UW spring football notes & quotes entering week No. 3

Wyoming spring football practice has hit about the midway point.

No final decisions on who will play and start in the 2019 opener against Missouri Aug. 31 have been decided, but even though the coaches won’t say as much, they likely have a good idea at some positions.

One concern this spring has been along the offensive line. UW lost junior guard Gavin Rush for the season with a torn ACL. That was a big blow to this group. Junior guard Logan Harris missed some time last week with a back injury, but is back at practice. Redshirt freshman Zach Watts has moved around between guard and tackle. Sophomore Keegan Cryder, who earned Freshman All-America honors last season as a center for the Cowboys, has been getting some reps at tackle. Cryder wasn’t supposed to do much this spring due to off-season knee surgery.

Not sure UW will have a lot of definite answers there coming out of spring, and it better hope junior tackle Alonzo Velasquez (knee) returns healthy for fall camp.

Because of the issues along the offensive line, UW hasn’t been able to double-rep much — if at all — this spring, meaning having two groups of offense vs. defense getting snaps.

“We’re a little bit behind where we normally would have been, but some springs are like this,” sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said.

— Last week I did a story on UW’s two most experienced interior defensive linemen in juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson. When I asked UW defensive tackles coach Pete Kaligis about who else is developing this spring behind Holt and Jackson, he mentioned a kid who may not see the field for the Cowboys, but had glowing things to say about — junior walk-on Justice Borton of Wheatland.

“Justice is so selfless, and that’s why he is a leader. He may not get on the field, and he knows that, but he will do anything for this team. The most important thing to him is we win on Saturdays. The team is more important to him than playing time. I can’t say enough about him. I am blessed to coaches all of these guys, but I love that kid. He is a rock in the locker room, and he’s going to pick people up.”

Borton has never played in a game for UW. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 272 pounds. He has practiced along both the offensive and defensive lines. Hard not to root for a kid like him, but any successful team needs guys like Borton.

— Another story I did last week was on senior wide receiver Austin Conway and his experience as a high school basketball official in Wyoming the last couple of years. Here is a link to that story in case you missed it.

Conway has been one of UW’s most productive and consistent receivers the last three years. This is what he said after I asked him his goals for his final season of playing college football.

“Trying to win a Mountain West championship and as many games as I can to leave a foundation for guys to continue on how coach Bohl wants to run this football team. Since I have been where we almost were MW champs, a bowl winner and not going to a bowl. I’ve seen it all. Stat-wise, I don’t care. I just wnat to win games. I want to come out with another couple of rings on my hand with a MW championship and a bowl win.”

— One last thing: I want to give a huge thank to you to Bohl. After practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays so far he has provided the media with dinner as we do interviews after practice. One night there was pizza, followed by sliders and fried oysters and then some barbecue. Bohl said it was for his appreciation to the media. As a media member for more than 25 years, it is very much appreciated.

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

How UW writers voted on All-MW men’s basketball team

On Monday, the media that covers Mountain West men’s basketball released its All-MW basketball postseason honors. A few years ago, the media voted with the league’s 11 head coaches for the all-conference team, but the league decided to just go with the coaches so the media decided to do their own all-conference voting.

The coaches’ all-conference team will be released Tuesday.

How it works with the media is each “market” is granted one vote. Myself and Davis Potter of the Casper-Star Tribune got together for the Wyoming “market” vote.

Here is a link to the media’s all-conference team, and individual awards.

https://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/mens_basketball/james-earns-first-team-all-mw-honors-by-media/article_c6e8d74a-4422-11e9-a524-0bab07e16a40.html

UW senior guard Justin James was UW’s lone representative on the all-conference lists by the media. He earned first team honors for the second consecutive year. James led the MW during the regular season in scoring (21.8 ppg) and steals (1.52 per game). He also was fourth is assists (4.4 per game) and fifth in rebounding (8.6 per game).

The media’s all-conference break down had a first, second and third team, along with some honorable mentions. All of the “market” ballots were tallied and given point totals.

Below is how myself and Potter voted:

1. Sam Merrill, Utah State
2. Jordan Caroline, Nevada
3. Justin James, Wyoming
4. Caleb Martin, Nevada
5. Nico Carvacho, Colorado State
6. Braxton Huggins, Fresno State
7. Jalen McDaniels, San Diego State
8. Deshon Taylor, Fresno State
9. Lavelle Scottie, Air Force
10. Neemais Queta, Utah State
11. Justinian Jessup, Boise State
12. Cody Martin, Nevada13. Nate Grimes, Fresno State
14. Ryan Swan, Air Force
15. Noah Robotham, UNLV

Player of the Year: Sam Merrill, Utah State
Defensive Player of the Year: Cody Martin, Nevada
Freshman of the Year: Neemais Queta, Utah State
Newcomer of the Year: Braxton Huggins, Fresno State
6th Man of the Year: Jazz Johnson, Nevada
Coach of the Year: Craig Smith, Utah State

Potter and I were on the same page with the rest of the media in terms of who made the first, second and third team. As you can see, we had Nevada senior Cody Martin as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, but Utah State freshman center Neemias Queta garnered more votes.

Potter and I had the same guys for the individual awards as the rest of the media.

Any thoughts, opinions on the media’s all-conference team?

Another new experience for many Cowboys as MW Men’s Basketball Tournament begins

There’s been a lot of firsts for Wyoming men’s basketball this season.

A first-year coach.

First-year players, and others with bigger roles.

Five UW players will go through another first Wednesday when the No. 7 seed Cowboys (18-13) play No. 10 Air Force (11-20) at 2:30 p.m. MT  in a first-round game. They will play in their first-ever MW Tournament game.

Justin James

Two in particular are sophomore guard Justin James and junior forward Hayden Dalton. Both were on the team last year, but were suspended prior to the tournament after being cited by Laramie police for drug use. James and Dalton are UW’s two leading scorers at 15.5 and 12.5 points per game, respectively.

“It hurt knowing I couldn’t be out there helping my team in some way. This year I’m ready to play,” James said.

Needless to say, UW needs both players to have good games Wednesday, but perhaps the biggest area is ball security. James and Dalton lead UW in turnovers. Between both, they average about five turnovers per game, and many of them are careless turnovers that can easily be avoided.

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No UW sports live chat this week

There won’t be a live chat Thursday on University of Wyoming sports, nor will there be much — if any — posts on this blog this week.

I am out of town this entire week, and early next week, for the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) winter conference in Orlando, Florida.

The next scheduled live chat is Thursday, March 2.

UW players put it on themselves to do what coaches tell them

After Wyoming’s 78-73 home loss to Colorado State Tuesday, first-year coach Allen Edwards said at some point his players must get what he and his staff are telling them and go out and do it.

For those of you who missed it, here is Edwards’ complete postgame comments:

To me, there seems to be a communication problem between the coaching staff and the players, which led me to write column which ran Thursday in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2kPmH9h

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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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How I voted in MW men’s basketball preseason poll

Ready or not, basketball season is nearly upon us. Wednesday was Mountain West Men’s Basketball Media Day in Las Vegas. The league released its all-conference team and predicted order of finish.

Selected media members voted on both, and I was asked to vote. Here’s how I voted in the predicted order of finish

    My poll                                           Official poll

  1. San Diego State                   1. San Diego State

    2. Nevada                                  2. Nevada

   3. New Mexico                            3. New Mexico

  4. Utah State                                4. Fresno State

   5. Boise State                              5. Boise State

   6. Fresno State                            6. Utah State

   7. Colorado State                        7. Colorado State

   8. UNLV                                       8. UNLV

   9. San Jose State                        9. Air Force

  10. Wyoming                               10. Wyoming

  11. Air Force                                  11. San Jose State

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Wyoming at Eastern Michigan football primer

Some pre-game reading prior to Wyoming’s game at Eastern Michigan, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday and is televised on CBS Sports Network.

First, my No. 1 key to the game for the Cowboys:

Keeping balance: Wyoming has averaged 216 rushing yards and 210 passing yards through its first three games. That balance has been a key to its success, and has to continue today. UW can’t let Eastern Michigan make it one dimensional.

Yes, no or am I full of it?

— I had this note in Friday’s story in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net, but I found it interesting. The Cowboys play their third Friday night game in as many seasons. However, the last time UW played a nonconference game on a day other than Saturday was on Dec. 23, 2004 when it beat UCLA 24-21 in the Las Vegas Bowl.

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