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August 22, 2013

Smith, Herron Big Days

Laramie, Wyo. - Veterans Brett Smith and Robert Herron enjoyed big days for the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense held the No. 2 offense scoreless as the Wyoming Cowboys completed their third and final scrimmage of fall camp on Wednesday morning in War Memorial Stadium.

Junior quarterback Smith, who had been ill earlier in the week, started the scrimmage fast, connecting on his first five pass attempts, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jalen Claiborne. That TD play capped off an eight-play, 79-yard drive on the first possession of the scrimmage for the No. 1 offense.

The second possession for the No. 1 offense ended in a one-yard TD run by Smith to finish off a 10-play, 65-yard scoring drive. On the third and final possession for the Cowboys' No. 1 unit, Smith connected with senior Herron on back-to-back pass plays of 44 and 28 yards. Herron caught the 28-yard reception for a TD, concluding a seven-play, 75-yard drive.

Smith ended the day completing 13 of 16 pass attempts (81.3 percent) for 199 yards, with two TD passes and had 23 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. Herron tallied four receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown.

Junior wide receiver Dominic Rufran caught three passes for 45 yards, and Claiborne had three catches for 20 yards and one TD.

Asked about Smith's performance on the day, head coach Dave Christensen was obviously pleased.

"Brett (Smith) played well today. He scored on every series, which is what we would like him to do," said Christensen. "I thought he executed the offense very well. Obviously, he moved the ball and that is what we want to see, so yes I was pleased with his performance."

While the No. 1 offense scored on all three of its possessions versus the No. 2 defense, the No. 1 defense didn't allow a score by the No. 2 offensive unit. Christensen was asked if that balanced performance from his No. 1 units was exactly what he was looking for to wrap up fall camp.

"You would hope that is the way things would finish up," said Christensen. "That is the way you set things up, but you can't guarantee what is going to happen when they go out there to play. This is the scenario we wanted to happen today, and now we can put our focus on getting ready for the first game and concentrate on game-planning for Nebraska."

Defensively, redshirt sophomore defensive back B.J. Hendrix led the team with five total tackles. Senior middle linebacker Devyn Harris tallied three tackles.

Junior defensive end Sonny Puletasi had one sack and two total tackles, and sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough also recorded a sack. Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Lucas Wacha continued to play well with the No. 1 defensive unit, registering three tackles on Wednesday.

"Lucas (Wacha) has done a great job," said Christensen. "We really noticed him in the spring -- being a playmaker and playing down hill. He is an undersized guy, but he has great football instincts. He has played well in spring and during fall training camp, so we're real pleased with him."

Another young player who has continued to impress during fall camp is true freshman wide receiver Tanner Gentry. Gentry had three receptions for 45 yards on Wednesday, and took several snaps with the No. 1 offensive unit.

"He's had a great training camp, and he'll definitely play -- no question," said Christensen. "He's competing for a starting spot right now. We'll watch the video today and see where he's at come next week, but without question, he'll play and he'll play a lot. He's done a tremendous job, and we're real excited about him."

On special teams, place-kickers Stuart Williams and Justin Martin both were very effective on Wednesday. Junior Williams connected on 4 of 5 field goals (80.0 percent), making field goals of 28, 24, 45 and 48 yards. His only miss came from 40 yards out.

Sophomore Martin successfully converted 3 of 4 field goals (75.0 percent). He made field goals of 28, 34 and 40 yards, missing one field-goal attempt of 48 yards.

Overall, Christensen indicated he was pleased with the progress his team had made during the 18 practices of fall camp. The one area of special teams that struggled a little on Wednesday was the punt team, as two snaps were mishandled in the end zone and one punt was blocked.

Christensen indicated after the scrimmage that the competition for the starting punting spot had no clear leader, and that he and his staff were looking for one of their punters to step up and show they could consistently punt the ball.

Williams averaged 39.0 yards on two punts, freshman Ethan Wood averaged 42.8 yards on five punts and freshman Matt Barr had one punt for 35 yards.

"There are still a couple of areas in our kicking game that we've got to work on," said the fifth-year Wyoming head coach. "But apart from that, I'm pleased with how the installation process went, and I believe we got everything installed that we wanted to get in and feel we needed to get in to start the season. What we choose to use once we get into the season is determined weekly. Overall, I am pleased with where we are at, at this time."

The Cowboys will now begin their preparation for the season opener at Nebraska on Saturday, Aug. 31.







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