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.
Extra practices and and an extra game are some of the benefits of bowl game, especially for younger players.
Wyoming is taking advantage of that as several players in its two deep roster on offense, defense and special teams return next season.
But it’s also a chance for those who are redshirting and are on the scout teams to get in more reps. Third-year coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday that at the end of some of UW’s practices for the Dec. 21 Poinsettia Bowl that some of the scout team guys will get a chance to scrimmage and get in some live action.
One of those was Monday night, and this is what Bohl said he liked from some of his younger guys.
“I thought (true freshman running back) Mike Green did some good things, along with (true freshman wide receiver) Parker Dumas on offense,” Bohl said. “On defense I liked some things from (true freshman linebacker) Jahmari Moore and (true freshman walk-on defensive end) Garrett Crall.”
The Wyoming offensive line is off to a solid start through three games of the 2016 season.
The Cowboys have averaged 216 rushing and 210 passing yards per game, and they’ve allowed just one quarterback sack.
There was some concern prior to the season when UW moved senior all-conference guard Chase Roullier to center, and put in true freshman Gavin Rush at left guard. To say the line play has been perfect would be false, but to say it’s been a weakness would be, too.
UW has started and played the same five guys through the first three games. Along with Roullier and Rush, there is sophomore Zach Wallace (left tackle), sophomore Kaden Jackson (right guard) and junior Ryan Cummings (right tackle).
“Things have gone really well,” Roullier said. “Most of the guys have at least a full year of experience, and that’s really helped us out.”
Wyoming practiced once Wednesday for about 1 hour and 10 minutes in War Memorial Stadium. That was planned by coach Craig Bohl, who said the team would lift weights and do some mental work in the afternoon.
UW’s final two-a-day session of fall camp is Thursday. It’s pattern for this was to go with a lighter practice in the morning, and a heavier one in the afternoon. However, Bohl said he will flip-flop that Thursday since Wednesday was a lighter day on the field.
Here are some highlights from the early portions of Wednesday’s practice.
Wyoming held its Tuesday morning practice at the North 40 practice fields, and third-year coach Craig Bohl wasn’t happy that UW’s facilities crew watered the grass fields prior to practice, which created a lot of slipping and mis-timing in certain instances.
Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl wasn’t pleased with what he saw from the Cowboys’ practice Wednesday — the 11th of fall camp.
I’ll let you listen to what Bohl had to say about it.
If you watched the entire Bohl video, you heard him say that senior wide receiver Jake Maulhardt and junior fullback Drew Van Maanen didn’t finish practice with “soft tissue issues.” That means hamstring strains. Senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry, junior cornerback Robert Priester and sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard — all starters — have been dealing with the same thing throughout camp and remain out. However, Bohl is optimistic all three will return soon.
Wyoming put on the shoulder pads for the first time this fall camp on Wednesday. The first practice in full pads is set for Friday.
UW did a lot of special teams and one-on-one drills during the early portions of Wednesday’s practice that the media was allowed to watch. Here are some highlights of the action.
Sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard (hamstring strain) had been limited during the first two days of camp as a precaution. He was expected to do more at Wednesday’s practice. Junior cornerback Robert Priester (hamstring strain) also has been limited more out of precaution, but still was limited Wednesday. Redshirt freshman Davion Freeman looks to be getting some of the reps with the No. 1 defense in place of Priester. Sophomore Chavez Pownell Jr. has received more reps in place of Wingard.
Fall camp begins Monday for Wyoming football, which consists of 24 practices.
There are lots of questions and storylines going into camp, but one that always intrigues me is who among the newcomers will play.
Last season, 26 true freshmen or redshirt freshmen played for the Cowboys, which was the seventh-most in the country.
Third-year coach Craig Bohl said during Mountain West Football Media Days in late July that he doesn’t expect as many this season, nor does he expect 16 true freshman to see playing time like in 2015.
But there will be some true freshmen who play, and Bohl said that three things play factors in that: physical ability, emotional maturity and need at certain positions.
Here are some true freshman Bohl mentioned to me who UW likely will take a hard look at during camp:
— WR John Okwoli: The 6-2, 205-pounder from Phoenix was a three-star recruit by ESPN and 247sports.com. He was one of the more highly-touted recruits in UW’s 2016 class. UW looks to be set among its top two receivers in seniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt. Redshirt freshman C.J. Johnson had a good spring. UW needs more wide receivers other than Gentry and Maulhardt to step up, and Okwoli could get a chance.