UW-Nebraska leftovers

Here are some notes and quotes that didn’t make the newspaper from Wyoming’s 38-14 loss to now No. 8 Nebraska Saturday night.

–True freshman quarterback Brett Smith described the loss as “devastating.” He also said Nebraska was the best and fastest team UW has played thus far (no-brainer there).

–Coach Dave Christensen on Smith: “For his fourth game against the ninth-ranked team in the country, I thought he did a fantastic job of managing the offense.”

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Browder to play vs. Nebraska

Wyoming junior safety Kenny Browder will play today vs. No. 9 Nebraska. Browder was suspended by coach Dave Christensen prior to the season-opener for a violation of team rules stemming from alleged DUI charges in Laramie.

I was told Browder “could play a lot” today by a UW official, but he isn’t expected to start.

Browder was the projected starter at free safety, and held that role through spring drills and fall camp prior to his suspension. For a defense that’s allowed 287.7 passing yards per game and has struggled in the secondary at times, Browder could be a key addition.

Some other quick hits:

–Just asked Brian Rosenthal from the Lincoln Journal-Star if he thought Nebraska senior defensive tackle Jared Crick would play today. He said he “didn’t think so.” Crick is arguable one of the best defensive linemen in the country.

–Freshman cornerback Blair Burns’ two interceptions and fumble recovery last week at Bowling Green earned him Honorable Mention honors from Collegefootballperformance.com.

–Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns was the Co-Defensive Player of the Week in the Mountain West, and also the league’s Defensive Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.

–UW is 1-14 against Big Ten Conference teams. The lone win came at Wisconsin on Sept. 27, 1986, which ironically was the last time it played a Big Ten team.

–Senior defensive lineman Gabe Knapton is three tackles from tying former linebacker Brian Brown (1996-98) for 10th place in career tackles. Knapton has 300 tackles, one of only 11 players in school history to have 300 or more tackles in a career.

–Junior running back Alvester Alexander is one touchdown shy of a tie for fifth place with Marques Brigham (1995-98) in career rushing touchdowns. Alexander has 24 TDs, and has had at least one in the last seven games dating back to last season.

–Nebraska is the winningest college football team since 1970 with 406 wins, and is the only team with more than 400 wins during that time.

–I have always been a guy who gets to games early, but this is an all-time record as I got here about four hours prior to kickoff. Yes, I’m a dork! LOL

–Lots of Red around War Memorial Stadium right now in terms of Nebraska fans, but a quick glance I see a lot more Brown and Gold.

Hope you will join me for the live blog that starts in three hours — just reinforcing that I’m a dork for getting to games early. Check back to the top of the blog for the link.

UW’s media Monday

Notes and quotes from Wyoming’s Monday interview session with coach Dave Christensen and selected players and assistant coaches:

–“Two years ago we won a number of games that had nothing to do with our offense and defense. We won those games because of turnover margin and our kicking game. That was obviously the case last Saturday,” said Christensen on his team forcing six turnovers and blocking two kicks last Saturday at Bowling Green.

–Christensen said he talks to the players at least twice a week on turnovers and ball security. Will continue to do so, if not talk about it more.”

–Christensen said in the Bowling Green game there some “good, bad, ugly and really good.”

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UW-Bowling Green postgame notes/quotes

Whew, what a finish that was for the Cowboys!!

A blocked extra point by senior defensive linemen Josh Biezuns and Gabe Knapton preserved a 28-27 win in the final seconds. Was disappointed in the way Bowling Green drove down the field at the end of the game.

“Bowling Green has a great set of receivers,” sophomore cornerback Marqueston Huff said. “They there were in the right place, made the right plays. They executed their offense better than we executed our defense.”

Still, UW forced a season-high six turnovers (nine in the last two games), blocked two kicks and scored a defensive TD on Huff’s 8-yard fumble return.

But more than the “prevent” defense at the end, I would have liked to have seen UW’s offense get more first downs late to prevent BG a chance to win it late. Easy to say that now that the Cowboys won, but hey, a win is a win. See my column in Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang for more on that.

And how about true freshman cornerback Blair Burns with two interceptions and a fumble recovery? Good job by that young kid, who if he’s really 170 pounds as listed on the roster then I’m 6-foot-5 (I’m pushing 5-10, LOL).

A play late in the game that was big but got overshadowed some from UW’s standpoint was the offsides call on the Cowboys’ last possession on BG defensive lineman Kevin Moore on a fourth-and-1 play that gave UW its final first down. If that doesn’t happen and UW doesn’t convert on fourth down the game could have been different.

“To jump on a fourth-and-1, when the whole stadium knows they are going to hard-count us … we just did some really poor things out there today,” BG coach Dave Clawson said.

Some other notes and quotes:

–Sophomore middle linebacker Devyn Harris had a career-high 11 tackles.

–“I just saw the ball so I picked it up and ran.” — Huff on the fumble return for a touchdown

–Junior defensive tackle Ben Durbin had a big game with a blocked field goal and a forced fumble on Huff’s TD. Durbin said he didn’t know he caused the fumble.

–All six of senor receiver Mazi Ogbonna’s six catches came in the second half, including five on the Cowboys’ first two possessions.

–“I don’t know if they’ve played a team that went after the ball like we have.” — UW coach Dave Christensen.

–On odd days of the month (Sept. 3 and 17), senior punter Austin McCoy has averaged between 41 ad 45 yards per punt. On even days (Sept. 10) he averaged 21.3 yards.

–BG sophomore rover (defensive back) Booboo Gates was one of three players issued with misdemeanor citations for criminal trespassing in a dorm Thursday night. One player was suspended, but Gates wasn’t and finished second on the team with 11 tackles.

–“Any way you slice it we’re 3-0 and we’ve won as many games as we did a year ago. I know one thing, we’re going to be as good as we were last year.” — Christensen

–“I knew I was down, but I have to hold on to the ball also. Don’t even make it close.” — junior running back Ghaali Muhammad on a fumble in the second half, but was ruled down after the play was reviewed.

–“We were at home, and I thought we were the better football team. The way our defense was playing, and the way we were moving the football, it was a pretty quick decision. I thought that, if we got to overtime, we were going to win the game.” — Clawson on the thought of going for two on BG’s final touchdown.

Now it’s time for No. 10 Nebraska, which beat Washington at home 51-38 and gave up 420 yards of total offense. See Monday’s WTE and Boomerang for what Christensen and other players think of this game. And, see Sunday’s papers for more coverage of this game.

There won’t be any video interviews posted from this game. There wasn’t a place for me to get video during postgame interviews. Sorry. Will post more from Monday’s weekly interview session with players and coaches.

Monday’s football quick hits

Some highlights from Monday’s news conference with Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen and interviews with players:

–The defense garnered most of the attention after giving up 541 yards and 32 points against Weber State. There was a 5-minute players only meeting Sunday, and defensive coordinator Marty English described the defensive effort as “embarrassing.” Christensen said the schemes were good, but the execution wasn’t.

–UW will face a Texas State team Saturday — another FCS foe — that runs a pistol/option offense similar to Nevada. That means the Cowboys will have to be more assignment oriented on defense.

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UW depth chart prediction

Monday afternoon Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen will speak to the media leading into Saturday’s season-opener against Weber State.

Christensen will release the depth chart for the first game. Some positions (quarterback) we know who will start. In fact, I don’t think there should be many surprises. But why wait until Monday afternoon? Here is how I think the depth chart will look. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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Notes and quotes from MW Media Day

Been a crazy day talking to players and coaches here at MW Media Day in Las Vegas, but nice to talk some football.

Here are some notable notes and quotes I wanted to throw out there from today’s interviews:

— “This defense has the potential to be one of the best defenses I’ve been a part of here.” — Wyoming senior defensive end Josh Biezuns, the only UW player named to the preseason all-conference team by the media.

–San Diego State coach Rocky Long described his senior quarterback, Ryan Lindley, as a “NFL guy.”

–UNLV coach Bobby Hauck said there’s a chance four of his five starters along the offensive line will be freshmen. YIKES!

— A story posted by the Idaho Statesman late Tuesday afternoon stated it can’t wear all blue uniforms in any of its MW home games. Boise plays on blue field turf. … interesting. Here’s the link: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2011/07/26/ccripe/heres_boise_states_updated_preseason_depth_chart

–New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said the goal for him heading into his third year is to win six games and become bowl eligible. New Mexico is 2-22 the the past two seasons.

–TCU coach Gary Patterson said his second-team linebackers could “play for a lot of people.” He’s right.

–TCU’s seniors have won 36 games going into this season. The previous senior class set a school record with 44 wins.

–Most of the media here think the Nov. 12 TCU at Boise State game will determine the MW championship, and perhaps a BCS bowl berth. However, Boise State opens against Georgia in Atlanta, and TCU plays at Air Force Sept. 10 — two early and possible losses.

–Back to San Diego State’s Long, he said there will be some differences between him and former coach Brady Hoke. One of the biggest? “Brady was a hugger, I’m not.”

–But the quote of the day came from Patterson when he was talking about TCU jumping its fifth conference going back to the old Southwest Conference around 20 years ago: “It’s kind of like getting remarried, you have to find a new set of friends.”

See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more coverage from MW Media Day, including stories on UW’s defense hoping to force more turnovers this season and why the Cowboys will scrimmage a lot early in fall camp. And, follow me Wednesday morning on Twitter from MW Commissioner Craig Thompson’s state of the MW address. My Twitter feed is @rpgagliardi.

UW picked sixth; Biezuns All-MW

The Mountain West preseason media poll and all-conference teams just came out from here at Media Day in Las Vegas.

Wyoming was picked sixth, which didn’t surprise me. I had the Cowboys fifth, but you can argue that the fifth through eighth-place teams could finish anywhere in that grouping.

Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns was the only UW player on the all-conference team. I also had senior cornerback Tashaun Gipson on my ballot, but Air Force senior Anthony Wright got the majority of the votes from the media. I had TCU linebacker Tanner Brock on my ballot, while the rest of the media had CSU senior Mychal Sisson. My all-conference kicker was Ross Evans from TCU, the rest of the media had James Aho of New Mexico.

Other than that, my ballot and my predicted order of finish matched everyone else. See that list below.

An interesting note on the predicted order of finish: Boise State is the clear-cut favorite in its first year in the league. The last time a new team joined the MWC was in 2005 with TCU, and the Horned Frogs won the MW that year. They were picked to finish sixth.

Nineteen of the 25 players on the all-conference preseason team came from the top four teams in the preseason poll. Boise State had the most with seven.

2011 Mountain West Preseason Media Poll

(first-place votes)                           Points

1. Boise State (28)                           236

2. TCU(3)                                              208

3. Air Force                                         176

4. San Diego State                           160

5. Colorado State                             104

6. Wyoming                                         80

7. UNLV                                                     77

8. New Mexico                                    39

 

2011 Preseason All-Mountain West Team

Offense

QB Kellen Moore                             Sr.           Boise State

WR Phillip Payne                             Sr.           UNLV

WR Josh Boyce                                  So.          TCU

RB Ronnie Hillman*                        So.          San Diego State

RB Doug Martin                                                Sr.           Boise State

OL Nate Porter                                  Sr.           Boise State

OL A.J. Wallerstein**                     Sr.           Air Force

OL Kyle Dooley                                 Sr.           TCU

OL Thomas Byrd                               Sr.           Boise State

OL Paul Madsen**                           Sr.           Colorado State

TE Lucas Reed**                               Jr.           New Mexico

Defense

DL Billy Winn                                     Sr.           Boise State

DL Shea McClellin                            Sr.           Boise State

DL Stansly Maponga**                   So.          TCU

DL Josh Biezuns**                           Sr.           Wyoming

LB Tank Carder#*                             Sr.           TCU

LB Mycal Sisson**                            Sr.           Colorado State

LB Miles Burris                                  Sr.           San Diego State

DB George Iloka                                               Sr.           Boise State

DB Leon McFadden*                       Jr.           San Diego State

DB Anthony Wright                         Sr.           Air Force

DB Jon David                                      Sr.           Air Force

 

Specialists

P Brian Stahovich*                          Sr.           San Diego State

PK James Aho                                    Sr.           New Mexico

Ret. Jonathan Warzeka                 Sr.           Air Force

 

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Kellen Moore, Boise State

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Tank Carder, TCU

Special Teams Player of the Year: Jonathan Warzeka, Air Force

#Unanimous 2011 preseason selection

*2010 All-Mountain West first team

**2010 All-Mountain West second team

 

All-MWC football team released

Here is the link to the First and Second Team All-Mountain West Conference football team:

http://www.themwc.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/113010aac.html

I was fortunate enough to vote on this, and was pretty close to how the two teams turned out.

I put Wyoming junior defensive end Josh Biezuns and junior defensive back Tashaun Gipson on my first team. Biezuns made the second team and Gipson earned honorable mention honors. I put senior safety Chris Prosinski on the second team and that’s where he ended up for the second straight year. I also had junior punter Austin McCoy on the second team, but he was honorable mention.

Air Force had the second-best rushing offense in the nation, yet none of its offensive linemen made the first team. I had junior A.J. Wallerstein on the first team, yet he made the second team.

I voted TCU’s Gary Patterson the coach of the year. San Diego State’s Brady Hoke won the award and it’s hard to argue that after the Aztecs went 8-4 overall, 5-3 in the MWC and will play in their first bowl since 1998. Still, to go undefeated like TCU did for the second straight season is also quite an accomplishment.

There was some discussion among the writers about the Defensive Player of the Year. It went to TCU junior linebacker Tank Carder, who was fourth on his own team in tackles. San Diego State junior linebacker Miles Burris led the league in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (19). I thought about going with him, but how do you not pick a player on the nation’s top-ranked defense? You could go with any number of guys, but I also went with Carder.

Thoughts?