A look at the numbers from Wyoming spring football

Wyoming concluded spring football Saturday with its annual spring game. The Gold squad beat the Brown 3-0. The way the teams were divided, it was the backups that did all the scoring. UW’s No. 1 defense got the best of the No. 1 offense.

Kind of tough to read too much into the results from the spring game, although it does appear UW’s defense will be better. It needs to be after allowing 34 points and 453 yards per game last season.

Here is coach Craig Bohl after the game:

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Easter candy rundown: Wyoming football players weigh in on their favorites

Happy Easter everyone, and the significance and importance of this day goes beyond anything written on this blog.

However, this blog also is meant to be fun so as we approach Easter Sunday, I asked a hard-hitting question to some of the Wyoming football players and coaches — their favorite Easter candy.

Here are the results:

— Sophomore kicker Cooper Rothe: Carmel eggs

Junior quarterback Josh Allen: Reese’s peanut butter bunnies

Junior safety Marcus Epps: Reese’s peanut butter cups

Sophomore cornerback Tyler Hall: Snickers

Junior offensive lineman Cole Turner: Reese’s peanut butter eggs

Associate head coach/offensive coordinator Brent Vigen: Cadbury eggs

Junior offensive tackle Zach Wallace: “Chocolate bunnies, but not the hollow ones, ones that are solid chocolate.”

Sophomore linebacker Cassh Malauia: Reece’s

Sophomore wide receiver C.J. Johnson: Skittles

Defensive ends coach AJ Cooper: “Reese’s peanut butter eggs. “My wife gets a bag of those and they’re gone.”

Junior tight end Tyree Mayfield: Reese’s peanut butter bunnies

Redshirt sophomore running back Kellen Overstreet: “I am lactose intolerant, but if I could I would go with things like Kit-Kats. But I also will eat some Laffy Taffy or things like that.”

Junior quarterback Nick Smith: Chocolate Easter eggs and the white chocolate Resse’s peanut butter cups.

Senior outside linebacker Jalen Ortiz: Anything chocolate.

Me: Reese’s peanut butter eggs, bunnies, etc. Can’t go wrong with the combination of chocolate and peanut butter ever!

Sophomore safety Alijah Halliburton: Reese’s peanut butter eggs

Redshirt freshman defensive end Garrett Crall: Starburst jelly beans

Sophomore running back Milo Hall: Chocolate bunny

Junior running back Nico Evans: Skittles

Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton and son, Bode: Reese’s peanut butter cups

How about you?

Hope everyone out there has a Happy Easter.

Three weeks and nine practices in the books for UW spring football

Wyoming football is in the homestretch of spring football with nine of its 15 practices in the books.

The Cowboys’ scrimmage in Casper this past Saturday provided some glimpses of what could be this season, although its difficult to get a great gauge of what to expect this season when a team goes against each other.

Still, it appears that junior quarterback Josh Allen is making good progress in building chemistry with the weapons around him. Allen was relatively sharp in Casper, going 11 of 19 for 133 yards with a pair of touchdown passes to junior wide receiver James Price. However, sophomore wide receivers C.J. Johnson and Austin Conway also looked good.

Here is Allen after the scrimmage:

Earlier this spring, fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl was concerned about the way the tight ends were catching the ball. But in Casper, juniors Josh Harshman, Austin Fort and Tyree Mayfield all showed good skills catching the ball.

As far as the running backs go, I still contend that UW will have more of a three-back attack this fall. Redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet (11 carries 49 yards in the scrimmage) showed some nice speed and power, as did junior Nico Evans (10 carries, 30 yards). Don’t be surprised if sophomore Milo Hall becomes a third-down weapon out of the backfield, both carrying the ball and catching it.

It will be nice once the illness bug that has run through this team finally ends. UW was without its starting center in Casper — sophomore Gavin Rush — due to illness. Backup Boyd Draeger also was out with a concussion. Rush needs as many reps as possible the rest of spring. But I thought junior Cole Turner more than held his own at center in the scrimmage so perhaps some depth is being established there.

UW’s defense had its moments in the scrimmage. Sophomore defensive tackle Youhanna Ghaifan stood out to Bohl. Junior nose tackle Sidney Malauulu looked good — going mostly against backup — as well with a sack and a fumble recovery.

Casper’s Logan Wilson played only 21 snaps in 70-play scrimmage at middle linebacker, but that was by design to get other younger players some looks. Wilson and sophomore Cassh Malauia should be a solid duo, and it appears senior Jalen Ortiz is establishing himself well at the other outside linebacker spot.

The dismissal of three players, and suspensions of five others earlier this week for a violation of team rules was unfortunate, but it also creates opportunities for others. One player who may benefit the most is sophomore cornerback Tyler Hall. Hall is one of four UW corners who have been getting a lot of reps with the No. 1 defense all spring, but with junior Antonio Hull suspended, don’t be surprised if Hall is the starter coming out of spring along with senior Rico Gafford. Hall isn’t all that big at 5-10, 184 pounds, but he’s tough and has shown good effort most of the spring.

Here is Bohl after the scrimmage:

The Cowboys return to practice Tuesday for their 10th spring practice. They will also practice on Thursday and Saturday. The spring game is set for 2 p.m. April 22.

If you have any questions or comments about the Cowboys, I’d love to hear them. You can post comments on this blog, or shoot me a question via Twitter: @rpgagliardi.
Also, be sure to check out the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and online at wyosports.net for more UW spring football coverage.

Recruiting rankings can be highly overrated

Another recruiting class is in the books for Wyoming football as the Cowboys signed 24 players Wednesday.

In 20-plus years of covering UW sports, I’ve never heard a coach have a bad thing to say about their recruiting classes — no matter the sport and no matter the coach. Can you imagine what it would be like to have a coach say: “This class is OK, not great, but OK,” or “We didn’t sign a very good class.”

One big thing a lot of people — and the media – looks at in recruiting classes is the number of stars by their names given out by the numerous online recruiting websites like rivals.com, 247sports, scout.com — just to name a few.

Those of you who follow UW football and know UW football know that these national outlets normally don’t think highly of the Cowboys’ recruiting classes. Four and five-star recruits don’t sign with UW. The result are classes ranked near the bottom of all the 120-plus Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

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Poinsettia Bowl postgame thoughts

It wasn’t the ending players, coaches and fans wanted, but if anything, UW’s 24-21 loss to Brigham Young in Wednesday’s Poinsettia Bowl was entertaining and exciting — at least in the second half.

The Cowboys (8-6) followed a familiar pattern as the season concluded. Slow or sluggish starts to games — even extending to the first half and third quarter — and then a furious rally late.

But just like in the 27-24 loss to San Diego State in the MW Championship Game on Dec. 3, that rally fell short.

Some initial thoughts/observations:

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

— Disappointing to see junior running back Brian Hill benched for the first quarter by third-year coach Craig Bohl, who said after the game it was a “coach’s decision.” Obviously, Hill didn’t do anything earth-shattering wrong, but disappointing to see. Would things have changed if he played? Maybe, maybe not. Hill played well when he returned (93 yards, 1 TD, and one catch for 19 yards). I thought senior Shaun Wick played really well — even when Hill returned. Wick had 13 carries for 55 yards and caught one pass for six yards.

— Sunny San Diego didn’t live up to its hype. Yeah, the game was at night but it rained like crazy in the first half. Both teams had to play in it, but it definitely affected UW the worst. A bobbled snap on a punt (the snap was good) and a botched hold on a field goal (the snap was good) cost UW dearly. Other shortcomings cost UW, but those special teams gaffs hurt a lot.

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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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Younger guys get some work as UW prepares for Poinsettia Bowl

Extra practices and and an extra game are some of the benefits of bowl game, especially for younger players.

Wyoming is taking advantage of that as several players in its two deep roster on offense, defense and special teams return next season.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

But it’s also a chance for those who are redshirting and are on the scout teams to get in more reps. Third-year coach Craig Bohl said Tuesday that at the end of some of UW’s practices for the Dec. 21 Poinsettia Bowl that some of the scout team guys will get a chance to scrimmage and get in some live action.

One of those was Monday night, and this is what Bohl said he liked from some of his younger guys.

“I thought (true freshman running back) Mike Green did some good things, along with (true freshman wide receiver) Parker Dumas on offense,” Bohl said. “On defense I liked some things from (true freshman linebacker) Jahmari Moore and (true freshman walk-on defensive end) Garrett Crall.”

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San Diego State 27, Wyoming 24 – postgame thoughts

As I wrote in my column for Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net, Wyoming didn’t make the plays it did two weeks ago in its 34-33 win over San Diego State. The result was a 27-24 loss in the Mountain West Championship Game to the Aztecs Saturday night at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Here’s the link to that column:

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/gagliardi-column-wyoming-comes-up-short-against-san-diego-state/article_326061ec-b9f0-11e6-b6b2-57d684ce34a4.html

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

The Cowboys were not able to run the ball, aside from a 66-yard run by junior running back Brian Hill. UW had just 95 rushing yards in the game. Take Hill’s big run away and it did little to nothing in the run game. UW’s offensive line struggled from start to finish in both the run and pass game. Credit should be given to San Diego State’s defense, which had been gashed the previous two games.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen was knocked around pretty good throughout the game, and took a pretty obvious cheap shot by a San Diego State defender in front of an official, but no call was made. The offensive line struggled throughout the game, but again, I think San Diego State played much better defensively than it did in Laramie two weeks ago.

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How I voted for the 2016 All-Mountain West football team

Wyoming was well represented as the Mountain West released its all-conference football teams Tuesday afternoon.

Those who voted were the 12 head coaches in the league, and selected media — including myself.

Craig Bohl

Craig Bohl

Third-year coach Craig Bohl was the Coach of the Year. Redshirt freshman linebacker Logan Wilson of Casper was the Freshman of the Year. Four players made the first team: junior running back Brian Hill, senior tight end Jacob Hollister, senior offensive lineman Chase Roullier and sophomore free safety Andrew Wingard — all of whom I had on my first-team ballot. I also voted for Bohl and Wilson in their respective awards.

Here’s the link to see the entire 2016 All-MW football honorees:

http://www.themwc.com/news/mountain-west-announces-2016-football-all-conference-teams-and-individual-honors-11-28-2016

 

There was some controversy, at least among the fans.

Josh Allen

Josh Allen

UW redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Allen made the second team. Boise State sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien got the nod as the first-teamer. He’s the only player to be the first team quarterback in back-to-back years as a freshman and sophomore in league history. I had Allen as my first team quarterback, but if you look at the numbers, Rypien had the edge. You can’t go wrong with either one, and both were clearly the top two quarterbacks in the conference.

I was a little surprised that UW senior wide receiver Tanner Gentry didn’t make the first team. Colorado State junior Michael Gallup got the nod, along with Boise State senior Thomas Sperbeck, who was a no-brainer in terms of making the first team. Gentry and Gallup had similar numbers. Both caught 11 touchdown passes. Gallup had eight more catches (70 to 62) and 32 more yards (1,164 to 1,132). Gentry had a better yards-per-catch average (18.3 to 16.7).

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Boise State fans were miffed that junior running back Jeremy McNichols didn’t make the first team. He certainly had the numbers to be there, and the way this league has been with running backs the last couple of years they should have at least three guys on the first team. But you also can make strong arguments that Hill and San Diego State senior Donnel Pumphrey (the MW Offensive Player of the Year) should be on there, too. Who do you leave off? Last year it was Hill.

Below is how I voted. Most of it lines up with the official results.

QUARTERBACK

Josh Allen – Wyoming

Brett Rypien – Boise State

RUNNING BACK

Donnel Pumphrey – San Diego State

Brian Hill – Wyoming

Jeremy McNichols – Boise State

James Butler – RB – Nevada

WIDE RECEIVER

Thomas Sperbeck – Boise State

Tanner Gentry – Wyoming

Michael Gallup – Colorado State

Jalen Robinette – Air Force

TIGHT END

Jacob Hollister – Wyoming

David Wells – San Diego State

OFFENSIVE LINE

Chase Roullier – Wyoming

Nico Siragusa – San Diego State

Daniel Brunskill – San Diego State

Mario Yakoo – OL – Boise State

Dylan Vail – Air Force

Fred Zerblis – Colorado State

Austin Corbett – Nevada

Jake Simonich – Utah State

Reno Henderson – New Mexico

Jake Bennett – Colorado State

DEFENSIVE LINE

Alex Barrett – San Diego State

Ricky Ali’ifua – Utah State

Sam McCaskill – Boise State

Kyle Kelley – DE – San Diego State

Nik D’Avanzo – New Mexico

Meffy Koloamatangi – Hawai’i

Ryan Watson – Air Force

Malik Reed – Nevada

LINEBACKER

Tau Lotulelei – UNLV

Dakota Cox – New Mexico

Tanner Vallejo – Boise State

Calvin Munson – San Diego State

Christian Tago – San Jose State

Kevin Davis – Colorado State

DEFENSIVE BACK

Weston Steelhammer – Air Force

Damontae Kazee – San Diego State

Jonathan Moxey – Boise State

Andrew Wingard – Wyoming

Brodie Hicks – Air Force

Malik Smith – San Diego State

Andre Chachere – San Jose State

Trayvon Henderson – Hawai’i

KICKER

John Baron II – San Diego State

Luke Strebel – Air Force

PUNTER

Hayden Hunt – Colorado State

Michael Carrizosa – San Jose State

RETURN SPECIALIST

Rashaad Penny – San Diego State

D.J. May – Wyoming

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

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Cowboys begin work for championship week

This wasn’t just another Monday where Wyoming football coach Craig Bohl talked to the media, and requested players and assistant coaches came in for interviews.

This was is championship week for the Cowboys as they get ready to play San Diego State in the MW Championship Game Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium.

Bohl spoke for around 30 minutes. Here’s the link if you want to watch/listen to him. A lot of good stuff here, especially Bohl’s Lou Holtz impersonation.

http://www.wyosports.net/university_of_wyoming/facebook-live-craig-bohl-s-nov-news-conference/article_726a6b3a-b5a8-11e6-8a88-ebde6d8f141a.html

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