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.
I had to call into Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl’s weekly news conference Monday because I have to catch a flight to Las Vegas for Mountain West men’s basketball media day activities that start Tuesday and run through Wednesday. Look for more on that as the week goes on.
Here are a few notes and highlights from Bohl’s news conference:
— Junior linebacker Lucas Wacha, senior defensive end Siaosi Hala’api’api and sophomore cornerback Robert Priester — all starters — continue to be evaluated for concussions suffered in the 31-17 loss at Air Force last Saturday. Bohl said Hala’api’api and Priester are further along than Wacha. All three were listed as starters on UW’s depth chart, but that doesn’t mean any of them will play Saturday at home against Nevada.
— UW is getting dangerously thin at linebacker. Along with Wacha in the middle, junior Devin McKenna injured a knee during the team’s walk-through practice Friday. The only guy left there is junior Eric Nzeocha. Junior weak-side linebacker Will Tutein injured an ankle early against Air Force and didn’t return. His status is unknown. The Cowboys may have only five linebackers available for the Nevada game: Nzeocha, junior D.J. May, true freshmen Christian Irving and Luis Bach and sophomore Tim Kamana.
As usual, I start with my No. 1 key for Wyoming in its game Saturday at Appalachian State:
Better start defensively: Wyoming has allowed 101 first-half points, compared to 42 in the second half. It can’t dig itself an early hole on the road today against a good team. The Cowboys must do a better job of adjusting to the speed of the game early, tackle well and not allow the big play. In four games they’ve allowed 12 plays of 30 yards or more, nine of which have resulted in touchdowns. Wyoming also must do a good job of slowing down Appalachian State’s run game. The Mountaineers average 298.7 rushing yards per game. The Cowboys allow 207.2. On paper this isn’t a good match-up.
For more keys and a preview of the game, here’s my video preview:
Some notes and quotes on the game:
— “They definitely have guys that fly around, play with great technique and are
experienced defensively. It would be a misstep for us not to know they can throw the ball pretty well. They run the ball well (298.3 yards per game). The quarterback isn’t as much of a run threat as what we faced last week, but still a threat. We think they have a great offensive line that creates some holes and pose some challenges — not like we need any challenges.” — UW coach Craig Bohl on Appalachian State.
— “Some of the young guys are probably pretty fragile right now thinking this college football sucks, and do I really want to do this for the next four or years. It’s our job as older guys to encourage them and let them know if we keep working success will come.” — UW redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman on the mental state of the team, especially the younger players.
Doing this for the past four Sundays has felt like the movie Groundhog Day — the same thing every week.
Wyoming lost 38-28 at home to New Mexico to fall to 0-4. The Cowboys have lost six straight home games and seven in a row overall going back to last season. And, they lost this game much like it did their last three.
Too many big plays allowed by the defense, and not enough plays overall by this unit. The offense put up some good numbers, at least in the passing game, but it wasn’t consistent enough. Ten penalties for 98 yards didn’t help.
Normally after Wyoming games I like to post some of my thoughts. Well, it’s kind of hard to post any thoughts from the Cowboys’ 41-play scrimmage Saturday since it was closed to the public and media.
So, I will let second-year coach Craig Bohl tell you what he saw:
No official stats were kept, but I can report that redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman was 6 of 9 for 76 yards, and sophomore backup Josh Allen was 5 of 6 for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Allen threw a 20-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman tight end Tyree Mayfield, and a 6-yarder to true freshman tight end Josh Harshman of Casper.
Coffman hit Mayfield for a 23-yard pass that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by true freshman running back Kellen Overstreet, who finished with 10 carries for 46 yards.
Mayfield also blocked a punt, and he said he expects to not only play a lot this season at tight end but also on several of UW’s special teams.
Here’s what offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Vigen said after the scrimmage: “Cam continues to be steady,and also is making plays. He handled himself well. Josh continues to progress. We’re excited to get Cam in a game.”
Vigen also said Coffman remains the starter by a wide margin, followed by Allen and redshirt freshman Nick Smith.