Scrimmage notes and quotes

Normally after Wyoming football or basketball games I offer some postgame thoughts.

Can’t do that after UW’s first scrimamge of fall camp Saturday in Laramie since it was closed to the public and media.

The scrimmage was not scored, but the offense scored one touchdown and made two field goals. The offense gained 255 yards of total offense (3.8 yards per play) and turned the ball over once. But the day belonged to the defense as it had seven sacks, nine tackles for loss and one fumble recovery.

Here is what first-year UW coach Craig Bohl had to say after the scrimmage:

The defensive standout was senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha with a scrimmage-best nine tackles and five solo stops. Nzeocha also had a sack, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

“I was encouraged with Mark, and he’s done as well as anybody picking up the defense,” defensive coordinator Steve Stannard said. “He’s a smart guy, not vocal, but very smart. He’s athletic and has a great burst. He’s (strongside) right now and (weakside) in or nickel package.”

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Strength vs. strength for UW and Utah State

Wyoming’s offense versus Utah State’s defense.

Those are the strengths of the two teams when both play at noon Saturday at Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah.

Utah State (7-4, 6-1) leads the MW in seven defensive categories, and is seventh nationally in scoring defense (17.6 points per game), 10th in third-down conversion defense (31.5 percent) and tied for 12th in total defense (333.4 yards per game).

UW (5-6, 3-4) is 13th in total offense at just under 500 yards of total offense per game.

This is what UW coach Dave Christensen said about the Aggies’ defense Monday during his weekly interview session with the media.

“Most people haven’t had a lot of success that has played them,” he said. “Every single player plays extremely hard the entire play for every single play. They’re very talented players that have great motors. They have a lot of experience. They can get great pressure on the quarterback. They are tight as can be in man coverage. They pressure, they blitz and they get there. They definitely are the best defense we’ve played this year.”

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UW-Boise State postgame thoughts

Talking about Wyoming’s last four football games is beginning to sound like a broken record.

Inconsistent to bad offense. Poor defense.

Those results led to UW’s fourth straight loss in a 48-7 drubbing at Boise State Saturday night.

A season-high four turnovers — three of which led to Boise State touchdowns — and a defense that was on the field for 92 plays and gave up 524 yards.

UW had a season-low 265 yards of offense, and also a season-low in rushing yards (55) and points.

The defense did little to stop Boise State, that had 241 yards rushing and 283 passing. There were some short fields due to the four turnovers, but the Broncos also drove the field on the Cowboys.

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Jones earning more playing time at cornerback

Wyoming junior DeAndre Jones was one of two starting cornerbacks when fall camp started back in August.

But injuries and the emergence of some other players relegated Jones to a backup role.

DeAndre Jones

DeAndre Jones

Jones may not start in UW’s game at 8:15 p.m. Saturday against No. 17 Fresno State, but he will see the field.

“He definitely will play,” coach Dave Christensen said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “He’s done some good things.”

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Cowboys brave the cold

Just how cold was it during Wyoming’s football practice Tuesday morning at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium?

Water froze immediately once it touched the benches along the sideline.

Temperatures were in the 20s and the wind chill factor was in the teens during much of the two-hour practice in which the team was in full pads in preparation for Saturday’s Border War game with Colorado State in Laramie.

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VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic: Renaldo Hill

This is the sixth of a season-long series of video interviews with University of Wyoming football coaches, and how they teach and coach certain aspects of the game. This one features cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill, along with junior cornerback Blair Burns (20) and redshirt freshman cornerback Cortland Fort (16). Hill demonstrates some press techniques with his players in man-to-man coverage.

Look for these videos every Friday throughout the rest of the season.

Burns takes coach’s words to heart

NOTE: Here’s a video interview with Wyoming junior cornerback Blair Burns:

Blair Burns’ first two years as a cornerback for Wyoming was like night and day — similar to his team’s fortunes.

As a true freshman in 2011, Burns earned Freshman All-America honors as he helped his team go 8-5 and play in its second bowl game in three years.

Last season, UW went 4-8 and even though Burns’ tackles and pass break ups statistics improved, his interceptions did not. Burns had four as a true freshman, and only one in 2012. He made the most of his lone pick as he returned it 99 yards for a touchdown in a home win over Colorado State.

“I was disappointed in Blair and I let him know that a year ago in how he played after playing well as a true freshman,” UW coach Dave Christensen said. “He took it to heart and worked exceptionally hard in the offseason and training camp. He’s been consistent for us (this season).”

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Rain does not stop Cowboys at practice

There was rain early and late.

But it didn’t stop the Wyoming football team from practicing outside at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium Tuesday morning.

“There was no lightning and we have to play in it,” coach Dave Christensen said.

UW does not have a game on its schedule this season indoors, and it played a little bit in the rain in last Saturday’s 42-10 home win over Idaho. The forecast for Saturday’s home game with Northern Colorado calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, with a high of 67 degrees.

Some other news and notes from practice:

–Sophomore center Rafe Kiely split reps with the No. 1 offense with junior starter Albert Perez. Redshirt freshman guard Chase Roullier took most of the snaps at left guard for senior Tyler Strong, who was in a red, no contact jersey. Perez and Strong are expected to start against Northern Colorado.

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UW not looking past Northern Colorado, but also focused on execution

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was quick to point out during his Monday news conference with the media that 11 Football Championship Subdivision teams have defeated Football Bowl Subdivision teams through the first two weeks of the season.

He also said seven other FCS squads have come within a touchdown of beating FBS teams.

The uniform combination for Wyoming this week for its home game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

The uniform combination for Wyoming this week for its home game against Northern Colorado on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Photo by Robert Gagliardi/WyoSports

By no means are the Cowboys going to overlook FBS foe Northern Colorado Saturday in Laramie, or at least that’s what they are saying.

“We are no where near good enough as a program to overlook anyone, or think we are going to show up and win a football game,” Christensen said. Continue reading

UW-Nebraska postgame thoughts

Hard to start in a game like this, but I will say Wyoming showed me something coming back from a 37-21 fourth-quarter deficit in a 37-34 loss at No. 18 Nebraska Saturday night in Lincoln, Neb.

UW coach Dave Christensen described junior quarterback Brett Smith as “special” after the game. Smith was 29 of 43 for 383 yards with four touchdowns and one interception (that led to Nebraska touchdown). Smith also ran for 92 yards and his 475 yards of total offense gives him 6,892 for his career, which is now fourth-best in school history.

“The guy’s good. He’s one of the better quarterbacks I’ve seen in a while as far as buying time and being elusive in the pocket,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.

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