UW football brings show to Cheyenne

Wyoming’s football team used one of its practices to prepare for its season-opener a week from today at No. 18 Nebraska to show the fans in Cheyenne what it has.

Wyoming sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker Siaosi Hala'api'api signs the short of a young fan after the Cowboys practiced at Cheyenne Central High Saturday afternoon. The event was dubbed "Cowboys in the Capital."/Photo by Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Wyoming sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker Siaosi Hala’api’api signs the short of a young fan after the Cowboys practiced at Cheyenne Central High Saturday afternoon. The event was dubbed “Cowboys in the Capital.”/Photo by Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Dubbed as the “Cowboys in the Capital,” UW practiced for about two hours at Cheyenne Central’s Riske Field. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the event. Players and coaches signed autographs after practice.

It was a good outreach effort by UW, and one of the first major efforts from the football program in quite some time. It makes sense to come to Cheyenne as it has more than 8,000 UW alumns living there.

Jackson Gray, 3, shows University of Wyoming of Wyoming running back Brandon Miller how hold he his before having his football signed by him after the Cowboys finished practice Saturday afternoon at Riske Field in Cheyenne. The Cowboys will open the season on the road against No. 18 Nebraska a week from Saturday. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Jackson Gray, 3, shows University of Wyoming of Wyoming running back Brandon Miller how hold he his before having his football signed by him after the Cowboys finished practice Saturday afternoon at Riske Field in Cheyenne. The Cowboys will open the season on the road against No. 18 Nebraska a week from Saturday. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

“I looked up in the stands at one time and I said ‘holy cow, this place is packed,’ ” coach Dave Christensen said. “There were lines everywhere. It was great.”

The players also seemed to enjoy it.

“It was neat to practice in front of an atmosphere like this,” junior quarterback Brett Smith said. “I expected it. There is a lot of passion for Wyoming football in this sate, and it is always great to play in front of the Wyoming fans. I think this was kind of an ego boost for everybody.”

Added junior conrerback Blair Burns:  “It’s great to come out an show them what we are made of. It was a great opportunity to practice in front of fans. Next week we are going to be playing in front of 90,000. Maybe next year we ill take it around the state.”

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UW’s offensive depth chart for Nebraska

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen will release his first depth chart of the season Monday.

But I thought I would take a shot of predicting how it will look now, starting with the offense. Look for the defense and special teams to come later this weekend. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks

Brett Smith, Jr., 6-3, 206

Jason Thompson, So., 6-2, 206

Colby Kirkegaard, Sr., 6-3, 205

Tommy Thornton, Fr., 6-1, 205

Notes: There was never a doubt Smith would be the starter. In three fall camp scrimmages Smith was 39-55 for 553 yards with nine TDs and one INT. … Thompson also had a solid camp. He was 33-49 for 440 yards with four TDs and two INTs. … There was good competition at the No. 3 spot. I give Kirkegaard the edge based on his experience, but it would not surprise me if Thornton is No. 3 on Monday.

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UW football fall camp: Practice 17

Wyoming junior starting quarterback Brett Smith was at practice Tuesday morning, but he didn’t do much.

Smith missed Monday’s workouts with flu-like symptoms. Smith participated in some individual drills, but didn’t take part in any of the team periods. Sophomore backup Jason Thompson replaced Smith for the second consecutive day.

Brett Smith

Brett Smith

“Not very good,” said Smith when I asked him how he felt after practice Tuesday. He said he had the flu and also an ear infection, which caused him to feel dizzy at times during practice. I would be surprised if Smith participates in Wednesday’s scrimmage, which marks the end of fall camp.

When asked what he is doing to get better, Smith said: “Medicine and rest.”

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UW fall football camp: Practice 15

There was a significant absence during Wyoming Monday morning practice: junior starting quarterback Brett Smith.

“He was driving in this morning and had to pull over and throw up,” said coach Dave Christensen, who added that Smith had flu-like symptoms. “We sent him to see a doctor. If it is contagious we don’t want him to give it to the rest of the team.

“I talked to him at 10:30 last night. He called me and woke me up at home to tell me how excited he was. He was’t sick then.”

Sophomore backup Jason Thompson took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. His first pass during an 11-on-11 drill was intercepted by junior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha. Later during a 7-on-7 drill, Thompson was intercepted by true freshman free safety Xavier Lewis in a ball that was tipped by a receiver on a high throw from Thompson.

“It was just another day to come out and get better,” Thompson said. “There was nothing different scheme-wise, but just getting on the same page with the rest of the guys. It was kind of tough playing with a different group ,but it got better near the end.”

For more on Thompson, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net

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UW football fall camp: Day 9

Two things dominated the the players first day off of fall camp on Tuesday for Wyoming — meetings and treatment.

Coach Dave Christensen the day was filled with meetings with coaches and medical treatments for players, and also a team swimming gathering at the Laramie Community Recreation Center. The Cowboys are pretty banged up at this point, even though most of the injuries are minor.

Christensen liked how the team came back from their day off during Wednesday morning’s practice. The Cowboys also practiced in the afternoon.

Still, the Cowboys’ top three running backs and top two cornerbacks remained limited due to injuries. Senior Brandon Miller, true freshman Omar Stover and sophomore Shaun Wick saw limited action at running back. Miller and Stover saw more action than in previous days, and Christensen is hopeful they will play in Saturday’s scrimmage.

Christensen is also hopeful junior cornerback Blair Burns will scrimmage Saturday. He didn’t sound as hopeful junior DeAndre Jones, although his injury also is not believed to be serious.

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UW scrimmage news and notes

VIDEO INTERVIEWS FROM SUNDAY’S SCRIMMAGE

DAVE CHRISTENSEN: http://youtu.be/nwMkzrSv11Q

TRYAN FINLEY: http://youtu.be/lsgnmSirUHU

Want another Wyoming wide receiver to talk about?

How about senior Jarrod Darden.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior who transferred from Colorado but is eligible this season

Jarrod Darden

Jarrod Darden

because he graduated from CU in the spring, caught three passes for 95 yards and a touchdown working with the No. 2 offense during Sunday’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

His TD catch was 46 yards, and he had a nice one-handed catch for 40 yards later on. All of his catches came from sophomore backup quarterback Jason Thompson.

“They have me in the slot, which I haven’t played before, and this is a new kind of offense for me,” Darden said. “I played in more of a pro-style offense at Colorado, but I like this offense a lot.”

Darden said he transferred from Colorado because he went through three coaching changes in four years, and he was simply “tired of it.”

Darden said he looked for schools that threw the ball a lot, and UW fit the description.

“At Colorado I was burried on the depth chart and a new coach was coming in. I wanted to go a school that wanted me and could use me. Right now I feel like I can contribute. If I keep making plays, hopefully they can use me.

“This is the best I felt during camp in a while. I am getting feedback and reps. I will enjoy this day, but our first two-a-days are Monday so I can’t enjoy it for long before it is time to get back to work.”

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May looks to miss 2013 season

I was in Laramie Friday morning doing some advance work for WyoSports’ Wyoming football section, which comes out Aug. 25. I saw many players going through lifting workouts, but one that wasn’t was sophomore running back D.J. May.

May was in sling, and said he tore his left pectoral muscle recently lifting weights. He was in good spirits, but said the recovery time is about nine months.

D.J. May

D.J. May

He also said he will likely redshirt this season.

If he does, May will return in 2014 as a redshirt sophomore. Last season as a true freshman, May led UW in rushing with 374 yards on 77 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and had one touchdown. He also caught six passes for 35 yards.

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Spring offensive leaders/analysis for Cowboys

Here are some of Wyoming’s offensive statistical leaders from three scrimmages and its spring game, which was last Saturday.

Passing

Brett Smith

Brett Smith

Brett Smith              44-70 (62.8 percent) 661 yards, 9 TD, 2 INT

Jason Thompson     51-74 (68.9 percent) 568 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT

Colby Kirkegaard    20-35 (57.1 percent) 259 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT

Tommy Thornton     15-31 (48.3 percent) 158 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

My thoughts: Smith is hands down the starter. Thompson has a lot of ability and potential, but remember, he has not been in college a full year yet and he came in after running a Wing-T offense in high school. He still has a lot of development to go. Nonetheless, UW has two quality guys at this spot. Kirkegaard should be the No. 3 guy heading into fall camp, and is a senior. Thornton showed good arm strength in the spring.

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Defense has another solid practice

Dave ChristensenWyoming’s defense had another solid practice Wednesday, the Cowboys’ 13th of 15 of the spring.

The defense won 60-30, and won Monday’s practice 50-45. The defense also won UW’s last major scrimmage last Wednesday 72-62.

“They are getting their assignments down, executing at a high level and I am real pleased with progress we are making,” coach Dave Christensen said.

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