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:
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.
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:
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
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:
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.
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.”
Wyoming concluded spring football Saturday with its annual spring game. The Gold squad beat the Brown 3-0. The way the teams were divided, it was the backups that did all the scoring. UW’s No. 1 defense got the best of the No. 1 offense.
Kind of tough to read too much into the results from the spring game, although it does appear UW’s defense will be better. It needs to be after allowing 34 points and 453 yards per game last season.
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.
Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill needs 74 yards to pass Devin Moore (2005-08) and become the Cowboys’ career rushing leader. Hill enters Saturday night’s Border War at Colorado State with 2,890 yards in 28 games.
To put that in some perspective, Moore needed 44 games and broke the mark in UW’s last game of the 2008 season against … you guessed it, Colorado State. The Cowboys hope Hill breaks the record Saturday, and then some. They also hope for a better outcome than Moore experienced. UW lost that 2008 game at Colorado State 31-20.
Hill first must pass Ryan Christopherson (1991-94) for second place, but needs only 17 yards to do that. The last time a UW running back broke the school’s career rushing record on the road was Gerald Abraham (1984-87) in the Cowboys’ regular-season finale at Hawaii. Abraham broke the mark with 2,278 yards. That’s now sixth in school history.
The No. 1 think I learned from watching Wyoming beat Northern Illinois 40-34 in triple overtime: You never know what to expect covering college football.
A game that was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. didn’t start until 10:20 p.m. due to severe weather with a lot of rain and lightning. The lightning was what delayed the game. After redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 7-yard TD run to win he game in the third overtime, it was 2:35 a.m. Sunday when the game ended.
Here are the highlights of UW’s game-winning drive, capped by Allen’s run, and of Northern Illinois kicker Christia Hagen missing a 38-yard field goal in that third overtime.