Cowboys reach halfway point of fall camp

Ten down, ten to go.

The University of Wyoming is halfway through fall camp. Tuesday’s practice was its 10th practice. The Cowboys have 10 more practices before camp breaks, and then it is game week in preparation for their season-opening game against Missouri Aug. 31 at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Here are some thoughts and observations midway through camp.

— UW got some bad news Tuesday with junior defensive tackle Ravontae Holt being out for the season with a torn ACL. Holt was a projected starter, and based off the daily comments from sixth-year coach Craig Bohl, was having a really good camp. An already thin group of interior defensive linemen in terms of depth got a lot thinner. As of now, UW plans to go with a three man rotation at its two interior line spots with junior Javaree Jackson, sophomore Victor Jones and redshirt freshman Mario Mora. When asked if any other names have started to emerge, Bohl said: “As we go, they’re still unnamed. That’s as clear as I can be.” There is time for others to develop, but one thing is certain, UW will need more than three to get through an entire season.

— Holt’s injury magnifies this issue, but even before that it was evident that if the Cowboys are to be successful defensively this season, they are going to have to do it differently than the last couple of years, which consisted of good play along the defensive line and at safety — especially last season. This isn’t to say those groups can’t or won’t play well in 2019, but depth and proven commodities are simply not there. UW will need to be good at cornerback, especially in passing situations where more man-to-man coverage could be used, and also at linebacker.

— I got a laugh from this quote from Bohl when asked to follow up on a statement he made about the wide receivers needing to be more consistent in practice. He’s talking about their ability to make contested catches. “I always say there’s two hungry dogs and one piece of meat. One dog is getting the meat. We need to get the meat.” That’s the quote of fall camp so far, but a valid point. Bohl said UW’s receivers were decent last season in catching the ball with no one around them. But we all know football isn’t always like that. For an offense that averaged 131.3 passing yards per games, and no returning wide receiver averaging more than 11.1 yards per catch, this area has to improve.

— The battle for the starting job at left guard is still ongoing with sophomores Patrick Arnold and Eric Abojei. Arnold is still working some at center, his natural position. That spot, and perhaps others, should get cleared up more when UW scrimmages on Saturday. That will be its first and likely only major scrimmage during camp. Unfortunately, it is closed to the public and media. We also should have a better idea on who will play at free safety, and the pecking order among UW’s young running backs and wide receivers will be after the scrimmage.

— Been hearing a lot of positive comments about junior right guard Logan Harris of Torrington, who seems to have that starting job locked down. First-year offensive line coach Bart Miller said Harris has made good strides since the spring with his footwork.

— Thank goodness for the new redshirt rule. Last season, freshman defensive end Solomon Byrd saw time in three games and recorded five tackles. Because Byrd played four games or fewer, UW could redshirt him. Now, the 6-foot-4, 243-pounder has emerged to be in the rotation for playing time this season along with senior Josiah Hall and junior Garrett Crall. Now, defensive ends coach AJ Cooper needs to see who will step up behind that trio. There are about five guys in the picture now, including sophomore Davon Wells-Ross, redshirt freshmen Levi Lafaele, Teagan Liufau and Jack Boyer, along with true freshman DeVonne Harris. Liufau and Boyer are walk-ons.

— This is what redshirt freshman starting quarterback Sean Chambers had to say earlier this week about how camp has gone for him: “I think camp has been okay. We’ve done some good things out there. We’ve made some mistakes, but that’s going to happen through the course of camp. I’d say I’m pleased with my performance so far, but there are are lot of things I need to do better. We still have some time, so that’s a positive. I need to be more consistent, not turn the ball over, be accurate and right with the protections. At times it gets frustrating, but I have to remember that this is camp and we’re going against our own team. I can’t take the previous play to the next play — good or bad.”

This likely will be my last post here this week. I am taking some time off to spend some time with my dad. His health isn’t great, and this opportunity to spend this time and do what we have planned is something I can’t pass up. But don’t worry, stories have been planned and written to run through the rest of the week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net, so check them out.

Cowboys get through first full week of fall camp

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The first full week of fall camp is in the books for the University of Wyoming football team. The Cowboys have practiced eight times going back to Friday, Aug. 2.

Here are some observations and thoughts through the first eight practices.

— UW’s quarterbacks, and in particular redshirt freshman starter Sean Chambers, continue to progress. Chambers is still fully entrenched as the starter. This is what sixth-year coach Craig Bohl said about Chambers’ progress so far in camp.

“He’s not where we want him to be, but we’re much further along than last year and Sean is much further along,” Bohl said. “(Sophomore) Tyler Vander Waal is also doing some good things.”

— If there is a concern at this point in camp, it could be with the interior defensive line. UW has a lot of holes to fill with the loss of some seniors, along with defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan, who would have been a senior this season. Juniors Ravontae Holt and Javaree Jackson have had good camps, especially Holt. However, Bohl said Friday Holt has a sore knee and was to have an MRI. That’s not good news. When asked if any others have started to emerge as options to play, Bohl basically said not yet. He mentioned that UW could move senior defensive end Josiah Hall inside, which UW has done in the past. Not that Hall wouldn’t give UW everything he has inside, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

— There seems to be a good competition going at free safety between junior Braden Smith and redshirt freshmen Rome Weber and Cameron Murray. Bohl said Murray has made a lot of progress from the spring to now. Smith didn’t finish Friday’s practice with a hamstring strain.

— UW is looking for someone to play nickel other than sophomore Keyon Blankenbaker, and it appears true freshman Allen Smith has the edge right now. Smith played nickel in high school in California, and was recruited to UW to play nickel. Smith is still learning, and isn’t the most imposing presence at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but the coaches have liked what they’ve seen from him so far in camp.

— Gunner Gentry didn’t catch a pass as a true freshman wide receiver last season, but he played in 11 of 12 games and played on all four of the Cowboys’ special teams units. Gentry said he enjoyed playing special teams, and that helped him become a more well-rounded player. Gentry, the younger brother of former UW wide receiver Tanner Gentry who plays for the Chicago Bears now, is looking to have more of an impact at wide receiver this season. It helps that he is healthy. He missed most of the spring with a stress fracture in his foot. However, Gentry also hopes to still be involved on special teams.

— It is always interesting to see which newcomers emerge during camp. Bohl has been somewhat guarded in mentioning specific names, as have some of the assistants. But some of the players mentioned with Smith have true freshmen wide receivers Alex Brown and Isaiah Neyor — both from Texas and 6-4 and 6-3, respectively. True freshman tight end Treyton Welch, a wide receiver in high school, has been mentioned by Bohl a couple of times. True freshman Easton Gibbs at weak-side outside linebacker and redshirt freshman Chuck Hicks at middle linebacker have emerged to possibly give UW some depth. One other player to keep an eye on is true freshman offensive tackle Carlos Harrison.

For more UW football coverage, see the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net. Also, check back to this blog.

2017 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: What’s your favorite style of potato?

We are one week away from the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl where Wyoming (7-5) takes on Central Michigan (8-4) at 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

To have some fun, I asked several Wyoming players and a couple of staffers their favorite style of potato in honor of the name of this bowl game.

Senior fullback Drew Van Maanen: “Garlic mashed potatoes with a little pepper.”

Junior quarterback Josh Allen: “I am a big french fry guy, especially with a steak and put some A-1 sauce on the fires, It can’t be beat.”

UW Director of Player Personnel Justin Mesa: “When I was younger it was a big baked potato with about a pound of sour cream. Now, I’d go with sweet potato fries.”

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Wyoming 28, Air Force 14 – postgame thoughts

A road conference win over a rival, solidifying a spot in this year’s bowl picture and keeping hopes alive for a division title within the conference.

Wyoming accomplished all that with its 28-14 victory at Air Force Saturday night. But the loss of junior starting quarterback Josh Allen to some sort of right arm injury, which occurred late in the first half, put a damper on all that.

That was the topic of my column from there game, which you can click on here:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/football/gagliardi-column-big-win-harder-to-enjoy-with-allen-injury/article_58253440-c785-11e7-b990-47896471f0f2.html

Fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said he would know more after Sunday, and hopefully Monday on Allen’s injury when he meets with the media again. Bohl didn’t say much after the game, but here is what he did say.

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Boise State 24, Wyoming 14 – postgame thoughts

Boise State’s Blue Turf has been a house of horrors for Wyoming, and Saturday night’s 24-14 loss added to those bad memories.

But this was a game the Cowboys had a chance to win, which makes the outcome sting even more.

Before I go on, here is fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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UW football fall camp – Practice No. 23

Wyoming’s second-to-last practice of fall camp was held in spiders (lighter shoulder pads),  helmets and shorts Friday morning in War Memorial Stadium. It also included some controversy.

Here’s how fourth-year coach Craig Bohl explained that controversy, and other things from practice.

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UW football fall camp – Practice No. 19

The Cowboys began their final week of fall camp with a Monday morning practice on the practice fields just south of War Memorial Stadium.

UW held a 100-plus play scrimmage last Saturday, which fourth-year coach Craig Bohl described as “good.” Bohl said junior quarterback Josh Allen made some “good decisions.” The scrimmage was not open to the media, and no stats were kept.

Here is Bohl after Monday’s practice with more on the scrimmage and other UW football news:

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