Cowboys ready for the home stretch with plenty to play for

First-year Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl said his team “utilized its bye week wisely” last week.

The team practiced a good part of last week, and much of that work was getting ready for Saturday’s home-finale against Boise State — a team UW has never defeated in eight games and has been outscored 148-43 in three home games.

UW enters the game 4-6 overall and 2-4 in the Mountain West. It needs to win its final two games to get to 6-6 and become bowl eligible. Boise State is 8-2, 5-1 and if it wins out it will win the league’s Mountain Division.

“Without question (Boise State) is one of the top teams in our conference and around the country,” Bohl said. “We’re excited about playing them, but it will be a big challenge.”

Here is Bohl during his weekly news conference with the media Monday:


Continue reading

Hill continues to draw high praise

No game for Wyoming football this week, but the praise continues for true freshman running back Brian Hill.

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Hill had his third consecutive 100-yard game with 122 yards on 25 carries in the Cowboys’ 20-3 home loss to Utah State last Friday. Hill didn’t lose any yards, and his long run was 18 yards against a Utah State defense that allowed 90 rushing yards per game entering the contest.

“I think what we learned from Friday night is it’s going to take more than one guy to get him down,” offensive coordinator Brent Vigen said. “He had some easier opportunities against Fresno State (Hill had 281 yards in that game on Nov. 1), but against Utah State he didn’t have a lot of big runs — just one of 15-plus yards. It took two to three guys to consistently get him to the ground.

“For a guy that has played mostly in the last three games (this season) and to have more than 500 yards rushing in a variety of different ways — tough inside runs and big runs to the outside where he showed his speed — he’s going to have a chance to be real dynamic here. He already has been.”

Hill has 574 yards and an average of six yards per carry this season. He is second on the team with four rushing touchdowns.”

Continue reading

Kamana has extra motivation to play this week

Saturday will be a homecoming of sorts for Wyoming redshirt freshman strong safety Tim Kamana when the Cowboys (3-1) play at No. 9 Michigan State.

Kamana’s father, Carter, lettered at Michigan State as a cornerback from 1981-84. Tim Kamana said his dad took him to a Michigan State football camp before his junior year of high school, and he also went to one before his senior year.

Kamana said Michigan State showed some interest in him, but there was no scholarship offer.

Saturday, with his dad in attendance and his sister, who attends Michigan State, Kamana gets to play in the same stadium his dad did 30 years ago.

And, Kamana could make his first-ever start as senior Jesse Sampson injured a knee in last Saturday’s 20-19 UW win over Florida Atlantic in Laramie.

Kamana’s uncle and grandfather both played college football at USC, so football is in the family blood. Here is what Kamana said about Saturday’s game:

Continue reading

Cowboys’ team captains for 2014 announced Monday

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

Wyoming’s team captains were announced Friday, and Sunday I predicted they would be redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard, senior receiver Dominic Rufran, junior defensive end Eddie Yarbrough and senior cornerback Blair Burns.

Three out of four isn’t bad. Instead of Burns it is senior free safety Darrenn White.

 

 

 

 

 

UW fall camp – Day 10

Wyoming has an interesting situation forming at linebacker, and not just for this season.

All three of its projected starters — Mark Nzeocha and Devyn Harris on the outside, and Jordan Stanton inside — are seniors. Stanton’s backup, Alex Borgs, third-string outside linebacker Nehemie Kankolongo also are seniors.

There are only four linebackers on the depth chart on scholarship that are not seniors: sophomore Lucas Wacha, juniors Jeff Lark and Malkaam Muhammad and true freshman Alex Bush.

Lucas Wacha

Lucas Wacha

Wacha is the only one of that group that has seen significant and meaningful playing time, and that was last season as redshirt freshman. Right now, Wacha is out with a concussion.

It is safe to assume linebacker will be an emphasis for the 2015 recruiting class. But aside from getting the starters solidified and ready for the season, what about getting those non-senior backups ready not only for this season, but for the future?

“I’m focused right now who our best three guys in our base situation, and then who our best two nickel linebackers,” UW defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Steve Stanard said. “As far as only having five guys coming back next year, (head coach) Craig Bohl focuses more on that stuff. He’s our director of player personnel.”

Steve Stanard

Steve Stanard

Stanard said Lark, Nzeocha’s backup, had a good summer and has had a good fall camp so far. Same with Harris. Stanard said the staff is trying to see if Bush can help the team on special teams.

Here is what Bohl said after Wednesday morning’s practice.


Continue reading

UW fall camp – Day 6

Wyoming’s first period of its Saturday morning practice was some 11-on-11 work.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said he often does this because it is a good — and difficult — drill for the quarterbacks because there is a lot of “chaos” going on. It allows them to think things through and prepare for what might happen in the early portions of any game. In this case, it is for the season-opener three weeks from today against Montana.

There was a good mix of the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense and twos vs. twos.

Colby Kirkegaard

Colby Kirkegaard

No big surprises with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt senior Colby Kirkegaard took all the snaps with the ones. UW is still without their two starting right tackles in sophomore Nathan Leddige (left) and senior Connor Rains (right) due to head and concussion issues. Rains was at Saturday morning’s practice in uniform, and Bohl said he didn’t have a concusssion Leddige was not at the practice, and does have a concussion.

Redshirt freshman Kurtis Stirneman was on the left side and junior Austin Traphagan on the right with the No. 1 offense. With the twos it looked like true freshman Ryan Cummings on the left and redshirt freshman Taylor Knestis on the right.

Added Bohl on the offensive line: “I’d say of all the position groups on the field that is unsettled, that’s it.”

UW practiced in shoulder pads and helmets, so there was no tackling. The No. 1 defense recorded a few sacks. Senior outside linebacker Mark Nzeocha had one.

Jake Maulhardt

Jake Maulhardt

For the second-teamers, sophomore quarterback Tom Thornton thew a nice deep ball to sophomore receiver Jake Maulhardt.

Kirkegaard and Thornton were the only quarterbacks who took snaps during that team period.

Saw a handful of true freshmen get some time with the No. 2 units. On offense, there was Cummings along the line, and tight ends Brinkley Jolley and Grant Lewis. Defensively, there was cornerbacks Robert Priester and Ryon’e Winters, and safety Chavez Pownell Jr.

UW lists three positions on defense with an “or” in terms of the starters. For this team period, senior middle linebacker Jordan Stanton, senior outside linebacker Devyn Harris and sophomore nose tackle Chase Appleby worked with the first team. However, their backups — senior Alex Borgs, sophomore Lucas Wacha and sophomore Uso Olive — all played a lot. Bohl said among the linebacker, Stanton and Harris are likely to be the starters. He also said Appleby and Olive both will play a lot, along with the starter and backup at defensive tackle. The starter is senior Patrick Mertens. The backup is unknonw, but redshirt junior Troy Boyland appears to be the favorite.

After that team period UW went into some individual drill work, and here are some video highlights from that:


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.

Continue reading

UW fall sports media day in the books

Wyoming’s fall sports media day was held Monday afternoon at the Wildcatter Club & Suites atop Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Coaches from football, cross-country, women’s soccer and volleyball spoke to a large crowd of media and fans. Later, football players were made available in the indoor practice facility due to thunderstorms outside.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

First-year football coach Craig Bohl was the guy most came to listen to, and he didn’t disappoint. Although he knows the challenges ahead, it was hard to leave there not feeling good about this team and the future of UW football.

Bohl has talked a lot about being “Cowboy Tough” and bringing that back to the program. He spoke about that Monday, but said it’s time to show that on the field.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading