Quick release, fewer sacks

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen said a big reason why true freshman quarterback Brett Smith has been sacked only three times in four games has nothing to do with the protection from his offensive line.

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Christensen on similar path

I was looking through Wyoming’s football media guide recently and found an interesting pattern with coach Dave Christensen.

In his first two years as head coach of the Cowboys, Christensen is 10-15 overall and 5-11 in conference play. In Christensen’s first two years at Missouri as an assistant in 2001-02, the Tigers also were 5-11 in conference play and 9-16 overall.

In year three at Missouri the Tigers improved to 8-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big XII, which was good for third place in the North Division. Missouri played in the Independence Bowl. The Tigers had a winning season in four of the next five seasons Christensen was there after that, including double-digit victories in 2007 and 2008.

Will there be a similar outcome in Christensen’s third year at UW, and even looking ahead? I think most fans would be elated with eight wins.

Another interesting tidbit? The Mountain West has a tie with the Independence Bowl this year. Could Christensen lead the Cowboys there, as he helped do with Missouri in this third year there back in 2003?

Something to think about.

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Here is a link from Mountain West blogger Mick McGrane on fall camp news and notes from other conference schools. Mick used to cover San Diego State for the San Diego Union-Tribune and really knows his stuff. Plus, he’s is one of the best writers out there.

http://www.themwc.com/blog/2011/08/mountain-west-football-camp-report-1.html

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And, here is a good column from the Ogden Standard Examiner on Weber State football coach and former Utah coach Ron McBride. UW opens the season Sept. 3 with Weber State, which ironically, was the first game in Christensen’s UW debut in 2009. The Cowboys won that game 29-22.

http://www.standard.net/stories/2011/08/06/tee-green-macs-mind-football

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Hope you check out the new poll question on the blog about UW’s newcomers. See my story on one of them, true freshman running back Kody Sutton, in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.

Also, I plan to have a live chat during UW’s second scrimmage of fall camp Friday morning. There is a link to it on the blog right now. But just in case, here it is http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2011/08/10/live-blog-cowboys-2nd-scrimmage-friday-august-12th-at-9am/

We will start around 9 a.m. I look forward to hearing from all of you again, so come ready with questions and comments.

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.

UW football captains named on a weekly basis

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said during Tuesday’s Mountain West Conference spring football teleconference that team captains this season will be named on a weekly basis. In Christensen’s first two seasons, captains were named before fall camp.

Christensen said he liked the leadership he saw during spring drills, and thinks there are more leaders on this team than on his previous two.

Christensen said there are no plans as of now to move players to different positions heading into fall camp, and when asked if the starting quarterback job was any where close to being resloved, he said: “not even close.”

Here are some other quotes from other MWC coaches from the teleconference:

“We’ve got a quarterback, but we have a lot of holes, too.” — San Diego State coach Rocky Long, speaking mostly about holes at the wide receiver spot.

“I think they ought to get rid of that blue turf, I think it’s unfair.” — Long on Boise State’s blue artificial turf.

“The only thing I can say is we’re on it every day and see it all the time. We don’t think it’s any different than when we go to a green field. Maybe that’s because we see it every day. When we go into our indoor facilty and the field is green we don’t think it’s any different.” — Boise State coach Chris Petersen.

“I feel this team is built to go to a bowl game.” — New Mexico coach Mike Locksley, who is 2-22 in his first two seasons but returns six starters on offense and nine on defense.

“He has as strong or a stronger arm, and he runs faster.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson on sophomore quarterback Casey Pachall, the likely candidate to start for departed senior Andy Dalton.

“You look back at teams that made a move to a new conference and that first year no matter who good a team is supposed to be doesn’t do that great. The only time we didn’t win the WAC was our first year there.” — Petersen.

Note: In TCU’s first year in the MWC in 2005 it won the regular-season title with an 8-0 conference record and 11-1 overall record. It finished ninth and 11th in both polls.

Coaching shuffle for UW football

On Wednesday Wyoming announced the addition of 24 new football players.

Friday it announced two new assistant football coaches.

Gregg Brandon is the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Danilo Robinson is the new defensive line coach.

Reports broke late last night that former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo was going to Cal. Arroyo didn’t hint a change was coming when I talked to him Wednesday during signing day activities.

Robinson replaces Jerry Montgomery, who after a quick cup of coffee at Indiana is now the defensive line coach at Michigan.

In the release sent by UW this morning, coach Dave Christensen, who is in Arizona right now, said when he was at Missouri and decided to go with a spread offense he contacted Brandon to teach the staff. Both have a long relationship, and it doesn’t hurt Brandon coached at UW from 1987-90 for coach Paul Roach. Brandon also has coached for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, and was the head coach at Bowling Green from 2003-08. In 2009 he was the offensive coordinator at Virgina and was on the staff of the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League last season.

In 2008, Brandon’s Bowling Green team won at UW 45-16 and his offense rolled up 388 yards (101 rushing, 287 passing and no turnovers).

Brandon will be 55 at the end of this month. He has coached nine teams to bowl games. His experience in the game, along with the good working relationship he’s had with Christensen, are huge pluses in my opinion. Not to say Arroyo, 31, was in over his head despite being one of the youngest coordinators in college football. But with a new QB yet to be determined for UW — and a freshman at that — it’s nice to have some more experience there.

Robinson has been a college coach for 11 years, including stops at Navy, Louisiana-Monroe, Utah State (his alma mater) and last year at Southwest Minnesota State.

Ironically, UW will play at Bowling Green and Utah State — two places where these two new coaches spent a lot of time at.

It’s always tough to lose coaches, but both will have about a month to get used to what UW is doing before spring drills begin. And, it says something when you lose coaches to the Pac-12 and Big Ten. At least is they are moving on, they are doing something right. Better than being fired or leaving for smaller schools.

Thoughts and opinions on these two guys?

Lee swtiches from UW to Tulsa

Wyoming lost a verbal commitment in football Thursday when defensive tackle Gary Lee (6-5, 285) from Victory Christian High in Tulsa, Okla., changed his mind and committed to Tulsa.

Here is the short article out of the Tulsa World: http://www.tulsaworld.com/sportsextra/TU/article.aspx?subjectid=94&articleid=20110128_94_B5_CUTLIN696163

You see this happen a lot of football recruiting. When a school sees a recruit in its own backyard commit to another school, it often makes a late push for that kid. UW did that in coach Dave Christensen’s first recruiting class in 2009 with Gillette’s Spencer Bruce. Bruce verbally committed to Southern Mississippi, but not long before signing day changed his mind and signed with the Cowboys.

Right or wrong, ethical or not this is a big part of college recruiting.

UW still has 18 verbal commitments and six other players signed and enrolled in school. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys get a verbal commitment from a high school defensive back this weekend, which is the final weekend recruits can visit prior to signing day on Wednesday.

Indiana lands UW assistant Montgomery

A source close to the situation told me Wednesday that University of Wyoming defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will coach defensive ends at Indiana University this season.

Indiana has not made an official announcement on the hire, nor as UW sent anything out about Montgomery’s departure. Some college football websites also have reported that Montgomery will be at Indiana.

Montgomery was UW’s defensive line coach the past two seasons for head coach Dave Christensen. He played his college football at Iowa and also had college coaching stops at Northern Iowa and North Iowa Area Community College.

Starting the day off right

Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen wants to add size to a number of players at different positions, so starting in January all scholarship players will be required to attend a breakfast training table Monday-Friday from 7:15-9 a.m.

The goal is have players consume between 2,500-3,000 calories before lunch.

“We’re not going to be able to recruit the finished product here,” he said. “We have to recruit athleticism and project, and then build them when they get here. We have some great linemen, but they’re 275 or 280, and we need them up to 290 or 300. Same with our defensive line, and all positions.”

There won’t be any early-morning weight-lifting sessions when the players return from Christmas break. They will be moved to the afternoon where players should be more alert. However, players will still go through Christensen’s Winning Edge Program at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in February.

Weekly weight-lifting and agility testing will continue during the offseason, but will be moved to Mondays after two days of rest for players instead of Fridays after a week of workouts in the hope the players are fresher and get more out of the testing.

Those are some of the changes to be made as Christensen and his staff enter their third season. For more changes, see my analysis piece in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com.

UW-CSU photos and quotes

First off, check out some photos from Wyoming’s 44-0 win over Colorado State Saturday by Wyoming Tribune Eagle photographer AAron Ontiveroz. This was AAron’s final sports assignment for the WTE and WyoSports. He recently accepted a photographer job at The Denver Post.

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Here are some leftover quotes from the game:

–“That’s the funnest I’ve had playing football for a while now. … You couldn’t ask for any other way to go out in keeping the Bronze Boot here against our arch rivals, and doing it the way we did.” — senior free safety Chris Prosinski

–“They were yakking and talking the whole game. I had to punish them a little bit.” — sophomore running back Alvester Alexander, who ran for 147 yards and a school-record five touchdowns.

–” I was real proud of the kids up front. They came off the ball. They blocked well and gave Al some running lanes. Alvester did a good job of carrying the load for us. He’s a young man getting better every single day and maturing as a Division I tailback.” — coach Dave Christensen

–“(CSU) saw the last couple of games we played and maybe they thought we were a pushover coming into the game. But we thought if we got three-and-outs right away and if the offense scored some points they would quit and lay down. Which as you could see, they did.” — junior defensive end Josh Biezuns

–“This was by far No. 1. I don’t think we’ve ever had a game like this since I’ve been here.” — senior cornerback Marcell Gipson on how this game compared to the others in his career.

–“I met (Friday) morning with every kid I recruited here and talked about the most important thing for next season was (the CSU) game and would springboard us into the off-season. They believe in what we’re doing. We have great athletes. We’re going to get better. We’re going to stay the course, stay positive and we’re going to be fine.” — Christensen

–“We’ve been playing well together the whole year, and I think we’re learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses up front. We know what everybody can do and what everybody can’t do. We know how to get to the quarterback now.” — Biezuns, who had 3.5 of UW’s six quarterback sacks in the game.

–“We’re going to recruit 25 more guys. We recruit across the board at every position. We have a lot of kids in our program that have been here for six months, or a year and six months. We have to keep developing them.”