East’s Bartlett has two FBS offers

Cheyenne East junior Tevis Bartlett (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) has football scholarship offers from the University of Wyoming and University of Colorado.

Both schools are looking at the 2013 Wyoming Gatorade Player of the Year as either a quarterback or safety, I was told Friday morning.

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Different ways of doing things

More than five months after the University of Wyoming fired football coach Joe Glenn, we are still hearing about it.

Earlier this week former Glenn assistant coach Ron Wisniewski submitted a letter to the editor/guest editorial to media outlets around the state about an article written a few weeks back by ESPN.com blogger Graham Watson.

Wisniewski wasn’t pleased with some of the things Watson wrote about  the program when Glenn and Co. were there.
He took exception to some of the things Watson wrote, and what some of the players were quoted in saying.

You can draw your own conclusions on who was right and who was wrong. I think both Watson and Wisniewski were both correct and incorrect with some of their points.

The bottom line in all of this is that people have different ways of doing things.

The way first-year UW coach Dave Christensen is running the program now is different than what Glenn did.

Does that make it better?

We will see.

When there is change there inevitably be comparisons to the past. That happens in anything you do. But dwelling too much on the past, whether its good or bad, isn’t productive for anyone involved.

The Glenn era at UW is done. Let it go and move on. There were good things and bad things that happened in those six years.

The Christensen era is just starting. Let’s see what happens. The Cowboys haven’t even played a game yet.

You’ve got to be kidding

In today’s print edition of the WTE, former University of Wyoming wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Ron Wisniewski wrote a very lengthy response to a column written by ESPN.com blogger Graham Watson.

 

Watson’s blog can be found here. Wisniewski’s column can be found here. I can’t say where I come out in this “he said, she said.”

 

What I feel compelled to blog about is one of the first comments at the bottom of the Wisniewski link.

 

One of the commenters points out Wisniewski took what they felt was an unecessary shot at quarterback Karsten Sween when Wisniewski said Sween was disgruntled because he’d frequently been benched for his “terrible play.” The commenter called Wisniewski classless and called Sween a 22-year-old kid.

 

Calling Sween a kid and implying he is beyond criticism is something I take exception with. Sure, college athletes are different than professional athletes because most aren’t any older than 23 when they complete their eligibility and they’re not drawing sizable paychecks.

 

That doesn’t mean there should be a hands-off policy when it comes to printing assessments of their play.

 

You’d be lying to yourself if you tried to paint a picture of Sween’s play over the past few seasons as anything but sub-standard. So calling his play since his redshirt freshman season “terrible” isn’t much of a stretch or a low blow.

 

Additionally, an athlete becomes a full-fledged adult and opens themselves to criticism when:

 

— They accept their primarily state-funded, full-ride scholarship.

 

— They become the face of the program and a jersey with their number on it is being sold inside the stadium and at sporting goods stores across the state.

 

— They get married to their high-school sweetheart as a freshman.

 

— They become the starter at the most visible position on the football field.

 

Sween is a good guy. With the exception of delivering a 43-second statement and bolting from the post-game press conference following UW’s loss at Colorado State in 2007, he’s been stand up about answering the tough questions.

 

But being a good guy and being 22 doesn’t make you exempt from criticism.

Depth an issue with Pokes

Spring football is done at the University of Wyoming. We are about three months away from the start of fall camp and four months from the season-opener.

First-year coach Dave Christensen released a post-spring depth chart Wednesday, and lets say depth isn’t strength of this team right now.

UW finished the spring with less than 70 players, and less than 55 in last Saturday’s spring game due to injury and illness.

This team needs help in a lot of areas, but more than anything it needs more bodies.

Many of the projected and expected starters on this team appear to be solid. But in most cases, the guys behind them are not.

For instance, six of the 11 back-ups on defense have either never played at UW or are playing a new position.

On offesne, the Cowboys go into fall camp with a true freshman starting at right guard in Nick Carlson. True freshmen playing along the offensive line is rare enough, let alone at Carlson’s size at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds.
Granted, this was done mostly because junior starter Jack Tennant missed most of the spring because of an injury.

Still, if UW has to go to its bench along the offensive line at just about any position it could be in big trouble.

Christensen has said that it takes a rotation of at least eight or nine receivers to effectively run his spread offense. Including tight ends, which are split out like receivers in this offense, UW has 12 on the roster.
But only a handful are ready and capable of playing right now.

And lets not forget about quarterback. Senior Karsten Sween enters fall camp as the starter, but Christensen will give junior-college transfer Robert Benjamin and true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels a chance to compete for the job with Sween and two other guys.

Twenty-four players were signed in Christensen’s first recruiting class back in February. All but one were high school recruits.

Expect at least 12 to 15 to contribute on the field this fall, especially in the defensive secondary, linebacker and receiver positions.

Christensen: “No excuses”

First-year University of Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen continues to put his mark on the program.

There are fast-paced and high-tempo practices, and the physical nature of it all.

Tuesday in Laramie Christensen added another chapter — no excuses.

He didn’t like what he saw from his team after about 30 minutes of practice, so he made them start all over again. You often hear coaches say things like that, but rarely do you see them carry through with it.

Christensen did and it certainly got the attention of the players.

“The thing I tried to tell these guys is we will not accept mediocrity,” said Christensen after practice. “There’s no coming out here just to get through it. We’re going to practice extremely well from start to finish or we’ll start over.

“It doesn’t matter how many guys we have left. … We don’t want excuses.”

With 17 players not available due to injury and/or illness, it was difficult for the team to get through the rest of practice. It also will be interesting to see how the team gets through its spring game on Saturday. Christensen said he’s never seen so many injuries in his coaching career, and wants to find out why.

However, don’t expect him to change his ways or philosophies of demanding tough, physical play from his team.

As many as nine former players could suit up for the spring to help fill in some holes, which is legal by NCAA standards. However,  the former players must sign waivers in case they get hurt.

Christensen said he plans to release a post-spring depth chart early next week, but added that competition for all jobs will resume when fall camp starts in August.

Most of the players will be around all summer in Laramie to work out and go to school. Christensen said June and July will be critical months for his team in terms of conditioning and preparation for fall camp. He also said he is concerned about the overall physical strength of his team, especially along the offensive line.

Spring football resumes Tuesday

The University of Wyoming football team returns to spring practice Tuesday after being off since last Thursday for the long Easter weekend.

Hope the players enjoyed the time off because you can expect the return this week to be just as physical and intense as the first eight practices.

The Cowboys will scrimmage a litle bit on Thursday, and will have their second full scrimmage of the spring at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The pure physicallity of spring practices has been one of the biggest stories under first-year coach Dave Christensen. Injuries have mounted, and 13 players didn’t practice last Thursday because of injury or illness. Christensen let up a little bit in that practice, but insists he won’t back down on what he and his staff are trying to establish .

“The program’s not going to change, the players in it are going to have to change,” he said.

We’ve heard that as much this spring as former coach Joe Glenn saying: “Powder River, Let ‘er Buck.”

A renewed confidence in senior quarterback Karsten Sween, and the overall grasp of Christensen’s spread offense also have been big stories this spring.

The defense has been hit hard by injuries and illness, especially along the defensive line and at linebacker, but there have been some bright spots.

Sophomore inside linebacker Brian Hendricks looks to be a more than solid replacement for departed senior Ward Dobbs. With no disrespect intended toward Dobbs, Hendricks is the better athlete.

The Gipson brothers — Marcell and Tashaun — appear to be more comfortable and improved at both cornerback positions. And, redshirt junior Jamichael Hall has the inside track to be the starting strong safety.

It would be nice to see the Pokes get outside for a practice soon to see how they are at punting and kicking. That’s kind of difficult in the cozy confines of the indoor practice facility.

There is still a lot of work ahead for this team before its season-opener Sept. 5 at home against Weber State. But some good work has been done in the first eight practices.

If anything, the practices certainly aren’t dull.

MWC spring football update

Two of the nine Mountain West Conference football teams have concluded spring drills.

Air Force and TCU wrapped things up last Saturday with relatively uneventful spring games/scrimmages.

TCU has some holes to fill at center, offensive guard and defensive end, but the Horned Frogs have just 13 seniors on a team that finished No.7 in the nation last season. They could be the next MWC team to play in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game this coming season.

Air Force had a solid spring even though sophomore starting quarterback Tim Jefferson missed the majority of practice to concentrate on academics. The Falcons also experimented with tailback Asher Clark at quarterback.

Brigham Young concludes spring drills this week, but the Cougars won’t play a spring game. Construction work on LaVell Edwards Stadium will prevent that, and coach Bronco Mendenhall has opted to punt (no pun intended) on a spring game. One of the biggest challenges for BYU is replacing four of its five starting offensive linemen.

At Utah, the big question is who will start at quarterback for departed senior Brian Johnson, who led the Utes to an undefeated season and No. 2 national ranking.

The front-runner is junior Corbin Louks, who has some game experience. However, junior-college transfer Terrance Cain is a talented newcomer. Louks has the advantage right now based on in experience with this being his third year in the program. But Cain has outstanding athletic ability and may see the field in other capacities if Louks wins the job.

Colorado State also is looking for a starting quarterback, and it won’t be local Fort Collins product Alex Kelly. The Redshirt freshman recently left the team to pursue a career in professional baseball. Senior Grant Stucker and junior-college transfer Jon Eastman are the top candidates for the job right now.

New Mexico and UNLV are in the middle of their spring drills. San Diego State gets started Saturday.

As for the University of Wyoming, it is at about the midway point of spring practice and will hold two sessions this week — today and Thursday.

It’s probably good that first-year coach Dave Christensen is giving his players the Easter weekend off as injuries have started to mount, especially on defense.

Still, the more physical philosophy Christensen and Co. are implementing appear to be adding a level of toughness to the team that has lacked for several years.

Even though the offense is learning a new and up-tempo spread offense, it appears to be a leg up on the defense at this point. But injuries have hindered the defense somewhat.

If the injuries continue it will be interesting to see if Christensen scales back somewhat the level of contact in practice. He reduced the number of plays from last Saturday’s scrimmage from 120 to about 85.

Change is abundant with UW football

Most people aren’t comfortable with change.

But change with the University of Wyoming football program is evident, and it has a lot of people interested.

Fans of all ages lined up along the end zones and sidelines of the school’s indoor practice facility last Saturday to watch the team practice in full pads for the first time during spring drills.

Even more people are expected to be in Laramie today for the team’s first full scrimmage of spring drills. So many, in fact, that UW will have security there to keep fans in one of the end zone areas for their own safety. Media covering the event will be required to have a credential to roam the sidelines.

All this for a spring scrimmage?

I don’t know how many games the Cowboys will win this season, but the change in coaches from Joe Glenn to Dave Christensen has fans, at very least, excited and curious to what the future holds.

Watching spring practices, or most college football practices, can be like watching paint dry.

Not under Christensen.

Practices are high-tempo, fast-paced and as physical as I’ve ever seen in more than a decade of covering college football.

There’s been more hitting in five spring practices this year than in all the spring practices combined over the last five years.

And that’s not just in scrimmage situations.

Ball carriers and defensive backs go against each other on a daily basis in a drill where the defense must try and keep the offense from scoring from about five yards out.

Offensive and defensive linemen go at each other in one-on-one situations at a furious pace.

Blink just once during one of these practices and you are bound to miss something.

Even some of the props used in these practices are cool to see.

In seven-on-seven periods, six-foot ladders are used to simulate defensive linemen and force the quarterbacks to throw over targets.

Offensive linemen throw around heavy sand bags to one another.

Punters and kickers participate in running back drills. It’s unfair to say punters and kickers are props, but you don’t see that often in any kind of football practice.

Christensen hasn’t coached a game for UW, yet the excitement he and his staff have generated in about the four months since they were hired is unprecidented.