The second half of fall camp for the Cowboys started Monday morning as they practiced in full pads in War Memorial Stadium.
Injury-wise, fourth-year coach Craig Bohl said junior tight end Austin Fort of Gillette will have an MRI on his knee Monday. Fort hurt his right knee in a non-contact drill Friday. He watched Monday’s practice wearing a large brace on the knee.
“We think he is okay, and the initial response was positive with some improvement over the weekend,” Bohl said. “We’ll get more information, but Austin has had a great fall camp. We are at the point now where we have experienced tight ends and more depth.”
Fort and junior Josh Harshman of Casper entered fall camp as tied atop the depth chart, with junior Tyree Mayfield not far behind. Fort played only three offensive snaps last season — his first in making the transition from quarterback to tight end.
The Cowboys worked out in War Memorial Stadium Friday morning in shorts, helmets and “spider” pads — a step down from regular shoulder pads.
UW did some special teams work, and sophomore kicker Cooper Rothe attempted field goals at various spots on the field. Rothe did a solid job in the intermediate ranges. Fourth-year coach Craig Bohl said UW also did some two-minute work and he liked what he saw from the defense.
As far as individual players from Friday’s practice, Bohl said sophomore defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, junior wide receiver James Price and true freshman center Logan Harris of Torrington caught his eye.
Bohl on Harris: “He’s really emerging, and for a freshman that’s a difficult task. He has a great demeanor and good strength. Nothing’s finalized, but we’re taking a hard, hard look at him as our center.”
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.
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 Tom Thornton ended last season as the Cowboys’ backup quarterback.
Prior to the start of spring drills, Thornton was one of six scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. With a logjam there, UW moved him to wide receiver.
Thornton’s transition to receiver is still a work in progress, but he’s happy with the move. For more on that, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.
Earlier this week, I asked Thornton what he thought of the play of UW’s four quarterbacks this spring: senior Cameron Coffman, sophomore and junior college transfer Josh Allen, redshirt freshman Nick Smith and redshirt sophomore Aaron Young.
Coffman was named the starter earlier in spring drills. Allen is currently listed as the backup, followed by Smith and Young.
“I think they’re doing a great job. Going form last year to now, you can see their knowledge of the offense has improved.
“Cam has looked fantastic. His accuracy is on point. His reads are on point. I think he’s goin to have an unbelievable year. Josh is doing well, but is the newest guy. He has an unbelievable arm. He needs to know when to tone it down a little bit. He threw a screen pass bout 90 miles an hour. He’s starting to pick up the offense. Nick’s is doing a solid job and Aaron is as well.”
Thornton also said that losing redshirt freshman Austin Fort “kind of sucks.” Fort was moved from quarterback to tight end last week. Soon after that, UW announced Fort will transfer.
Will this what it will look like in less than two weeks when spring drills end, or when the Cowboys open the season Sept. 5 against North Dakota?
Some positions, yes. Others, no.
Here is a fairly quick and short breakdown of what I think of this first depth chart:
Locks: Senior Cameron Coffman at quarterback, senior Shaun Wick and Brian Hill at running back, juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt at wide receiver, junior Jacob Hollister at tight end, sophomore Drew Van Maanen at fullback, junior Chase Roullier at left guard, seniors Eddie Yarbrough and Siaosi Hala’api’api at defensive end, junior Uso Olive at defensive tackle, junior Lucas Wacha at one of the three linebacker spots (which one is still uncertain) and junior Ethan Wood at punter. I don’t see much movement at any of these spots barring injury.
A few weeks ago, some UW fans wanted to see what else Wyoming had at quarterback besides senior Colby Kirkegaard.
The Cowboys’ offense was sputtered in its first seven games. There were glimpses of good, but too many three-and-outs and empty drives.
Some wanted to see what UW’s backups could do, even if it were for a series or two to see what the future of the program may look like at quarterback.
That talk has quieted after UW’s 45-17 win at Fresno State last week. The Cowboys recorded numerous season-highs offensively, including points, total yards (694), rushing yards (374) and third-down conversions.
But going back to UW’s 27-20 overtime loss to San Jose State, Kirkegaard has not thrown an interception in his last three games, and over the last two he’s completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 655 yards and four touchdowns.
Sophomore back up quarterback Tom Thornton has seen mostly mop-up duty for the Cowboys this season. He’s played in two games and not attempted a pass. Sophomore Aaron Young, the No. 3 quarterback, has not played.
“Tom has got the bulk of the No. 2 reps, but he truly wouldn’t be tested until he got into a game — I hate to say,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. “His maturation is probably a little bit in a standstill. If something happened to Colby, we’d finish that game with Tom and then have to re-evaluate it the next week.”
“Aaron doesn’t get many reps so where he’s at is hard to say.”
Vigen said it’s a 2-to-1 ratio in terms of the number of reps Kirkegaard receives each week during practice compared to Thornton.
“Our No. 1 job is to get the No. 1 guy ready, and then have the No. 2 guy to function well enough to get through a game. When he (the No. 2 guy) becomes the No. 1 guy then the emphasis will be placed on him.”
For more on UW’s sudden offensive surge, see Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.
Monday marked the last of five two-a-day practices, and the players were in shoulder pads and shorts Monday morning.
It also was the first practice since last Saturday’s scrimmage, and a day off for the players. But first-year coach Craig Bohl said some players were late to breakfast and he had to get on them prior to practice.
Here is what Bohl had to say after Monday morning’s practice:
UW’s new walk-on kicker — true freshman Pierce Royster — was at practice. He was not in pads as he has to go through an acclimation period. But he did some kicking with senior Stuart Williams prior to practice as Bohl watched. Both guys kicked field goals off a tee from numerous distances and locations on the field. Williams looked to be the most consistent of the two, and made one from 52 yards.
And so it begins. Wyoming’s first of 24 practices of fall camp started Monday morning in Laramie. The team did some drill work, walk-throughs and stretching in its indoor practice facility, and then headed out to Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium for the rest of practice. Unfortunately, the media is allowed to watch only the first 30 minutes of practice, which was all indoor so there is not a lot to report. But here are a couple of observations:
–During the walk-throughs, redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense, although there was a lot of moving around among other players on offense. Basically, Kirkegaard and true freshmen Nick Smith and Austin Fort were on one end, and sophomore Tom Thornton, senior Sam Stratton and sophomore Aaron Young were on the other end. The No. 1 and No. 2 defense went against Kirkegaard and his offensive group. The rest of the offensive and defensive guys were on the other end of the field. It was an odd mix and match of players. For instance, most of the top receivers were down with the backups. Most of the offensive plays were run plays so it may have been a run-specific walk-through. Here is a video of the receivers doing some hands work.
–As far as the starters went, there was nothing new in terms of the guys in this walk-through than what was indicated on the depth chart released prior to the start of camp. I saw true freshman tight end Grant Lewis get in a for a couple of snaps with the main offensive guys, same with true freshman defensive end John Jackson. Continue reading →
The Wyoming football team has added another quarterback, but it will be a year before he is in the fold in terms of playing time.
Cameron Coffman, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounds, announced on his Twitter account Friday that he will transfer to UW from Indiana. Coffman was a junior at Indiana last season where he played in only three games and attempted nine passes. He has not graduated from Indiana, so he will have to sit out the 2014 season at UW to satisfy NCAA transfer rules and will be a redshirt senior in 2015.
In 2012, Coffman threw for 2,734 yards at Indiana, which was second in the Big Ten Conference for passing yards per game. He also had 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions that season.
Last season he was beat out by two other quarterbacks and attempted only nine passes in three games.
I spoke to two different sports reporters at the Bloomington Herald-Times Friday about Coffman, and both said Coffman was a good guy, handled the quarterback competition with class and thinks he will do good things at UW.
Coffman, who is from Peculiar, Missouri, attended Arizona Western Community College in Yuma, Arizona in 2011 where he threw for 2,244 yards with 21 touchdowns, six interceptions and completed 61.4 percent of his passes.