No game for Wyoming football this week, but the praise continues for true freshman running back Brian Hill.
Hill had his third consecutive 100-yard game with 122 yards on 25 carries in the Cowboys’ 20-3 home loss to Utah State last Friday. Hill didn’t lose any yards, and his long run was 18 yards against a Utah State defense that allowed 90 rushing yards per game entering the contest.
“I think what we learned from Friday night is it’s going to take more than one guy to get him down,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. “He had some easier opportunities against Fresno State (Hill had 281 yards in that game on Nov. 1), but against Utah State he didn’t have a lot of big runs — just one of 15-plus yards. It took two to three guys to consistently get him to the ground.
“For a guy that has played mostly in the last three games (this season) and to have more than 500 yards rushing in a variety of different ways — tough inside runs and big runs to the outside where he showed his speed — he’s going to have a chance to be real dynamic here. He already has been.”
Hill has 574 yards and an average of six yards per carry this season. He is second on the team with four rushing touchdowns.”
UW held its weekly news conference Monday, but first-year coach Craig Bohl was not there. He was with his mother in Lincoln, Nebraska as she underwent a medical procedure. Bohl was scheduled to be back in Laramie Monday night.
Vigen addressed the fact UW has to be better in the red zone. UW got just a field goal in two red zone chances against Utah State. Also, senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard threw two fourth-quarter interceptions deep in Utah State territory. The Cowboys have scored touchdowns 50 percent of the time (14 of 28) in the red zone. Vigen and Kirkegaard both said UW needs to be better. However, Vigen liked the fact that after Kirkegaard’s first interception, he completed passes of 53 and 25 yards on the next series to get the ball down to the Utah State 12.
Yes, Kirkegaard threw his second interception after that when the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but Vigen said he liked how Kirkegaard bounced back from that.
“That’s what you’re looking for in a quarterback is a guy with a short memory and not not make the same mistakes twice,” Vigen said.
Senior receiver Dominic Rufran tied UW’s school record last Friday with at least one catch in 47 consecutive games, and that streak is the longest active one in the nation. When asked if he’s thought a lot about his accomplishment, Rufran said he forgot about it until one of his teachers brought it up to him in class. Rufran is proud of his accomplishment, but said if he keeps it going, great. If not, that’s okay, too. Pretty humble guy, right there.
Defensively, UW started the game against Utah State with junior Jeff Lark and sophomore Lucas Wacha as outside linebackers, and senior Devyn Harris in the middle. It likely will go that way in its next game Nov. 22 at home against Boise State. Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Steve Stanard hopes senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton returns from hamstring and Achillies injuries. Stanton didn’t play against Utah State, and not uch over the last few games. Stanton doesn’t play much when UW is in its nickel defense, which it has been a lot on recent weeks. Still, Stanard hopes Stanton can return so he can have four linebackers to rotate in and out of the lineup.
More youngsters could be getting more playing time on defense for the Cowboys over their last two games. Redshirt freshman Dalton Fields is listed as the backup behind senior Patrick Mertens at defensive tackle. Junior backup Troy Boyland missed last week with a hand/wrist injury. His status for next week is uncertain.
Sophomore Luke Kellum has seen more time at strong safety the last two weeks, and has had three tackles in each of the last two games. He is the backup this week to redshirt freshman Tim Kamana at strong safety. Kellum is listed as a cornerback, and had not played until the last two games.
UW will practice most of this week, working some on Boise State, some on fundamentals and also working on getting some guys healthy.
It was announced Monday that UW’s Nov. 22 home-finale against Boise State will be at 8:15 p.m. MT and on ESPN2. It will be the Cowboys’ third straight game on ESPN2. What kind of crowd to you think UW will get? Could help that the men’s basketball team hosts Colorado at 4 p.m. that afternoon. Still, hard to believe the crowd will be much better than the 14,430 that was announced at the Utah State game. However, UW will get a $500,000 appearance bonus from ESPN, and it has received $1.3 million in those appearance bonuses this season.
For more UW football coverage, including the increased production recently by the defensive line, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.