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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Wyoming football notes, and some Halloween fun

Another Monday, another round of interviews with Wyoming football coaches and players — not to mention a handful of conference and national honors/recognition.

The Cowboys were named the National Team of the Week by the Football Writers Association of American for their 30-28 win last Saturday over previously No. 13 Boise State (now No. 24). Senior Ethan Wood was  named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week in the country. Tight end Jacob Hollister and nose tackle Chase Appleby were the Mountain West Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.

Here is this week’s depth chart heading into Saturday’s game with Utah State:

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Postgame thoughts of Wyoming’s 30-28 win over Boise State

Too bad the month of October has to end, because the Wyoming football team has been on a roll.

The Cowboys won their fourth straight game — all in October — with their 30-28 home win over No. 13 Boise State, which fell to No. 24 in the AP poll that was released Sunday.

A lot of late-game dramatics Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. Here are some of the highlights, which include UW’s game-tying two-point conversion (I just got off the press box elevator when the touchdown was scored), along with the famous safety by senior nose tackle Chase Appleby.

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Ties vary to Air Force for UW players from Colorado Springs

The Air Force Academy is located just north of Colorado Springs, Colorado. As a service academy, its recruiting base is national, not just local.

Wyoming has six players on its roster from Colorado Springs, and their ties to the Air Force academy and Air Force football varies.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

Senior punter Ethan Wood (Liberty HS) lived on the Air Force Academy for a brief time while his father worked there. He also attended a few football games as a kid.

Wood is coming off one of his best games in UW’s 38-17 win at Colorado State last Saturday. Wood averaged 44.5 yards per punt, four of his six punts were downed inside the 20-yard line — including two at the 1.

Wood said that was one of his best games in his career. However, he also said last year’s game at Air Force that UW  lost 31-17 may have been his best-ever. He punted eight times for a 47.1-yard average, including a long of 62 yards. Four of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

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Aussie style worked well for Wood

Wyoming senior punter Ethan Wood works hard on his craft, and as football continues to evolve, so does the way punters kick the ball.

Wood used an Aussie style punt three times last week against UC Davis to pin the Aggies inside the 20-yard line.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

What is Aussie style punting? I’ll let Wood tell you.

“I drop the ball with the nose down a little bit, and hit the nose of the ball with my toe in order to the get the ball to back-spin,” he said. “The hope is to when the ball hits the ground, it bounces straight up or backwards instead of going forward on a normal punt.”

Wood pinned UC Davis at its own 19, 3 and 17-yard lines.

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The unlikely story of Nick Szpor

Quickly, who can tell me who Nick Szpor is?

Hint: He’s a starter for Wyoming’s football team as a true freshman walk-on.

Still no clue?

Nick Szpor

Nick Szpor

Szpor came to UW this summer as a 6-foot-3, 202-pound true freshman walk-on quarterback from Central High in Fresno, California, right in Fresno State’s backyard.

“One of my best friends from home picked Wyoming to go to school as a regular student, and he offered to bring me out here to check things out,” Szpor said. “My dad found (UW director of recruiting) Gordie Haug’s email address and contacted him.

“We took a trip here. Gordie gave us a tour. We met with (UW offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) Brent Vigen and I was offered a walk-on spot.”

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Images from UW football fall camp

Fall camp concluded for Wyoming Saturday with its second and final scrimmage.

Hope you enjoyed the video highlights and interviews I posted throughout camp. I shot a few photos I wanted to share that I though were fun and somewhat funny.

Brendan Turelli and his short shorts.

Brendan Turelli and his short shorts.

First, senior long snapper Brendan Turelli is one of my favorite guys on the team. A great guy who does his job well. During the last week of camp, Turelli and senior punter Ethan Wood got some pairs of workout shorts from UW’s equipment guys, and they are very much old school. Here is Turelli showing them off. Sorry for the titled angle on all these photos you are about to see. Both Wood and Turelli said they made them look like your old-school gym teacher/coach. I think that description does it justice.

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UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming had its first two-a-day session of fall camp Saturday. The morning practice was in War Memorial Stadium. The players were in shorts and “spider pads,” which are a step down from shoulder pads.

The afternoon practice was expected to be in full pads with some scrimmaging. However, that practice was closed to the public and media.

Here are some highlights from the morning practice.

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UW fall camp — Day 1

Wyoming started fall camp Monday morning at the North 40 practice fields on campus.

As in the past, media was allowed to watch the first 30 minutes. Here are some video highlights from the morning. The Cowboys worked a lot of forcing and recovering fumbles early on. Forcing more turnovers is a must. Last season, UW forced just 10 turnovers (five fumbles and five interceptions).

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UW-Eastern Michigan football: notes, quotes and video

First, my No. 1 key for Wyoming in its game Saturday with Eastern Michigan:

Run the football: Pretty simple. Wyoming has get back to what it does best offensively. Twenty-nine yards last week versus North Dakota won’t cut it. The run game will keep a vulnerable UW defense off the field, and also take pressure off whoever plays quarterback for the Cowboys today. UW needs to run the ball, then run it some more.

More on that, and other things about the game in my video preview:

A few other notes and quotes:

–“We’ve got to move forward. I learned a long time ago if you look in the rear-view mirror a long time, you’re going to have those same results.” — UW coach Craig Bohl after last week’s 24-13 season-opening loss to North Dakota.

— Senior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough ranks 10th nationally among all active FBS players with 29.5 tackles for loss. He had one last week against North Dakota.

Tanner Gentry

Tanner Gentry

–“He was doing a good job of getting open, and I also feel like I have good chemistry with him. I know where he’s going and what he’s going to do. I feel comfortable with all the guys, too. It’s still coming along with the young guys.” — UW redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman on the play of junior receiver Tanner Gentry last week (nine catches for 176 yards and a touchdown) and his comfort level with the Cowboys’ other wide receivers.

— Gentry leads the Mountain West after one week of games in catches and receiving yards. His receiving yards is fifth nationally and his catches are ninth.

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