Three weeks and nine practices in the books for UW spring football

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.

Thornton gives his take on UW’s quarterbacks this spring

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.

Tom Thornton

Tom Thornton

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.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

“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.

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A look at the first depth chart of spring for Wyoming football

Wyoming released its first depth chart of spring drills Monday. Here is the link to the depth chart:

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/wyo/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2014-15/depth_chart_non_event/4-13-15_depth_chart.pdf

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:

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

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.

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Vigen talks order of UW’s other quarterbacks

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.

Tom Thornton

Tom Thornton

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.”

Brent Vigen

Brent Vigen

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.

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UW fall camp – Day 15

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.

Here is a quick video of that:

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Cowboys open fall camp Monday morning

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:

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

–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

UW adds quarterback from Indiana

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.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

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.

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UW signs 22 in 2014 recruiting class

There were not a lot of surprises — good or bad — Wednesday as Wyoming received 19 national letters of intent from recruits to go along with the three players that already signed and are enrolled in school.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said when he was hired in December that he and his staff would recruit and sign players that were “above the line” that could play in the Mountain West.

“We thought if we could reach 20 that would have opp to play in the Mountain West, and not just play but win the Mountain West, we would have done well. We reached 22 guys,” Bohl said.

Bohl added UW could add a player or two in this class if the opportunity came up, but said the right players at the right positions would have to surface for that to happen.

“There is a purposeful reason why we are at 22,” Bohl said.

UW had its class wrapped up before noon. There was some drama as Snow College (Utah) defensive back Lee Crosby picked New Mexico over UW. Kind of ironic that the UW men’s and women’s basketball teams play New Mexico tonight, isn’t it?

A couple of other guys UW was recruiting also choose different schools. Athlete Jay McIntyre of Colorado, son of Colorado coach Mike McIntyre, will play for his dad and the Buffs. Receiver Ronald Nash Jr. from Iowa stayed home and signed with Northern Iowa.

UW did not sign a receiver in this class. Not a huge surprise since it returns seven receivers that caught passes last season, including three of its top four guys: Senior Dominic Rufran, sophomore Tanner Gentry and senior Jalen Claiborne. Bohl said a “program-changer” receiver did not emerge in this class, and also said what UW currently has didn’t make receiver a top priority in this class.

Here is the breakdown position-wise in this class: QB (3), OL (3), TE (4) DB (4), DE (3), DT (2), RB (2), LB (1).

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UW football recruiting visits this weekend

Here is a list of known football recruits that will visit Wyoming this weekend:

RB Alex Gardner, 5-10, 185, Jacksonville, Fla. (Raines HS) — Three-star rating out of five by 247sports.com and Scout.com. … Offers from UW, Florida Atlantic (visiting next week), Middle Tennessee (visited last week) State, Troy UAB and several FCS schools. 1,006 rushing yards as a senior and 949 as a junior with 18 touchdowns over those two years. … Listed as an all-purpose back who caught 359 yards in passes, and also returns punts and kickoffs.

RB Nico Evans, 5-7, 177, Los Angeles (Loyola HS): 724 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns last season, and 1,283 over the last two seasons. … Listed to run a 4.69 40. … A two-start rating by Rivals.com. … Has an offer from Penn of the Ivy League. … MW schools such as Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State and San Jose State have shown some interest but made no offers.

CB Lee Crosby, 6-0, 190, Snow College (Utah) — Has 17 offers, including UW, from FBS and FCS schools. Some of his FBS offers are from Idaho, New Mexico, Southern Miss, Toledo and Texas State. Has 4.4-second speed in the 40.

QB Austin Fort, 6-4, 210, Gillette (Campbell County HS) — Verbally committed to UW

DE John Jackson Jr., 6-4, 265, Tucson, Ariz. (Canyon Del Oro HS)

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Thoughts on QB Thompson leaving UW for Utah

First it was Brett Smith, now it’s Jason Thompson.

Wyoming has lost its top two quarterbacks heading into the 2014 season. Smith declared himself eligible for the NFL Draft on the final Friday of 2013. On the first Tuesday of 2014, Thompson transferred to Utah.

Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson

Thompson, who would have been a redshirt sophomore this season, wasn’t guaranteed the job for first-year coach Craig Bohl. But he was the most experienced player on the roster having played six games and starting one in 2012. He redshirted in 2013 to hone his quarterbacking skills.

Is it ironic that Thompson is going to Utah where his former coach — Dave Christensen — if the offensive coordinator? Probably not. To think that didn’t play a factor would be naive.

In fact, Christensen was officially introduced as Utah’s offensive coordinator Tuesday. Here are some links to what he said, and some stories by the fine folks at The Salt Lake Tribune.

http://utahutes.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/010714aaa.html

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/57363571-89/whittingham-christensen-erickson-offensive.html.csp

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/utes/57363264-89/whittingham-offensive-christensen-coach.html.csp
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