Safety shuffle for Cowboys may be slowing down

Three games and three different combinations at the two safety spots for the Wyoming football team.

But when UW (0-3) hosts New Mexico (1-2) in the Mountain West opener for both teams Saturday, it expects to keep the same two starters who played most of the game in last Saturday’s 31-14 loss at Washington State.

Andrew Wingard

Andrew Wingard

True freshman Andrew Wingard is slated to start at free safety, and redshirt freshman walk-on Marcus Epps at strong safety. Wingard made his first-career start Sept. 12 against Eastern Michigan, and he led the Cowboys in tackles at Washington state with 12. Wingard has 24 tackles in the last two games. Wingard played mostly on special teams in UW’s opener against North Dakota on Sept. 5.

Epps started at free safety against North Dakota, and had 11 tackles. He suffered a concussion in that game and missed the Eastern Michigan contest. Epps produced the Cowboys’ first turnover of the season with an interception in the third quarter. Epps also had five tackles and broke up one pass.

The Cowboys had three different starters at strong safety in their first three games. Redshirt freshman Chavez Pownell Jr. started the opener, followed by redshirt freshman walk-on Adam Pilapil against Eastern Michigan.

Marcus Epps

Marcus Epps

UW safeties coach and pass game coordinator Curt Mallory said all four safeties have played both positions during fall camp, and Epps, Pilapil and Pownell did the same during spring drills. Despite the youth, Mallory likes this group and the way it approaches the game.

“All four guys have been competing, and is a fun group to coach because they’re unselfish and want to help one another,” Mallory said. “It’s shown on the field. On the sideline at Washington State Chavez and Adam, even though they weren’t playing, were right in the ears of Marcus and Andrew. That’s maturity, and I’m pleased with that. Marcus and Andrew made some strides for having their second start. I’m encouraged with that.”

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Cowboys get after it during early portions of Tuesday’s practice

Wyoming practiced in full pads late Tuesday afternoon in Laramie, and there was a lot of work on tackling.

Not drill work on tackling — actual tackling.

The media is allowed to see only the first 30 minutes of each practice, but as coach Craig Bohl and his staff enter their second season, that’s the most I’ve seen UW do in terms of live tackling (aside from scrimmages).

Not sure what that means for Saturday’s home game with Eastern Michigan, but I found it interesting.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of other good news regarding the Cowboys Tuesday.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman missed practice for the second consecutive day with a strained MCL ligament in his right knee, suffered late in last Saturday’s 24-13 loss to North Dakota. Coffman watched from the sideline, but wasn’t wearing a knee brace or wrap. He had a noticeable limp and had a wrap around the knee Monday.

“We’re in hopes he gets better later on in the week,” Bohl said. “It’s not a major (injury), which gives us hope, but also it takes some time to get back.”

Sophomore backup quarterback Josh Allen took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt freshman Nick Smith took snaps with the twos.

When asked if Coffman doesn’t practice this week but is cleared to play Saturday, Bohl said: “It’s helpful to have practice. I’m not saying that will be the final decision. Some of it will be contingent on his mobility and how he’s moving along. We will never put a player out there that’s not going to help the team win, or put himself in jeopardy.”

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Media Monday: Notes and quotes from UW football interviews

Today is Labor Day, but there was no holiday for the Wyoming football team — or the media that covers it.

UW coach Craig Bohl spoke to the media for at little over 15 minutes, and about 90 percent of that was about last week’s 24-13 season-opening loss to North Dakota in Laramie. Bohl had some pretty strong words, too. Here’s the entire news conference with him.


One thing I found interesting from Bohl was on the penalties on UW last week — eight for 96 yards. Not just the number and yardage, but how what may have led to them and what Bohl plans to do next year in fall camp to hopefully reduce them.

“During fall camp, the number of times we had officials at our practices was very limited,” Bohl said. “That’s going to be a point of emphasis next year. We’re going to get more officials around our players.”

Bohl said that should prevent holding and face-mask penalties, which there were a lot of during the North Dakota game. Bohl also said the limited of number of times UW had full-contact during camp could have played a factor in the high number of penalties last week. However, Bohl made a point that during a 40-play scrimmage in fall camp UW lost two players to season-ending ACL injuries.

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Saturday’s scrimmage another step forward for Coffman

It’s not a real game, but it’s the next closest thing for Wyoming as it hosts its first and only major scrimmage of fall camp at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Major may not be a good work as coach Craig Bohl said it will consist of around 42 plays. “That’s an indication that we’ve had a pretty aggressive camp,” he said. “We will get some work to some of the guys we think need work. We will hold some guys out. I’ve looked at the number of guys we need to take a look at, and I also want to make sure we go into our first game healthy.”

The scrimmage is closed to the public and media, but here’s what Bohl said after Friday morning’s practice about it, and a few other things.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman feels like the scrimmage is important for him. Coffman has not played in a real game since 2013. The last time in a scrimmage-situation was in April in UW’s spring game.

“It’s as close of a look at a real game before our first one,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to go out, compete and act like it’s a real game.

“It’s definitely a whole lot easier going through this offense for the second time. I feel more comfortable with everybody. I know the plays, the playbook and the reads. I’ve gotten better at it, but need to continue to get better.”

As for what he wants to accomplish in Saturday’s scrimmage, Coffman added: “Compete and do well as an offense. Move the ball down the field, get first downs and get in the end zone.”

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UW football fall camp notes – Day 11

Wyoming completed its 14th practice of fall camp Thursday morning in full pads, and coach Craig Bohl said there were no new injuries.

“We’re introducing some new schemes against different opponents,” he said. “As far as that goes, sometimes that slows some things down, but I thought we’re making progress, probably not as fast as what I’d like today, but progress.”
Adam Pilapil

Adam Pilapil

Bohl talked about the safeties, and said: “I think (redshirt freshman walk-on) Adam Pilapil has probably done the best job. (True freshman) Andrew Wingard continues to improve. (Redshirt freshman walk-on) Marcus Epps has done some good things. We’re gonna probably wait until after (Saturday’s) scrimmage to make a final decision on whose gonna be playing with the starters.”

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Pownell Jr. looking to make impact for Cowboys this season

Chavez Pownell Jr. came close to playing last season at safety for Wyoming.

But in the end, coach Craig Bohl and the staff decided to keep the redshirt on Pownell to get him ready for the 2015 season.

Chavez Pownell Jr.

Chavez Pownell Jr.

“It all worked out in the end. Whatever coach Bohl said I know it’s for the best,” Pownell said.

Pownell is the only safety on scholarship on the roster right now for the Cowboys. After last Saturday’s first spring scrimmage, he was listed as the starter at strong safety — ahead of redshirt freshman walk-on Marcus Epps.

Pownell had six tackles in that first scrimmage — the second-most among all defensive players. His four solo stops tied for the second-most.

“It makes me feel good, but you never know what can happen,” Pownell said. “Me, (redshirt freshman walk-on Adam Pilapil) and Marcus are all about at the same skill level. We have to make sure we’re grinding every day.”

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A look at the first depth chart of spring for Wyoming football

Wyoming released its first depth chart of spring drills Monday. Here is the link to the depth chart:

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/wyo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2014-15/depth_chart_non_event/4-13-15_depth_chart.pdf

Will this what it will look like in less than two weeks when spring drills end, or when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 5 against North Dakota?

Some positions, yes. Others, no.

Here is a fairly quick and short breakdown of what I think of this first depth chart:

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Locks: Senior Cameron Coffman at quarterback, senior Shaun Wick and Brian Hill at running back, juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt at wide receiver, junior Jacob Hollister at tight end, sophomore Drew Van Maanen at fullback, junior Chase Roullier at left guard, seniors Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api at defensive end, junior Uso Olive at defensive tackle, junior Lucas Wacha at one of the three linebacker spots (which one is still uncertain) and junior Ethan Wood at punter. I don’t see much movement at any of these spots barring injury.

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What to take from Wyoming’s first scrimmage of spring drills

Normally after Wyoming football or basketball games I will post my three takes or other observations.

Since the Cowboys’ first scrimmage of spring drills was closed to the public and media Saturday, it’s hard to do that, but I can offer you some stats, quotes and a couple of opinions based off those items.

First, here’s coach Craig Bohl after the scrimmage:

The offense ran for 226 yards — averaged 4.6 yards per carry — and the passing game was 13 of 38 for 136 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Bohl said he liked how sophomore running back Brian Hill ran the ball, but he had only five carries for 15 yards. Sophomore Josh Tapscott and redshirt freshman Nico Evans led the Cowboys with 65 and 51 yards, respectively. I would think UW has a good idea of what Hill and senior Shaun Wick can do at running back (Wick had 40 yards on seven carries and lost a fumble).

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Notes from UW spring practice No. 6

It didn’t appear that Wyoming’s sixth practice of spring drills was a walk in the park, even though the Cowboys have their first scrimmage of the spring at 11 a.m. Saturday.

UW practiced Friday in full pads, and went for a little more than two hours.

Seth Edeen

Seth Edeen

It was good to see sophomore defensive end and Cheyenne Central graduate Seth Edeen at practice. He was just watching, but he was there. On Monday, he took a hit to his side and after practice had some blood in his urine. A couple of tests later it was discovered Edeen was born without his right kidney, and also has a cyst on top of his pancreas.

Edeen is out for the rest of spring, and will have more medical procedures done in the coming weeks. For more on Edeen, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

UW had a walk-through at the beginning of practice with its run game. Senior Cameron Coffman took most of the reps, but the other four quarterbacks participated in the walk-through.

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