Cowboys begin fall camp Monday

Players reported Sunday, and the first practice of fall camp for the Wyoming football team is Monday morning. There is no media access to Monday’s practice because UW will have its media day for football at noon Monday.

Craig Bohl

But during the MW Media Summit in Las Vegas I talked to fourth-year coach Craig Bohl and junior safety Andrew Wingard about a few things about the team heading into camp.

This is what Bohl said about the position battles he expects to see in camp: “At running back, we made progress during the spring, and I would like to and see someone come to forefront there. At tight end, we have a lot of players, but they are guys who have not played a lot. I also see a pretty intense battle at cornerback. We have some experienced players, but a young guy like (sophomore) Tyler Hall really came on during the spring.”

Sophomore Milo Hall came out of spring as the starter at running back, but junior Nico Evans and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet aren’t that far behind. Two Wyoming

Milo Hall

products are atop the depth chart at tight end in junior Josh Harshman of Casper and junior Austin Fort of Gillette. Junior Tyree Mayfield may be the most talented tight end UW has, but he is listed third on the depth chart entering fall camp. Hall earned one of the two starting jobs at cornerback after spring drills, but junior Antonio Hull and seniors Robert Priester and Rico Gafford have played a lot of football for the Cowboys.

“The only position we don’t figure to be a lot of competition (in terms of being the starter) is at quarterback,” said Bohl with a smile when talking about junior quarterback Josh Allen, the preseason MW Offensive Player of the Year voted on by the media.

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VIDEO: Bohl, Allen talk at MW Media Summit

Wyoming and the other five Mountain West Mountain Division teams took center stage Wednesday at the MW Media Summit in Las Vegas.

Here are some interviews I shot of UW junior quarterback Josh Allen and fourth-year coach Craig Bohl.

Here’s Allen:

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How I voted in the preseason All-MW football team

The annual Mountain West “Media Summit” kicked off Tuesday at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Simply put, it’s MW football media days. The league just gave it a fancy new name.

The preseason All-MW team and predicted order of finish was announced Tuesday morning. Both were voted by selected media, including myself.

Here’s how the voting turned out:

2017 Preseason All-MW Football Team

Offense

QB: Josh Allen**, jr., Wyoming

WR: Michael Gallup*, sr., Colorado State; Devonte Boyd, sr., UNLV

RB: Rashaad Penny, sr., San Diego State*; Tyrone Owens, jr., New Mexico

OL: Jake Bennett**, sr., Colorado State; Austin Corbett**, sr., Nevada, Dejon Allen**, sr., Hawaii, Aaron Jenkins, jr., New Mexico; Mason Hampton, sr., Boise State.

TE: David Wells**, sr., San Diego State

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A look at the numbers from Wyoming spring football

Wyoming concluded spring football Saturday with its annual spring game. The Gold squad beat the Brown 3-0. The way the teams were divided, it was the backups that did all the scoring. UW’s No. 1 defense got the best of the No. 1 offense.

Kind of tough to read too much into the results from the spring game, although it does appear UW’s defense will be better. It needs to be after allowing 34 points and 453 yards per game last season.

Here is coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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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.

Thoughts, observations through two weeks of Wyoming spring football

Wyoming is through two weeks and six practices of spring football. Three more weeks and nine practices to go.

Andrew Wingard

Through the first two weeks, there hasn’t been any earth-shattering news. Perhaps the most significant can this past Thursday when junior safety Andrew Wingard broke his left hand making a tackle during a scrimmage period. Wingard, who will alternate this spring between free and strong safety, will miss the rest of spring. However, the injury won’t require surgery and he should fine for summer workouts and fall camp in August.
Wingard joked that he is like a graduate assistant now as he watches the rest of spring, and also helps two young UW safeties — sophomore Alijah Halliburton and redshirt freshman Josh Boyd.
Here is fourth-year UW football coach Craig Bohl after practice on Saturday, April 1.

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Thoughts on first week of spring practice for UW football

One week down, four to go.

Wyoming completed its first week of spring football practice Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. Saturday’s practice marked the first one in full pads.

Here’s what fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said after practice:

Media members are allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of each practice, so there isn’t a ton of specific information I can provide, but here are some of the things that stood out to me after the first week:

— A lot of people ask me who made the most gains weight-wise from the end of last season until now. UW’s spring roster lists weights from last season. But I can tell you that junior offensive tackle Zach Wallace, who played at 297 last season, is up to around 310 this spring. All of UW’s tight ends did well in the weight room. I hardly recognized junior Josh Harshman when I went to the first practice. He looks a lot thicker, and I’ve been told he is around 235-237 pounds. He was in the 220s last season. Also, junior safety Marcus Epps looks a lot thicker.

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Recruiting rankings can be highly overrated

Another recruiting class is in the books for Wyoming football as the Cowboys signed 24 players Wednesday.

In 20-plus years of covering UW sports, I’ve never heard a coach have a bad thing to say about their recruiting classes — no matter the sport and no matter the coach. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a coach say: “This class is OK, not great, but OK,” or “We didn’t sign a very good class.”

One big thing a lot of people — and the media – looks at in recruiting classes is the number of stars by their names given out by the numerous online recruiting websites like rivals.com, 247sports, scout.com — just to name a few.

Those of you who follow UW football and know UW football know that these national outlets normally don’t think highly of the Cowboys’ recruiting classes. Four and five-star recruits don’t sign with UW. The result are classes ranked near the bottom of all the 120-plus Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

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Poinsettia Bowl postgame thoughts

It wasn’t the ending players, coaches and fans wanted, but if anything, UW’s 24-21 loss to Brigham Young in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl was entertaining and exciting — at least in the second half.

The Cowboys (8-6) followed a familiar pattern as the season concluded. Slow or sluggish starts to games — even extending to the first half and third quarter — and then a furious rally late.

But just like in the 27-24 loss to San Diego State in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 3, that rally fell short.

Some initial thoughts/observations:

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

— Disappointing to see junior running back Brian Hill benched for the first quarter by third-year coach Craig Bohl, who said after the game it was a “coach’s decision.” Obviously, Hill didn’t do anything earth-shattering wrong, but disappointing to see. Would things have changed if he played? Maybe, maybe not. Hill played well when he returned (93 yards, 1 TD, and one catch for 19 yards). I thought senior Shaun Wick played really well — even when Hill returned. Wick had 13 carries for 55 yards and caught one pass for six yards.

— Sunny San Diego didn’t live up to its hype. Yeah, the game was at night but it rained like crazy in the first half. Both teams had to play in it, but it definitely affected UW the worst. A bobbled snap on a punt (the snap was good) and a botched hold on a field goal (the snap was good) cost UW dearly. Other shortcomings cost UW, but those special teams gaffs hurt a lot.

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Poinsettia Bowl pregame primer

I’ve done this all season, so why stop now. Here’s my No. 1 key for Wyoming in tonight’s Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. MT at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The game is televised on ESPN.

Players making plays: Meaning Wyoming’s best players must make plays. Whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, the guys the Cowboys have leaned on throughout the season must be good from start to finish. If some unsung players do so, even better. But in big games like this, big-time players make big-time plays.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Nineteen seniors will play their last game for UW. Some will have bigger roles than others, but one who will have the biggest role is middle linebacker Lucas Wacha, who also is a team captain. This is what third-year-coach Craig Bohl said of Wacha earlier this week in San Diego.

“The biggest transition he made was taking ownership in the defense. I saw a transition last year when we were struggling, he always had a positive attitude and at times challenged some of the guys that weren’t performing or preparing to perform the way they needed to.

“They say nice guys are a dime a dozen, but a leader is priceless. Lucas is a nice guy, but he’s a great leader.”

Wacha is third on the team with 104 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss, and is tied for third with three quarterback sacks. He needs three tackles to move into seventh place and 12 to be sixth in career tackles in school history. Wacha enters the game with 340 tackles.

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