UW spring football notes & quotes entering week No. 3

Wyoming spring football practice has hit about the midway point.

No final decisions on who will play and start in the 2019 opener against Missouri Aug. 31 have been decided, but even though the coaches won’t say as much, they likely have a good idea at some positions.

One concern this spring has been along the offensive line. UW lost junior guard Gavin Rush for the season with a torn ACL. That was a big blow to this group. Junior guard Logan Harris missed some time last week with a back injury, but is back at practice. Redshirt freshman Zach Watts has moved around between guard and tackle. Sophomore Keegan Cryder, who earned Freshman All-America honors last season as a center for the Cowboys, has been getting some reps at tackle. Cryder wasn’t supposed to do much this spring due to off-season knee surgery.

Not sure UW will have a lot of definite answers there coming out of spring, and it better hope junior tackle Alonzo Velasquez (knee) returns healthy for fall camp.

Because of the issues along the offensive line, UW hasn’t been able to double-rep much — if at all — this spring, meaning having two groups of offense vs. defense getting snaps.

“We’re a little bit behind where we normally would have been, but some springs are like this,” sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said.

— Last week I did a story on UW’s two most experienced interior defensive linemen in juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson. When I asked UW defensive tackles coach Pete Kaligis about who else is developing this spring behind Holt and Jackson, he mentioned a kid who may not see the field for the Cowboys, but had glowing things to say about — junior walk-on Justice Borton of Wheatland.

“Justice is so selfless, and that’s why he is a leader. He may not get on the field, and he knows that, but he will do anything for this team. The most important thing to him is we win on Saturdays. The team is more important to him than playing time. I can’t say enough about him. I am blessed to coaches all of these guys, but I love that kid. He is a rock in the locker room, and he’s going to pick people up.”

Borton has never played in a game for UW. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 272 pounds. He has practiced along both the offensive and defensive lines. Hard not to root for a kid like him, but any successful team needs guys like Borton.

— Another story I did last week was on senior wide receiver Austin Conway and his experience as a high school basketball official in Wyoming the last couple of years. Here is a link to that story in case you missed it.

Conway has been one of UW’s most productive and consistent receivers the last three years. This is what he said after I asked him his goals for his final season of playing college football.

“Trying to win a Mountain West championship and as many games as I can to leave a foundation for guys to continue on how coach Bohl wants to run this football team. Since I have been where we almost were MW champs, a bowl winner and not going to a bowl. I’ve seen it all. Stat-wise, I don’t care. I just wnat to win games. I want to come out with another couple of rings on my hand with a MW championship and a bowl win.”

— One last thing: I want to give a huge thank to you to Bohl. After practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays so far he has provided the media with dinner as we do interviews after practice. One night there was pizza, followed by sliders and fried oysters and then some barbecue. Bohl said it was for his appreciation to the media. As a media member for more than 25 years, it is very much appreciated.

For more UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Thanksgiving thoughts and favorites from Wyoming football

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope each and every one of you have a wonderful day and weekend with family and friends.

I’ve done this before on this holiday, and for others, but I asked some Wyoming football players and coaches what they were most thankful for and their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.

Would love to hear yours.

Senior free safety Marcus Epps

Thankful for: My family, to be a part of this team and the University of Wyoming.

Food: Yams

Senior wide receiver James Price

Thankful for: My family, friends and the support system I have.

Food: Mom’s sweet potato pie.

Senior defensive lineman Conner Cain

Thankful for: This team this year.

Food: Cranberry sauce.

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Perfect time to get “The Border War” book

It is that time again — the annual Border War football game between Wyoming and Colorado State. The two teams meet for the 110th time at 8 p.m. Friday at CSU’s Canvas Stadium.

It is a great time for both Cowboys and Rams fans to get a copy of “The Border War” book co-authored by myself and Ryan Thorburn. The book depicts the long history of this rivalry, and includes some of the most memorable games and participants in this rivalry — the longest continual college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

I will be signing books from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the CSU Bookstore in the Lory Student Center. Hope to see a lot of Cowboys and Rams fans there. I may be a little biased, but it is a must-read for fans of both schools. And, if you are looking for a gift for fans of either school, this is a great opportunity to get a book.

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Fresno State 13, Wyoming 7 – postgame thoughts

A disappointing loss, and to me, kind of an odd and stale atmosphere in Wyoming’s home finale — a 13-7 setback to Fresno State.

First, the crowd of 15,440 did what it could, but with poor weather Friday and into Saturday morning that kept many fans away because of road closures.Creating any sort of atmosphere was tough. But I will credit the fans who made it.

Second, as UW introduced its seniors prior to the game, junior quarterback Josh Allen was among them. That said to me that Allen won’t come back next season and will give pro football a try. Don’t think this was surprising news to most, but it put some finality to that decision, don’t you think? Allen didn’t play due to his injured right shoulder and didn’t do any postgame interviews.

Here’s coach Craig Bohl on Allen and the game:

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Wyoming at Utah State football – pregame primer

It is back to football for Wyoming as it plays at Utah State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Maverik Stadium in Logan, Utah. Here is my top key to the game for the Cowboys:

Follow your rival: Wyoming’s biggest rival, Colorado State, provided the perfect plan on how to defeat Utah State in its 27-14 victory in Logan last Saturday. The Rams jumped out to a 24-0 first-half lead, and didn’t allow the Aggies to get anything going offensively until it was too late. If UW can get off to a similar start, and ride that momentum throughout the game, there’s a good chance it comes away with the victory.

Agree or disagree?

Saturday’s game will be carried online on Facebook Live — like the Sept. 30 home game against Texas State. Here is the direct link to watch it:

https://www.facebook.com/StadiumCollegeFootball/videos/1935926140063335/

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Wyoming vs. Texas State – pregame primer

The last of four consecutive home games for Wyoming kicks off at 2 p.m. Saturday against  Texas State of the Sun Belt Conference.

The game will be carried digitally by Facebook Live. Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/StadiumCollegeFootball/videos/1928850377437578/

Here is my No. 1 key for the Cowboys entering this game:

More offense, less defense: Meaning Wyoming’s offense must do a better job of sustaining drives and finishing with points, which will keep the defense fresher and better equipped to make plays. The defense was on the field for two-thirds of the game last week against Hawaii, and 97 plays two weeks ago against Oregon. Even though the defense has played well for the most part, it can’t be on the field that long game after game. Yes, the defense can help itself by making more plays to get off the field sooner, but it needs more help from the offense.

I feel like I’m sounding like a broken record about this No. 1 key the last few weeks.

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Wyoming 27, Gardner-Webb 0 – postgame thoughts

The first shutout of an opponent since 2010 was the biggest impression I took from Wyoming’s 27-0 victory over Gardner-Webb this past Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

I liked the offense in the first half, but not so much in the second half. Gardner-Webb took the air out of the game — and the crowd — with an 18-play drive in the second half, which UW held up on. Still no running game, and that’s a red flag for the Cowboys.

Still, UW beat a FCS team like it should of — although some can make the point the it should have won more convincingly.

Here’s fourth year coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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Wyoming vs. Gardner-Webb pregame primer

As always, let’s start with my No. 1 key for Wyoming in Saturday’s home-opener, which kicks off at 2 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium and will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

Be good up front: Wyoming needs to win the battle along the line of scrimmage offensively and defensively. You can say this in any game, but it’s critical for the Cowboys today. The offensive line must open holes for the run game that gained only 59 yards last week at Iowa. It also must keep junior quarterback Josh Allen upright and prevent him from being hit. Defensively, the line must be disruptive and not allow Gardner-Webb to get its run game going. The Runnin’ Bulldogs want to run the ball to open things up for its play-action pass and for dual-threat senior quarterback Tyrell Maxwell to run or throw.

More keys and info on the game, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net

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UW football fall camp – Practice No. 10

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:

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UW football fall camp – Practice 8

The Cowboys changed their practice location Tuesday as they worked out for about 2 1/2 hours on the practice field just south of War Memorial Stadium. Players were in shoulder pads and helmets.

“It was kind of an average fall camp day,” fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said.

Craig Bohl

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any video of Bohl’s post-practice interview session with the media, but here are some of the highlights of what Bohl said.

— All college football programs no longer have two-a-day practices during fall camp, although for years teams didn’t utilize that many of them. Still, fall camps were extended a week and UW will practice for a month before its first game. Here’s what Bohl said Tuesday on how no more two-a-days have impacted camp so far.

“Personally, I prefer this format,” he said. “I think its a safer format for the the players, but beyond that we’re able to install and teach more. … We’re going to take advantage of every minute, every day and every teaching opportunity.”

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