VIDEO: WyoSports previews UW-Florida Atlantic football game

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi and editor Scott Nulph talk about the University of Wyoming’s upcoming game with Florida Atlantic at 2 p.m. Saturday, and looks back some at the Cowboys’ 48-14 loss at No. 2 Oregon last week.

The Cowboys will improve to 3-1 on the season with the a win Saturday. Florida Atlantic (1-2) won for the first time last week at home against Tulsa, 50-21.

For more UW football and sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and check back to wyosports.net.

UW sports live chat replay – Sept. 18

Here’s the replay of WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Sept. 18.

Lots of great conversation about UW’s football game with Florida Atlantic on Saturday, as well as some men’s basketball chatter.

Gagliardi will host his live game chat from the UW-Florida Atlantic football game starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. For more information on that and UW sports, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and check back to wyosports.net.

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 4

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of his Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 4 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Boise State (2-1 overall, 1-0 MW): The Broncos traveled across the country and took care of business against a bad Connecticut team. While no one of the the MW has stood out, the Broncos have been solid in their last two games since a season-opening loss to Ole Miss. This week: vs. Louisiana, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ABC). The Rajin’ Cajuns are good and have some weapons, but the game is on the blue turf in Boise so look for another Broncos win. Boise State 30, Louisiana 14.

2. Nevada (2-1, 0-0): Despite a 35-28 road loss at Arizona, the Wolf Pack stay at No. 2. The team is 1-1 against Pac-12 schools and seems to be more well-rounded this season. It could be the favorite to win the West Division. This week: Off.

3. San Diego State (1-1, 0-0): The Aztecs were off and had time to think about how they let one slip away at nationally ranked North Carolina the week before. Still not sure what to think of this team offensively. Quarterback play must improve. This week: at Oregon State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (Fox Sports 1). I really want to pick the Aztecs, and it would be nice to see the MW get a quality road win, but I can’t do it. Oregon State isn’t great, but it is better than the SDSU. Oregon State 31, San Diego State 20.

4. Utah State (2-1, 0-0): The Aggies beat Wake Forest last week, but senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton is on the shelf for a couple of weeks because he’s battered and bruised. There is a reliable backup, but one has to wonder just where this Utah State team is right now — mentally and physically. This week: at Arkansas State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN3). This game won’t be easy, but the Aggies find a way and it won’t be pretty. Utah State 24, Arkansas State 20.

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UW-Florida Atlantic Q&A swap

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer swap with Cyrus Smith, who covers Florida Atlantic football for the website fauowlsnest.com, about Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @Cyrus31193

Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.

After road losses to Nebraska and Alabama to start the season, Florida Atlantic looked impressive in a 50-21 home win over Tulsa last week. What came together for the Owls and was that performance what most fans expect from the team this season?

Essentially, FAU played with a sense of urgency. After winning the last four games to end last year a lot of momentum was built for the next season for a potential Conference USA title run and bowl bid. Although many didn’t expect the Owls to win either of the games, the fan base definitely expected a better showing. The offensive performance was what the fans expected for the year. It also helped that FAU played a team that didn’t have a roster full of NFL players.

Quarterback Jaquez Johnson had a big game against Tulsa with 318 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. Is he the guy that makes the offense go, and if so, what does he do to make that happen?

His versatility as a dual-threat quarterback makes this offense capable of putting up big numbers, but his ability to stay away from turnovers and negative plays is where his value can’t be unmatched. With this being his second year with offensive coordinator Brian Wright, he seems more comfortable taking shots downfield. Against Tulsa, Johnson completed two passes over 50 yards for touchdowns. If Johnson and the Owls are getting big gains through the air, FAU’s offense will be hard to stop.

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Bohl addresses some defensive issues

Two issues about Wyoming’s defense was brought up to first-year Wyoming coach Craig Bohl this week.

–The Cowboys have no sacks from their defensive ends, and only one sack from a defensive linemen through three games.

–UW has allowed opponents to convert 51 percent of their third-down chances, including 9 of 11 in last week’s 48-14 loss at No. 2 Oregon.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

Bohl didn’t seem too concerned about the play of the defensive ends. Any sacks or tackles for loss against Oregon and junior Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Marcus Mariota would have been tough.

There were times UW pressured him, but Mariota outran the rush and most of UW’s defense for 71  yards and two touchdowns.

In the Cowboys’ 17-13 win over Air Force on Sept. 6, they had two sacks — one by senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens. The Falcons threw a lot early, but UW faced more of a run-oriented option offense.

UW had one sack in its 17-12 season-opening win over Montana, but it pressured and hit quarterback Jordan Johnson a lot and kept him out of sync for most of the game. Doing that is just as important as getting sacks, and could be a key in Saturday’s home game with Florida Atlantic.

The Owls have a dual-threat quarterback, much like Johnson and Mariota, in Jacquez Johnson. It would be nice if UW sacked him a lot, but more importantly, not let him get into a rhythm where he can hurt the Cowboys with his legs and his arm — especially the deep pass. Continue reading

UW men’s hoops adds key piece to 2014-15 recruiting class

The verbal commitment of 6-foot-7 versatile guard/forward Justin James may have capped off the best recruiting class the Wyoming men’s basketball program has landed in recent memory.

Granted, all five players committed must sign, and all are supposed to during the early signing period in November.

Here is the full list:

G Austin Conway, 5-10, 165, Overland HS, Aurora, Colorado

F Justin James, 6-7, 180, Oldsmar Christian School, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

F Andrew Moemeka, 6-8, Oldsmar Christian School, Lake City, Florida

F/C Jordan Naughton, 6-10, 220, Etiwanda HS, Rancho Cucamonga, California

F Eric Turner, 6-5, 193, The Villages HS, The Villages, Florida

The class seems to address the future needs of the program. Conway is regarded as one of the quickest point guards in the region — and perhaps in the country. James said Conway is “crazy fast” when I talked to him on the phone Monday.

Turner, who averaged nearly 24 points per game as a junior in high school, seems like a good scorer along the wing. Moemeka and Naughton add size.

Justin James

Justin James

James is the wildcard here because he has played the 1, 2 and 3 spots in high school, and his coaches think he may be able to do that at UW. Whether he does or not remains to be seen, but his versatility is what stands out, and what has made programs like San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico so good in the Mountain West in recent years is players who can play numerous spots on the floor.

Wyoming has not had a lot of players like that in the most recent past.

Here are some video highlights of James as a junior in high school to give you a taste of what I’m talking about:

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UW football coach breaks down Cowboys after three games

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl spoke to the media for about 25 minutes Monday during his weekly news conference, and one of the questions he was asked to assess the Cowboys after three games.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

“We have two good running backs (junior Shaun Wick and sophomore D.J. May). A quarterback (senior Colby Kirkegaard) who is making progress and shown he can make plays when he has to, has made decisions under duress and done some good things. He’s still inconsistent at times.

“Our offensive line is making progress, but is not as dominant as what we like. We have an experienced and capable receiving corps. I think they can make a lot of plays. We have a big, strong and physical defensive line that plays really hard, but we’re not as explosive as where we need to be. Our linebackers are solid. (Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha has shown he can run and play with most anybody out there.

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UW-No. 2 Oregon postgame thoughts

I don’t think anyone was surprised Wyoming lost 48-14 at No. 2 Oregon Saturday at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.

But there were some surprises that came from the game.

Even though Oregon’s offense is loaded with speed and athleticism, I thought the Cowboys would stop the Ducks at times. But they didn’t.

Oregon rolled up 556 total yards and scored touchdowns on seven of 10 drives. On the ones it didn’t score on, it went 78 yards on the first drive of the game and UW made one of its few stops of the day on a fourth-and-2 play from the Cowboys’ 3. The other two were when the backups were in late. ne drive was at the end of the game as Oregon ran out the clock after UW was held inside the Ducks’ 10-yard line.

The Ducks punted only once — with their backups in the third quarter.

Here is senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who had a game-high 11 tackles, on the Oregon offense.

Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota showed why he is a leading Heisman Trophy candidate. He was 19 of 23 for 221 yards and two touchdowns, and ran 5 times for 71 yards and two TDs. UW coach Craig Bohl said if the voting was today, he would vote Mariota for Heisman, and urged those in the media who have votes to seriously consider Mariota for the award.

Here’s what Bohl said after the game to the media:

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Wyoming-Oregon – key to the game

Here is WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s top key to the game for the Wyoming Cowboys in their game today at No. 2 Oregon, which kicks off at noon MT from Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.

1. Show up to play: Yes, Wyoming is a 43 to 44-point underdog. Yes, Oregon is No. 2 in the country with no glaring weaknesses. But the Cowboys can’t have the mentality of “let’s not to get anyone hurt.” As offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said: “You’ve got to have a plan to win. You can’t just have this plan to show up and enjoy the scenery.” UW’s best plan may not be good enough, but it must have the proper mindset going in or it will have lost before the game starts.

Obviously, a lot has to go UW’s for them to have a chance today, but do you agree or disagree with this?

Here is what UW senior cornerback Blair Burns had to say this week about facing the Ducks.

For more keys and more on today’s game, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net. Also, join Gagliardi for his live chat from the game. It stats at 11:30 a.m. — 30 minutes prior to kickoff — and links are on this blog and at wyosports.net.

VIDEO: WyoSports previews Wyoming at No. 2 Oregon

From left to right, WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi and editor Scott Nulph preview the University of Wyoming football game at No. 2 Oregon on Saturday.

Kickoff is at noon MT, and will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

For more UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.