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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Air Force defense presents defensive challenges for Cowboys

Every time Wyoming plays Air Force in football there is talk about how unique the challenge is to go against the Falcons’ option-based offense.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

That’s the case again this week as the Cowboys and Falcons open Mountain West play against each other Saturday night in Laramie.

But Air Force’s defense poses some challenges to Wyoming’s offense.

“They have a three-man front so they like to bring different linebackers from different areas,” senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard said. “They do some unique things, so we have to take that into consideration. It’s more different than anything, and also more challenging for us going against a team with a traditional four-man front.”

Wyoming’s game plan this season is to control the line of scrimmage and run the ball, and one would think the Cowboys will have an advantage Saturday going against a traditionally small Air Force line.

But UW offensive coordinator Brent Vigen wants to see the the offense be more balanced after running for 209 yards and passing for just 92 in last week’s 17-12 win over Montana.

“Air Force moves and plays really hard, and they and pressured a little bit more against Nicholls (a 44-16 Air Force win),” Vigen said. “We need to throw the ball more and more effectively. We didn’t take but maybe one shot (down field) last week.”

Here is Vigen on that, and recapping the offense’s play against Montana:

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UW-Air Force Monday press conference highlights

Mondays are when media has the most access to Wyoming football players and coaches during game week.

Here are some of the more notable items:

–First-year coach Craig Bohl recapped the 17-12 win over Montana, and said UW’s minus-2 turnover margin was something that needs to improve. “We can withstand one, but we need to do a better job (defensively) when the ball is in the air and stripping that the ball.”

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

–Senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard said the biggest improvement he and the offense needs to make is with those turnovers. Kirkegaard lost a fumble and threw an interception in the end zone against the Grizzlies. “Some of our negative plays were self-inflicted,” he said. “There were a lot of factors in that. We have to smooth out those first-game jitters, I guess, and just be more consistent with the positive plays.”

–Bohl described the players’ attitude leading up and during the Montana game as “excellent.” He added: “Some people on the outside may not think that’s a big deal, but it is.”

–Sophomore running back D.J. May and senior receiver Jalen Claiborne didn’t finish the Montana game due to injuries, but Bohl said both were expected to practice Monday night. Both were listed on UW’s two-deep roster Monday.

–Bohl said Air Force is an “excellent” team. After just watching tape of the Falcons’ 44-16 win over Nicholls last Saturday, Bohl said the Falcons are much better than their 2-10 record of last season due to the play at quarterback, running back and fullback. For more on that, and a minor change to UW’s depth chart this week, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

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UW fall camp – Day 19

It was breezy and cool for Wyoming’s 23rd practice of fall camp Friday morning, and it was one of the longer practices as it was scheduled to go for about two-and-a-half hours

The team was in full pads.

Tim Hayes

Tim Hayes

The defense had a walk-through prior to practice with the back seven in what looked to be nickel situations. Sophomore Tim Hayes saw the most time as the nickel defensive back. There were no significant personnel changes. True freshman Robert Priester and redshirt junior Tyran Finley worked with the No. 2 defense at cornerback. Redshirt freshman Tim Kamana and sophomore Xavier Lewis were the safeties with the No. 2 defense.

UW worked on punting early in practice. Sophomore Ethan Wood and senior Stuart Williams both had some good punts. Even true freshman walk-on Pierce Royster had a nice one. First-year coach Craig Bohl said Wood has done a good job since returning to practice Thursday punting the ball, and also likes how Williams has done kicking field goals.

Here is Bohl after practice:

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UW fall camp – Day 18

The schedule says Thursday was practice No. 22 of fall camp, but as senior quarterback Sam Stratton led the team break after stretching, he said it was the start of game week preparation for the Aug. 30 opener against Montana.

And, there was some evidence of that as true freshmen quarterbacks Nick Smith and Austin Fort wore No. 10 jerseys — the same as Montana senior quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Either way, UW practiced in shoulder pads and shorts in War Memorial Stadium.

Ethan Wood

Ethan Wood

Sophomore punter Ethan Wood was back for the first time since his parents were killed in a plane crash Aug. 9. Prior to practice Wood and senior Stuart Williams did some punting. There was no punt rush or anything like that. However, Wood looked pretty good as he got some good height and distance on many of his at or near his own end zone. Wood drew some praise from first-year coach Craig Bohl.

UW started practice with some 11-on-11 work. There was not a lot of big plays by the offense, but redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard threw a nice, medium-ranged pass to senior receiver Jalen Claiborne along the sideline. Kirkegaard was accurate throughout the drill. Sophomore Tom Thornton, Kirkegaard’s backup, was the only other quarterback to take snaps in the drill.

The Cowboys rotated guys along the offensive line. Sophomore guard Sam Hardy took snaps at both the left and right side. Junior Jake Jones did as well. Sophomore Chase Roullier also took some snaps at center, as did sophomore Jacob English.

Here is what Bohl said after practice:

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UW fall camp – Day 17

Special teams took center stage during Wyoming’s 21st practice and 17th day of fall camp Wednesday morning in cool and breezy conditions at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

UW worked on things such as field-goal return, punting out of the end zone and kickoffs during the portion of practice the media was allowed to watch. First-year coach Craig Bohl also said the team worked on other special situations like when to take a safety and onside kicks.

One might ask about field-goal return? Remember the Alabama-Auburn game last year where Auburn returned a missed field goal for a touchdown to win the game?

Here is what Bohl said after Wednesday’s practice:

Bohl during one of North Dakota State’s three consecutive FCS national title games, Sam Houston State had a returner back in case of a missed field goal.

Blair Burns

Blair Burns

Senior cornerback Blair Burns was the return man for UW during that period. During the punt drill, where the Cowboys punted out of their own end zone, senior receiver Jalen Claiborne was the return man.

Speaking of punting, Bohl said sophomore punter Ethan Wood will return to Laramie Wednesday night. Wood’s parents were killed in a plane crash on Aug. 9, and the funeral was last Friday.

At the end of practice, Bohl said the team had some fun and had a few of the offensive and defensive linemen try to field onside kicks. Sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby, the media was told, showed some good hands.

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UW fall camp – Day 16

Wyoming’s 16th day and 20th practice of fall camp was in full pads Tuesday morning, and all of it was held outside at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Most of the previous practices started in its indoor practice facility, and then went outside. The Cowboys started with some 11-on-11 work, and the quarterbacks were sharp.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard — still the starter — threw a nice deep ball to senior receiver Dominic Rufran. Kirkegaard executed a pump fake to perfection on the play.

Kirkegaard made several nice throws during the period. One was over the middle to sophomore Jake Maulhardt, and another was to the sideline for senior receiver Jalen Claiborne.

Sophomore backups Tom Thornton and Aaron Young also took some snaps at quarterback. Thornton got more than Young. All the plays during the period were pass plays.

Junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough had a sack early on of Kirkegaard (the quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit).

Sidney Malauulu

Sidney Malauulu

True freshman defensive tackle Sidney Malauulu had one of the more powerful plays of the day and he pushed backup sophomore center Jacob English back about three yards that disrupted a play.

Malauulu came back last week from a sprained MCL in his knee, and Bohl said he likely will play this season. More on him later this week.

Here’s what coach Craig Bohl said after Tuesday’s practice.

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UW fall camp update – Day 5

Craig Bohl was fired-up for a short time.

The first-year Wyoming football coach was getting on his guys, who he thought were coming in late for stretching prior to Friday’s fifth practice of fall camp.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

But offensive coordinator Brent Vigen informed Bohl that he was running 10 minutes early.

Bohl laughed about it, and then the Cowboys went about their business.

Friday marked the first practice in full pads. As it has for the last few days, UW began the practice working on special teams work. Today was punting.

Bohl said senior quarterback Sam Stratton would stay at that position, but be involved in other aspects of the offense. Stratton got a look at catching punts Friday. Here is some video of that, and some of the other guys fielding punts.

Redshirt junior cornerback Tyran Finley, senior receiver Jalen Claiborne and redshirt junior running back D.J. May also caught punts.

As for the punting itself, sophomore Ethan Wood had some good punts and some not-so-good ones. That has been the pattern with him early in camp.

Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha and true freshman safety Chavez Pownell Jr.both blocked punts.

Sophomore long snapper Brendan Turelli took care of the snapping duties. However, he was not in full pads. This was only his second practice of camp so he has to get two more practices under his belt before he can get into full pads. Here is what Bohl had to say after Friday’s practice: http://youtu.be/NhvceU6I9fc   Continue reading

UW football fall camp – Day 3

Wednesday was the first day Wyoming put on shoulder pads during fall camp, but its first full-padded practice isn’t until Friday.

The most significant thing the media got to see during the first 30 minutes we are allowed to watch was work on the punt game.

Jordan Stanton

Jordan Stanton

UW worked on a lot of different formations in both is punt and punt block teams. Senior linebacker Jordan Stanton blocked consecutive punts after junior Justin Martin replaced sophomore punter Ethan Wood. Sophomore tight end Jacob Hollister also blocked a punt working with the No. 2 team, and nearly blocked another, and senor linebacker Devyn Harris partially blocked one as well.

Coach Craig Bohl talks about that, and other aspects from practice in this video interview:

Wood handled the majority of the punts. He had a few good kicks, and some not-so-good ones. UW’s pressure was pretty consistent, so that probably didn’t help matters for Wood.

Guys who rotated in and out catching punts included redshirt junior running back D.J. May, senior receivers Dominic Rufran and Jalen Claiborne and redshirt junior cornerback Tyran Finley. Not many guys caught punts as most went out of bounds.

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Cowboys open fall camp Monday morning

And so it begins. Wyoming’s first of 24 practices of fall camp started Monday morning in Laramie. The team did some drill work, walk-throughs and stretching in its indoor practice facility, and then headed out to Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium for the rest of practice. Unfortunately, the media is allowed to watch only the first 30 minutes of practice, which was all indoor so there is not a lot to report. But here are a couple of observations:

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

–During the walk-throughs, redshirt senior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense, although there was a lot of moving around among other players on offense. Basically, Kirkegaard and true freshmen Nick Smith and Austin Fort were on one end, and sophomore Tom Thornton, senior Sam Stratton and sophomore Aaron Young were on the other end. The No. 1 and No. 2 defense went against Kirkegaard and his offensive group. The rest of the offensive and defensive guys were on the other end of the field. It was an odd mix and match of players. For instance, most of the top receivers were down with the backups. Most of the offensive plays were run plays so it may have been a run-specific walk-through. Here is a video of the receivers doing some hands work.

–As far as the starters went, there was nothing new in terms of the guys in this walk-through than what was indicated on the depth chart released prior to the start of camp. I saw true freshman tight end Grant Lewis get in a for a couple of snaps with the main offensive guys, same with true freshman defensive end John Jackson. Continue reading