UW spring football roundup – Day 1

It was back to work Monday for the Wyoming football team as it held its first of 15 spring practices.

UW used both its indoor facility and War Memorial Stadium for its workout, which lasted a little more than two hours. Players will be in shorts and helmets for the first two practices. They won’t be in full pads until the third practice on Saturday.

Here are some highlights from the first practice. Media is allowed to stay for only the first 30 minutes.


A few points of observation from Day 1:

–UW did some walk-through work prior to the start of practice and the guys who got most of the reps with the No. 1 offense along the offensive line were sophomore Ryan Cummings (left tackle), junior Chase Roullier (left guard), sophomore Charlie Renfree (center), redshirt freshman Richard Bettencourt (right guard) and sophomore Taylor Knestis (right tackle). Another who got in some work on the left side was sophomore tackle Kurtis Stirneman.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

–Senior Cameron Coffman always seemed to be the first guy when the quarterbacks did individual drills, and he also worked with the No. 1 offense the most of the other four guys. What that means this early in spring is debatable, but I still believe he is the guy to beat in terms of UW’s starting quarterback.

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A day of extremes for Cowboys

It was a day-night doubleheader of men’s basketball and football in Laramie Saturday for Wyoming, and the outcome of both was like a night-and-day contrast.

Let’s start with the good.

The Cowboys were impressive in a 56-33 victory over Colorado in hoops. UW (3-0) held Colorado (2-1) to nine second-half points and to only two baskets. The offense was unselfish, and I don’t think I’ve ever covered a game where there were assists on all 22 baskets.

And, this wasn’t against some no-name team. Colorado was ranked 27th in the AP poll last week and was picked to finish third in the Pac-12.

And, the lob pass junior guard Josh Adams threw to senior forward Larry Nance Jr. was pretty cool, and earned the top play on ESPN SportCenter’s top 10 plays Saturday night.

“Sigh of relief. It was awesome and it felt great just to be back up there,” Nance said of the dunk.

Here’ what the players and coach Larry Shyatt said after the game:



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Wyoming vs. Boise State football: key to the game, notes and quotes

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi’s key to the game for Wyoming in its home-finale against Boise State. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium:

Possess and finish: Wyoming’s offense must win the time of possession battle, and more importantly, finish drives with points. That may be the Cowboys’ best defense against Boise State’s league-leading scoring offense (37.7 points per game). UW did a decent job two weeks ago against Utah State of possessing the ball, but must do a better job of finishing and eliminate penalties and turnovers.

What do you think, folks? Yay or nay?

Here is Gagliardi and WyoSports editor Scott Nulph’s weekly video blog about the game:


Here are some notes and quotes from both UW and Boise State from this week:

Blair Burns

Blair Burns

–UW has never defeated Boise State (0-8) and has lost by a combined score of 148-43 in the four games played in Laramie. The Cowboys have scored no more than 17 points against the Broncos. But that doesn’t mean UW is intimidated by Boise State: “Boise State is a great team, but I wouldn’t say we are intimidated. We played at Oregon and Michigan State and we weren’t intimidated against those teams. Getting a win would be great. Why not now?” — UW senior cornerback Blair Burns.

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UW-Michigan State postgame thoughts

The score indicated Wyoming got beat by 42 points — not sure if it was that close.

The Cowboys lost 56-14 at No. 9 Michigan State Saturday at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. The Spartans scored touchdowns on their first offensive possessions.

UW had no answer for Michigan State’s offense — running or passing. The Cowboys’ offense — aside from a few big plays — did nothing against the Spartans’ defense.

UW had a season-low 286 yards. Most of those plays came on four plays: 57-yard touchdown run by junior running back Shaun Wick in the first quarter, a 26-yard run by Wick later in that quarter, a 52-yard pass from senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard to senior receiver Jalen Claiborne late in the second quarter and a 41-yard pass from Kirkegaard to sophomore receiver Tanner Gentry — also in the second quarter.

That’s 176 yards on those four plays — 110 the rest of the game.

There were three turnovers that resulted in 14 Michigan State points. Kirkegaard was sacked six times.

Defensively, UW allowed 338 yards rushing and 195 passing. Michigan State didn’t have to pass much, and three quarterbacks played. Still, the Spartans were 16 of 20 through the air.

There were a lot of missed tackles for UW — more this game than we’ve seen so far this season. Hope that isn’t a sign of things to come.

Here is first-year coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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UW-Florida Atlantic Q&A swap

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer swap with Cyrus Smith, who covers Florida Atlantic football for the website fauowlsnest.com, about Saturday’s game with the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Follow on Twitter: @Cyrus31193

Look for Q&As with beat writers that cover UW football opponents every week throughout the season.

After road losses to Nebraska and Alabama to start the season, Florida Atlantic looked impressive in a 50-21 home win over Tulsa last week. What came together for the Owls and was that performance what most fans expect from the team this season?

Essentially, FAU played with a sense of urgency. After winning the last four games to end last year a lot of momentum was built for the next season for a potential Conference USA title run and bowl bid. Although many didn’t expect the Owls to win either of the games, the fan base definitely expected a better showing. The offensive performance was what the fans expected for the year. It also helped that FAU played a team that didn’t have a roster full of NFL players.

Quarterback Jaquez Johnson had a big game against Tulsa with 318 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. Is he the guy that makes the offense go, and if so, what does he do to make that happen?

His versatility as a dual-threat quarterback makes this offense capable of putting up big numbers, but his ability to stay away from turnovers and negative plays is where his value can’t be unmatched. With this being his second year with offensive coordinator Brian Wright, he seems more comfortable taking shots downfield. Against Tulsa, Johnson completed two passes over 50 yards for touchdowns. If Johnson and the Owls are getting big gains through the air, FAU’s offense will be hard to stop.

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Wyoming-Air Force football postgame thoughts

If the first two Wyoming football games are any indication, you better not leave early or quit watching this team late in games.

The Cowboys rallied for a 17-13 victory late Saturday night in front of a good crowd of 21,246 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. For a game that kicked off at 8:20 p.m. and was on national television, I didn’t think UW would get 20,000 people in the stands.

The final scoring drive was fun to watch, and impressive since the offense didn’t do a whole lot prior to that. Here is some video highlights from that drive, including the game-winning touchdown pass from senior Colby Kirkegaard to senior tight end J.D. Krill with 58 seconds left in the game.


I thought the play-call on the game-winning touchdown was great. In fact, I thought UW should have gone to more of those boot-leg, misdirection type plays more in the game since Air Force did a good job of pursuing to the ball and stuffing the Cowboys’ run game.

That 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive was UW’s longest of the season.

Were you as surprised as I was that the Cowboys struggled to run the ball? Credit Air Force, no doubt, but 51 yards was a shocker. Kirkegaard wasn’t sacked, which was good compared to six against Montana the week before. Kirkegaard showed great poise on that last drive, and hopefully that will be a confidence-booster for him and the entire offense moving forward.

Here is Kirkegaard after the game:

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Cowboys’ team captains for 2014 announced Monday

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Wyoming’s team captains were announced Friday, and Sunday I predicted they would be redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard, senior receiver Dominic Rufran, junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and senior cornerback Blair Burns.

Three out of four isn’t bad. Instead of Burns it is senior free safety Darrenn White.

 

 

 

 

 

UW fall camp – Day 17

Special teams took center stage during Wyoming’s 21st practice and 17th day of fall camp Wednesday morning in cool and breezy conditions at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

UW worked on things such as field-goal return, punting out of the end zone and kickoffs during the portion of practice the media was allowed to watch. First-year coach Craig Bohl also said the team worked on other special situations like when to take a safety and onside kicks.

One might ask about field-goal return? Remember the Alabama-Auburn game last year where Auburn returned a missed field goal for a touchdown to win the game?

Here is what Bohl said after Wednesday’s practice:


Bohl during one of North Dakota State’s three consecutive FCS national title games, Sam Houston State had a returner back in case of a missed field goal.

Blair Burns

Blair Burns

Senior cornerback Blair Burns was the return man for UW during that period. During the punt drill, where the Cowboys punted out of their own end zone, senior receiver Jalen Claiborne was the return man.

Speaking of punting, Bohl said sophomore punter Ethan Wood will return to Laramie Wednesday night. Wood’s parents were killed in a plane crash on Aug. 9, and the funeral was last Friday.

At the end of practice, Bohl said the team had some fun and had a few of the offensive and defensive linemen try to field onside kicks. Sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby, the media was told, showed some good hands.

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UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming’s first period of its Saturday morning practice was some 11-on-11 work.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he often does this because it is a good — and difficult — drill for the quarterbacks because there is a lot of “chaos” going on. It allows them to think things through and prepare for what might happen in the early portions of any game. In this case, it is for the season-opener three weeks from today against Montana.

There was a good mix of the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense and twos vs. twos.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

No big surprises with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the ones. UW is still without their two starting right tackles in sophomore Nathan Leddige (left) and senior Connor Rains (right) due to head and concussion issues. Rains was at Saturday morning’s practice in uniform, and Bohl said he didn’t have a concusssion Leddige was not at the practice, and does have a concussion.

Redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman was on the left side and junior Austin Traphagan on the right with the No. 1 offense. With the twos it looked like true freshman Ryan Cummings on the left and redshirt freshman Taylor Knestis on the right.

Added Bohl on the offensive line: “I’d say of all the position groups on the field that is unsettled, that’s it.”

UW practiced in shoulder pads and helmets, so there was no tackling. The No. 1 defense recorded a few sacks. Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha had one.

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

For the second-teamers, sophomore quarterback Tom Thornton thew a nice deep ball to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.

Kirkegaard and Thornton were the only quarterbacks who took snaps during that team period.

Saw a handful of true freshmen get some time with the No. 2 units. On offense, there was Cummings along the line, and tight ends Brinkley Jolley and Grant Lewis. Defensively, there was cornerbacks Robert Priester and Ryon’e Winters, and safety Chavez Pownell Jr.

UW lists three positions on defense with an “or” in terms of the starters. For this team period, senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton, senior outside linebacker Devyn Harris and sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby worked with the first team. However, their backups — senior Alex Borgs, sophomore Lucas Wacha and sophomore Uso Olive — all played a lot. Bohl said among the linebacker, Stanton and Harris are likely to be the starters. He also said Appleby and Olive both will play a lot, along with the starter and backup at defensive tackle. The starter is senior Patrick Mertens. The backup is unknonw, but redshirt junior Troy Boyland appears to be the favorite.

After that team period UW went into some individual drill work, and here are some video highlights from that:


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UW quarterbacks take their hits in second scrimmage

Most of the time, quarterbacks are off limits in terms of being hit during practices or scrimmages.

Not Saturday for the four University of Wyoming quarterbacks in the Cowboys’ second scrimmage of spring drills.

Quarterbacks were live, and did take some hits.

“That first hit I took was a little bit of a shock,” said senior Sam Stratton, who was 7 of 10 for 69 yards and touchdown passes to sophomore receiver Nico Brown and sophomore running back Omar Stover. “It had been a while, and it was like ‘okay, we’re playing tackle football.’ It felt good, and after that first hit your brain goes into a different place.”

Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard was 8 of 12 for 126 yards and a touchdown to senior receiver Keenan Montgomery. Kirkegaard’s long pass was 50 yards to Montgomery. Stratton said he didn’t remember who hit him, but Kirkegaard remembered his first hit by senior linebacker Mark Nzeocha on a run up the middle.

“That first hit wakes you up a little bit and you realize you don’t have that blue jersey on and will just get tagged on the shoulder instead of being hit. It’s real football.”

Kirkegaard had ice on his right throwing shoulder after the scrimmage and during interviews with the media, but he said he does that after every game and practice.

Sophomore Aaron Young was 3 of 12 for 28 yards, and sophomore Tom Thornton was 4 of 5 for 45 yards and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he wants to look at the film before making an evaluation on the quarterbacks. Bohl is expected to release a “fluid” depth chart as early as Monday. The scrimamge was closed to the public and media, but here is what Bohl told the media about the scrimmage:


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