Wyoming plays at Iowa at 10 a.m. MT Saturday in the season-opener for both squads. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
To follow with tradition, here is my No. 1 key for UW in the game:
Balancing act: Despite the skills and abilities of junior quarterback Josh Allen, UW can’t be one-dimensional offensively. It has to run the ball, or at least run it well at critical times. That will be a tall task against a big and experienced Iowa front seven. Still, the Cowboys can’t make it easy for Iowa’s defense to come after Allen so some semblance of a running game is a must.
To me there were not a lot of big surprised, but a couple of small ones.
At running back, I was both a little surprised and happy to see sophomore Milo Hall as the starter — not that I have anything against the other two guys: junior Nico Evans and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet. But based on what the coaches said throughout spring, all three backs will play this season and the competition will continue into fall camp. That’s not saying Hall’s No. 1 spot is a fluke. But as I’ve written before, I think this will be a running back by committee type year for UW, and the guy who is playing the best will get the majority of the carries.
It’s the same deal at tight end. Juniors Josh Harshman of Casper or Austin Fort of Gillette — according to the depth chart — would start if there was a game played right now. Junior Tyree Mayfield is third. UW played three tight ends last season, even though senior Jacob Hollister was by far the go-to guy in the pass game. Harshman, Fort and Mayfield all will play, and likely will play a lot this season. Although, I will say it’s nice to see two Wyoming kids doing well at that position.
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.
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
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.”
–DT Sidney Malauulu, 6-3, 280, Sierra Vista, Ariz. (Buena HS). According to his Twitter account he committed to UW during his visit.
–LB Alex Bush, 6-2, 220, La Habra, Calif. (La Habra HS). Committed to UW via Twitter Saturday night.
–OG Ryan Cummings, 6-6, 310, Highlands Ranch, Colo. (Valor Christian HS)
–DB Brian Hill , 6-1, 192, Belleville, Ill. (Belleville West HS)
–DE Joshua Stanton, 6-3, 230, Valencia, Calif. (Valencia HS). Committed to UW last fall.
Also of note: QB Aaron Young of ASA College in New York has signed his letter of intent and plans to be on campus and attending classes at UW early next week. … Two other UW signees are also on campus: OL Richard Bettencourt (6-3, 288) from Meridian High in Meridian, Idaho and TE Jacob Hollister (6-4, 230) from Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz. … Stanton is the younger brother of UW senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton.