Bach another in long line of German-born players on UW’s football roster

Wyoming has had a football player on its roster from Germany since 2011, and this season, junior linebacker Eric Nzeocha is competing for a starting spot at middle linebacker.

But there’s another German on the roster who also is competing for playing time at linebacker.

Luis Bach is a 6-foot-2, 208-pound true freshman from Burgoberbach, Germany. He enrolled at UW in January, and played high school-aged football in Germany with Eric Nzeocha and his older brother, Mark.

“Ever since the Nzeochas got over here I was interested in the program,” Bach said. “Mark, Eric and (former UW linebacker Alex Borgs — also from Germany) have all been talking to me and helping me out.”

Bach said some colleges in the United States wanted him to attend their football camps last summer to see him in person. He attended camps at UW and North Dakota State. Bach said he showed enough to the Cowboys’ coaching staff, despite pulling a hamstring, that they offered him a chance to walk on.

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UW fall camp – Day 10

Wyoming has an interesting situation forming at linebacker, and not just for this season.

All three of its projected starters — Mark Nzeocha and Devyn Harris on the outside, and Jordan Stanton inside — are seniors. Stanton’s backup, Alex Borgs, third-string outside linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo also are seniors.

There are only four linebackers on the depth chart on scholarship that are not seniors: sophomore Lucas Wacha, juniors Jeff Lark and Malkaam Muhammad and true freshman Alex Bush.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Wacha is the only one of that group that has seen significant and meaningful playing time, and that was last season as redshirt freshman. Right now, Wacha is out with a concussion.

It is safe to assume linebacker will be an emphasis for the 2015 recruiting class. But aside from getting the starters solidified and ready for the season, what about getting those non-senior backups ready not only for this season, but for the future?

“I’m focused right now who our best three guys in our base situation, and then who our best two nickel linebackers,” UW defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Steve Stanard said. “As far as only having five guys coming back next year, (head coach) Craig Bohl focuses more on that stuff. He’s our director of player personnel.”

Steve Stanard

Steve Stanard

Stanard said Lark, Nzeocha’s backup, had a good summer and has had a good fall camp so far. Same with Harris. Stanard said the staff is trying to see if Bush can help the team on special teams.

Here is what Bohl said after Wednesday morning’s practice.


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UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming’s first period of its Saturday morning practice was some 11-on-11 work.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he often does this because it is a good — and difficult — drill for the quarterbacks because there is a lot of “chaos” going on. It allows them to think things through and prepare for what might happen in the early portions of any game. In this case, it is for the season-opener three weeks from today against Montana.

There was a good mix of the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense and twos vs. twos.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

No big surprises with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the ones. UW is still without their two starting right tackles in sophomore Nathan Leddige (left) and senior Connor Rains (right) due to head and concussion issues. Rains was at Saturday morning’s practice in uniform, and Bohl said he didn’t have a concusssion Leddige was not at the practice, and does have a concussion.

Redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman was on the left side and junior Austin Traphagan on the right with the No. 1 offense. With the twos it looked like true freshman Ryan Cummings on the left and redshirt freshman Taylor Knestis on the right.

Added Bohl on the offensive line: “I’d say of all the position groups on the field that is unsettled, that’s it.”

UW practiced in shoulder pads and helmets, so there was no tackling. The No. 1 defense recorded a few sacks. Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha had one.

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

For the second-teamers, sophomore quarterback Tom Thornton thew a nice deep ball to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.

Kirkegaard and Thornton were the only quarterbacks who took snaps during that team period.

Saw a handful of true freshmen get some time with the No. 2 units. On offense, there was Cummings along the line, and tight ends Brinkley Jolley and Grant Lewis. Defensively, there was cornerbacks Robert Priester and Ryon’e Winters, and safety Chavez Pownell Jr.

UW lists three positions on defense with an “or” in terms of the starters. For this team period, senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton, senior outside linebacker Devyn Harris and sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby worked with the first team. However, their backups — senior Alex Borgs, sophomore Lucas Wacha and sophomore Uso Olive — all played a lot. Bohl said among the linebacker, Stanton and Harris are likely to be the starters. He also said Appleby and Olive both will play a lot, along with the starter and backup at defensive tackle. The starter is senior Patrick Mertens. The backup is unknonw, but redshirt junior Troy Boyland appears to be the favorite.

After that team period UW went into some individual drill work, and here are some video highlights from that:


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A look at position battles for UW heading into fall camp

Fall camp begins Monday for Wyoming football, and a lot needs to be figured out prior to the season-opener Aug. 30 against Montana.

But in terms of position battles, things likely will be relatively quiet.

UW’s depth chart prior to fall camp lists three positions that are “or” in terms of the starter. But no matter who the starter is, let’s make one thing clear: both guys at those positions will play — and need to play. All three are on defense, which is dangerously thin in terms od depth to begin with.

With that said, here is a breakdown of those three spots and who will likely end up as the starter.

Middle linebacker

Candidates: Jordan Stanton, Sr., 6-0, 246; Alex Borgs, Sr., 6-2, 229.

Jordan Stanton

Jordan Stanton

Who will start: Stanton, because he led the team in tackles last season — his first at UW after transferring from junior college — with 134. He also was tied for second with 10 tackles for loss and led the team with two interceptions. He simply is productive, which is what you want from your middle linebacker. Borgs has six career tackles in three seasons. However, he has a want-to that many coaches would like to see from all their players. Borgs is from Germany and has had to deal with numerous defensive schemes and changes over his career. If he picks up where he left off from spring drills, he will be a good backup behind Stanton and can give UW some quality snaps. It is vital that Borgs can, even in a backup role, so Stanton is not on the field so much.

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UW depth chart thoughts

After 11 practices and two scrimmages, first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl released the first depth of spring drills Monday morning. This will give the staff a baseline going into fall camp in August, but it also will remain fluid as the Cowboys go through their final week of spring practices.

Here is that initial depth chart:

Defense

Field Cornerbacks

20 Blair Burns (5-10, 186, Sr., Plano, Texas)

14 Tyran Finley (5-9, 177, RJr., Birmingham, Ala.)

24 Zaquoya Parham (5-10, 181, Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.)

Free Safeties

13 Darrenn White (6-0, 192, Sr., Kansas City, Mo.)

16 Cortland Fort (6-0, 185, So., Fontana, Calif.)

18 Xavier Lewis (6-0, 190, So., Aurora, Colo.)

Strong Safeties

5 Jesse Sampson (6-0, 196, Sr., Canoga Park, Calif.)

23 Tim Kamana (5-11, 190, RFr., Honolulu, Hawai’i)

32 Jake Schiffner (5-10, 181, Sr., Calgary, Alberta)

48 Waddie Love (6-1, 185, Fr., Encampment, Wyo.)

Boundary Cornerbacks

4 DeAndre Jones (6-0, 186, Sr., Killeen, Texas)

29 Tim Hayes (5-9, 185, So., Los Angeles, Calif.)

37 Luke Kellum (5-10, 184, So., Lecompton, Kan.)

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Bohl impressed with veteran defensive ends

One of the first things first-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said that stood out about Saturday’s first spring practice in full pads (third overall) was the play of two veteran defensive ends — senior Sonny Puletasi and junior Eddie Yarbrough.

“That was real encouraging,” said Bohl on both players so far this spring. “We have some seasoned and veteran guys there, and it is important for them to get acclimated to the 4-3. Their leadership on the field has been good. We are young inside, but I’ve seen our ends pop up.”

Yarbrough led all of UW’s defensvie linemen last season with 89 tackles. He also had team-highs with 12 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks as he earned First Team All-Mountain West honors.

Puletasi, who switched his jersey number from 12 to 50 this season, had 47 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. Puletasi has started in 21 games.

Here are some highlights from the defense from Saturday’s practice:

Bohl said no one has stood out among the five quarterbacks this spring. “We have a lot of work to do there,” Bohl added. We’re putting in a lot of offense. I think the guys are paying attention to detail, but it’s not easy.”

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UW defensive, special teams depth chart for Nebraska

Friday I wrote what I thought Wyoming’s offensive depth chart for the Aug. 31 season-opener at Nebraska would look like.

Today I offer you what I think the depth chart will look like on defense and special teams. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.

DEFENSE

Nose tackle

Patrick Mertens, Sr., 6-5, 295

Uso Olive, RFr., 6-1, 293

Chase Appleby, RFr., 6-0, 289

Defensive tackle

Justin Bernthaler, Sr., 6-2, 260

Troy Boyland, Jr., 6-2, 302

Defensive end

Eddie Yarbrough, So., 6-3, 257

J.J. Quinlan, Sr., 6-1, 248

Buck

Sonny Puletasi, Jr., 6-3, 251

Saiosi Hala’api’api, So., 6-2, 248

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UW fall football camp: Practice 15

There was a significant absence during Wyoming Monday morning practice: junior starting quarterback Brett Smith.

“He was driving in this morning and had to pull over and throw up,” said coach Dave Christensen, who added that Smith had flu-like symptoms. “We sent him to see a doctor. If it is contagious we don’t want him to give it to the rest of the team.

“I talked to him at 10:30 last night. He called me and woke me up at home to tell me how excited he was. He was’t sick then.”

Sophomore backup Jason Thompson took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. His first pass during an 11-on-11 drill was intercepted by junior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha. Later during a 7-on-7 drill, Thompson was intercepted by true freshman free safety Xavier Lewis in a ball that was tipped by a receiver on a high throw from Thompson.

“It was just another day to come out and get better,” Thompson said. “There was nothing different scheme-wise, but just getting on the same page with the rest of the guys. It was kind of tough playing with a different group ,but it got better near the end.”

For more on Thompson, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net

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UW depth chart prediction

Monday afternoon Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen will speak to the media leading into Saturday’s season-opener against Weber State.

Christensen will release the depth chart for the first game. Some positions (quarterback) we know who will start. In fact, I don’t think there should be many surprises. But why wait until Monday afternoon? Here is how I think the depth chart will look. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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