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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MW Championship Football Game – pregame primer

Are you ready for some championship football — in Laramie?

For the first time in school history, Wyoming hosts a conference championship game as it takes on San Diego State at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium. The winner will be crowned 2016 Mountain West champs.

This is UW’s first home football game in the month of December since 1902.

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

Adjusting on the fly: Both teams played each other two weeks ago so they have a good idea of what each other is about. However, both squads will tweak or change a few things, and the team that adjusts the best and fastest will have a significant edge.

For more keys, and more coverage leading up to today’s game, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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UW football weighs in on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be tough for college football players and coaches because, more often than not, they’re season is still going on.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

Wyoming is no different as it prepares to play its regular-season finale Saturday at New Mexico. Third-year coach Craig Bohl said there will be a “big team dinner” planned for Thanksgiving day.

I asked some guys on the team two questions leading into Thanksgiving: What they’re most thankful for and their favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.

For Bohl, he said he was most thankful for this season’s seniors and how they’ve bought in and stuck it out from the start. As for the food, he said cranberries and turkey.

Here are the responses from others:

True freshman kicker Cooper Rothe

Most thankful: My teammates. Even when I struggled early, they stuck by me, supported me and told me they wanted me because I was good.

Food: Pie, and anything sweet.

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Wyoming vs. No. 24 San Diego State – Pregame primer

Some pregame reading for Wyoming’s home-finale Saturday vs. No. 24-ranked San Diego State. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m., and the game is televised on CBS Sports Network.

Here is my No. 1 key to the game for UW in the game:

Offense is the best defense: Wyoming faces one of the nation’s best defenses today, and over the last 17 Mountain West games San Diego State has allowed an average of about 10 points per game. Still, the Cowboys must find a way to win the time of possession battle, finish drives with points and most importantly, keep its defense fresh so it’s not on the field for 97 plays like it was last week at UNLV.

For more keys, see Saturday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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Wyoming vs. Utah State football primer

Some pregame reading prior to tonight’s Wyoming football game with Utah State. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m. MT and televised on ESPN2.

First, my No. 1 key of the game for the Cowboys:

Focused and sharp: Wyoming’s win last week over Boise State was one of the program’s biggest in the last 20 years, but this is a  new week and an opponent that is more than capable of winning — especially if UW isn’t sharp in all three aspects of the game. The Cowboys need to play well from start to finish, and make sure their focus is on Utah State, not last week’s victory.

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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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Youngest UW wide receivers doing good things this season

The lead to my story in Friday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net, is about Wyoming’s wide receivers. Yes, seniors Tanner Gentry and Jake Maulhardt continue to get the majority of the catches and production. However, first-year wide receivers coach Mike Grant is pleased with the progress and improvement of some of the younger guys.

John Okwoli

John Okwoli

Taking that a step further, Grant also likes what he sees with his two two freshmen wide receivers — John Okwoli and Parker Dumas.

Okwoli hasn’t caught a pass this season, but has played in every game — mostly on special teams. Grant said the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Okwoli has a lot of ability. He wants to continue to get Okwoli ready to play if he’s needed.

Dumas (6-5, 200) is being redshirted this season. He is in the same mold as Maulhardt (6-6, 230) in terms of his size, and also said Dumas is known as “Little Jake” among some of his teammates. Grant felt it was best to allow Dumas to allow his body to mature more this season.

Friday’s story in the WTE, Laramie Boomerang and at wyosports.net will have a lot of other news about UW football and its game at Nevada Saturday night, so be sure to check it out.

 

Hill inching closer to UW’s career rushing record

Wyoming junior running back Brian Hill needs 74 yards to pass Devin Moore (2005-08) and become the Cowboys’ career rushing leader. Hill enters Saturday night’s Border War at Colorado State with 2,890 yards in 28 games.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

To put that in some perspective, Moore needed 44 games and broke the mark in UW’s last game of the 2008 season against … you guessed it, Colorado State. The Cowboys hope Hill breaks the record Saturday, and then some. They also hope for a better outcome than Moore experienced. UW lost that 2008 game at Colorado State 31-20.

Hill first must pass Ryan Christopherson (1991-94) for second place, but needs only 17 yards to do that. The last time a UW running back broke the school’s career rushing record on the road was Gerald Abraham (1984-87) in the Cowboys’ regular-season finale at Hawaii. Abraham broke the mark with 2,278 yards. That’s now sixth in school history.

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Wyoming vs. UC Davis football primer

Some notes and quotes for Saturday’s Wyoming football game vs. UC Davis. Kickoff is at 2 p.m. MT at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

— The game won’t be on conventional TV, but will be televised on WyoVision at UW’s athletics website — GoWyo.com — and on the Mountain West Network online at TheMW.com/watch-live and CampusInsiders.com. The game also can be viewed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/i/live/774470758831497216. The official hashtag for the game is #WYOvs.UCD.

 

Ron Gould

Ron Gould

— One interesting aspect about the game is both teams run pro-style offenses. They may do it out of different formations, but in a day and age where spread offenses are the norm, this game should be somewhat of an old-school game. Said UC Davis coach Ron Gould: “The first two weeks all we’ve seen are spread teams. It will be good to get back to blue-collar football, but one thing about Wyoming what they do up front is very physical. The biggest thing for us we got to match thier intensity in how they play.”

— When asked if it is an advantage, disadvantage or a wash in terms of getting ready for an offense that is similar to the one he sees in practice every day, UC Davis senior linebacker Zach Jones said: “I dont think it makes that big of a difference. “They got guys acorss the board that are great at what they do, but nothing in particular stands out.”

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UW beats Northern Illinois 40-34 in 3OT; what we learned

The No. 1 think I learned from watching Wyoming beat Northern Illinois 40-34 in triple overtime: You  never know what to expect covering college football.

A game that was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. didn’t start until 10:20 p.m. due to severe weather with a lot of rain and lightning. The lightning was what delayed the game. After redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen’s 7-yard TD run to win he game in the third overtime, it was 2:35 a.m. Sunday when the game ended.

Here are the highlights of UW’s game-winning drive, capped by Allen’s run, and of Northern Illinois kicker Christia Hagen missing a 38-yard field goal in that third overtime.

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