Here is my No. 1 key for the Cowboys entering this game:
More offense, less defense: Meaning Wyoming’s offense must do a better job of sustaining drives and finishing with points, which will keep the defense fresher and better equipped to make plays. The defense was on the field for two-thirds of the game last week against Hawaii, and 97 plays two weeks ago against Oregon. Even though the defense has played well for the most part, it can’t be on the field that long game after game. Yes, the defense can help itself by making more plays to get off the field sooner, but it needs more help from the offense.
I feel like I’m sounding like a broken record about this No. 1 key the last few weeks.
The second half of fall camp for the Cowboys started Monday morning as they practiced in full pads in War Memorial Stadium.
Injury-wise, fourth-year coach Craig Bohl said junior tight end Austin Fort of Gillette will have an MRI on his knee Monday. Fort hurt his right knee in a non-contact drill Friday. He watched Monday’s practice wearing a large brace on the knee.
“We think he is okay, and the initial response was positive with some improvement over the weekend,” Bohl said. “We’ll get more information, but Austin has had a great fall camp. We are at the point now where we have experienced tight ends and more depth.”
Fort and junior Josh Harshman of Casper entered fall camp as tied atop the depth chart, with junior Tyree Mayfield not far behind. Fort played only three offensive snaps last season — his first in making the transition from quarterback to tight end.
Players reported Sunday, and the first practice of fall camp for the Wyoming football team is Monday morning. There is no media access to Monday’s practice because UW will have its media day for football at noon Monday.
But during the MW Media Summit in Las Vegas I talked to fourth-year coach Craig Bohl and junior safety Andrew Wingard about a few things about the team heading into camp.
This is what Bohl said about the position battles he expects to see in camp: “At running back, we made progress during the spring, and I would like to and see someone come to forefront there. At tight end, we have a lot of players, but they are guys who have not played a lot. I also see a pretty intense battle at cornerback. We have some experienced players, but a young guy like (sophomore) Tyler Hall really came on during the spring.”
Sophomore Milo Hall came out of spring as the starter at running back, but junior Nico Evans and redshirt sophomore Kellen Overstreet aren’t that far behind. Two Wyoming
products are atop the depth chart at tight end in junior Josh Harshman of Casper and junior Austin Fort of Gillette. Junior Tyree Mayfield may be the most talented tight end UW has, but he is listed third on the depth chart entering fall camp. Hall earned one of the two starting jobs at cornerback after spring drills, but junior Antonio Hull and seniors Robert Priester and Rico Gafford have played a lot of football for the Cowboys.
“The only position we don’t figure to be a lot of competition (in terms of being the starter) is at quarterback,” said Bohl with a smile when talking about junior quarterback Josh Allen, the preseason MW Offensive Player of the Year voted on by the media.
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.
Wyoming completed its first week of spring football practice Saturday in War Memorial Stadium. Saturday’s practice marked the first one in full pads.
Here’s what fourth-year UW coach Craig Bohl said after practice:
Media members are allowed to watch the first 30 minutes of each practice, so there isn’t a ton of specific information I can provide, but here are some of the things that stood out to me after the first week:
— A lot of people ask me who made the most gains weight-wise from the end of last season until now. UW’s spring roster lists weights from last season. But I can tell you that junior offensive tackle Zach Wallace, who played at 297 last season, is up to around 310 this spring. All of UW’s tight ends did well in the weight room. I hardly recognized junior Josh Harshman when I went to the first practice. He looks a lot thicker, and I’ve been told he is around 235-237 pounds. He was in the 220s last season. Also, junior safety Marcus Epps looks a lot thicker.
Too bad the month of October has to end, because the Wyoming football team has been on a roll.
The Cowboys won their fourth straight game — all in October — with their 30-28 home win over No. 13 Boise State, which fell to No. 24 in the AP poll that was released Sunday.
A lot of late-game dramatics Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. Here are some of the highlights, which include UW’s game-tying two-point conversion (I just got off the press box elevator when the touchdown was scored), along with the famous safety by senior nose tackle Chase Appleby.
Wyoming practiced in full pads late Tuesday afternoon in Laramie, and there was a lot of work on tackling.
Not drill work on tackling — actual tackling.
The media is allowed to see only the first 30 minutes of each practice, but as coach Craig Bohl and his staff enter their second season, that’s the most I’ve seen UW do in terms of live tackling (aside from scrimmages).
Not sure what that means for Saturday’s home game with Eastern Michigan, but I found it interesting.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of other good news regarding the Cowboys Tuesday.
Redshirt senior quarterback Cameron Coffman missed practice for the second consecutive day with a strained MCL ligament in his right knee, suffered late in last Saturday’s 24-13 loss to North Dakota. Coffman watched from the sideline, but wasn’t wearing a knee brace or wrap. He had a noticeable limp and had a wrap around the knee Monday.
“We’re in hopes he gets better later on in the week,” Bohl said. “It’s not a major (injury), which gives us hope, but also it takes some time to get back.”
Sophomore backup quarterback Josh Allen took all the snaps with the No. 1 offense. Redshirt freshman Nick Smith took snaps with the twos.
When asked if Coffman doesn’t practice this week but is cleared to play Saturday, Bohl said: “It’s helpful to have practice. I’m not saying that will be the final decision. Some of it will be contingent on his mobility and how he’s moving along. We will never put a player out there that’s not going to help the team win, or put himself in jeopardy.”
Normally after Wyoming games I like to post some of my thoughts. Well, it’s kind of hard to post any thoughts from the Cowboys’ 41-play scrimmage Saturday since it was closed to the public and media.
So, I will let second-year coach Craig Bohl tell you what he saw:
No official stats were kept, but I can report that redshirt senior starting quarterback Cameron Coffman was 6 of 9 for 76 yards, and sophomore backup Josh Allen was 5 of 6 for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Allen threw a 20-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman tight end Tyree Mayfield, and a 6-yarder to true freshman tight end Josh Harshman of Casper.
Coffman hit Mayfield for a 23-yard pass that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by true freshman running back Kellen Overstreet, who finished with 10 carries for 46 yards.
Mayfield also blocked a punt, and he said he expects to not only play a lot this season at tight end but also on several of UW’s special teams.
Here’s what offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Vigen said after the scrimmage: “Cam continues to be steady,and also is making plays. He handled himself well. Josh continues to progress. We’re excited to get Cam in a game.”
Vigen also said Coffman remains the starter by a wide margin, followed by Allen and redshirt freshman Nick Smith.