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.

UW-Northern Colorado: What they are saying

Quotes and comments from the University of Wyoming’s 35-7 victory over Northern Colorado last Saturday in Laramie.

— “A team that lost to a (NCAA) Division II team is making our ‘D’ look silly. … We better start games better offensively or we will get in a deep hole against good teams.” — via Jeff from the UW-Northern Colorado live chat.

— “Against this defense we should score more than against Nebraska.” — via Xman from the UW-Northern Colorado live chat.

— “Coach C is going to have some concerns after this game.” — via XYZ from the UW-Northern Colorado live chat.

— “Brett is a gamer, heals up quick. I think without his legs this ‘O’ doesn’t operate at the same tempo. We need him for conference play at 100 percent.” — via jt from the UW-Northern Colorado live chat. UW junior starting quarterback Brett Smith hurt his right ankle on the third play of the game. Despite the ankle being heavily wrapped, Smith played the rest of the game.

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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 football fall camp: Day 7

Coaches get a better feel for a practice or scrimmage after watching film. After Monday’s morning practice coach Dave Christensen said a few things stood out after watching the film of Sunday’s first scrimmage of fall camp.

–Christensen was impressed with the plays made by junior Tyran Finley, both at cornerback and returning punts. Finley, a junior-college transfer this summer, returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown. The interception was thrown by junior starter Brett Smith

–He thought all of the quarterbacks managed the offense well. Smith and sophomore backup Jason Thompson got most of the reps, and had most of the production. Combined they were 39-of-49 for 529 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception.

–Christensen liked the play of the starting offensive line.

–Defensively, Christensen  wants to see more pressure on the quarterback and for the unit to get off the field. There were only two three-and-outs during the scrimmage.

Here is some video highlights during a team period during Monday morning’s practice.

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Christensen wants team to be more physical

Saturday was the first day Wyoming practiced in full pads during fall camp, and one of the first things fifth-year coach Dave Christensen talked to his team about was being more physical.

He also addressed that with the media after practice.

“We have to be more physical,” he said. “At times we were, but it is something you have to do consistently. We will keep working on it. I was pleased with effort, but we have to be a more physical football team.”

Here is a video link to a few highlights of one of the team periods from Saturday’s practice.

Newcomers working their way up

Junior-college transfer Tyran Finley and true freshman Timmy Hayes worked with the No. 2 defense at cornerback during team periods Saturday, as did true freshman Xavier Lewis and redshirt freshman Cortland Fort at the safety spots.

Lewis and Fort both had interceptions during practice.

“They are competing well and the competition level there is rising,” Christensen said.

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UW post-spring defensive analysis

Spring was a time of experimentation for Wyoming.

Defensive coordinator Chris Tormey looked at a lot of players at different positions. Some moves look to be permanent, others remain to be seen.

UW will show both 4-3 and 3-4 looks. The buck position (combination defensive end and outside linebacker) often will dictate the formation — along with the down-and-distance and opponent.

Don’t get caught up in the formations. UW showed a lot of formations last season, and in the first four since Dave Christensen has been the coach. The goal is to get the best 11 players on the field. Some of those players emerged during the spring. Others already asserted themselves prior to spring, and others still need to be found when fall camp starts in early August.

The Cowboys will try to put more pressure on the quarterback in 2013, after just 14 sacks last season. That could come from a variety of different positions and angles. Those who follow the team also know the run defense must improve (232.3 yards per game last season) as does the third-down defense (51 percent conversion rate).

One thing I drew from the spring that the starting 11 guys should be decent — but not dominant. The depth after that still is a work in progress.

Here is my position-by-position breakdown of the defense, and some thoughts:

Defensive line

Eddie Yarbrough

Eddie Yarbrough

Projected starters: Patrick Merterns (Sr., DT or NT), Sonny Puletasi (Jr., DE), Eddie Yarbrough (So., DE or DT); Siaosi Hala’api’api (buck).

Who else plays: Uso Olive (R-Fr., DT or NT); Justin Bernthaler (Sr., DE or DT).

Need to see more from: Troy Boyland (Jr., DT); Chase Appleby (R-Fr., DT or NT); James Diamanti (Fr., DT); Sam Hardy (R-Fr., DE or DT).

My thoughts: Expect the starters, along with Olive and Bernthaler (who missed much of spring with an injury) to be in the rotation and all see a lot of snaps. Boyland is a junior-college transfer who is 6-2, 310 pounds, but needs to be in better shape and maybe drop some weight to be effective. Diamanti is a true freshman who did some good things along the line on special teams (blocked a field goal in the spring game), and could this season. He enrolled at UW in January and the time in the program helped a lot. UW would get a big boost if Boyland, Appleby and/or Hardy show improvement in fall camp. Hala’api’api moved from middle linebacker early in the spring, and could be good at the buck. Yarbrough was the team’s most improved lineman after the spring, and I think their best lineman overall. He is best at DE, but got some looks inside as spring went on.

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Cowboys continue to experiment on defense

Marqueston Huff

Marqueston Huff

Wyoming has been taking a look at a lot of guys at a lot of different positions this spring, especially on defense.

The latest experiments has senior cornerback Marqueston Huff getting a look at safety, and junior Sonny Puletasi and sophomore Siaosi Hala’api’api on the field together at defensive end, with Hala’api’api playing the buck (combination defensive end and outside linebacker). Puletasi has spend most of the spring as the starting buck.

Also, sophomore defensive end Eddie Yarbrough is getting some looks at defensive tackle.

“We are just moving guys around, as I’ve said all spring,” coach Dave Christensen said after Monday’s 12th of 15 spring practices. “He’s got the ability to do it. We are search for all the right pieces at the right places.”

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UW signs CB from Army Prep

Cortland Fort, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback who was at Army Prep in 2011 signed with the University of Wyoming Thursday. Fort visited UW last weekend.

Fort is from Etiwanda, Calif., where he attended Etiwanda High. He received a two-star rating out of five by and out as a senior in high school where he was a First Team Baseline League pick.

In 2010 he attended the Nike Sparq All-Combine where he was rated as the second-best cornerback and the seventh-best prospect out of 1,300.

UW signed defensive back B.J. Hendrix (5-10, 185) from Rochester (Minn.) Community and Technical College a couple of weeks ago. Hendrix and Fort complete the Cowboys’ 2012 recruiting class.

UW starts spring football  March 19.