UW football fall camp – Practice No. 10

For the second consecutive day, the Cowboys practiced in War Memorial Stadium Thursday with cool temperatures and light rain, although the sun came out as practiced progressed. The last few days in Laramie felt more like being in Seattle than at 7,220 feet with all the rain and cool weather.

UW worked out in full pads.

One of the early periods of practice was a pass-under-pressure session. Junior quarterback Josh Allen and the No. 1 offense performed well. Allen threw some nice passes to sophomore wide receivers Austin Conway and C.J. Johnson.

Here is fourth-year coach Craig Bohl after practice:

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UW football fall camp – Practice 8

The Cowboys changed their practice location Tuesday as they worked out for about 2 1/2 hours on the practice field just south of War Memorial Stadium. Players were in shoulder pads and helmets.

“It was kind of an average fall camp day,” fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said.

Craig Bohl

Unfortunately, I didn’t get any video of Bohl’s post-practice interview session with the media, but here are some of the highlights of what Bohl said.

— All college football programs no longer have two-a-day practices during fall camp, although for years teams didn’t utilize that many of them. Still, fall camps were extended a week and UW will practice for a month before its first game. Here’s what Bohl said Tuesday on how no more two-a-days have impacted camp so far.

“Personally, I prefer this format,” he said. “I think its a safer format for the the players, but beyond that we’re able to install and teach more. … We’re going to take advantage of every minute, every day and every teaching opportunity.”

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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.

Hill inching closer to UW’s career rushing record

Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill needs 74 yards to pass Devin Moore (2005-08) and become the Cowboys’ career rushing leader. Hill enters Saturday night’s Border War at Colorado State with 2,890 yards in 28 games.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

To put that in some perspective, Moore needed 44 games and broke the mark in UW’s last game of the 2008 season against … you guessed it, Colorado State. The Cowboys hope Hill breaks the record Saturday, and then some. They also hope for a better outcome than Moore experienced. UW lost that 2008 game at Colorado State 31-20.

Hill first must pass Ryan Christopherson (1991-94) for second place, but needs only 17 yards to do that. The last time a UW running back broke the school’s career rushing record on the road was Gerald Abraham (1984-87) in the Cowboys’ regular-season finale at Hawaii. Abraham broke the mark with 2,278 yards. That’s now sixth in school history.

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UW beats Northern Illinois 40-34 in 3OT; what we learned

The No. 1 think I learned from watching Wyoming beat Northern Illinois 40-34 in triple overtime: You  never know what to expect covering college football.

A game that was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. didn’t start until 10:20 p.m. due to severe weather with a lot of rain and lightning. The lightning was what delayed the game. After redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 7-yard TD run to win he game in the third overtime, it was 2:35 a.m. Sunday when the game ended.

Here are the highlights of UW’s game-winning drive, capped by Allen’s run, and of Northern Illinois kicker Christia Hagen missing a 38-yard field goal in that third overtime.

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UW fall camp — Day 1

Wyoming started fall camp Monday morning at the North 40 practice fields on campus.

As in the past, media was allowed to watch the first 30 minutes. Here are some video highlights from the morning. The Cowboys worked a lot of forcing and recovering fumbles early on. Forcing more turnovers is a must. Last season, UW forced just 10 turnovers (five fumbles and five interceptions).

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Who could play as freshman for UW football in 2016

Fall camp begins Monday for Wyoming football, which consists of 24 practices.

There are lots of questions and storylines going into camp, but one that always intrigues me is who among the newcomers will play.

Last season, 26 true freshmen or redshirt freshmen played for the Cowboys, which was the seventh-most in the country.

Third-year coach Craig Bohl said during Mountain West Football Media Days in late July that he doesn’t expect as many this season, nor does he expect 16 true freshman to see playing time like in 2015.

John Okwoli

John Okwoli

But there will be some true freshmen who play, and Bohl said that three things play factors in that: physical ability, emotional maturity and need at certain positions.

Here are some true freshman Bohl mentioned to me who UW likely will take a hard look at during camp:

WR John Okwoli: The 6-2, 205-pounder from Phoenix was a three-star recruit by ESPN and 247sports.com. He was one of the more highly-touted recruits in UW’s 2016 class. UW looks to be set among its top two receivers in seniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt. Redshirt freshman C.J. Johnson had a good spring. UW needs more wide receivers other than Gentry and Maulhardt to step up, and Okwoli could get a chance.

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UW receivers coach with good perspective on Johnson duo

Clester Johnson was a two-time national champion at Nebraska in the 1990s as a wide receiver and wing-back.

Clester Johnson

Clester Johnson

His son, C.J., is a redshirt freshman wide receiver with Wyoming after attending Bellevue West High in Bellevue, Nebraska.

The Johnsons were the first father-son duo to win Gatorade State Player of the Year awards. Clester won it in 1991, and C.J won it in 2014.

Comparisons have been and will continue to be made between Clester and his son.

Mike Grant is a good person to ask about the two Johnsons.

Grant was a graduate assistant coach at Nebraska while Clester was there. Grant was hired as UW’s wide receivers coach back in January.

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Grant talks about UW’s wide receivers

New Wyoming wide receivers coach Mike Grant hit the ground running when he was hired back in late January.

Mike Grant

Mike Grant

Grant has 22 years of experience as a college coach, and was on Nebraska’s staff as a graduate assistant when current UW coach Craig Bohl was an assistant with the Cornhuskers.

Grant has two veteran receivers to work with in seniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt, and has liked what he’s seen from both so far this spring, and even going back to winter workouts.

I asked Grant about UW’s young receivers, and here’s what he said about sophomores James Price and Justice Murphy, along with redshirt freshman C.J. Johnson. Here’s what he said.

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Bohl wants to see more from UW’s young wide receivers

There was a lot of publicity and hype for Wyoming’s five true freshmen wide receivers this season. I wrote my share of stories and blog posts about them.

But through four games, there hasn’t been much production.

James Price

James Price

James Price caught two passes for 26 yards in UW’s 38-28 loss to New Mexico last Saturday. Both of those came late when the game was already decided. Those were the first two catches of his career. Joe Parker, who enrolled at UW in January and went through spring drills, has caught two passes for 10 yards.

The other three — Justice Murphy, Dameko Doddles and C.J. Johnson have yet to catch a pass. Murphy and Doddles have played. Johnson will redshirt this season. Murphy scored a touchdown in UW’s 48-29 home loss to Eastern Michigan on Sept. 12 on a fly sweep. He also fumbled later in the game on a similar play.

“We’ve tried to integrate guys into games, but we’re not completely happy with all our freshmen wide receivers, though. They need to take a step forward,” coach Craig Bohl said. “That may mean feeding them with a fire hose. (Juniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt) have played some excellent football, but we need to find more than two. We’re pushing some of those guys.”

Another young wide receiver Bohl said UW will take a look at in practice this week is true freshman walk-on Tayton Montgomery, a Cheyenne Central graduate, at 5-11, 165 pounds.

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