UW-CSU postgame thoughts

It wasn’t perfect, but Wyoming played arguably its most complete game of the season in a 45-31 win over Border War rival Colorado State Saturday in Laramie.

UW never trailed, was balanced on offense (228 yards rushing, 240 passing), forced three turnovers on defense and sophomore cornerback Blair Burns returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown.

But the Cowboys are far from perfect. The defense allowed 512 yards to a below average offense in CSU. The Rams scored two touchdowns on long pass plays. The first was a 75-yarder where the ball bounced around a couple of times before the CSU receiver grabbed it and ran into the end zone. Bad luck? Maybe, but teams can exploit this secondary.

Continue reading

UW football Media Monday

He was humbled by the experience, sorry that it happened and grateful to be back.

Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was all of that Monday, which was his first time talking to the media since he was suspended by UW last week for the Oct. 13 tirade after the Air Force game. Christensen returned to work Sunday.

“Not being able to coach this football team was probably the most difficult pill I’ve ever had to swallow,” he said.

“These players mean the world to me. There’s no one else to blame for what happened except for myself. I also ask for forgiveness and an opportunity to move on and make the best of a bad situation.

“I’m sorry for it. I regret it and now I’m gong to move on.”

For more on Christensen’s return and his comments, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and also log on to www.wyosports.net.

Continue reading

No mixing and matching for O-line this season

If one thing’s been consistent along Wyoming’s offensive line this season, it’s been the lineup.

UW has used the same five starters in all four of its games, and it’s expected to be the same again when the Cowboys open Mountain West play at Nevada Saturday.

The Cowboys used seven different starting lineups each of the last two seasons due to injuries and production — or lack there of.

“We’re not as deep as we’ve been,” coach Dave Christensen said. “We’re trying to redshirt a couple of guys, and there are a couple of guys in our two-deep we’re trying not to play because they’re not ready to play yet.

“If there was a guy that was equal to somebody that was in there we would certainly play them. We’re not in a position where we’re going to switch anybody out right now.”

Continue reading

Video: Jake Jones

Jake Jones made his Wyoming debut last week as the starting right guard against then 15th-ranked Texas. When asked what he did to earn the starting job, he modestly said: “I don’t know. I put a lot of time and work in like all of us linemen did.”

Hear more on what Jones said here, and read about this and more Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Laramie Boomerang and online at wyosports.net.

UW down an O-lineman as fall camp starts

Not long after the first practice of fall camp began did Wyoming sports information director Tim Harkins tell media members that sophomore right tackle Daniel Fleischman left the team for personal reasons after suffering a non-football related injury about a week ago.

Fleischman was listed as the starter at right tackle coming out of spring drills, ahead of senior Kyle Magnuson and junior-college transfer Connor Rains. Magnuson didn’t compete in spring drills with an injury, and is the likely candidate to start.

Magnuson has played in 13 games in his career, and started three. He’s played both tackle and guard. But after him and senior Josh Leonard at left tackle — the projected starter — there is no one on the depth chart at either tackle spots that has played a down for the Cowboys.

Continue reading

UW spring football notes

Spring football at Wyoming begins March 19, or two weeks from Monday.

Been doing interviews with players and coaches for stories leading up to the start of practice, but wanted to share a few notes with you now:

–Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith won’t go through any contact drills and won’t scrimmage this spring after surgery earlier this winter. Smith, coach Dave Christensen and offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon all told me the surgery went well and Smith is expected to be fine for fall camp in August. “We don’t hit him anyway,” said Brandon about Smith and any of UW’s quarterbacks during practice.

Smith has been throwing the ball around lately and working out with teammates. UW doesn’t disclose injuries to specific players, but through social media Smith had surgery stemming from an injury to his right thumb/hand.

Continue reading

Pick the 10

I’m following up on something Wyoming co-offensive line coach Pete Kaligis told me after Tuesday’s scrimmage. He said he has 10 offensive linemen who are ready to play for the Cowboys this season.

By the way, eight linemen played for the Pokes last season, six of which got starts.

Who do you think the 10 players are Kaligis is talking about?

Let’s start with the starters.

Junior center Nick Carlson is a lock. At guard, senior Brandon Self and sophomore Tyler Strong have played exclusively with the No. 1 offense in the Cowboys’ first three scrimmages, along with junior right tackle Kyle Magnuson.

Seniors Clayton Kirven (two scrimmage starts) and John Hutchins (one start) likely will alternate at left tackle, and are two of the most experienced linemen UW has. Hutchins also can play guard.

That’s six.

Junior Josh Leonard has starting experience at tackle and is Magnuson’s backup right now, so he makes seven. Junior-college transfer Zach Rushing is pushing both Self and Strong at both guard spots so that’s eight.

Coach Dave Christensen said after Tuesday’s practice that redshirt freshman offensive tackle Daniel Fleischman should be ready to return from injury in about a week, so I’m going to include him because I know Christensen and the other coaches have been high on him since he signed.

OK, we’re at nine.

My 10th right now would be redshirt freshman Travis Bogard at center, listed as Carlson’s backup. If I needed a wildcard I would go with redshirt freshman guard Skyler Hinton.

Any thoughts or opinions on this?

Speaking of offensive linemen, see my story in Thursday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang on Self and Strong, and their improbable path to becoming likely starters.

Smith closer to being named starting QB

You tell me if it sounds like Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen has any doubt who is starting quarterback will be:

“It’s going to be hard for (true freshman) Brett Smith to get beat out right now,” said Christensen after Tuesday morning’s scrimmage that ended in a 26-26 tie using a modified scoring system.

“We’re probably not going to have to have a big press conference and a huge release to let everybody know who our leading candidate at quarterback is. If you can’t figure it out, then we’ll let it continue on.”

Smith was 9 of 14 for 80 yards with a touchdown. In three scrimmages, all running the No. 1 offense, he’s 48 of 65 for 563 yards with five touchdowns and one interception.

True freshman Adam Pittser was 8 of 12 for 58 yards and a touchdown Tuesday. Junior-college transfer Colby Kirkegaard, going mostly against the No. 1 defense, was 13 of 19 for 104 yards with a touchdown and interception. Both have struggled mightily against the defensive starters so far in camp and it’s about even between the two on the backup job.

Some other notes and quotes from the scrimmage:

–” It felt good to be back there. I’ve been working my butt off over the summer. I feel I can help my team in a big way this fall.” — junior running back Ghaali Muhammad. He had only two carries for four yards, but he dove into the end zone for a 1-yard score and caught a pass for 26 yards. His first run was for three yards, but it took about five guys to get  him down. He will get a few more reps in Saturday’s fourth an final scrimmage of camp, and it looks like he can definitely help this team at running back after moving from linebacker.

–Co-offensive line coach Pete Kaligis said he thinks there are 10 offensive linemen who can play for UW this season. The same starters from the second scrimmage were out there Tuesday: tackles Kyle Magnuson and Clayton Kirven, guards Tyler Strong and Brandon Self and center Nick Carlson. I will have a story on Strong and Self later in the week. Christensen said redshirt freshman tackle Daniel Fleischman could be back after an injury in a week or so, and I know the coaching staff are high on him.

— “Doctson made some big-time plays today.” I don’t care if you’re playing with the ones tows or threes. When you’re covered and make big catches that shows me something.” — Christensen on true freshman receiver Josh Doctson, who caught three passes for 36 yards and a 9-yard touchdown pass from Pittser. Christensen also said true freshmen Trey Norman and Dominic Rufran played well, as did fellow true freshman Kevin Robertson (with a touchdown catch) despite trying to catch up after being injured early in camp. Don’t be surprised if Doctson, Norman and Rufran play this season.

–One area Christensen isn’t happy with right now is his kickoff return team: “We’ve got to find some guys that have great courage, are head-hunters and want to go down and hit some people.”

–Competition will continue in the place-kicking duties among redshirt freshman Stuart Williams and true freshman Daniel Sullivan. Williams had the better day Tuesday, but it appears Williams has the better overall skills once he finds his consistency. A decision could be made after Saturday’s final scrimmage of camp on who the starter will be.

–Christensen said Saturday’s scrimmage will consist of one quarter of the clock running like in a regular game. He and his staff usually talk about more scrimmage specifics the day prior to the scrum.

–Christensen said no one reported any injuries to him after the scrimmage. Senior defensive end Josh Biezuns and true freshman linebacker Mark Nzeocha didn’t play, but both should be ready for the season-opener Sept. 3 against Weber State.

–Great to see sophomore defensive end Mark Willis back and playing well. His season ended after six games last season with an injury. In three scrimmages he has 12 tackles, five for loss and three sacks. I will have more on Willis in the coming days.

Thanks to everyone who joined me for today’s live chat during the scrimmage. We will do it again Saturday as long as the team is in the stadium. It was a lot of fun. See Wednesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle www.wyomingnews.com and Laramie Boomerang www.laramieboomerang.com for more on Tuesday’s scrimmage.