Cowboys, Wolf Pack enter as even teams on paper

Saturday is the biggest game on the schedule for the Wyoming men’s basketball team. One reason is because it’s the next game on the’ schedule. But the biggest reason is up until now, this is the best team that’s come into the Arena-Auditorium this season.

UW (12-5 overall, 2-2 Mountain West) hosts Nevada (14-3, 3-1) at 4 p.m. MT, and fans can watch it online on ESPN3. Nevada is in second place in the conference behind Boise State, but has the best record in the league.

When you look at this game on paper, you see two pretty even teams.

— Nevada leads the MW in scoring (79.4 ppg), followed by UW (78.6 ppg). Both teams allow pretty much the same amount of points. Nevada allows 72.2, UW 72.9 per contest. Look for a high-scoring, entertaining game Saturday if nothing else.

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UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Lots of talk about UW football, which included recruiting, a new defensive coordinator and the announcement that quarterback Josh Allen will return to the Cowboys for his junior season in 2017.

There also was a lot of conversation about the Cowboys’ 95-87 win Wednesday night over Utah State in MW men’s hoops.

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

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Cowboys return home for two straight games

As Wyoming enters its third week of conference play, it also starts a critical stretch.

Allen Edwards

Allen Edwards

The Cowboys (11-5 overall, 1-2 Mountain West) are coming off two road losses to UNLV and Fresno State, play their next two games at home this week. The first is at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Utah State (8-7, 2-2). The second is at 4 p.m. Saturday against Nevada (14-3, 3-1). The Cowboys are 9-0 at home this season, and are one of three teams in the MW undefeated at home. Boise State and Nevada are both 7-0.

Do you consider Wednesday’s game a must-win for UW? First-year coach Allen Edwards doesn’t.

“It’s a big game, but as a staff we’re trying to get guys to understand every game is that way,” Edwards said. “We want to protect our home floor, but we also know if we want to compete for a championship we have to take some on the road.

“However, I never try to put pressure on guys that we need this particular game. We play our game, and at the end of the day we believe our game will put us in position to win. The spirit of our guys has not changed. They’re still confident, but they also know that it doesn’t matter who you play. They  better be ready to play every night.”

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UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Jan. 5.

Lots UW football talk as the Cowboys look for a new defensive coordinator. Recruiting will be heating up soon, and there is a lot of chatter about junior-to-be quarterback Josh Allen.

There was also a lot of conversation on UW men’s basketball — and some on UW women’s basketball — as both are two weeks into conference play.

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports on Thursday, Dec. 29.

Lots of UW football talk as the Cowboys are coming off an 8-6 season and 24-21 loss to BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 21. UW men’s basketball also was a hot topic of conversation as the Cowboys are off to an 11-3 start, including an 84-72 home win over Air Force Wednesday in the Mountain West opener for both teams.

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

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Poinsettia Bowl postgame thoughts

It wasn’t the ending players, coaches and fans wanted, but if anything, UW’s 24-21 loss to Brigham Young in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl was entertaining and exciting — at least in the second half.

The Cowboys (8-6) followed a familiar pattern as the season concluded. Slow or sluggish starts to games — even extending to the first half and third quarter — and then a furious rally late.

But just like in the 27-24 loss to San Diego State in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 3, that rally fell short.

Some initial thoughts/observations:

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

— Disappointing to see junior running back Brian Hill benched for the first quarter by third-year coach Craig Bohl, who said after the game it was a “coach’s decision.” Obviously, Hill didn’t do anything earth-shattering wrong, but disappointing to see. Would things have changed if he played? Maybe, maybe not. Hill played well when he returned (93 yards, 1 TD, and one catch for 19 yards). I thought senior Shaun Wick played really well — even when Hill returned. Wick had 13 carries for 55 yards and caught one pass for six yards.

— Sunny San Diego didn’t live up to its hype. Yeah, the game was at night but it rained like crazy in the first half. Both teams had to play in it, but it definitely affected UW the worst. A bobbled snap on a punt (the snap was good) and a botched hold on a field goal (the snap was good) cost UW dearly. Other shortcomings cost UW, but those special teams gaffs hurt a lot.

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Poinsettia Bowl pregame primer

I’ve done this all season, so why stop now. Here’s my No. 1 key for Wyoming in tonight’s Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The game is televised on ESPN.

Players making plays: Meaning Wyoming’s best players must make plays. Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, the guys the Cowboys have leaned on throughout the season must be good from start to finish. If some unsung players do so, even better. But in big games like this, big-time players make big-time plays.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Nineteen seniors will play their last game for UW. Some will have bigger roles than others, but one who will have the biggest role is middle linebacker Lucas Wacha, who also is a team captain. This is what third-year-coach Craig Bohl said of Wacha earlier this week in San Diego.

“The biggest transition he made was taking ownership in the defense. I saw a transition last year when we were struggling, he always had a positive attitude and at times challenged some of the guys that weren’t performing or preparing to perform the way they needed to.

“They say nice guys are a dime a dozen, but a leader is priceless. Lucas is a nice guy, but he’s a great leader.”

Wacha is third on the team with 104 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss, and is tied for third with three quarterback sacks. He needs three tackles to move into seventh place and 12 to be sixth in career tackles in school history. Wacha enters the game with 340 tackles.

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Williams poses potential problems for Wyoming defense

Wyoming has faced its share of good running backs this season.

It played against the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher twice in San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey. Boise State’s junior Jeremy McNichols, Nevada junior James Butler and a whole host of backs at New Mexico were others, and that’s just in conference play.

Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams

The Cowboys will see another one in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl in Brigham Young senior Jamaal Williams, who is the Cougars’ career rushing leader with 3,691 yards.

I asked a couple of UW defensive players if Williams compares favorably to any of the backs they’ve faced this season.

“He’s kind of like the (junior) Rashaad Penny from San Diego State,” senior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha said. “You don’t see too many backs like him. He’s big, physical and we’re excited to play against him.”

Williams is listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds. He missed three games with an ankle injury, but he ran for 1,165 yards, 11 touchdowns and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. His longest run was 62 yards. He also caught seven passes for 80 yards.

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UW sports live chat replay

Here’s the replay of my weekly live chat on University of Wyoming sports Thursday.

Most of the talk was about UW football as it continues its bowl preparations for the Dec. 21 Poinsettia Bowl against Brigham Young in San Diego. Recruiting also is picking up again for the Cowboys with a couple of recent verbal commitments.

There was some talk on UW men’s basketball, which has gone 4-0 on its six-game home stand. Conference play is less than two weeks away.

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

Live Blog University of Wyoming sports live chat

Bowl swag aplenty for players

One of the many cool things for players who participate in bowl game are the gifts they receive.

Brendan Turelli

Brendan Turelli

Wyoming senior long snapper Brendan Turelli has been kind enough to provide the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and wyosports.net a daily take on what’s going on with the Cowboys as they prepare for Brigham Young in the Poinsettia Bowl a week from today in San Diego.

In Turelli’s latest piece, he describes what UW and BYU players are offered in what is called the “gift suite,” which nearly every bowl offers.

Here’s the link to that:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/poinsettia-bowl-preparation-bowl-swag-on-agenda-for-wyoming/article_cad57390-c1c5-11e6-8da9-df1c6cecf1ba.html

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