BYU, WAC certainly were talking

Interesting story by the Deseret News out of Salt Lake City on BYU’s possible move to being an independent in football and to the WAC in other sports. From the sounds of this story, BYU may stay in the MWC. What do you think? http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700059598/BYU-football-Cougar-WAC-prenup-gives-insight.html

And here’s a story on BYU and TV http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700059600/BYUs-broadcast-issues-boiling-over.html

Some other stories around the MWC:

http://www.gazette.com/sports/steve-103477-feel-art.html

http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S1708457.shtml?cat=10508

Hope you will join me tomorrow afternoon for a live blog during Wyoming’s fourth and final scrimmage of fall camp. We will start around 3:30 p.m. Here is the link

http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/08/23/live-blog-final-fall-scrimmage/

Take that, BYU

Denver Post college football writer John Henderson gives his take on BYU’s proposed move to become an independent in football. http://www.denverpost.com/colleges/ci_15863070

As of now, no news on what BYU will do. As MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson said last week, the Cougars are still members of the MWC.

As for Wyoming, it’s the first day of classes today. No practice and there will be only a light practice Tuesday prior to Wednesday’s scrimmage at 3:30 p.m. I will live blog from it. Check back for a link to the blog.

Sunday stories

News and notes from around the Mountain West. Like Wyoming, several teams had scrimmages Saturday.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/21/defense-starts-offense-finishes-sdsu-scrimmage/

http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20100822/SPORTS/8220332/Offense-exposed-in-scrimmage

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/50146805-89/camp-utes-utah-receiver.html.csp

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/cougars/50146909-88/nelson-mendenhall-yards-quarterback.html.csp

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/cougars/50146842-88/byu-state-conference-football.html.csp

http://www.gazette.com/common/printer/view.php?db=colgazette&id=103416

http://www.golobos.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/082210aab.html

http://www.statesman.com/sports/collegefootball/boise-state-and-tcu-sour-the-bcs-soup-872132.html?srcTrk=RTR_95649

Chilly morning in Laramie

After Wyoming’s practice Saturday morning, I asked coach Dave Christensen if he’s ever been a part of a fall camp where the early mornings are as cold as it was in Laramie last night — the low 40s.

“No. Not this cold. This is real cold,” he said, as he took a walk around his neighborhood prior to his team’s 8:45 a.m. practice.

Christensen liked what he saw from his team in its first practice since Friday’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

“I thought we had a great practice. The tempo and speed and enthusiasm was good,” he said. “As long as we keep doing that and keep getting better we’ll be fine.”

UW practiced in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts. It concluded its two-a-day sessions Saturday afternoon with a practice in shells.

Some thoughts and observations from the morning practice:

–Junior-college transfer receiver Mazi Ogbonna took a lot more reps with the No. 1 offense.

–Redshirt freshman receiver T.J. Smith also has been a solid contributor with the ones, especially since sophomore David Tooley left the  team Wednesday for personal reasons. “He’s made himself better and has had a better camp,” Christensen said. “He’s got himself up with the ones and hopefully he keeps it.”

–The No. 2 offensive line had a different look. It consisted of junior left tackle Travis Hillen, junior left guard Brandon Self, senior center Jack Tennant, senior right guard Eric Lawson and true freshman right tackle Justin DiRe.

–True freshman receiver Robert Herron and JC transfer receiver Jonathan Aiken both took all their reps with the No. 2 offense.

–Sophomore Austyn Carta-Samuels, senior Dax Crum and true freshman Emory Miller Jr. — UW’s top three quarterbacks in that order — all threw impressive  touchdown passes in 7 on 7.

–True freshman and fourth-string quarterback Sam Stratton was given a look at running back Saturday to provide some depth and a healthy body. But he pulled a hamstring early in practice and didn’t do much.

See my story in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang on the latest developments along the defensive line in terms of who will play and who won’t. Also see my column on Carta-Samuels. You can also go online at www.wyomingnews.com and www.laramieboomerang.com.

Wanted to say thanks again for those who joined me for the live blog from Friday’s scrimmage. I won’t be able to do that for Tuesday’s scrimmage. I will be in Denver that day taping the TV show “Around the Mountain” for the MounainWest Sports Network (the mtn.). I will live blog the final two scrimmages of camp, and am working on scheduling a live chat some time before the third scrimmage a week from today. More details to come.

Fletcher signs with Cardinals

Former Wyoming defensive lineman John Fletcher signed with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals Wednesday. Couldn’t find more details, but that’s a good sign for the undrafted free agent as preseason games get going this week.

Wyoming’s first scrimmage of fall camp is Friday morning. See my story in Friday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang on a pair of new receivers rapidly catching the eyes of the coaching staff.

Here are some interesting stories from around the Mountain West Conference I found this morning:

http://www.gazette.com/sports/opener-102853-calhoun-set.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700056032/Cougars-showing-off-a-new-model-of-receiver.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700056037/Utah-Utes-football-Freshman-safety-looks-ready-for-prime-time.html

http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/08/11/2399185/young-cornerbacks-show-promise.html

http://www.golobos.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/081210aaa.html

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/11/hoke-delivers-message-about-finishing/

UW players suspended, leave team

After a rather uneventful practice Wednesday morning, things really got interesting Wednesday afternoon when Wyoming announced three players will be suspended for the season-opener against Southern Utah and three others are no longer with the team.

Sophomore starting place-kicker Ian Watts, sophomore cornerback Kenny Browder and true freshman running back Nehemie Kankolongo are suspended for the Sept. 4 opener for that all so popular “violation of team rules.”

Sophomore receiver David Tooley and redshirt freshman safety Larry Mitchell left the team for personal reasons. Redshirt freshman receiver Turmour Battle was kicked off the team for the violation of team rules.

Battle and Mitchell never played so it’s hard to miss guys that hadn’t done anything in a game. They also hadn’t challenged to get into the two-deep roster during their brief time.

Tooley showed promise late last season with a TD catch at San Diego State, and a key grab at CSU that set up a touchdown. He tore two ligaments, some cartilage and cracked a bone in his left leg on that catch and even though he was back for fall camp, he looked tentative.

Obviously, you have to wonder why these kids left or were suspended.

Privacy rules involving student-athletes and schools allow speculation to run rampant on these issues. I’m not going to get into that game. But if you are kicked off a team, it was pretty significant. If it was for one game, it was pretty serious, too. You can punish players with extra running or missed practice time. Taking games away, even if just one, is serious stuff.

Is there a discipline problem in coach Dave Christensen’s program?

Well, you can look at it in two ways:

1. Players did something wrong and that is never good, and it’s never good to hear or read about it. It’s easy to remember when someone does something wrong, and when you see it then the impression is there is a problem.

2. Its not like we see this happen every week. But when it does, action is taken. Christensen seems to be holding players more accountable than they have been in the past. That may be the case with team rules, and other things off the field. Remember, these are college-aged kids. Do you remember when you were their age and in college? I’m not condoning breaking rules, but if these players learn from it and seeing their names in these situations don’t become a pattern then chalk it up to a lesson learned.

I hope the suspended players realize that their actions have an effect on the entire team. Will UW need them against Southern Utah? One wouldn’t think so, but what if the game came down to a final kick and UW didn’t have its best guy because of a mistake he made? Watts made three-game winning kicks last season.

On the other hand, players leaving and being suspended gives others an opportunity to show what they can do. And sports in general is all about opportunity.

I wonder who steps up in this instance?

UW to face five top receivers

Wyoming will face five receivers named to the 2010 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, given to the nation’s top receiver:

–Vincent Brown, San Diego State

–Philip Payne, UNLV

–Eric Page, Toledo

–Austin Pettis and Titus Young, Boise State

Here are some interesting stories I found this morning on some of UW’s opponents this season:

http://www.gazette.com/sports/top-102714-air-competition.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700055299/BYU-football-notebook-Cougars-full-of-energy-on-second-day-of-camp.html

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700055321/Utah-Utes-football-notebook-Team-defense-ahead-of-offense-during-Monday-practice.html

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/09/seasoned-lindley-is-key-to-aztec-offense/

http://www.statesman.com/sports/longhorns/acho-will-lead-the-horns-line-wherever-he-850605.html

Sunday news and notes

Here is my story in Sunday’s paper on Wyoming freshman linebacker Oliver Schober. It’s a pretty interesting story on how he got here and the impression he’s made on his teammates and coaches. http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/08/08/sports/19sports_08-08-10.txt

UW has sold about 7,500 season tickets at this point, compared to about 8,300 at this time last year. However, all of the new suites have been sold and a waiting list has been created. Also, 70 percent of the 250 club seats have been sold.

Boise State got a verbal commitment from running back Jay Ajayi from Liberty High in Frisco, Texas. According to an article in Sunday’s Idaho Statesman Ajayi also had scholarships offers from Wyoming, Minnesota, Tulane and New Mexico State.

The 6-foot, 200-pound Ajayi ran for 1,526 yards and 20 TDs last season.

Hope you will follow me on Twitter Monday as I will be at Wyoming’s first practice in full pads. Practice begins at 8:45 a.m. and I will provide updates throughout. You can follow me on Twitter on this blog, or at www.twitter.com/rpgagliardi

Here are some other stories of interest from UW football foes this season:

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/aug/07/can-thicker-aztecs-carry-their-weight-on-the-field/

http://www.coloradoan.com/article/20100808/SPORTS/8080338/Smoke-screen-lifted-by-Brewer-

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/50070906-89/wynn-utah-season-jordan.html.csp

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogs/byusports/50073371-65/really-think-coach-guess.html.csp

http://www.lvrj.com/sports/ucla-could-be-football-feeder-school-for-unlv-100213654.html

http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/08/07/2390653/tcu-defensive-end-daniels-off.html

http://www.statesman.com/sports/longhorns/five-questions-facing-the-longhorns-847629.html

Schober continues to shine

Oliver Schober continues to impress.

The Wyoming true freshman middle linebacker from Munich, Germany, not only could see the field on defense but may be doing the kickoff duties as well.

“One thing I know you didn’t see (last season) was the ball kicked into the end zone. Oliver went out there (Friday) and kicked seven of them six yards deep in the end zone,” coach Dave Christensen told a large group of people at UW’s media day Saturday afternoon.

“We now have have a starting kicker. The best news is, and most teams in America have this, is the guy that kicks off grabs his tee and runs off the field. Oliver leads the charge down field. It will be interesting to see No. 35 that is 240 pounds kick the ball and go down and make the tackle.”

There is a lot more about Schober than his kicking ability. See my story on him in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang. www.wyomingnews.com and www.laramieboomerang.com

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Christensen said he thought Saturday’s thrid practice of fall camp was the best practice at any time since he became the coach back in December 2008. The team practiced in shoulder pads and helmets. The first practice in full pads is Monday morning.

Senior right guard Jack Tennant was out with a calf strain, but Christensen didn’t seem concerned. Tennant is the starter heading into fall camp. I wrote a feature on him following the first day of fall camp. I hope the Gagliardi jinx hasn’t struck already.

Junior John Hutchins practiced at right guard with the No. 1 offense Saturday.

Christensen expects some true freshmen to play this season, but other than Schober right now, he isn’t ready to say who. One who might pla is offensive tackle Justin DiRe, who already is with the No. 2 offense on the right side.

In terms of some of the position battles, senior Keith Lewis remains the starter at one of the outside linebacker spots while redshirt freshman Devyn Harris is No. 2. Junior Alex Stover and sophomore Mike Purcell have taken most of the reps at defensive tackle.

True freshman Nehemie Kankolongo took most of the snaps with the ones at running back over sophomore and last year’s leading rusher Alvester Alexander. However, Alexander did get some snaps with the ones Saturday.

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On a side note, Josh Dees, the son of former UW men’s basketball coach Benny Dees, got married in Laramie Saturday. Dees also was a walk-on for the Cowboys’ men’s basketball team for former coach Steve McClain.

I also got a Twitter message from former UW basketball player Brandon Ewing. He told me he played in Israel last season in a “real good league.” He currently is spending most of his time in Chicago and Atlanta.