UW spring football notes & quotes entering week No. 3

Wyoming spring football practice has hit about the midway point.

No final decisions on who will play and start in the 2019 opener against Missouri Aug. 31 have been decided, but even though the coaches won’t say as much, they likely have a good idea at some positions.

One concern this spring has been along the offensive line. UW lost junior guard Gavin Rush for the season with a torn ACL. That was a big blow to this group. Junior guard Logan Harris missed some time last week with a back injury, but is back at practice. Redshirt freshman Zach Watts has moved around between guard and tackle. Sophomore Keegan Cryder, who earned Freshman All-America honors last season as a center for the Cowboys, has been getting some reps at tackle. Cryder wasn’t supposed to do much this spring due to off-season knee surgery.

Not sure UW will have a lot of definite answers there coming out of spring, and it better hope junior tackle Alonzo Velasquez (knee) returns healthy for fall camp.

Because of the issues along the offensive line, UW hasn’t been able to double-rep much — if at all — this spring, meaning having two groups of offense vs. defense getting snaps.

“We’re a little bit behind where we normally would have been, but some springs are like this,” sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said.

— Last week I did a story on UW’s two most experienced interior defensive linemen in juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson. When I asked UW defensive tackles coach Pete Kaligis about who else is developing this spring behind Holt and Jackson, he mentioned a kid who may not see the field for the Cowboys, but had glowing things to say about — junior walk-on Justice Borton of Wheatland.

“Justice is so selfless, and that’s why he is a leader. He may not get on the field, and he knows that, but he will do anything for this team. The most important thing to him is we win on Saturdays. The team is more important to him than playing time. I can’t say enough about him. I am blessed to coaches all of these guys, but I love that kid. He is a rock in the locker room, and he’s going to pick people up.”

Borton has never played in a game for UW. He is listed at 6-foot-2, 272 pounds. He has practiced along both the offensive and defensive lines. Hard not to root for a kid like him, but any successful team needs guys like Borton.

— Another story I did last week was on senior wide receiver Austin Conway and his experience as a high school basketball official in Wyoming the last couple of years. Here is a link to that story in case you missed it.

Conway has been one of UW’s most productive and consistent receivers the last three years. This is what he said after I asked him his goals for his final season of playing college football.

“Trying to win a Mountain West championship and as many games as I can to leave a foundation for guys to continue on how coach Bohl wants to run this football team. Since I have been where we almost were MW champs, a bowl winner and not going to a bowl. I’ve seen it all. Stat-wise, I don’t care. I just wnat to win games. I want to come out with another couple of rings on my hand with a MW championship and a bowl win.”

— One last thing: I want to give a huge thank to you to Bohl. After practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays so far he has provided the media with dinner as we do interviews after practice. One night there was pizza, followed by sliders and fried oysters and then some barbecue. Bohl said it was for his appreciation to the media. As a media member for more than 25 years, it is very much appreciated.

For more UW sports coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

UW at New Mexico – pregame reading

Happy post-Thanksgiving all. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday weekend.

Here is some pregame reading prior to Wyoming’s regular-season finale at New Mexico Saturday. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys:

Good start: Wyoming needs to play well from start to finish, but a good start for the team, and in particular redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Vander Waal, is important. Especially for Vander Waal to get his confidence going and into the flow of the game. We’ve seen this season (last week against Air Force and in the opener at New Mexico State) that when Vander Waal starts well, he plays well through the course of games.

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UW vs. Air Force – pregame reading

A few notes and quotes to get you ready for Wyoming’s home finale against Air Force Saturday. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. MT from Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium, and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNEWS.

First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys:

Assignment sound: Meaning every player on Wyoming’s defense must do their jobs each and every play against Air Force’s option-oriented offense. This is an important aspect in any game, but it gets magnified going against option football. One missed assignment could result in a big play or touchdown.

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UW vs. San Jose St. pregame reading

A few notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and San Jose State. Kickoff is at noon MT from Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys in order to win the game:

Fast start: Wyoming needs to play well from start to finish, but getting out to a substantial lead at home against a San Jose State squad that hasn’t won a road game since 2016 would go a long way toward a victory. That hasn’t happened much for the Cowboys this season as they’ve been outscored 88-53 in the first half. The Spartans are coming off a win and are playing good football despite their 1-7 record. The closer this game is, and longer San Jose State believes it can win, the more dangerous it becomes for UW. For an example, look back at last season’s game in San Jose.

Agree or disagree? For more keys to the game and players to watch, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.

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Perfect time to get “The Border War” book

It is that time again — the annual Border War football game between Wyoming and Colorado State. The two teams meet for the 110th time at 8 p.m. Friday at CSU’s Canvas Stadium.

It is a great time for both Cowboys and Rams fans to get a copy of “The Border War” book co-authored by myself and Ryan Thorburn. The book depicts the long history of this rivalry, and includes some of the most memorable games and participants in this rivalry — the longest continual college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River.

I will be signing books from 4-6 p.m. Friday at the CSU Bookstore in the Lory Student Center. Hope to see a lot of Cowboys and Rams fans there. I may be a little biased, but it is a must-read for fans of both schools. And, if you are looking for a gift for fans of either school, this is a great opportunity to get a book.

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Wyoming vs. Utah St. – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s homecoming game for the University of Wyoming. The Cowboys host Utah State at 12:30 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium — their first home game since Sept. 29. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

Craig Bohl

“I think we need to look at personnel changes. There will be some schematic things that we need do. There’s times we’ve run the ball fairly effectively, and then what will occur is we’ve got to be more consistent as far as not shooting ourselves in the foot with a untimely penalty or something like that. There’s some things we can do to generate some competitive situations. There’s things we need to do to stay on the field on third down and we’re working hard on that. We have a real problem right now offensively extending drives because our third-down percentage conversion is so poor. A lot of times it’s not third down and long, it’s third down and makeables. We’re going to look at it all.” — Fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl

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Wyoming at Fresno St. – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Saturday’s football game between Wyoming and Fresno State. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m. MT from Bulldog Stadium in Fresno, California. The game is televised on ESPNU.

Brent Vigen

— “We need to protect better, and and that’s situational. Our third down production is killing us. We are below 30 percent and we need to be plus-40. Each game is different on how teams play us defensively. Getting open is part of it. The passing game is an 11-man deal. Ultimately, the quarterback being able to connect with (the receivers) and has enough time are key. We as coaches have to find the most effective ways to do that every given week. That’s what we’re aiming to do and we will take out a new page this week.” — UW associate head coach/offensive coordinator Brent Vigen

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Wyoming at Hawaii – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes for Wyoming’s football game tonight at Hawaii. Kick off is at 10 p.m. MT (6 p.m. in Honolulu. There is no regular TV coverage for us not in Hawaii. You can watch the game on a phone or tablet using the Stadium app, which is a free download. Here is a link in how to do that — if you haven’t already.

http://themw.com/sports/2018/9/5/where-to-watch-hawaii-football-on-spectrum.aspx

Craig Bohl

— “Your time table gets changed. Young people probably adapt better than coaches. You’re dealing with a four-hour time change. Getting players acclimated to a big time change is a challenge.” — fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl

See Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for my story on not just the time change, but other challenges UW and other teams face when having to travel to Hawaii to play football.

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Wyoming vs. Boise St. pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to the Mountain West opener for Wyoming and Boise State Saturday. Kick off is at 5 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Craig Bohl

— “They’ve got a good coaching staff that positions their players well. You just don’t see any weaknesses. They’ve balanced an explosive offense with a dynamic defense.” — fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl

— Fans for both teams likely remember the 2016 game in Laramie when UW recorded a fourth-quarter safety for the decisive points in a 30-28 victory. They also remember UW players — mostly defensive end Josiah Hall — doing his “safety dance” in the end zone as the officials decided on the call. Boise State made reference to this in its game notes this week: “Boise State will look to institute a “no-dancing” policy similar to the one in the town of Bomont in the 1984 film “Footloose.”

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Wyoming vs. Wofford – pregame reading

Some notes and quotes leading up to Wyoming’s final non-conference game with Wofford. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The game isn’t on regular TV, but can be streamed online at the MW Network.

If you can’t be at the game, or stream it online, join me for my live chat from the game beginning at 2 p.m. Links to the chat will be here and at wyosports.net.

Craig Bohl

— “They have not changed offensively through the years and have the same offensive coordinator for maybe 20-30 years. We have got a great deal of experience coaching against that scheme. They’ll play two quarterbacks and they’re very creative with what they do with their option scheme and they have answers for what you throw up defensively. Defensively they offer up a three-down look with some 300-pounders up front. They do what they do. They have elements of option and elements of shot gun. They have the quarterback under center sometimes and they run zone schemes. They can throw the ball, although they don’t throw the ball a ton. They all present challenges.” — fifth-year UW coach Craig Bohl talking about Wofford.

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