Cowboys’ O-line showing progress, will return experience

Two of the eight seniors on the Wyoming football roster are seniors — guard Troy Boyland and center Rafe Kiely.

Troy Boyland

Troy Boyland

However, in offensive line coach Scott Fuchs’ mind, he returns five starting offensive linemen for the 2016 season.

That’s because sophomore Charlie Renfree started the first 10 games this season at center. Kiely did some good things in practice late in the season, and Renfree was a bit banged up. Kiely started in UW’s Nov. 14 game at San Diego State and will start in the Cowboys’ season-finale Saturday at home against UNLV. Renfee and Kiely have split time in UW’s first 10 games, but Renfree saw most of the playing time.

Boyland started in nine of 11 games, but true freshman Kaden Jackson started two. And, both have played in all 11 games this season. Boyland moved from defensive line to offensive line this season.

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New roles for UW wide receivers amid Gentry injury

Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said Monday he’s “hopeful” junior wide receiver Tanner Gentry will play Saturday at Boise State after suffering a sprained shoulder in UW’s 28-21 win over Nevada last Saturday.

Gentry’s status for the game won’t be known until later this week, but it’s probably a long-shot that he plays. Gentry leads UW with 37 catches for 678 yards, and is tied for the team lead with four receiving touchdowns. His receiving  yards is 15th in the country, and his 96.9 receiving yards per game is 19th.

So, who steps up for the Cowboys while Gentry is out, whether it is just the Boise State game or future games?

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

The first guy is junior Jake Maulhardt, who is second behind Gentry with 36 catches for 366 yards, and is tied with Gentry on the team with four touchdowns. Maulhardt plays the ‘X’ receiver spot, while Gentry plays the ‘Y.’ Maulhardt is a bigger target than Gentry at 6-foot-6, but doesn’t have the speed Gentry has.

“My number may be called more,” Maulhardt said. “I need to capitalize on it an make plays for the team. If it happens, Im ready for it.”

The two guys who likely will see more playing time if Gentry is out are a pair of true freshmen — James Price and Joe Parker. Combined, those two have caught 7 passes for 68 yards this season.

James Price

James Price

Maulhardt thinks Price is similar to Gentry in terms of his size (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) and abilities. Parker is smaller (5-10, 182) and seems like more of a slot receiver than an edge guy. Maulhardt said true freshman Justice Murphy played a lot more last week against Nevada, and is “one of the most athletic guys on the team.”

Gentry and Maulhardt have caught 57 percent of UW’s completed passes this season. Offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said human nature often takes over when guys are pressed into stepping up for a team due to an injury to a teammate as compared to trying to compete for playing time when everyone is healthy and front-line guys are being productive.

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Cowboys’ offensive line seeking improvement

Scott Fuchs

Scott Fuchs

I asked Wyoming offensive line coach Scott Fuchs this week what some of the glaring concerns were with his guys in the Cowboys’ 24-13 season-opening loss to North Dakota last Saturday.

Fuchs wouldn’t use the term “glaring concerns,” but had this to say about what needs to improve heading into Saturday’s home game with Eastern Michigan.

“We talked about having  good idea of what (North Dakota) was going to do, some things get tweaked here or there, and our ability to adjust on the fly needs to be sharpened,” he said.

Troy Boyland

Troy Boyland

Fuchs said senior right offensive guard Troy Boyland didn’t play like a “savvy veteran,” but he isn’t as last week was his first college game along the offensive line after being an interior defensive lineman.

“It was much faster. Not to say we don’t practice fast, but during a game things like defenses slanting are really fast,” Boyland said. “It took us a while to adjust and get a hand of what they were doing. Once we settled down we did a lot better.”

UW ran for only 29 yards, and its top two running backs — senior Shaun Wick and sophomore Brian Hill — combined for only 16 carries. Boyland said the entire line needs to do a better job of making its blocks at the second level where the linebackers are.

Penalties also hurt where UW had eight for 96 yards in the game. Not all of those were on the offensive line, but there were a fair share of holding and face-mask penalties.

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UW football fall camp – Day 10

Wyoming practiced in War Memorial Stadium Wednesday morning after stretching in its indoor practice facility. It was cool enough with lows in the 30s Tuesday night in Laramie for the coaches not to worry about the heat index on the artificial playing surface in the stadium.

UW did some blitz work, and coach Craig Bohl liked what he saw: “I thought that our quarterbacks made some good decisions. There weren’t as many guys running free open, so as we integrate more and more of those schemes our execution’s improving.”

Seth Edeen

Seth Edeen

Was sad to hear that two in-state players for the Cowboys decided to call it a career due to health issues. Sophomore defensive end Seth Edeen of Cheyenne announced on Twitter late Tuesday night of his decision based on him having only one kidney. Junior wide receiver Tanner Simpson of Lander announced his decision on Twitter Wednesday morning due to a nagging foot issue.

Here is Edeen’s Tweet:

Tanner Simpson

Tanner Simpson

Here is Simpson’s Tweet:


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UW football fall camp – Day 1

I wish I could give you a lot of hard-hitting analysis and insight from Wyoming’s first practice of fall camp Monday morning in Laramie.

Unfortunately, as was the case last season, media members are allowed to watch only the first 30 minutes of practice, and not a whole lot happens during that time. And, with this being the first of 24 fall camp practices and the players in just helmets and shorts, there isn’t a lot to report.

Here is some video of UW’s quarterbacks getting in some early throws and drill work.


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Quarterbacks picking it up as spring drills draw to an end

There hasn’t been much drama with Wyoming’s quarterbacks in terms of who would be named the starter.

Cameron Coffman

Cameron Coffman

Senior Cameron Coffman was that guy just after UW’s first scrimmage of the spring a couple of weeks ago. Junior college transfer and sophomore Josh Allen remains the No. 2 quarterback.

But one thing second-year coach Craig Bohl has been disappointed with in UW’s two spring scrimmages has been the completion percentage from all of UW’s quarterbacks. The four currently on the roster now are a combined 26 of 66, a completion percentage of 39.3 percent.

Coffman has the best percentage at just under 50 percent at 13 of 27.

Allen, we’ve been told, has a big arm but is still learning to control it — as well as learn UW’s offense. In the two scrimmages Allen is 6 of 17.

Bohl said at the start of Wednesday’s 13th practice of the spring that Monday’s practice was the best day all of UW’s quarterbacks had throwing and completing passes. However, after Wednesday’s Bohl said said he’s still seeing a few too many errant throws and decisions.

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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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Fullbacks continue to evolve for Cowboys this spring

Everything was new for the Wyoming football team last year with a new coach, new schemes, etc., one of the newest positions continues to be a work in progress — fullback.

“I like the upward trend we’re on,” UW running backs coach Mike Bath said. “This offseason was big for these guys.”

Drew Van Maanen

Drew Van Maanen

UW returns all of its fullbacks that were on the roster last season, including the two that played in sophomore Drew Van Maanen and junior Jordan Ellis. Others who return include redshirt freshmen Wade Cicierski and Matt List.

The fullback isn’t asked to carry the ball much — if at all — for UW. Ellis was the only guy that did, and had just one carry for five yards. Blocking is the top priority for this group, although Van Maanen and Ellis caught two passes apiece last season.

Van Maanen saw the most playing time, and Bath said “with every snap he gets, he gets better. Now we’re building on the fundamentals from last season and refining them.”

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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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UW football coach breaks down Cowboys after three games

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl spoke to the media for about 25 minutes Monday during his weekly news conference, and one of the questions he was asked to assess the Cowboys after three games.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

“We have two good running backs (junior Shaun Wick and sophomore D.J. May). A quarterback (senior Colby Kirkegaard) who is making progress and shown he can make plays when he has to, has made decisions under duress and done some good things. He’s still inconsistent at times.

“Our offensive line is making progress, but is not as dominant as what we like. We have an experienced and capable receiving corps. I think they can make a lot of plays. We have a big, strong and physical defensive line that plays really hard, but we’re not as explosive as where we need to be. Our linebackers are solid. (Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha has shown he can run and play with most anybody out there.

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