UW-BYU post-game thoughts

That was one of the more bizarre football games I’ve ever seen.

UW had minus-18 yards on 17 plays at halftime. Three of its first four plays went for negative yards.

Why BYU threw the ball was beyond me. The Cougars rolled up 217 yards rushing with two players getting more than 80 and a third with 59 yards.

Nice to see senior linebacker Keith Lewis get a pick-six. That 55-yard return in the second quarter was the play of the game for the Cowboys. If he doesn’t do that, BYU blows this game open.

And then UW’s offense comes alive in the second half. See my column Sunday in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on that. BYU may not have rushed a lot of guys, but maybe we saw a spark of what the offense can do.

But this still was a loss and the frustration among the team is mounting. Sophomore safety Shamiel Gary looked like he wanted to vent or go off on his frustration, but he didn’t. Sophomore quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels didn’t like the rotation between him and senior backup Dax Crum that went early into the third quarter. But it was just that, a rotation, as UW tried to find any spark.

After seeing a replay, it also looked like senior receiver David Leonard was interfered on a third-down play on UW’s final offensive possession. No flag was called. And, have you ever been to a game where the officials throw a flag for a chop block, then go back and talk abou it and say no chop block? Can’t say I’ve seen that.

No official word on injuries until Monday, but Gary left the game in the first half but returned. Sophomore Ghaali Muhammad was hurt on kickoff return and didn’t come back. Junior offensive lineman John Hutchins and sophomore defensive tackle Ben Durbin also were seen on UW’s sidelines with injuries.

Probably my last time here at BYU for football for a long time. Can’t say I will lose sleep if I don’t come back, but if this was the last game I see here it was memorable.

And bizarre.

Ogbonna out vs. BYU

Wyoming junior receiver Mazi Ogbonna will miss Saturday’s game at BYU due to injury.

UW released its latest injury report at around 3 p.m., and Ogbonna was the only additional player on the list. True freshman defensive lineman Tyler Strong was on the list Monday and also missed last week’s game against No. 9 Utah.

UW does not list specific injuries, nor does coach Dave Christensen talk about specific injuries to players.

Ogbonna has played in all seven games this season after transferring from Snow College in Utah. He started the first three games. He’s caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, and is the fourth-leading rusher on the team with five carries for 22 yards.

I wasn’t too surprised Ogbonna didn’t make the trip. He participated in some drills but was limited. However, it doesn’t appear the injury is season-ending.

Expect senior Travis Burkhalter and juniors Jonathan Aiken and DeJay Lester to see more playing time at receiver against BYU. And, true freshman running back/receiver Robert Herron is back this week after missing the Utah game due to injury.

Join me for the live blog for the UW-BYU game starting at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday. Here is the link http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/10/20/wyoming-vs-byu-live-blog-saturday-at-1130am/

UW-BYU top five games

Like I did last week with Utah, Saturday likely will be the last time Wyoming and Brigham Young play football for a while. BYU leaves the Mountain West next season to be an independent.

So, I picked my top five UW-BYU games. Would love to hear what you think or if you have any other thoughts.

1. 1988, UW 24, BYU 14: The first-ever night game at War Memorial Stadium, the season-opener for both teams and a game televised nationally by ESPN. The Cowboys opened defense of their Western Athletic Conference championship with a win that was more convincing than the final score indicated. The defense held BYU to 29 yards rushing. It also made a young quarterback named Ty Detmer miserable. Detmer was 9 of 26 with four interceptions.

2. 1987, UW 29, BYU 27: This was the last time the Cowboys won at BYU. UW trailed 14-0 at halftime but outscored BYU 22-0 in the third quarter. Quarterback Craig Burnett threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns. The game-winner was for 30 yards to Anthony Sargent early in the fourth quarter.

3. 1999, UW 31, BYU 17: BYU was No. 15 in the nation at the time, but the Cowboys held the Cougars to 29 yards rushing in another night game at War Memorial Stadium. This may have been the best win in the Dana Dimel era at UW, and arguably the best game for quarterback Jay Stoner, who was 20 of 30 for 302 yards and three touchdowns. Wendell Montgomery caught seven passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

4. 1981: UW 33, BYU 20: In a snowstorm in Laramie, it was “the other quarterback” that stole the show. Phil Davis ran 16 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns in UW’s option offense, and threw for 124 yards and a touchdown as the Cowboys rallied from a 14-0 first-quarter deficit. Why was Davis considered “the other quarterback?” BYU’s quarterback was Jim McMahon.

5. 2003: UW 13, BYU 10: The last time UW beat BYU. The hero was linebacker Tyler Gottschalk, who returned an interception by freshman John Beck 60 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter too give the Cowboys a 13-0 lead. UW held on, despite only 225 yards of total offense.

Join me for the live blog of Saturday’s UW-BYU game. It will begin at around 11:30 a.m. Here is the link http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/10/20/wyoming-vs-byu-live-blog-saturday-at-1130am/

UW to face freshman QB

It’s not often college teams face a true freshman quarterback.

Wyoming is used to it on the other end as Austyn Carta-Samuels started the Cowboys’ final 10 games last season.

But Saturday the Cowboys face Brigham Young true freshman Jake Heaps. It’s the first time this season the Cowboys have gone up against at true freshman quarterback. The last time it faced one was last season when Utah’s Jordan Wynn came in the second half and rallied the Utes to a 22-10 win.

“For me, you don’t really pay too much attention to it,” UW junior defensive end Josh Biezuns said.

This will be Heaps’ fourth start. He took over for junior Riley Nelson, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at Florida State on Sept. 18. Heaps has thrown one touchdown and six interceptons.

But that’s not what UW is seeing on film.

“From what I’ve seen so far he’s very talented,” senior free safety Chris Prosinski said. “I don’t think there’s a throw he can’t make. He doesn’t have the experience, but he’s not a guy we can take lightly.”

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I posted something earlier this week on a UW tie to Heaps. True freshman offensive lineman Daniel Fleischman is from the same town as Heaps, Issaquah, Wash. But both played at different high schools.

Here’s what Heaps had to say about Fleischman, who also played defensive line in high school.

“He played tackle for our rival high school and he probably would like to forget about all the times he played us,” he said jokingly. “I definitely remember him. He’s a big guy, (6-6, 290) very raw but he had a lot of talent and potential that you could see. I know those Wyoming coaches are going to do a great job getting him developed. I think he’s going to be a really good offensive lineman down the road.”

Join me at 3 p.m. today for my live chat on UW sports. Here is the link http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/10/19/weekly-u-of-w-live-chat-thursday-3pm/

Like I did last week with Utah where I picked my top five games between UW and the Utes since Utah is leaving the MWC, I am doing the same with BYU this week. The list will come out Friday, but I am always open for suggestions and your thoughts on some of the more memorable games between the two teams. I would bet we have similar ideas.

UW adds safety from Germany

Mark Nzeocha, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound safety from Neusitz, Germany, verbally committed to Wyoming this week.

Nzeocha visited Laramie last weekend. He runs a 4.48-second 40-yard dash and has a 4.15-second time in the 20-yard shuttle.

Nzeocha is 20 and plays for the Franken Knights football club. He is scheduled to enroll at UW in January. If he does he will have four years of eligibility.

Nzeocha is friends with current UW junior linebacker Oliver Schober, who is from Munich, Germany. They didn’t play on the same club team. Schober played for Feodor-Lynen.

UW now has six verbal commitments for its 2011 recruiting class. The others are:

–Malkaam Muhammad, LB, 6-0, 210, Central HS, St. Joseph, Mo.

–London Muse, WR, 5-11, 170, Dulles HS, Sugar Land, Texas

–Trey Norman, ATH, 6-1, 170, Liberty-Eylau HS, Texarkana, Texas

–Chad Reese, DB, 5-11, 174, Lee HS, Tyler, Texas

–Cole Stoudt, QB, 6-4, 195, Coffman HS, Dublin, Ohio

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Nice to see true freshman running back Robert Herron at practice this week. After a solid game at TCU two weeks ago, Herron missed last week’s game with Utah with an injury.

Herron looked good in Wednesday’s practice with a couple of nice runs and catches.

“He adds a speed element we’ve lacked some offensively. He’s a 100 percent ready to go and we’ll try to get him involved in the game plan” coach Dave Christensen said.

Some fans have asked me about junior receiver Jonathan Aiken, and why after a solid fall camp why he hasn’t done much this season.

“He’s out of the dog house now so he’s getting more and more work,” Christensen said. “The think around here is you have to do things right, and if you don’t you’re not going to play. He’s doing a better job of doing all the right things off the field, as well as making some play at practice and executing on the field.”

Aiken has two catches for nine yards in three games this season.

Friday afternoon is when Christensen updates the media on players that will miss the BYU game. So far, the only one out is true freshman defensive lineman Tyler Strong. I will be surprised if there are many more added to the list.

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UW held its men’s and women’s basketball media day Wednesday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium.

It was a typical media day where players and coaches were probably asked the same questions a million times.

Nice to put some faces with some names.

Some early thoughts on both teams:

–Don’t expect junior forward Afam Muojeke to play a ton or be back to his old self for quite some time. There have been no setbacks from his knee injury back in January. But it takes time to recover from when your patellar tendon detaches. I did the same thing to my knee a few years a go and I am floored at the progress Muojeke has made. Still, UW will be slow and cautious with his recovery.

–Had a good talk with junior point guard JayDee Luster on what he learned from his first season in 2009-10. Luster was pretty honest with me, and if he can work on some of those things I think he will be a much better player. More on that later.

–The Cowgirls have four solid seniors in Hillary Carlson, Aubrey Vandiver, Jade Kennedy and Randi Richardson — all expected to start. Who that fifth starter is, a who comes off the bench are huge questions going in. A lot will depend on the back of junior guard Kristen Scheffler. But even if she is OK, others need to emerge.

See Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on UW footballl and men’s and women’s hoops. Also join me at 3 p.m. Thursday for our weekly chat on UW sports. http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/10/19/weekly-u-of-w-live-chat-thursday-3pm/

BYU’s big O-line concerns UW

Despite Brigham Young’s struggles this season with a 2-5 record, Wyoming, also 2-5, knows there is one thing it can expect from the Cougars when the two teams play Saturday in Provo.

A big offensive line.

BYU will average 314 pounds among its five starters, while UW’s four-man front will average 259.5 pounds. All of BYU’s starting offensive linemen are 6-foot-4 or taller, with three at 6-6. UW has one guy at 6-5, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Patrick Mertens. The rest are 6-2 or 6-3.

“They’re very big, the biggest offensive line we’ll see all year by far and probably the biggest offensive line we’ll see year in and year out,” said UW junior defensive end Josh Biezuns, who is listed at 6-2, 249 pounds.

“They latch on well, they drive their feet well. The biggest thing up front for us is getting into them and throwing off blocks. If we can’t do that we’re not good up front.”

UW has struggled in that area recently against BYU. In its last four losses to the Cougars, which was by a combined score of 206-17, UW has had three quarterback sacks and 11 tackles for loss.

In last season’s 52-0 home loss to BYU, Biezuns had one tackle for loss and teamed with defensive lineman Mitch Unrein for a sack.

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UW senior free safety Chris Prosinski has made his share of big hits over his career, but arguably his best this season came in last week’s 30-6 home loss to No. 9 Utah when he drilled Utah senior tight end Brad Clifford to break up a pass.

Prosinski leveled Clifford with his shoulder and even though Clifford got up and walked off the field under his own power, you could tell the hit shook him up for a bit.

“I think so,” said Prosinski when asked his that was his best hit of the season.

“On a bigger body like that (Clifford is 6-4, 245 pounds, Prosinski is 6-1, 210) you don’t know how that’s going to go. Fortunately I got a good hit and broke up the pass. That’s something we need more of in the coming weeks; bigger hits and taking it to our opponents.”

For more on Prosinski, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com. Also see both papers for some news and notes from around the Mountain West Conference.

Join me at 3 p.m. Thursday for our weekly live chat on UW football and UW sports. Here is the link http://wyomingcowboysblog.com/2010/10/19/weekly-u-of-w-live-chat-thursday-3pm/