Wyoming begins Mountain West play Saturday night versus Hawaii. The game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. MT (could be closer to 8:30 p.m.) at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The game is televised nationally on ESPN2.
Television dictated the game time, not UW. And, the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 40s at kickoff with a good chance of rain. And, don’t be surprised if there’s a little snow mixed in with that. If you go, be sure to dress warm.
Here’s my No. 1 key for UW in the game:
Get the running game going: Pretty self-explanatory. Wyoming has to do a better job running the football than a Mountain West-worst 80.3 yards per game. The Cowboys also must run the ball better early in the game and not make its offense so one-dimensional. The weather is expected to be cold and wet, which puts an even bigger emphasis on ball security. But whether it is early or late in the game, running the ball is a must.
For the second consecutive day, the Cowboys practiced in War Memorial Stadium Thursday with cool temperatures and light rain, although the sun came out as practiced progressed. The last few days in Laramie felt more like being in Seattle than at 7,220 feet with all the rain and cool weather.
UW worked out in full pads.
One of the early periods of practice was a pass-under-pressure session. Junior quarterback Josh Allen and the No. 1 offense performed well. Allen threw some nice passes to sophomore wide receivers Austin Conway and C.J. Johnson.
Here is fourth-year coach Craig Bohl after practice:
Wyoming’s second practice of fall camp was Tuesday morning at the north 40 practice fields, and it lasted about 2 1/2 hours. For the second straight day, the Cowboys were in helmets and shorts. They put on the shoulder pads for the first time Wednesday.
Here is some footage of the defensive backs doing some drill work during the early portions of practice.
Players reported Sunday, and the first practice of fall camp for the Wyoming football team is Monday morning. There is no media access to Monday’s practice because UW will have its media day for football at noon Monday.
But during the MW Media Summit in Las Vegas I talked to fourth-year coach Craig Bohl and junior safety Andrew Wingard about a few things about the team heading into camp.
This is what Bohl said about the position battles he expects to see in camp: “At running back, we made progress during the spring, and I would like to and see someone come to forefront there. At tight end, we have a lot of players, but they are guys who have not played a lot. I also see a pretty intense battle at cornerback. We have some experienced players, but a young guy like (sophomore) Tyler Hall really came on during the spring.”
Sophomore Milo Hall came out of spring as the starter at running back, but junior Nico Evans and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet aren’t that far behind. Two Wyoming
products are atop the depth chart at tight end in junior Josh Harshman of Casper and junior Austin Fort of Gillette. Junior Tyree Mayfield may be the most talented tight end UW has, but he is listed third on the depth chart entering fall camp. Hall earned one of the two starting jobs at cornerback after spring drills, but junior Antonio Hull and seniors Robert Priester and Rico Gafford have played a lot of football for the Cowboys.
“The only position we don’t figure to be a lot of competition (in terms of being the starter) is at quarterback,” said Bohl with a smile when talking about junior quarterback Josh Allen, the preseason MW Offensive Player of the Year voted on by the media.
To me there were not a lot of big surprised, but a couple of small ones.
At running back, I was both a little surprised and happy to see sophomore Milo Hall as the starter — not that I have anything against the other two guys: junior Nico Evans and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet. But based on what the coaches said throughout spring, all three backs will play this season and the competition will continue into fall camp. That’s not saying Hall’s No. 1 spot is a fluke. But as I’ve written before, I think this will be a running back by committee type year for UW, and the guy who is playing the best will get the majority of the carries.
It’s the same deal at tight end. Juniors Josh Harshman of Casper or Austin Fort of Gillette — according to the depth chart — would start if there was a game played right now. Junior Tyree Mayfield is third. UW played three tight ends last season, even though senior Jacob Hollister was by far the go-to guy in the pass game. Harshman, Fort and Mayfield all will play, and likely will play a lot this season. Although, I will say it’s nice to see two Wyoming kids doing well at that position.
Wyoming football is in the homestretch of spring football with nine of its 15 practices in the books.
The Cowboys’ scrimmage in Casper this past Saturday provided some glimpses of what could be this season, although its difficult to get a great gauge of what to expect this season when a team goes against each other.
Still, it appears that junior quarterback Josh Allen is making good progress in building chemistry with the weapons around him. Allen was relatively sharp in Casper, going 11 of 19 for 133 yards with a pair of touchdown passes to junior wide receiver James Price. However, sophomore wide receivers C.J. Johnson and Austin Conway also looked good.
Here is Allen after the scrimmage:
Earlier this spring, fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl was concerned about the way the tight ends were catching the ball. But in Casper, juniors Josh Harshman, Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield all showed good skills catching the ball.
As far as the running backs go, I still contend that UW will have more of a three-back attack this fall. Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet (11 carries 49 yards in the scrimmage) showed some nice speed and power, as did junior Nico Evans (10 carries, 30 yards). Don’t be surprised if sophomore Milo Hall becomes a third-down weapon out of the backfield, both carrying the ball and catching it.
It will be nice once the illness bug that has run through this team finally ends. UW was without its starting center in Casper — sophomore Gavin Rush — due to illness. Backup Boyd Draeger also was out with a concussion. Rush needs as many reps as possible the rest of spring. But I thought junior Cole Turner more than held his own at center in the scrimmage so perhaps some depth is being established there.
UW’s defense had its moments in the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan stood out to Bohl. Junior nose tackle Sidney Malauulu looked good — going mostly against backup — as well with a sack and a fumble recovery.
Casper’s Logan Wilson played only 21 snaps in 70-play scrimmage at middle linebacker, but that was by design to get other younger players some looks. Wilson and sophomore Cassh Malauia should be a solid duo, and it appears senior Jalen Ortiz is establishing himself well at the other outside linebacker spot.
The dismissal of three players, and suspensions of five others earlier this week for a violation of team rules was unfortunate, but it also creates opportunities for others. One player who may benefit the most is sophomore cornerback Tyler Hall. Hall is one of four UW corners who have been getting a lot of reps with the No. 1 defense all spring, but with junior Antonio Hull suspended, don’t be surprised if Hall is the starter coming out of spring along with senior Rico Gafford. Hall isn’t all that big at 5-10, 184 pounds, but he’s tough and has shown good effort most of the spring.
Here is Bohl after the scrimmage:
The Cowboys return to practice Tuesday for their 10th spring practice. They will also practice on Thursday and Saturday. The spring game is set for 2 p.m. April 22.
If you have any questions or comments about the Cowboys, I’d love to hear them. You can post comments on this blog, or shoot me a question via Twitter: @rpgagliardi.
Also, be sure to check out the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net for more UW spring football coverage.
Too bad the month of October has to end, because the Wyoming football team has been on a roll.
The Cowboys won their fourth straight game — all in October — with their 30-28 home win over No. 13 Boise State, which fell to No. 24 in the AP poll that was released Sunday.
A lot of late-game dramatics Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. Here are some of the highlights, which include UW’s game-tying two-point conversion (I just got off the press box elevator when the touchdown was scored), along with the famous safety by senior nose tackle Chase Appleby.
Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin spent about 10 minutes talking with media members that cover Wyoming football Tuesday. Boise State doesn’t allow media that
covers opposing teams to talk to its players, so this was our only access to anything Boise State related this week.
Here are a few things that Harsin said Monday.
On Wyoming: “They’re bigger, strong and running the football, which is what (UW coach Craig Bohl) wants to do. They’re stopping the run by playing aggressive on the defensive side. They’re trying to make you put the ball in the air. I think turnover-wise they’re plus-4, and turnovers win games. I think they’re playing very sound, winning football and they’re doing it consistently.”
On Wyoming’s defense, which is third in the Mountain West in rushing defense (139.4 ypg) but last in passing defense (299.4 ypg): “You have to pick your poison sometimes, and that’s stopping the run game for Wyoming, which puts a challenge on you to throw it good enough. Wyoming’s also pressuring you, too. It’s not like they sitting back and letting you throw the ball. They’re smart with what they do.”
The bye week is over, and it’s back to game preparations for Wyoming as it plays at Nevada Saturday night.
UW got some extra work in last week against Nevada during its bye week. Third-year coach Craig Bohl said last Thursday’s practice wasn’t good, but liked how his team came back on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen said that practice was one of the best the team’s had all season.
Here is UW’s depth chart heading into the Nevada game:
A big game, big crowd and a big win for Wyoming in its 35-26 home victory over Air Force in front of an announced crowd of 26,623 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Cowboys (4-2 overall, 2-0 Mountain West) had to hang on after it led 28-6 late in the third quarter. But it made some key plays at the end — offensively and defensively. Here are some of those plays and highlights: