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:
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.
Wyoming senior punter Ethan Wood works hard on his craft, and as football continues to evolve, so does the way punters kick the ball.
Wood used an Aussie style punt three times last week against UC Davis to pin the Aggies inside the 20-yard line.
What is Aussie style punting? I’ll let Wood tell you.
“I drop the ball with the nose down a little bit, and hit the nose of the ball with my toe in order to the get the ball to back-spin,” he said. “The hope is to when the ball hits the ground, it bounces straight up or backwards instead of going forward on a normal punt.”
Wood pinned UC Davis at its own 19, 3 and 17-yard lines.
Wyoming sophomore Antonio Hull has started the Cowboys’ first two games at field cornerback. He has a team-high three pass break-ups, and also has six tackles. Hull
played in all 12 games last season as a true freshman, playing cornerback and on special teams. He finished with 33 tackles, and started the final eight games at field cornerback.
Hull’s nickname is “Noodles” and rarely do you hear his coaches or teammates call him by his real name. Hull said the nickname was given to him by his father when he was a kid, and is based off the “Noodles” character from the move “Once Upon a Time in America, a 1984 Italian-American film that had Robert De Niro and James Woods. It chronicles the lives of Jewish ghetto youths who rise to prominence in New York City’s world of organized crime.
“Noodles was a leader of a group, but he was young. My dad liked it and he started calling me that,” Hull said.
My top key for Wyoming Saturday at San Diego State; kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
Good start: Something Wyoming hasn’t done much of this season. During their three-game losing streak the Cowboys have fallen behind 17-0 after the first quarter twice, and allowed 48 points in the first quarter in all three contests. UW needs to play its best game from start to finish to have a chance to win, but another poor start will lead to yet another double-digit loss. By the way, all of the Cowboys’ nine losses this season have been by double digits.