Wrapping up at MW Media Day

I think I’ve done just about all the interviews I can on this final day of Mountain West Football Media Day here in Las Vegas.

Wyoming senior linebacker Brian Hendricks said he was impressed with the Cowboys’ two true freshmen quarterbacks this summer — Brett Smith and Adam Pittser. Hendricks was impressed with Smith’s overall strength, and said he did some good things in the weight room. Smith enrolled at UW in January and went through spring drills. Hendricks also said Pittser is an impressive athlete with a good arm, who is trying to learn the offense as fast as he can.

Just got done talking to Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. He’s a really nice and humble guy who just got married last weekend. But at first glance, he doesn’t look like one of the best college quarterbacks in the nation. One person told me last night he looks more like a mathlete than an athlete.

Maybe, but the guy can play quarterback.

San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley looks the part. He’s a big, physical specimen that could probably play linebacker on defense. Lindley doesn’t have his two best receivers from last season in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson, and two returning receivers suffered season-ending injuries this summer.

“It doesn’t matter if I have Randy Moss or any of the best receivers around me, if the guys up front don’t block we don’t do anything,” Lindley said. “We will be fine, and we have good backs and receivers to turn to if we have to.”

Rumors surfaced late Tuesday night that Utah State would soon join the MW. But MW commissioner Craig Thompson said both the school presidents and athletics directors didn’t discuss expansion in their last meetings in May and June. One MW official said the league has no interest in Utah State.

Thompson gave his annual state of the conference address, and for more on that see my story in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

It’s back to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo for me Thursday through Sunday. But before that I’ve got to get some other work done and catch a flight home. Thanks to all of those who followed me on Twitter the last couple of days, and commented on the blog. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the coming weeks.

Notes and quotes from MW Media Day

Been a crazy day talking to players and coaches here at MW Media Day in Las Vegas, but nice to talk some football.

Here are some notable notes and quotes I wanted to throw out there from today’s interviews:

— “This defense has the potential to be one of the best defenses I’ve been a part of here.” — Wyoming senior defensive end Josh Biezuns, the only UW player named to the preseason all-conference team by the media.

–San Diego State coach Rocky Long described his senior quarterback, Ryan Lindley, as a “NFL guy.”

–UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said there’s a chance four of his five starters along the offensive line will be freshmen. YIKES!

— A story posted by the Idaho Statesman late Tuesday afternoon stated it can’t wear all blue uniforms in any of its MW home games. Boise plays on blue field turf. … interesting. Here’s the link: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2011/07/26/ccripe/heres_boise_states_updated_preseason_depth_chart

–New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said the goal for him heading into his third year is to win six games and become bowl eligible. New Mexico is 2-22 the the past two seasons.

–TCU coach Gary Patterson said his second-team linebackers could “play for a lot of people.” He’s right.

–TCU’s seniors have won 36 games going into this season. The previous senior class set a school record with 44 wins.

–Most of the media here think the Nov. 12 TCU at Boise State game will determine the MW championship, and perhaps a BCS bowl berth. However, Boise State opens against Georgia in Atlanta, and TCU plays at Air Force Sept. 10 — two early and possible losses.

–Back to San Diego State’s Long, he said there will be some differences between him and former coach Brady Hoke. One of the biggest? “Brady was a hugger, I’m not.”

–But the quote of the day came from Patterson when he was talking about TCU jumping its fifth conference going back to the old Southwest Conference around 20 years ago: “It’s kind of like getting remarried, you have to find a new set of friends.”

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more coverage from MW Media Day, including stories on UW’s defense hoping to force more turnovers this season and why the Cowboys will scrimmage a lot early in fall camp. And, follow me Wednesday morning on Twitter from MW Commissioner Craig Thompson’s state of the MW address. My Twitter feed is @rpgagliardi.

UW picked sixth; Biezuns All-MW

The Mountain West preseason media poll and all-conference teams just came out from here at Media Day in Las Vegas.

Wyoming was picked sixth, which didn’t surprise me. I had the Cowboys fifth, but you can argue that the fifth through eighth-place teams could finish anywhere in that grouping.

Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns was the only UW player on the all-conference team. I also had senior cornerback Tashaun Gipson on my ballot, but Air Force senior Anthony Wright got the majority of the votes from the media. I had TCU linebacker Tanner Brock on my ballot, while the rest of the media had CSU senior Mychal Sisson. My all-conference kicker was Ross Evans from TCU, the rest of the media had James Aho of New Mexico.

Other than that, my ballot and my predicted order of finish matched everyone else. See that list below.

An interesting note on the predicted order of finish: Boise State is the clear-cut favorite in its first year in the league. The last time a new team joined the MWC was in 2005 with TCU, and the Horned Frogs won the MW that year. They were picked to finish sixth.

Nineteen of the 25 players on the all-conference preseason team came from the top four teams in the preseason poll. Boise State had the most with seven.

2011 Mountain West Preseason Media Poll

(first-place votes)                           Points

1. Boise State (28)                           236

2. TCU(3)                                              208

3. Air Force                                         176

4. San Diego State                           160

5. Colorado State                             104

6. Wyoming                                         80

7. UNLV                                                     77

8. New Mexico                                    39

 

2011 Preseason All-Mountain West Team

Offense

QB Kellen Moore                             Sr.           Boise State

WR Phillip Payne                             Sr.           UNLV

WR Josh Boyce                                  So.          TCU

RB Ronnie Hillman*                        So.          San Diego State

RB Doug Martin                                                Sr.           Boise State

OL Nate Porter                                  Sr.           Boise State

OL A.J. Wallerstein**                     Sr.           Air Force

OL Kyle Dooley                                 Sr.           TCU

OL Thomas Byrd                               Sr.           Boise State

OL Paul Madsen**                           Sr.           Colorado State

TE Lucas Reed**                               Jr.           New Mexico

Defense

DL Billy Winn                                     Sr.           Boise State

DL Shea McClellin                            Sr.           Boise State

DL Stansly Maponga**                   So.          TCU

DL Josh Biezuns**                           Sr.           Wyoming

LB Tank Carder#*                             Sr.           TCU

LB Mycal Sisson**                            Sr.           Colorado State

LB Miles Burris                                  Sr.           San Diego State

DB George Iloka                                               Sr.           Boise State

DB Leon McFadden*                       Jr.           San Diego State

DB Anthony Wright                         Sr.           Air Force

DB Jon David                                      Sr.           Air Force

 

Specialists

P Brian Stahovich*                          Sr.           San Diego State

PK James Aho                                    Sr.           New Mexico

Ret. Jonathan Warzeka                 Sr.           Air Force

 

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder, TCU

Special Teams Player of the Year: Jonathan Warzeka, Air Force

#Unanimous 2011 preseason selection

*2010 All-Mountain West first team

**2010 All-Mountain West second team

 

Another Nzeocha coming to UW

Wyoming got a verbal commitment Monday from Eric Nzeocha, a receiver and defensive back from Germany, and the younger brother UW true freshman linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

Eric Nzeocha plays for the Franken Knights youth team in Germany, the same squad his older brother and two other current UW players played for — true freshman linebacker Alex Borgs and senior linebacker Oliver Schober.

Eric Nzeocha is projected as an athlete for UW right now, but along with playing offense and defense he’s also returned kicks.

A third Nzeocha brother, Paul, is a defensive lineman for one of the Knights’ other youth teams.

Evan Williams, a 5-foot-11, 185 pound running back from Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle High, is scheduled to enroll at UW in December.

Williams was part of UW’s 2010 recruiting class, but didn’t make it to fall camp because of academic reasons. As a senior, Williams was ranked as the ninth-best recruit in Minnesota by Rivals.com. He played quarterback as a senior, ran for 2,301 yards, threw for 1,266 yards and accounted for 41 touchdowns.

Hope you will keep checking out the blog and Twitter @rpgagliardi a lot Tuesday as the first day of Mountain West Football Media day activities take place. Let me know if you have any specific questions, or comments. Should be a fun couple of days here in Las Vegas.

Football news and notes

Wyoming is two weeks away from its first practice of fall camp. Wow, did summer go by fast!

As of now only one of the incoming freshman in UW’s 2011 recruiting class won’t make it for fall camp — 5-11, 185-pound receiver London Muse of Sugar Land, Texas. He didn’t qualify academically. There also is a walk-on junior-college quarterback that will join the team for fall camp, but from what I gather the starting job will be battled by true freshmen Brett Smith and Adam Pittser.

Coach Dave Christensen told me he expects junior running back Ghaali Muhammad to be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 3 against Weber State. Muhammad, who was moved from linebacker to running back after last season, missed spring ball with an injury.

Christensen does not talk about specific injuries involving players.

Christensen also said sophomore right defensive tackle Patrick Mertens may be lost for the season due to an injury. Mertens played in all 12 games last season as a true freshman and recorded 39 tackles and two sacks. Juniors Ben Durbin and Kurt Taufa’asau are the top candidates to replace Mertens in the starting lineup.

Mountain West Football Media Day is Tuesday and Wednesday in Las Vegas. Senior linebacker Brian Hendricks and senior defensive end Josh Biezuns will be there for UW, along with Christensen.

The mtn. will televise a two-hour football show from the event at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and will interview players and coaches from all eight MW teams. Here is the order of the interviews

5 p.m.    TCU: Gary Patterson (HC), Josh Boyce (WR), Tank Carder (LB)

5:15 p.m. Colorado St.: Steve Fairchild (HC), Paul Madsen (OL),  Mychal Sisson (LB)

5:30 p.m. Wyoming: Dave Christensen (HC), Brian Hendricks (LB), Josh Biezuns (DB)

5:45 p.m. Air Force: Troy Calhoun (HC), Jon Warzeka (WR/KR), Zach Payne (DL)

6 p.m. UNLV: Bobby Hauck (HC), Anthony Vidal (TE), Quinton Pointer (DB)

6:15 p.m. San Diego St.: Rocky Long (HC), Ryan Lindley (QB), Jerome Long (DL)

6:30 p.m. New Mexico: Mike Locksley (HC), Lucas Reed (TE), Carmen Messina (LB)

6:45 p.m. Boise St.: Chris Petersen (HC), Kellen Moore (QB), George Iloka (DB)

I will be in Vegas so expect numerous blog posts and Twitter updates througout, and feel free to ask questions and comment on the happenings.