It was a play Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn said he would not have tried last year.
Senior wide receiver Chris Johnson made a double move on the outside, and junior quarterback Karsten Sween threaded a 30-yard pass between two defenders for a touchdown during the Cowboys' scrimmage on Saturday.
After practice, Glenn gave the credit to the offensive line.
"Our guys are bigger and stronger and more experienced," he said. "Any time you run a double move, you better block a long time, and a year ago we couldn't have done it."
One reason for the improved blocking is the size of the unit. The Cowboys return all five of their starting offensive linemen from 2007, and each one of them has been working on getting bigger in the offseason.
"All of us strive to be 300 pounds," said senior right tackle Kyle Howard. "And I think we're as close to being 300 across the board (as we have) since I've been here."
Howard is listed on the Cowboys' March 26, 2008 depth chart at 6-foot-7, 312 pounds, and five other offensive linemen weighed in for spring ball right at or more than 300 pounds (Tim Bond, 300; Clayton Kirven, 301; Garrett King, 302; Jack Tennant, 310; and Zack Kennedy, 327). What's more, the Pokes have six more linemen within 11 pounds of the 300 mark.
"All of us are eventually going to be there," said Bond, the projected starter at center. "A couple of the young guys just have a couple more pounds to go."
The secret to adding those pounds is relatively simple, Bond said.
"Food. Lot of food, weight training, shakes, eat when you're not hungry. It's just a lifestyle," he said. "You have to eat constantly, even when you don't feel like it. It's basically your job."
And that can make for some uncomfortable scenarios.
"Sometimes people judge me at restaurants, especially the waitress," Bond joked. "I tell her not to, but she does. It's what we have to do."
But the linemen have been doing more than just eating when they're not hungry to prepare for next season.
"In addition to weight, everyone's made big gains in the weight room," Howard said. "This is as strong a unit as we've had here."
It's also an athletic unit, starting with Howard, who Bond said can do a 360-degree slam dunk on the basketball court. The big senior recorded a 33-inch vertical leap this offseason.
"That's amazing," senior quarterback Ian Hetrick said of Howard's jumping ability. "The best thing is that they all are big and strong, but the thing is that they're all athletic, too."
Hetrick lives with Bond and left tackle Ryan Otterson, who used to play tight end in high school, and the senior signal caller said he would trust the line with his life.
"We've got a whole lot of protection," he said. "I'll sit back there all day. It really makes it easy on us quarterbacks."
Along with all five starters returning on the line, the Cowboys also return starting tailbacks Devin Moore and Wynel Seldon, and the men up front are confident that the Pokes' offense will fare better in 2008 than it did a year ago.
"(Seldon and Moore) are both real dynamic backs," Howard said, "and I think with (offensive coordinator Bob) Cole's system, we're going to get them the ball in a lot of different ways, so we're real excited about that."
"And Darius Terry has been stepping up a lot, too," Bond added. "He'll probably get some reps, and from what I've seen the last couple days, he's going to be a player for us."
And with Sween, Hetrick, junior college transfer Dax Crum and redshirt freshman Chris Stutzriem all healthy and ready to compete for playing time at quarterback, Howard said he is excited to see how well the team can execute Cole's new offense.
"We've got a lot of athletic quarterbacks," he said, "so regardless of who's touching the ball, with all our reads and options and stuff, we should be able to put some yards on the ground."
Spring Practice Notes…
As promised, Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn came out with his first spring depth chart on Monday, and Sween topped the list at quarterback. The junior gunslinger has been the Pokes' starter since midway through his freshman year. He edged out Hetrick to get the early spring nod, with Crum penciled in at third string and Stutzriem at fourth string. The Cowboys' quarterback ranks will grow by one in June when true freshman Adam Barry arrives in Laramie...Glenn confirmed on Saturday the hiring of his son Casey as the Cowboys' tight ends coach. The younger Glenn is replacing former tight ends coach Harvey Patton, who left the program this offseason.
O-line Showing Improved Blocking this Spring
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