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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Allen has a new favorite throw; other UW football notes

Last week, Wyoming redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 27-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry in the fourth quarter against then No. 13 Boise

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

State was his most memorable throw. In fact, Allen told me Monday that at the time, that throw was “the best I’ve made in my life.”

Fast-forward to a week later and Allen has new one.

Allen said the 46-yard touchdown pass he threw to Gentry late in the first half of the Cowboys’ 52-28 win over Utah State moved to the top of his list. Allen scrambled to his left, and the right-hander threw a dart to Gentry who was able to drag his feet in bounds.

“That was a tough throw to make. Maybe nine times out of 10 I don’t make it, but it only needed to be made once,” Allen said.

Allen threw four touchdown passes and ran for a fifth against Utah State. He was named the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Logan Wilson was named the MW Defensive Player of the Week. It is the second straight week UW has had the MW Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Last week it was senior tight end Jacob Hollister and senior nose tackle Chase Appleby.

It also is the third consecutive week UW has had the MW Offensive Player of the Week. On Oct. 24 junior running back Brian Hill got it.

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Wyoming 52, Utah State 28 – postgame thoughts

The first half and fourth quarter were impressive. The third quarter: not so much.

But in the end, Wyoming’s 52-28 home win over Utah State in front of a solid crowd of 17,837 for the late-night kickoff was a good win. The Cowboys won their fifth straight game, improve to 7-2 overall and remain in first place in the Mountain Division of the MW at 5-0.

Here is third-year coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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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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Wyoming at Nevada football primer

Some news and notes prior to Wyoming’s game at Nevada, which kicks off at 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday at Mackay Stadium in Reno.

Per normal, here is my No. 1 key to the game for the Cowboys:

James Butler

James Butler

The Butler didn’t do it: Wyoming’s defense must slow down Nevada junior running back James Butler, who is fourth in the Mountain West in rushing (117.4 yards per game) and third in all-purpose yards (149.3 ypg). UW did a good job against Butler last season as he had 10 carries for 51 yards, but that was due in large part to it leading 28-7 late in the third quarter. If Butler gets going, that opens other things up for Nevada’s offense.

Do you agree or disagree? For more keys to the game, and also a story on Butler, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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Wyoming vs. Northern Illinois State football primer

Some news, notes and quotes for Wyoming’s season-opening game Saturday night at home against Northern Illinois. Kick off is at 8:30 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.

First, my No. 1 key for the Cowboys:

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

A good start: Third-year UW coach Craig Bohl said earlier this week he wants his team to start strong and finish stronger throughout the season. The Cowboys must get off to a good start, which was a problem last season as they were outscored 125-28 in the first quarter. Finishing stronger won’t make a difference if UW finds itself in an early hole like it did most of the 2015.

Agree or disagree? For more keys and coverage of the game, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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Cowboys release depth chart for opener vs. Northern Illinois

We’re finally in game-week mode for Wyoming football, and that means the first depth chart of the regular season.

Instead of just listing names, here is a photo of the first depth chart.

Wyoming football depth chart vs. Northern Illinois

Wyoming football depth chart vs. Northern Illinois

Not a lot of big surprises here. Perhaps the biggest is redshirt freshman walk-on Josiah Hall starting at one defensive end spot over sophomore Kevin Prosser. Both will play, but Hall gives UW a little more size at 237 pounds. Prosser is 215. Third-year UW coach Craig Bohl said: “It’s not a knock on Prosser, but more of a compliment to Hall.”

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Cowboys conclude fall camp with scrimmage

Third-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl had a lot of good things to say about Saturday’s final scrimmage of fall camp. However, no statistics or score were kept as there was not much full contact and UW’s top offensive and defensive units went up against the scout team.

But a few highlights included:

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

–Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen threw touchdown passes of 42 and 16 yards to senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry.

–Junior cornerback Rico Gafford returned two interceptions for a touchdown.

–Senior middle linebacker Lucas Wacha returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown.

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Updated weights to 2016 UW football roster

Wyoming released its latest roster Wednesday night with updated heights and weights. The previous roster UW had out was around late June to early July.

Not a lot changed in terms of heights, but here are some of the more noticeable weight differences.

Player                                      Old Roster                                  New Roster

FB Drew Van Maanen               230                                             241

*LB Cassh Maluia                      210                                             223

*LB Drew Harvey                       210                                             234

^DE Josiah Hall                         232                                              237

*OG Gavin Rush                       285                                              301

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