Wyoming-Air Force football postgame thoughts

If the first two Wyoming football games are any indication, you better not leave early or quit watching this team late in games.

The Cowboys rallied for a 17-13 victory late Saturday night in front of a good crowd of 21,246 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. For a game that kicked off at 8:20 p.m. and was on national television, I didn’t think UW would get 20,000 people in the stands.

The final scoring drive was fun to watch, and impressive since the offense didn’t do a whole lot prior to that. Here is some video highlights from that drive, including the game-winning touchdown pass from senior Colby Kirkegaard to senior tight end J.D. Krill with 58 seconds left in the game.

I thought the play-call on the game-winning touchdown was great. In fact, I thought UW should have gone to more of those boot-leg, misdirection type plays more in the game since Air Force did a good job of pursuing to the ball and stuffing the Cowboys’ run game.

That 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive was UW’s longest of the season.

Were you as surprised as I was that the Cowboys struggled to run the ball? Credit Air Force, no doubt, but 51 yards was a shocker. Kirkegaard wasn’t sacked, which was good compared to six against Montana the week before. Kirkegaard showed great poise on that last drive, and hopefully that will be a confidence-booster for him and the entire offense moving forward.

Here is Kirkegaard after the game:

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UW-Montana postgame notes and quotes

Here are some leftover notes and quotes from Wyoming’s 17-12 season-opening win over Montana Saturday:

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

–“It was a good start, but we can be better.” — UW coach Craig Bohl on UW having only one penalty in the game — an illegal motion penalty early in the fourth quarter — and how his team managed the clock throughout the game. UW’s time of possession was 34:54. It’s best last season was 28:31.

— “That why he was in there. He wa ble to make a play. He has a bright future. You never know they’re going to react, and he answered the bell.” — Bohl on the 18-yard run late in the fourth quarter by true freshman running back Brian Hill.

“I just kind of go out there and do it, and have fun doing it. I remember I was out there and (the public address system) was playing one song that I really like (Closing Time). I was like, that was my song and I was out there just running over guys.” — junior running back Shaun Wick on a couple of his second-half runs when he ran over and dragged Montana defenders for extra yardage.

–“That was amazing. I was so happy for him. I was like ‘that was my little brother out there making plays.’ ” — Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha on the blocked punt by his brother — sophomore tight end Eric Nzeocha.

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A look at position battles for UW heading into fall camp

Fall camp begins Monday for Wyoming football, and a lot needs to be figured out prior to the season-opener Aug. 30 against Montana.

But in terms of position battles, things likely will be relatively quiet.

UW’s depth chart prior to fall camp lists three positions that are “or” in terms of the starter. But no matter who the starter is, let’s make one thing clear: both guys at those positions will play — and need to play. All three are on defense, which is dangerously thin in terms od depth to begin with.

With that said, here is a breakdown of those three spots and who will likely end up as the starter.

Middle linebacker

Candidates: Jordan Stanton, Sr., 6-0, 246; Alex Borgs, Sr., 6-2, 229.

Jordan Stanton

Jordan Stanton

Who will start: Stanton, because he led the team in tackles last season — his first at UW after transferring from junior college — with 134. He also was tied for second with 10 tackles for loss and led the team with two interceptions. He simply is productive, which is what you want from your middle linebacker. Borgs has six career tackles in three seasons. However, he has a want-to that many coaches would like to see from all their players. Borgs is from Germany and has had to deal with numerous defensive schemes and changes over his career. If he picks up where he left off from spring drills, he will be a good backup behind Stanton and can give UW some quality snaps. It is vital that Borgs can, even in a backup role, so Stanton is not on the field so much.

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Thoughts of UW football depth chart entering fall camp

Wyoming released its football depth chart prior to the start of fall camp, which begins Monday.

There wasn’t much change from this depth chart compared to the one that was released in April after spring drills.

Dominic Rufran

Dominic Rufran

Senior receiver Dominic Rufran was listed in the most updated depth chart as the starter at one of the two receiver spots. Rufran missed spring drills recovering from a broken foot suffered during winter workouts, and was not listed on the depth chart coming out of spring. But as the team’s leading returning receiver, and with a chance to be among the top five all-time at UW in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns with a solid season in 2014, it is no surprise Rufran is a starter.

There is only one fullback listed in redshirt freshman Drew Van Maanen. Sophomore Brandon Lukenbill, a walk-on, did not return after school ended in May. First-year coach Craig Bohl said some true freshmen walk-ons will get looks at full back in fall camp.

Speaking of true freshmen, none of those guys that came in this summer are listed on the latest depth chart. How many will make it into the two-deep by the time UW hosts Montana Aug. 30  will be interesting.

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Bohl not a fan of morning practices

All of Wyoming’s weekday spring practices are in the mornings. The previous coaching staff did that last spring and last fall. Due to the way the players’ class schedule was set up for this semester, new coach Craig Bohl and his staff had to go along with it.

But Bohl said after Monday’s fourth practice that won’t be the case in the future.

“These morning practices after this semester are going to be done,” he said. “I’m convinced it is a great schedule for the coaches, but it’s not for the student-athlete. It’s not about the coaches, its about the student-athlete. After 30 years of coaching, I’m not convinced this is the best thing for the student-athlete.”

The Cowboys split time inside and outside Monday morning. Here is some video from Monday’s practice:

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VIDEO: Cowboys Coaches Clinic: Nick Danielson

This is the last of a 10-part series of video interviews with University of Wyoming football coaches, and how they teach and coach certain aspects of the game. This one features tight ends coach Nick Danielson.

Danielson has senior Spencer Bruce, junior J.D. Krill and true freshman Drew Van Maanen go though some run-blocking drills.

Kankolongo suspended for targeting

Just minutes before coach Dave Christensen’s Monday news conference, media members got word that Wyoming junior linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo was suspended for one game by the Mountain West for targeting.

This coming after a hit by Kankolongo on Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste on a

Nehemie Kankolongo

Nehemie Kankolongo

kickoff return in the second quarter. It was a big hit. It caused a fumble, UW recovered and scored a touchdown en route to its 56-23 road victory.

There was no penalty on Kankolongo on the play. There was a penalty, but it was for too much celebrating by the Cowboys. The MW reviewed the play, and made its decision, and according to its press release had the right to make that decision.

What do you think folks, was this targeting and should Kankolongo have been suspended? Let me know what you think.

From what replays I saw, it looked like he used his arm to make the initial hit. One could argue he lunged his body toward LaCoste, but it also looked like he was blocked or pushed into him as well.

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UW announces depth chart for Nebraska

Wyoming’s first depth chart of the season for Saturday’s game at Nebraska came out Monday, and there were not a lot of surprises.

Eight first-year players are projected to start — three true freshmen, one redshirt freshmen, two redshirt juniors and two junior-college transfers. Here are some notable items from Monday’s depth chart:

–True freshman receiver Tanner Gentry will start at one of the four receiver spots. Gentry rapidly climbed up the depth chart throughout fall camp. He beat out junior Trey Norman.

–Senior Robert Herron, juniors Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne are the other starting receivers. Others listed on the depth chart this week are redshirt freshmen Eric Nzeocha, Nico Brown, Trent Sewell, Tanner Simpson and Jake Maulhardt; senior Jarrod Darden (a transfer from Colorado), and juniors Keenan Montgomery, Norman and Justin Berger.

–Junior-college transfer Tyran Finley will start at cornerback opposite of junior Blair Burns. Not a surprise there since the injury to junior DeAndre Jones midway through camp.

–Three of the four backups at the cornerback and safety positions are manned by guys who have never played a game at UW. True freshman Tim Hayes is behind Burns at one cornerback spot. Redshirt freshman Cortland Fort, who has gone back and forth from cornerback and safety, is behind Finley. True freshman Xavier Lewis is the backup at strong safety behind junior Darrenn White. Jones, who was the starter at cornerback when fall camp started before he was injured, is the backup for senior Marqueston Huff at free safety.

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UW football brings show to Cheyenne

Wyoming’s football team used one of its practices to prepare for its season-opener a week from today at No. 18 Nebraska to show the fans in Cheyenne what it has.

Wyoming sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker Siaosi Hala'api'api signs the short of a young fan after the Cowboys practiced at Cheyenne Central High Saturday afternoon. The event was dubbed "Cowboys in the Capital."/Photo by Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Wyoming sophomore defensive end/outside linebacker Siaosi Hala’api’api signs the short of a young fan after the Cowboys practiced at Cheyenne Central High Saturday afternoon. The event was dubbed “Cowboys in the Capital.”/Photo by Blaine McCartney, Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Dubbed as the “Cowboys in the Capital,” UW practiced for about two hours at Cheyenne Central’s Riske Field. Between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the event. Players and coaches signed autographs after practice.

It was a good outreach effort by UW, and one of the first major efforts from the football program in quite some time. It makes sense to come to Cheyenne as it has more than 8,000 UW alumns living there.

Jackson Gray, 3, shows University of Wyoming of Wyoming running back Brandon Miller how hold he his before having his football signed by him after the Cowboys finished practice Saturday afternoon at Riske Field in Cheyenne. The Cowboys will open the season on the road against No. 18 Nebraska a week from Saturday. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

Jackson Gray, 3, shows University of Wyoming of Wyoming running back Brandon Miller how hold he his before having his football signed by him after the Cowboys finished practice Saturday afternoon at Riske Field in Cheyenne. The Cowboys will open the season on the road against No. 18 Nebraska a week from Saturday. Blaine McCartney/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

“I looked up in the stands at one time and I said ‘holy cow, this place is packed,’ ” coach Dave Christensen said. “There were lines everywhere. It was great.”

The players also seemed to enjoy it.

“It was neat to practice in front of an atmosphere like this,” junior quarterback Brett Smith said. “I expected it. There is a lot of passion for Wyoming football in this sate, and it is always great to play in front of the Wyoming fans. I think this was kind of an ego boost for everybody.”

Added junior conrerback Blair Burns:  “It’s great to come out an show them what we are made of. It was a great opportunity to practice in front of fans. Next week we are going to be playing in front of 90,000. Maybe next year we ill take it around the state.”

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UW’s offensive depth chart for Nebraska

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen will release his first depth chart of the season Monday.

But I thought I would take a shot of predicting how it will look now, starting with the offense. Look for the defense and special teams to come later this weekend. As always, I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions.



Brett Smith, Jr., 6-3, 206

Jason Thompson, So., 6-2, 206

Colby Kirkegaard, Sr., 6-3, 205

Tommy Thornton, Fr., 6-1, 205

Notes: There was never a doubt Smith would be the starter. In three fall camp scrimmages Smith was 39-55 for 553 yards with nine TDs and one INT. … Thompson also had a solid camp. He was 33-49 for 440 yards with four TDs and two INTs. … There was good competition at the No. 3 spot. I give Kirkegaard the edge based on his experience, but it would not surprise me if Thornton is No. 3 on Monday.

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