job.
Vander Waal, who started 10 games last season as a redshirt freshman, was the more accurate of the two on a day that didn’t call for much downfield passing, going 8 of 12 for 43 yards. He also threw the only pair of interceptions between the two, including one along the sideline in the red zone to safety Alijah Halliburton that ended the offense’s first real scoring threat. Blake Harrington later picked him off on a jump ball in the end zone.
“With the red zone, everything gets more tight. I shouldn’t have thrown it late,” Vander Waal said of his first interception. “Should’ve just thrown it away. That’s what Coach Vigen told me. Just live and learn and come back the next play.”
Chambers completed just one pass through his first handful of series before settling in a bit. He went 5 of 15 for 47 yards and had a 12-yard completion to Rocket Ismail Jr. — the longest of the day — but also overshot tight end Nate Weinman for what would’ve been a touchdown late. Neither quarterback was live, but Chambers also scrambled for 10 yards when plays broke down.
“I would say it was marginal at best,” Bohl said of the quarterbacks’ accuracy. “It’s always interesting when you take younger players and you put them in a different environment. Even though it’s spring time, it makes it a little different.”
A defense having to replace the likes of Andrew Wingard, Marcus Epps, Carl Granderson and Youhanna Ghaifan had something to do with that by creating pressure throughout. Rising sophomore Davon Wells-Ross and redshirt freshmen Solomon Byrd and Cole Godbout combined for two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss off the edge. Defensive tackle Ravontae Holt also had a sack.
The defense also recorded six pass breakups and nearly had a third interception when one of Chambers’ passes bounced off a receiver’s hands and into the air, but safety Cameron Murray couldn’t hold on.
“The defense played great,” Murray said. “The focus was just to play fast and limit their explosive plays. I feel like our defensive line dominated. Our linebackers filled holes, and our back-end guys made plays on the ball when it was necessary.”
Cooper Rothe converted his lone field-goal attempt, a 32-yarder. Wyoming will return to practice Tuesday in Laramie as the Cowboys inch closer to their spring game April 27 at War Memorial Field.